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The art of beautiful repairs

REPAIRS DON'T HAVE TO BE HIDDEN

We've long been advocates of giving things a longer life. Fixing and mending things helps reduce what we send to landfill. But what isn't always so obvious is how fixing a broken object can be an art form in itself, and even create something more beautiful - we like to think of it as the unsung hero of creativity.

The reason Sugru Mouldable Glue comes in such bright colours is for exactly this reason. Loads of Sugru-ers celebrate the fixes and changes they make to their stuff - it gives them a real sense of pride! In a world where almost everything you buy is mass-produced, isn't it nice to have something that is totally unique because of its scars? With this in mind, here are some of the ways people around the world practise the art of beautiful repair and visible mending.

Woolfiller

cardigan mended with woolfiller patches

"When something is broken, people dare to do new things."  – Helen Klopper

Helen Klopper created Woolfiller as part of a museum exhibition on sustainability. It was a hit, and when people started asking where they could buy it, she started making kits. 

Woolfiller makes use of wool's natural unique properties. Wool fibres contain minuscule scales. When pricked with a felting needle, these tiny scales open up and bind with each other creating bonded fibres where there once was a hole. A new solution for an age-old problem, wool-filling is quick, simple, sustainable and extremely satisfying.

More than a very practical answer to tricky-to-mend holes, Woolfiller is creative too. Most Woolfiller users don't colour-match their patches. Instead, they go for colours that stand out and transform their clothing into something new and original.

We love it so much, it not only made it onto our alternative Christmas gift list, but we also stock Woofiller in our shop.


Ceramics stapling

ceramic mug mended with staples

Ceramics stapling comes from a time when necessity and thrift meant that, for most, simply throwing away household items wasn't an option.
Around the world, metalsmiths would repair chipped and smashed ceramics with metal staples, made by drilling small holes and fitting in the staples to hold the pieces in place; no glue needed.

Despite their Frankenstein's monster-esque look, these antiques are unique and often quite beautiful. AndrewBaseman's fascinating blog, Past Imperfect, documents his eclectic finds and love for the ugly ducklings of the antiques' world.


Kintsugi

broken bowl fixed with gold kintsugi method

Kintsugi, so the story goes, was born out of the 15th century Japanese Emperor's disgust at the ceramics stapling method above. A broken tea bowl underwent a repair using metal staples and returned to him. The Emperor was so offended by it he commissioned some craftsmen to find a more delicate solution.

The method they came up with involved gluing the broken pieces back together using lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, resulting in beautiful golden veins as seen in the picture above by  DemysTEAfication.

Dutch sisters Gieke and Lotte of Humade have created New Kintsugi repair kits, so you too can fix your pottery like a Japanese Emperor!


Boro

garment patched with boro method

In poverty-stricken Japan, up until the mid-20th century, many peasants couldn’t afford new textiles. Their response to this was Boro – a means of repair, of creating, and of using up waste. Clothes and other household garments were repaired using leftover, indigo dyed cotton from other textiles. These garments were repaired so often throughout generations, with many different scraps of cloth, that they slowly changed into a new garment altogether.


Paulo Goldstein

anglepoise repaired with other objects

Paulo Goldstein takes broken objects and repairs them in unexpected ways. The results are a series of Rube Goldberg-style contraptions that make up his Repair is Beautiful project. He explains: "In a time of uncertainty, taking things into our own hands and having the feeling of control, can be very therapeutic. Repair is Beautiful aims to give back this feeling of control."


And finally, Sugru-ers!

broken ceramic bowlbowl being put back together with Sugru

bowl fixed with Sugru using Kintsugi method

Roberto Ghiglia sent us this with the caption "repair a cup like an archaeologist". We love the archaeologist-style latex gloves and the amount of care that has gone into it as if it really were an ancient artefact.


Here's one we made ourselves

broken vase repaired with Sugru

This vase has been in the office as long as most of us can remember, and there's some dispute as to whether it's actually beautiful or not. Either way, just like the examples above, the fact that someone at some point (no one can remember who) sat down and dedicated that much care, and pieced back together that many pieces of glass, makes it pretty awesome - conventionally beautiful or not.