Kintsugi – My thoughts
I was recently introduced to the practice of Kintsugi by the inimitable and formidable @heathertaylorwaldron when we were looking for ideas for the name of our new business TUESDAY Jewelry. Upon delving a little further into this beautiful art form (or I’d even call it therapy) I’ve become enthralled and fascinated by the deep symbolism therein.
Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery or ceramics using metallic (usually gold) epoxy. Once upon a time the objecy in question was beautiful and perfect, albeit probably a sterile and clinical beauty. But then it fractured, possibly smashed and damaged, even losing pieces of itself through an unfortunate event or accident. Instead of consigning the previously beautiful, but now broken object into landfill, the Japanese philosophy of ‘Kintsugi’ is to repair it.
And subsequently through Kintsugi (think mending with gold, as you may already have an inkling about how much I love gold) every piece of the object is examined and purposefully and mindfully put back together. It is repaired in a manner that creates a piece of art, a conversation piece, something eye-catching, if not breath-taking. The process is slow and studious, each part is examined and imagined into what would be the best way to do it aesthetically. The painstaking process results in veins of gold that are very visible and obviously define the object.
The mending (healing) of the piece occurs with wavering lines of vibrant gold inserted to mend and fuse the broken parts together.The effect is mesmerizing, it’s interesting, it’s imperfect, but it is without a doubt unbelievably beautiful.
Transferring the symbolism to the human condition is easy on the surface. But if I’m allowed to extrapolate a bit from the concept, I guess when we’re younger we all imagine that we are perfect, or indeed we hope that within us lies the possibility of perfection – if we just….. We tell ourselves if we just work harder, just diet more, just exercise more, just try harder at work, study towards our qualification (fill in the blank that applies to you) we can achieve some form of perfection and inner contentment. The strive for ‘perfection’ (insert whatever your own private interpretation of perfection is) is relentless in our modern society. And as we are all too aware, our modern society values the illusion of perfection. Even though we all know that perfection is not really real, but we like to use it as the yard stick by which we measure our own level of (im)perfection. And our mental and emotional self-esteem wobbles in the social media onslaught. Depending on the day, the moment,our current personal crisis, or possibly the last beautiful (filtered) image we just scrolled past on Instagram…. our ability to find contentment and balance always seems to be under attack. And our psyche’s swing violently from the ridiculous heights of self-congratulatory conceit to utter self-loathing.
“If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
Life is a puzzling work in progress!
In my fascination with the beautiful objects of Kintsugi art, I hope that it can represent a helpful antidote to falling into this comparison trap. And the subsequent pervasive feelings of inferiority, of always falling short, of never quite being perfect enough. The answer lies within the fact that each piece is entirely unique, and the imperfect gold scars are what makes it oddly and uniquely beautiful.
The Kintsugi philosophy is about looking inwards with the slow, mindful acceptance of who you are and what has formed you. I submit it’s not an easy process by any means and I’m sure there are plenty of 2 steps back and 3 steps forwards. We all know it’s about acceptance. Moreover, it’s about acceptance of imperfection, and of who we are becoming. Ultimately, when we turn these scars into gold (the ultimate alchemy) it’s actually about commemoration, even celebration of the scars, the challenges and imperfections that define you. And like your own fingerprint your beautiful golden scars are completely and entirely unique.
‘Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.’
Welcome to our first introductory blog post! We are Cathy and Vivien – a South African, Franschhoek based couple behind the TUESDAY brand. We’ve been working together designing jewelry for the last 15 years. We both have stories to tell - Cathy received her bilateral...