Craft Trends .. Craft Trends - Wabi Sabi



Japanese Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-sabi is a centuries-old Japanese aesthetic tradition which is garnering an ever widening circle of American fans.The term refers to "the art of finding beauty in things humble, imperfect and aged," said Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author of "The Wabi-Sabi House.

Wabi-sabi has its roots in subdued fifth-century Japanese poetry. Later, in 14thcentury Japan, it was embraced as a way to escape war and the excesses of the day. Rustic tea huts filled with simple, artisan-made utensils became retreats for tea drinking. Samurai warriors had to leave their swords at the door. The aesthetics of wabi-sabi were also expressed in flower arranging, bonsai, ceramics, archery, music and theater.

To architect/author Sarah Susanka, it is the imperfect beauty of natural objects. The wabi-sabi aesthetic developed centuries ago as a reaction against Chinese ornamentation. Susanka "absorbed wabi-sabi" while spending time in a childhood friend's home, seeing the way "normal, mundane things were arranged to create beauty." That sparked her interest in Japanese design, a major influence on her "Not So Big House" books, she said.

A home can be wabi-sabi in spirit without being Japanese in style, according to author Griggs Lawrence. It is the use of natural, indigenous materials, uncluttered spaces and handcrafted items, chosen because they speak to the owner. "It's about creating personal spaces, as opposed to something you could order from a catalog," she said. "Mass-produced furniture is fine, but it's not wabi-sabi." Wabi-sabi is more than a "look"; it's about how a space "feels" and the impact it has on those who enter.

Wabi-sabi is about authenticity and appreciation of objects including their imperfections. It speaks to a desire to create a lifestyle that is less materialistic, more spiritual, Susanka said. "People are tired of our culture's way of trying to get more, buy more, when the more-ness we're looking for doesn't come from quantity. Wabi-sabi is a little emblem of that."

Introduce wabi-sabi into your life

Wash dishes by hand one day a week. It allows time to think, or not think.

Pay attention to your daily bread. The food should be healthy, in season and available locally so you can connect to the earth cycles and the place where you live.

Buy at farmers markets, and ask store produce managers where items came from.

Next time you sweep the floor, consider it a meditation and use a broom, not a vacuum cleaner.

When invited to someone's house, bring a small, nonextravagant gift such as homemade jam or apples from your tree to let hosts know they are appreciated.

Offer your guests something sweet and a cup of tea served in pretty cups. Or enjoy a cup yourself in the late afternoon.

Keep a vase filled with simple seasonal flowers in your home.

Clear the clutter and resist filling every space.

Colors should be subtle.

Ornaments should be simple.


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