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The art of imperfection

Reincarnating special things

Kintsugi by Yukiko Kuroda

Kintsugi by Yukiko Kuroda

Kintsugi(金継ぎ) technique is a very Japanese concept. It is also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い). Both refer to an ancient method used to repair broken pottery.

Whether it is a special gift, an expensive purchase, or something you got on a whim, when we use the vessels for a long time, they develop a character, and we can become quite attached to them. These objects survive regular use, moves, and spring cleanings. The longer we have them, the closer we bond with them. They are the truly loved ones. And when it cracks or chips, we feel like crying. We want to mend them, to keep the bond. When this happens, there is a way to rescue them and give a completely new look at the same time.

This is done using Kintsugi, which is a technique where lacquer resin is dusted with gold, silver or platinum powder. There are a variety of ways artisans use to do this, and the object becomes a new palette for them to work with. Some can appear almost without any scar. And in Japan, we call this “scenery”, meaning a new look, depending on how you view it. An old and loved object can now be appreciated differently.

This is part of a larger Japanese philosophy, known as wabi-sabi, which is at the core of Japanese beliefs, and approach toward art and aesthetics. It is a fascinating concept, derived from Buddhist teachings, which basically means embracing imperfection, impermanence and the incomplete. It can also be thought of as nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. But through this, comes a particular beauty, something to embrace and cherish while it is there.

Some artists use Kintsugi as a way to take what is there and reinterpret it, often in an abstract manner.

Here are some very good examples of beautiful “scenery” repairs done in the Kintsugi method by Yukiko Kuroda. She uses a time honored technique that takes weeks to finish. It is worth the extra time and effort!

Thanks to kintsugi, we are not afraid of using the special bowl or cup given to us from our mothers and ancestors. We know we have a way to continue their long life.

金継ぎという技術は、とても日本的な考え方だと思います。金繕いとも呼ばれ、昔から壊れた陶器を直してきました。

特別な頂き物であれ、何となく手に取って買ってしまったものであれ、うつわを長く使うと愛着が募るものです。引っ越しや季節ごとの整理で捨てられる状況をくぐり抜けてきた”お気に入り”たちは、長年使ってしみができたり手触りがかわっていたり。そこがまた、特別だったりします。それが、ちょっとしたアクシデントでかけたり割れてしまった日には、長年の友達を失ったような気分。でも、それらを救って新しい命を吹き込むことも可能なのです。

金継ぎは漆を主に使って割れたものをつなぎ合わせます。傷跡がほぼわからないようになるものもあれば、金、銀、プラチナ粉を蒔くことで割れた部分をデザインとして表現することも。日本ではこれを景色と呼び、趣を楽しんだりしてきました。これは非常に日本独特の文化で、他の国では聞いたことがありません。

これを自然に古びたものを愛する美意識、侘び寂びと呼ぶか、ものを大事にする文化と見るか。いずれにせよ、日本人の物を粗末にしないという心は大量生産が可能になった現代も細々と残っているように思います。ものは使えば壊れたり変化したり。永遠に新品の美しさではありませんが、そこを味わい深いと見ることができるのはうれしいことです。

ここでご紹介する黒田雪子さんの金継ぎの仕事は、一度壊れたものを新たに生き返らせた美しい例の数々。昔ながらの方法で長い時間をかけて修復作業をします。

これを知った今は怖がらずにお気に入りのやきものを頻繁に使うことができそうです。

Kintsugi by Yukiko Kuroda

Kintsugi by Yukiko Kuroda

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