Perfectly Imperfect: Beauty, Brokenness and DIY Decor/Before

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” -Marilyn Monroe

Perhaps one reason I resist aspiring to perfection is my long-time love of vintage and antique goods. Perfection is a shiny veneer, pretty enough to look at, but usually a temporary state—and, frankly, a little boring. Wear and tear tells a story: a little rust lends a venerable charm, a few dings show an object was used and valued, a crooked hand-sewn seam or repair imbues an inanimate linen with tangible humanity. The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the root of “imperfect” as deriving from the “mid-14c., imperfite, from Old French imparfait, from Latin imperfectus ‘unfinished, incomplete’.” All of the imperfect objects in the gallery, above, were found at thrift, consignment, or antique stores, and all will become part of our wedding decor. When I look at them, I see the beauty in their imperfections, and the possibilities in that beauty. They are indeed “unfinished and incomplete,” though my goal is not to “perfect” them, only to highlight their inherent loveliness and enhance it by finding fresh uses for familiar things.

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.” – John Ruskin

Re-purposing old objects, of course, is also socially responsible. So, these are a few of my favorite imperfect things:

1) Milk glass candleholder, 25-cents. It was considerably dustier when purchased. 🙂 Pretty and perfectly useful as is, but headed for a transformation, as are most of the items here.

2) Glass plate, $10. I love the radiating circles, which are actual grooves on the back of the plate. It’s challenging to find glass plates with geometric rather than floral designs, so it caught my attention immediately.

3) Wire stand, $25. Memo holder? Receipt file? I think this piece is some kind of office equipment; it reminds me of the stand my dry cleaner uses for filing. When I found it, two pink binder clips were attached. The paint is peeling, and it needs work, but it’s going to be a standout cupcake stand when it’s rehabbed!

4) Blue (pie) plate special, $18. A vintage pottery piece in exactly the right shade of blue. The fluted edge echoes some Fenton glass pieces I have on tap, too. This plate will likely be used “as is.”

5) Vintage metal candle-holder, long in my possession, and piece of blue fabric, 50-cents. The candle-holder is a little rusty from time spent outdoors, but I like the texture and sense of age that gives. It might get a coat of paint, or it might not. The blue fabric is already being worked into some pillows.

6) Daisy-ish plate, $2. A steal! The pale yellow center is wrong for our color scheme, but I can fix that.

7) This unusual piece, $7, is one of my fave finds ever. I gotta say, it was filthy when I bought it—here it is cleaned but otherwise unimproved. Objects like this make me want to know their story—why yellow?  Why was it left in dirt and disrepair? In some ways I love the fact I will never know the answers to such questions, because even after I reclaim the piece and assign it a new use, it will in that way always maintain a world of possibilities. Here’s a little challenge for you, readers: Can you guess what this object is? And what it will become? Comment below with your thoughts!

“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That’s what connects us—that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect.” -Emilio Estevez

I confess: today, I’m having an easier time seeing only the wrecks, the broken places, minus the beauty: the horrors emerging from UVa, anger and violence erupting in Ferguson, losses closer to home have all left me with a heavy heart. Yet perhaps the days we struggle are those when we most need to find the beauty in our brokenness, remind ourselves that we, too, have a few dings, a few scratches, a few lines, but we’re still whole, and wholly valuable. If we’re lucky, we will all grow stained and scarred from years of being of use; we’ll become softened by service, worn with love. Such marks aren’t signs we’re ready for the scrap heap; they’re the hallmarks of our shared humanity.

After my paternal grandmother died, we found a pair of slippers we’d sent her for Christmas one year. Instead of wearing them, allowing them to grow worn and dirty, she tucked them away in a drawer because they were “too pretty to use.” They fell apart in our hands, dry-rotted. My Grandma, a farmer, lived a simple, practical life and had few expensive or beautiful things. I understand her desire to preserve the slippers in their perfect, pristine state, and I like to imagine she took them out sometimes, admired their delicate pink, stroked the plush lining. And I also wish she’d known the beauty and comfort of wearing those slippers until her toes poked through and the soles peeled off, the beauty of ordinary, intimate imperfection wrought by daily use.

I’m so grateful Steve sees possibility in my imperfections. There is a  “vitality,” as John Ruskin names it, inherent in imperfection: the possibility, even promise, of change. May we all embrace the beauty within that vitality.

Wishing everyone a perfectly imperfect Thanksgiving!

Do you have a guess about object #7?

For the answer, visit “DIY Decor: Vintage Finds Cakestand”

7 thoughts on “Perfectly Imperfect: Beauty, Brokenness and DIY Decor/Before

  1. Fred says:

    Re #7 – an outdoor piece by the look of it… and those aren’t handles… perches for birds, perhaps? …for feeding or watering? Difficult to judge it’s size by the photo, but might look nice in the raw as a pedestal for a large candle.

    Liked by 2 people

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