The art of imperfection

I admire cottage gardens, with their uneven borders and scattered wildflowers.  But I’m not sure I could ever have one.  I’m not sure it’s in me.

Why?  Well, I’m drawn to order, symmetry, I like things to be…matching, perfect.  When i see a flower head drooping, I want to pull it off, if a picture is uneven, I must straighten it.  It drives my husband mad, because he likes things to be a bit random.

I have had some colour plates from an old Edmonds cook book.  I love them, but for years had no idea what to do with them.  One day, I decided to mount them onto particle board to hang them on a wall.  Problem was, I used a jigsaw to cut it because using a saw was too hard – the result?  See below…

Edmonds recipes

Colour plates from Edmonds cook book mounted on particle board

I was absolutely gutted.  My cutting wasn’t as straight as I wanted, I was so annoyed I nearly threw this project in the bin.

But then I read an article in Good Magazine about Wabi-Sabi.

Cultivating Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-Sabi represents a Japanese world view which accepts transience or imperfection.

Nobody’s perfect, and living a life where you feel you like everything you do has to be perfect is both unrealistic and exhausting.  I realised that I am really hard on myself.  If a friend of mine had made these and asked me what I thought about them, I would say that yes, they’re not perfect, but so what?  In reality, when they’re on the wall, you can’t even tell.

It’s time to turn the volume down on the inner critic.

Imperfection is charming, quirky and imbues objects with character.

Tips to get you started

  • If you have flowers in a vase, let them droop and fade, appreciate their life and death
  • Start small, group a few mismatched jars and glass bottles, grade them by height and throw some wildflowers in them
  • Instead of buying new material for projects, recycle old pieces e.g. wood, you would normally discard
  • Make imperfection a feature rather than a flaw, you don’t have to re-paint that door, sand off those really flaky bits and embrace a rustic feel
  • Scour second hand stores for mismatched sets or comb the beach for material to use in crafts or DIY projects

Maybe there are other people out there who have tips of suggestions for how to incorporate a bit of wabi-sabi in our lives?  I would love to hear from anybody else and their tales of imperfection, so go on, be brave, there’s no judgement here…confess your failed craft projects.  There has to be more people out there than just me who have trouble using a jig saw?  Right?  Hello….?

So before you throw out that old chipped cup or bin that craft project you can’t get quite right, remember that imperfection is beautiful in it’s own right.


3 thoughts on “The art of imperfection

  1. Pingback: Perfection Includes Imperfection | Lavender Turquois

  2. Great article! I do love the concept of Wabi-Sabi, I have the same issue , especially while doing projects around the house or painting (the line is not straight and reapplying it a 100 times making it worse than when i started!), but you have put it together by saying ‘make imperfection a feature rather than a flaw’

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