How to repair a broken ceramic bowl.

Let’s say that you are a connoisseur of ceramic bowls. One day, you’re carrying one of your favourite bowls, and you drop it. It falls to the ground, shattering into pieces. Distraught, you pick up what remains of it, and you have to decide what to do with it. You have two choices; do you throw it away, or try and repair it? Lets look at your options.

Option 1: Throw it away.

While you may have treasured this bowl at one time, now it’s broken. Why keep it? It will never be the same. It’s not as perfect as it once was. Now it’s ruined. Besides, you can always get a new one. Maybe even, a better one. Right? Just throw it out, and be done with it.

Options 2: Repair it.

So you don’t want to just throw it out. After all, this was one of your favourite bowls. You care about it, and it’s important to you. Why not just get some glue and put the pieces back together as best you can? It will never be the same as it was, but at least you’ll have something. And, if you spend enough time you can probably put it back together well enough that know one will know it was broken in the first place.

A better way.

If you chose one of the above options, that would be your decision to make. There is no wrong answer to this question, and you have to make the best decision you can based on your situation.

Let’s look at the history of your bowl. One day an artisan took a handful of clay and threw it on a pottery wheel. As the wheel started to spin, they wet their hands and slowly formed a misshapen ball into the rough shape of a bowl. They sit there, hour after hour, their hands slowly guiding the clay into its final form. Satisfied with what they had created, they walked over to a shelf and chose the glaze that would give it colour. They put the glaze on it, and fired it in a kiln. After it cooled, they sold it to a merchant. One day you walked into a store, saw the bowl, fell in love with it, and took it home. Then, through no fault of your own, it broke.

What started as a small lump of clay in a potters workshop, now lies in pieces on your floor. So what do you do? Don’t just call it ruined and throw it away. There was a time when you loved this bowl, and you wanted it in your life. Whether it is a fully formed bowl, or shards of ceramic from what the bowl was, are not all of the pieces still there? Sure, you can glue all of the pieces back together and make it a bowl again. If you spend enough time repairing it, most people won’t even see the cracks. You can try to ignore that it was ever broken in the first place.

But, what if I told you there was a better way? If we look to Japan, there is an art form known as ‘Kintsugi.’ In my opinion, it is a great way to approach repairing broken ceramic bowls. Kintsugi is in keeping with the philosophy that flaws and imperfections in an item/building/etc. are a part of its story, and should be embraced, not forgotten about or ignored.

Instead of just gluing the pieces back together, with kintsugi, resin is mixed with a precious metal(usually gold). Then the item is put back together. But, rather than the cracks being hidden, they are now fully visible. Now instead of trying to hide the brokenness of it, its brokenness is embraced. What was originally a bowl you loved that was broken, is now a bowl you repaired that is better than you thought it could be. Sure, it’s not as perfect as it was when you first took it home, but now the cracks in it shine with gold as the story of the bowl continues. It’s no longer broken, now it’s a work of art. It’s beautiful.

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably put together that i’m not talking about ceramic bowls at all. Perhaps moving forward you can apply this principle to other things in your life.

Sometimes things break. That doesn’t mean we should just throw them away.

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