Kintsugi and the Art of Repairing

kintsugi scarf repair
Scarf repaired with crystal beads

Dave (@squeakypics) accidentally ripped my scarf while hanging it out to dry!

My sister bought that scarf for me many years ago. It isn’t expensive or made of fine cashmere (I dare say she picked it up for a fiver in Leeds market), but it’s proved to be one of the most useful items in my wardrobe. I’ve worn it with everything, to every occasion – to work meetings, to weddings, to the supermarket – and I ALWAYS take it on holiday. In fact, I seem to have worn it threadbare!

I wasn’t sure what to do with this damaged item as it couldn’t be stitched easily without showing the repair work. It couldn’t be given to charity because it was damaged (and, anyway, if it was wearable then I still wanted it!) If I threw it out I know I’d just try to replace it with exactly the same item in the same colour.

In contemplating its fate I remembered a Japanese art form called Kintsugi – the art of fixing broken pottery. The broken pieces are put back together using lacquer and gold dust, making the pot even more beautiful than before. A missing fragment might even be replaced with a piece from a different pot. I love that the cracks become decorative and more interesting, and the repair is seen as just an event in the life of the pot.

Inspired by this I have repaired my scarf, making a feature of the damage with crystal beading. It will tear again. The fabric is old and the fibres are weak. But each time it happens I plan to add another beautiful scar to strengthen the fabric until, one day, it will have evolved into a completely different scarf.


5 Responses

  1. This is beautiful Mo. I have also been repairing tears in my clothes that appear with extensive wear or because I seem to rip them falling over or catching on things. So far beautiful pieces of silk printed by my friend or found lace have been used. I love your beads

    1. Thank you. That sounds lovely Nicky. The silk printed by your friend sounds extra special, making every piece unique and really personal.

      1. I’ll show this to Helen. She could learn from this i love that there is a Japanese art of recognising the beauty of, and the opportunities in, the damage.

        1. Thanks Julian! Kintsugi is rather fascinating and beautiful, so I’m now wondering how and where else it can be applied to avoid just throwing things away.

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