Leaving the Poetry in What We Make - embracing wabi-sabi

At its most nakedness, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and wisdom in nature. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered and above all it reveres authenticity.

It is the gift of time and the thing that can't be rushed.

It is the reason we love real flowers instead of plastic ones, even though we know they will wilt, flea markets instead of big box stores, barnwood instead of pergo. It's the reason those botoxed, un-naturally smooth faces on television make us so uncomfortable.

(and as pretty as Target's colorful little plastic thingie is and how much it is calling my name at times, I can leave it in the store because I know my soul just doesn't embrace this stuff anymore - it has no essence, it has no poetry - I know I will forget all about it 10 minutes after I get it home)

It isn't about laziness or letting things come together or fall apart in a messy or sloppy way. It's kind of the opposite of that. The beauty of the frayed edge of grandmas's quilt can only be appreciated in a clean and unencumbered setting.

(this is why the vintage sellers do so much better with empty space in their photos and clean, simple backgrounds - trust me on this vintage sellers)

I have been thinking about Japan alot these last few days (I know we all have) and this concept stands out to me as one of the most wonderful of all Japanese principles.

And for small maker companies it means not being afraid to show the flaws in ourselves and our work because real is never perfect and that is why people connect with it.

It's OK that we're not perfect - it's more than OK actually.

* Secret Door print by SeaLilyStudio


Sherry Truitt said...

This is one of my favorite concepts, Cat. I've even had a little mention about it in my etsy shop profile since I opened.

We need to embrace this concept because as small makers we are constantly bombarded with advice about how to make out businesses more perfect, more mainstream.

I want my clients to see that the real beauty of handmade is in the imperfection.

I've been thinking about Japan as well. I was introduced to the Japanese word "gaman" when creating a piece for the earthquake.

We should have a word like that in English.

Catherine Ivins said...

I think I first heard of wabi-sabi from your profile, years ago Sherry and I immediately felt drawn to it. Hubby wanted to repaint our front porch rockers this weekend and I looked at them and said- no, we will just clean them- aging is a good thing and I was thinking wabi-sabi..


mairedodd said...

a beautiful post and one that speaks to me so strongly... i too embrace wabi sabi - in my working and as an aesthetic... when asked why perhaps there is something askew by a buyer, i simply respond 'because i was there' and hopefully the energy imbues the piece with a vibration they can pick up on...

Pretty Things said...


Catherine Ivins said...

thank you Lori! and Maire "because I was there" - that is too beautiful - I am going to never forget it...


Orion Designs said...

Wonderful sentiments and the best description of wabi-sabi I've read. We can all learn from this. Thanks for sharing.

resolute twig said...

Love this post, and I love the book. What a lovely reminder to love the imperfections in what we make as well as in us,

kissinia said...

Love this post. Very close to my thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

hallelujah! Thank you for this post... I think it's important that we have a little reminder now and then, that there is beauty in imperfect handmade things. ♥ nothing is ever perfect really...