Can You See the Creative Forces of Nature?

If you’ve ever lived on the beach or in a coastal environment you know about the effects of time. Watching the corrosion and cracking and curling of materials can be an interesting past-time. The copper wind chime turns a lovely verdigris. The iron screws on the rail corrode into wonderful grooved layers of texture. The patina of time-worn objects and splintered surfaces, the impermanence and imperfection of it all, teach us something about ourselves–if we pay attention.  And paying attention is what the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi is about.

Like the wabi-sabi objects it embraces, the meaning of the term itself has changed through time. Today it connotes a quality of timeworn simplicity reflecting the natural cycle of growth and decay. Humble, uncluttered and unencumbered would describe a wabi-sabi home. Characteristics include asymmetry, irregularity, and austerity. Practitioners believe surrounding ourselves with imperfect and changing objects can help connect us to the natural world.

Recently I realized how my attitude toward imperfection has adjusted. I bought a pretty, hand-painted platter for a special dinner.  A cheerful design in rich colors that would add to a beautiful tablescape. As I was giving it a first cleaning, before getting to use it on the table, it slipped from my hands and landed in the sink. Luckily it didn’t break into pieces but it did have a chip on one side now…hmmm, before regret and disappointment set in I felt an appreciation for the first of what may be many cracks and scratches. Like the first ding on a new car, it was bound to happen. Memories will be made with that platter and each ceramic chip will tell a story. And if the platter needs major repair, perhaps I’ll try this method:

Haragayato, Kintugi, CC BY-SA 4.0

Repairing breaks with gold. That would look great on my platter. And it would add a new dimension instead of diminishing the beauty of the object. That idea has opened a new avenue of creativity for me. Can you also see the possibilities in embracing the effects of time and texture? Can you appreciate the awesome processes of transformation?

3 comments… add one
  • I grew up in a coastal environment and when you mentioned the effects of time and nature, I thought more of the shifting shape of the beach and rocks, but I love the color and texture you brought into your description.

    I definitely have a mixed view of imperfection. The crack in the old pickle crock I found in the barn, charming when I use it as a planter; the chips on my favorite mug, annoying. I love the texture of our old, horsehair plaster walls, but I hate the way the crumble any time I try to hang a painting. And my home is definitely not wabi sabi, though I’d love an uncluttered home.

  • Sounds like you are surrounded by perfect imperfection Sara–Lots of interesting textures in your life!

  • Connie

    …most of my life and my creative projects are built from cracks, fissures and imperfections !

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