Mending with gold: Designing a new life

2020 has been quite a year, but 2019 was for me, a more traumatic one. And I became brittle. Serendipity provided a home by the beach, room for my dog and horses and a beach on my front garden.

From the little house by the sea

On 1 December 2019, I decided to start swimming in the sea. It became a daily habit. Every morning I would engulf myself in that intense cold and rise up with coursing veins. It intuitively felt restorative. 

One day I caught a radio programme about the therapeutic properties of cold water swimming on mental health and depression. I started to feel better. It gave me a sense of purpose. I found something I loved. And slowly doors started to open again. 

The back garden

I am never without design. It is always my essence, starting point and guide to through new connections and experiences. It has led me twice to study in America: a year in New York, and 2 months in Boston, and even underwater.

Mending with gold – Megan Leslie a student at Orkney College inspired by Kintsugi after the loss of her beloved rabbit

Recently I’ve been fascinated by the Japanese tradition of Kintsugi, or mending with gold. In all my beach walks, I’ve collected many pieces of china and I began to wonder if I could put all the pottery pieces together to form something new. 

Part of the china collection

I started by redrawing the patterns I saw on the pottery using ink on paper. You have to be quick with ink as you use it due to its free flowing nature so it stops you overthinking.  It also has a lovely handwriting feel to it which I enjoy. I think hitting the cold water each morning does something similar for me – a kind of release from thought and freedom of expression. 

I am still working through how all these pieces will come together to form one overall design but I think it will result in a fabric for bed linen. I have a thought to layer the ink pattern with some painterly washes taken from the pottery colours. Sometimes overlaying with a contrast gives you an unexpected quality.  

Quick ink sketches

It is not hard to see that the past two years for me have had a Kintsugi quality for me. I was broken, but old and new friends and family rallied around, and luck stepped in. Swimming brought me a new place of release and inspiration and friendship. 

All out memories and experiences get collected. When inspiration comes I take those thoughts, memories or visuals stored in boxes, sketchbooks, my phone and rework into something new.  I always feel in this moment like Dumbledore from Harry Potter, looking into his penseive.

I am in my happiest place creating something new, surrounded by colour and fabric. Often it can feel like the bit I love – design – is a very small part of my business in times. And I am currently striving to make more time for it. But in reality, design is the key to everything else that surrounds it – the conversations with suppliers and makers, the paperwork, connecting with people, fulfilling orders. 

Design is my insight into the world. There is nothing I love more then seeing people enjoy the products derived from my own fragments of memory, inspiration and experience and making them part of their own. 

2020 has left so many of us feeling shattered and fearful. My wish is that you all find a way to mend with gold.

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