When I think of the philosophy of wabi-sabi, Burning Man and a Mustang Convertible are not the first things that pop into my mind. However, it is this sort of dichotomy that seems to define Robyn Griggs Lawrence… environmentalist, mother, writer, maker, visionary, mover, and shaker. Robyn has been kind enough to share a bit of herself and work as we continue to explore all that is wabi-sabi.
Below you will find some answers that Robyn graciously agreed to supply. They appear in their original unedited form, her prose was too lovely and thoughtful to alter.
Mending is not something we – as a culture – spend a lot of time doing these days. Fast fashion and mass consumerism has taught us to simply throw older or imperfect items away and replace them with newer versions. I am all for the “Sewing Schoolyard” – let’s teach ourselves and our kids to mend – a satisfying task.
My favorite, 10-year old tea towels have seen better days; but, I just can’t find the perfect replacement. I use our Alabama Chanin Tea Towels for most kitchen tasks but these have just given me so much kitchen love that I can’t bear to part with them.
In perfect wabi-sabi style, Olivia – our Studio Assistant (and budding pattern maker) – mended my old tea towels using scraps of our organic cotton jersey and Button Craft thread. Using applique in combination with seed, whip and eyelet stitches, she repaired the holes and covered the stains. Perfect.
From page 51 of Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers:
“Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness,
Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is, in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.”
Our newest DIY Kit:
Reverse Applique Rose Tank Dress
Perfect for every occasion, this 100% organic cotton jersey tank dress from Alabama Studio Style uses a Rose Placement Stencil from Alabama Stitch Book patterned all-over the garment front and back. Choose your own fabric and thread colors .
Shown here in black with black thread.
While working on my own wabi-sabi this week, I came across the work of friend Carolyn Strauss and her partner in slowLab – Alastair Fuad-Luke – on page 30-31 of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House.
I was reminded of the importance of these six principles:
Introducing our Knotted Necklaces – which are also a great belts.
Shown below styled with our:
Anna’s Garden Embroidered Tank and Paisley Skirt
I have immersed myself in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers over the last weeks and these three, short sentences on the nature of the universe (see pages 46-47) make me so happy:
1. All things are impermanent.
2. All things are imperfect.
3. All things are incomplete.
To me, this seems the essence of wabi-sabi. When I read these, it is like I have been given the okay to just be me today, and every day. Sigh, what a relief.
I made it! 50 years old and going strong.
On my daughter Maggie’s birthday each year, I send (or do my best to send) an invitation to celebrate that includes the following text. Today, the invitation is for me:
“Join us in celebrating 50 years of life.
No presents please, plant a flower or a tree for me.”
Thank you for all your support for Alabama Chanin… and me.
As my father reminded me: “This is going to be the best decade of your life!”
P.S: For those of you who have been asking, my cleanse was a success – or should I say a beautiful and permanent change of lifestyle: 25 pounds lighter and I feel 10+ years younger.
Now, on to cleansing my life, home and studio! It is going to be a wabi-sabi life – starting today…