Visible mending makes a feature out of fixing fabric. According to Charlotte Jenner, who runs A Nest of Gentle Makers, a crafting retreat in the New Forest, this is due to a backlash against the way we consume.
“People seem to want clothes as they are reading more about the downside of ‘fast fashion’,” she says, “both in terms of using up the resources of the planet and also the poor treatment and conditions that many of the workers have to tolerate when making clothes for our consumption.”
Kate Sekules, a repair champion who runs an established visible, agrees that consumption culture has paved the way for the craft’s popularity. “Clearly it’s the craving for the handmade and unique in our culture, owing to the metastasising cancer of mass production,” she says.
“If everything’s the same, of course we start to want a different look, and nothing shows the individual hand more than visible mending.”
Wabi-sabi is the art of imperfection. An ancient Japanese tradition rooted, the philosophy aims to remind us of the transient nature of life. In design terms, it’s the ultimate rebellion against products that are shiny, new and sterile. It’s seeing the beauty in flaws: a pot or a edge – a celebration of the parts of an object that show.
“It’s of fundamental importance to embrace the whole concept, without any part; neither philosophy nor aesthetics,” says Manuela Metra, a wabi-sabi ceramic artist and fine art photographer, who has run the Alice In Wonderland art atelier in Milan for over 20 years.
Rather than being a single skill, wabi-sabi is an approach to making and design as a whole, and Metra predicts that the concept will only become more widespread. “I think that wabi-sabi will, in the immediate future, contaminate new areas not directly connected with ceramics,” she says, citing design, fashion and textiles as potential new areas for wabi-sabi to infiltrate.
Pouring is not as obscure as it sounds. It simply means mixing multiple colors of acrylic paint and pouring onto a surface. As the paint leaves the cup, the colors mix, creating an other-worldly effect that takes on different patterns. It’s possibly one of the most accessible crafts (it plays a big part here) and the results are pretty delightful right from the outset. Crafters can add different material to create varying effects, but the skill is in the tilt and the ratios of paint that the outcome of the piece.
There’s an enormous online presence for acrylic pouring, with thousands of guides and videos that show the popularity of this at-home craft technique.
Carruthers has seen acrylic pouring rapidly grow in popularity over the last year, and thinks she knows why. “I believe the ‘instant painting’ you get when pouring instead of using a brush is very attractive to not only artists, but novices and the inexperienced creatives that want to try something new. Anyone can do it and with a bit of luck, you may just create an absolute masterpiece.”
And she believes that the technique is certain to affect other areas of design. “I most certainly have seen this style evolve and move into other areas like prints, homewares and wallpaper.
“In my own personal experience, my work is about to feature on luxury couture gowns at the fashion week! Everyone loves the organic feel of the art.”
Carruthers believes that as we move, we are sure to see the continuation of the popularity for acrylic pouring. Just as with visible mending, the act of creation is a relaxing antidote. And as Carruthers points out “it’s better because you get a nice piece of artwork in the end!”