80 DESIGNNEWENGLAND.COM MARCH/APRIL2016
Fixing what is broken is an ancient, honorable, and now collectible art form
written by jon hattaway • photographs by andrew baseman
Brokenness is often messy, if not regrettable. Or it may be the means to an end. Eggs are broken to be poached for Benedict at Sunday brunch. Major faith traditions such as Christianity and Buddhism understand the broken heart to be “the
starting point for anything that matters,” writes Kimberley Patton,
professor of the comparative and historical study of religion at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Brokenness may even be a platform for optimism — an opportunity for positive results.
Since the 15th century, skilled and artful Japanese craftsmen
have practiced the art of kintsugi, giving new life to damaged or aging
ceramic objects with a grout usually made from gold dust and lacquer.
Whether it pertains to brunch, an edifying spiritual life, a world-view, or a centuries-old tradition, broken — when viewed with optimism, creativity, and some artistry and skill — can be inspirational. It
may even be the mother of invention.
The make-do tradition, as some collectors have labeled it, most likely
dates to some of the earliest days of human history. With scarce resources,
our ancestors would have been inclined to fix what they had rather than
throw away a basic household object such as a clay cup or wooden bowl.
a tin glazed earthenware
baluster ewer from Delft
( 6½ inches tall) with
circa 1690, got added
years of use thanks to
the make-do handle and
whimsical lid and spout.