Typically, when we stumble upon a broken object, we feel one of two inclinations: to attempt to restore the piece to its former self, or to simply discard it. Both options possess potential problems, however, as seamlessly repairing damaged items requires great skill and throwing an object away can feel like a waste. To remedy this common complication, many creatives turn to a unique solution: inspired, artistic repairs.
When creatively restoring and upcycling damaged objects, some artists draw inspiration from techniques of the past. For example, contemporary ceramic experts like Yeesookyun, Tomomi Kamoshita, and Charlotte Bailey put their own spin on kintsugi, a traditional Japanese method of mending broken pottery without hiding its imperfections. Likewise, many creatives have completely original artistic approaches, like Bing Wright’s sunny celebration of broken mirrors, Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene’s poignant series of delicately-stitched war helmets, and Keiko Sato’s haunting string silhouettes of felled trees.
Whether an homage to the old or a nod to the new, one thing is clear: just because it’s broken doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful.
Scroll down to see some of the best artistic repairs that wound up being better than the original.
Translated Vase by Yeesookyung
Yeesookyung fuses fragments of broken porcelain into surreal sculptures that, in homage to kintsugi, glimmer with gold.
Broken Mirror / Evening Sky (Kodacolor) by Bing Wright
Photographer Bing Wright turns shattered mirrors into unique canvases by using them to capture the fractured reflections of stunning sunsets.
MMasked Ball by Aganetha Dyck
Artist Aganetha Dyck breathes new life into secondhand figurines found in flea markets by introducing them to honeybees, who diligently cloak them in honeycomb.
Kintsugi by Tomomi Kamoshita
Using chipped and tiny ceramic pieces found on the beach, Tomomi Kamoshita creates abstract chopstick rests that are as ornamental as they are functional.
Street Ceramic by NeSpoon
Street artist NeSpoon spruces up public spaces by filling cracks and holes with lace-inspired patterns.
New Old Chair by Tatiane Freitas
Capturing a clear contrast between the old and new, artist Tatiane Freitas employs acrylic resin to “mend” broken wooden furniture.
Metamorphosis by Keiko Sato
In Metamorphosis, Keiko Sato secures strings to tree stumps to create ghostly, transparent trunks that give new life to the felled trees.
Pothole Flower Mosaic by Jim Bachor
After noticing how many potholes were in Chicago, Jim Bachor decided to do something to fix his broken city. He turned the street cavities into sweet treats and flower mosaics.
Pothole Garden by Steve Wheen
Steve Wheen, aka The Pothole Gardener, took it upon himself to add a touch of nature to East London. He says his efforts are “part art project, part labour of love, part experiment, part mission to highlight how s*** our roads are – the pictures and gardens are supposed to put smiles on peoples faces and alert them to potholes!”
Handcrafted Table by Manufract
Inspired by the self-healing capabilities of trees, Manufract has designed an eco-friendly table that utilizes bio resins to repair salvaged wood.
Dispatchwork by Jan Vormann
To fill gaps in crumbling façades, artist Jan Vormann employs an unconventional alternative to spackle: Lego. The brightly-colored blocks beautifully juxtapose the natural hues of the surrounding stones.
Embroidered Kintsugi Vase by Charlotte Bailey
In a unique twist on the kintsugi tradition, embroidery artist Charlotte Bailey mends broken vessels with patterned fabric and glistening gold thread.
Kill for Peace by Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene
Lithuanian embroidery artist Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene stitches delicate floral motifs into the punctures and perforations of authentic war helmets.
Camouflage (Tribute to René Magritte) by Pejac
Known for his trompe-l’oeil techniques, street artist Pejac turns ordinary façades into works of art. In Camouflage (Tribute to René Magritte), he uses an abandoned building’s decrepit window panes to create simple silhouettes of birds in flight.
Narrative Artefact 1 by Michelle Taylor
Ceramic and mixed media artist Michelle Taylor poignantly feels “the need to repair and restore the damaged and the broken in order to preserve memories and existence.” Using textiles and silk thread, Taylor beautifully mends broken found objects, like this discarded teacup.
Boulevard de Belleville by Juliana Santacruz Herrera
In Boulevard de Belleville, a site-specific project, artist Juliana Santacruz Herrera repaired Paris’ potholes and pavements with colorful coiled strips of fabric.