Wabi-Sabi

The beauty of industrially produced objects lies in its uniformity. For three hundred years the expectation of quality has been associated with machine-produced refinements. Even today, the “high-tech” aesthetic influences design. Even as this industrial aesthetic has dominated design for centuries, a counter movement can be traced back to the late eighteenth century interest in ruins and the late 19th century medievalist revival. The Arts and Crafts movement sprang from the aesthetics of Pre-Raphaelitism . The governing aesthetic in jewelry design remains the industrial. However, there is a significant world-wide reaction the nu-natural in jewelry design. The result is an aesthetic which leaves the imprint of the human hand on the finished work.

Kiff Slemmons, a Chicago artist-jeweler, wonders about imperfection and its impact on art in an essay that appears in Metalsmith Magazine (Vol 28, No 1, pp 26-29).

"The beauty of imperfection, its pull on our conscious as well as sensual engagement, is not always recognized for its positive attributes. This is particularly true in the more narrowly defined realm of craft, where perfection is the ultimate achievement. But sometimes the most perfectly executed object lack vitality and their impact ends quickly after this acknowledgment….

"Imperfection can offer openness; in a way, whereas perfection can sometimes be closed and frozen in place. Imperfection can certain energy—can make for flow. Perhaps imperfection is most obvious and easily understood in outsider or folk art, in which the expressive qualities are spontaneous and immediate."