Make-Do.

Make-Do.

An 18th Century  Kangxi Make-Do  Pitcher from our collection

An 18th Century Kangxi Make-Do Pitcher from our collection

Make-do's are objects which have been repaired in inventive, incongruous and often artful ways. No two ever the same, they reveal the creativity and determination of the original owner, and possess a certain magical quality that is often times much more special than the pristine original. Though make-dos were once largely overlooked, they are now recognized as unique wonders in their own right. 

A magical 18th Century  creamware make-do jug  from our collection.

A magical 18th Century creamware make-do jug from our collection.

There are many different techniques for repairs, from staples and rivets to 'kintsugi', the Japanese technique of repairing ceramics using lacquer and powdered gold. Apparently by the 17th century, kintsugi was such a popular phenomenon that people were known to smash their tea bowls on purpose so that they could embed them with golden-veined repairs.

A 17th Century Korean Joseon period kintsugi bowl at the Smithsonian Museum.

A 17th Century Korean Joseon period kintsugi bowl at the Smithsonian Museum.

There is something profoundly beautiful about the embrace of accidents and mistakes that make-dos reveal. Kintsugi, as a philosophy, sees breakage and repair as a part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. This aligns closely with the Japanese philosophy of ‘wabi’, which dates back to the 16th century and embraces the beauty of imperfection. It couldn’t be further removed from today’s culture of disposability and planned obsolescence where we simply discard anything chipped, cracked or worn. 

For those interested in delving further into the alluring world of make-dos, Andrew Baseman’s blog, Past Imperfect, is a wonderful resource. 

An 18th Century  make-do Delft tankard  from our collection.

An 18th Century make-do Delft tankard from our collection.