Embracing Wabi-Sabi

by | Jun 23, 2023

Beauty in Imperfection and Transience

Wabi-sabi” is a Japanese aesthetic concept that celebrates the beauty of imperfection, transience, and the natural cycle of growth and decay. It finds beauty in the weathered aspects of life. My mosaic art is similar. My practice of using broken and irregular tesserae is consistent with the wabi-sabi belief that imperfections can enhance the overall aesthetic. Very rarely will I use precut shapes for my work. I prefer to hand cut each individual piece myself. I don’t want machine perfect mosaic pieces. I want my tesserae to be imperfect, but with a purpose, I use shape and color to communicate a feeling, demonstrate an idea and tell a story.

In Harmony With Nature

In addition to using hand cut glass, I also use natural materials like stones, shells, and ceramics. These materials inherently carry imperfections and unique qualities. Incorporating these materials into mosaic artwork allows for a connection to nature and an appreciation for the irregularities and textures they bring.
Wabi-sabi also encourages an appreciation for the passage of time and the changes that occur. Mosaic artworks created using natural materials may evolve over time as they interact with their environment, further emphasizing the transient nature of life.

Artistic Flow and Intuitive Arrangement

In the broader context, arranging the tesserae involves careful thought, as each piece contributes to the overall composition. Their unique imperfections bring richness and character. However, during the more intricate, hands-on phase, I sometimes enter a state of flow. In this state, the placement of pieces becomes almost intuitive. It’s as if they choose their own positions as I pick up one piece after another, effortlessly finding their perfect spots. This flow doesn’t happen every time I work, and often, once I realize I’m in it, that awareness can disrupt and halt it.

Capturing Essence over Perfection

Wabi-sabi emphasizes that perfection isn’t essential to convey the core of a subject. When it comes to my mosaic work, I often stress to my clients that I’m not chasing picture-perfect realism. Instead, I strive to encapsulate the essence of emotion. Particularly with my pet portraits, I aim to capture the distinct and beautifully imperfect sparkle that defines each individual.


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