Wabi-sabi is an elusive Japanese concept -- and I could spend a lifetime pursuing an understanding of it. It is *not* a trend or decorating style.
In terms of material culture, it is an appreciation for natural or hand crafted things, and the beautiful patina which develops over time. It is an appreciation for the natural, transient nature of things.
Back in 2013 we used an original 1740's floorboard from our kitchen, as the face of our mantle during our kitchen renovation:
In quilting terms, think hand made... faded with age and use... vintage... soft, simple, humble, authentic, unique, showing the maker's hand.
When I think about the quilts I most love - utilitarian, quirky, beautiful, warm, modest - I am led to think "wabi-sabi."
Often when I finish a quilt, I think "this quilt will be even better after lots of use and about 100 washings." My quilts don't start out wabi sabi but I sure hope that over time, and use, they will become wabi sabi. It's a collaboration between me and whoever is going to use the quilt over time.
Now living back in Japan again, I want to keep a keen eye out for what strikes me as "wabi sabi" and share it here.
July 2019 xo
My first and best quilting teacher, Grandma Mary Lou: