Beautiful Repair: Kintsugi, Sashiko and a Cat Scratched Sofa

To me, making and repair go hand in hand. When something is handmade, you know the object has been sculpted, painted, forged, painted or hammered into existence by someone. It creates a history for things before they even fall into my ownership.  It also might not be perfect, without the cookie cutter duplication of mass production. It has personality, if you like. This same philosophy applies to repairing things. I suppose I come from a family of ‘fixers’, my Grandpa and Dad especially.

My sofa cover is in need of a repair, having suffered greatly at the claws of my cat Aston. Having finally persuaded him that the scratching post is a much better option, I now need to repair the damage.

Cat Scratched Sofa

There is no way of disguising the problem, so why not make the repair part of the the design, to become part or the history of the sofa? I really love this vintage sofa I spotted on Pinterest – I can’t find too much information on it as the original source website is no longer active, other than it was part of a home tour feature on a Kelli Crawford.

Needlepoint Embroidered Sofa
Needlepoint Embroidered Sofa

I remembered seeing Fran from Fall for DIY  creating beautiful decorations using a kintsugi repair kit in a project last year.

Kintsugi Decoration Project by Fall for DIY
Image Credit: Kintsugi Decoration Project by Fall for DIY

Kintsugi is a way of repairing broken ceramics using a gold colour resin or laquer. this leaves beautiful tracks and lines of gold rather than simple fractures.  This video from Greatcoat Films is a wonderful introduction to the technique.

Kintsugi: The Art of Broken Pieces from Greatcoat Films on Vimeo.

Contemporary crafters, designers and artists have taken this traditional idea and adapted it to contemporary pieces. Designer Duncan Meerding takes cracked logs and fills in those gaps with shards of light, creating striking objects that can be used as stools, lamps or sculpture.

Duncan Meerding 'Stump'
Image Credit: Duncan Meerding ‘Stump’

The project ‘Dispatchwork’ by artist Jan Vormann uses childrens building bricks like Lego to repair external architecture. His work can be found all over the world via his interactive map. This image is from Burlington Ave in London. 

Jan Vormann London
Image Credit: Jan Vormann ‘Dispatchwork’ London

A similar philosophy is sashiko embroidery.  It uses decorative stitches to repair fabrics, again highlighting, not disguising, where an item has been mended. Taking this idea even further is boro. This is a form of Japanese patchwork that repeatedly adds patches to replace worn out areas on clothing, often to the point that little or no original cloth is left.

Sashiko Stitiching
Image Credit: Sashiko 2 – Litllelixie on Flickr

Luke Deverall of Darn and Dusted will repair your worn clothing using beautiful stitches and darning techniques.

Darn and Dusted
Image Credit: Darn and Dusted

Artist Charlotte Bailey combines the gold motif of kintsugi with the stitching of sashiko. She repairs broken vases by covering them in cloth and uses traditional goldwork stitching to reattach them.

Charlotte Bailey
Image Credit: Charlotte Bailey

Back to my cat-scratched sofa situation. My initial idea was to cover the rips, but having seen the beautiful repairs that are possible, I think I’m going to put some new fabric underneath the rips, then visibly stitch it to the sofa cover. Time to go through my fabric stash!

Have you made a beautiful repair of your own? Comment below or message me on TwitterInstagram or Facebook!

 

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