Art Gallery – Pop-Art Portrait by Melanie Georgiou

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been lucky enough to have a new portrait to share with you all! This fantastic piece was done by Melanie Georgiou (Merrie Go Art on Facebook). She is currently undertaking the incredibly inspiring challenge of doing one hundred portraits of kimono friends and colleagues. So far, they’re all as unique and bold and as fabulous as this one which just blows my mind. She was inspired by some of my favourite yabane pieces since we share a love of the motif, and I absolutely love that she included the iris motif since it’s one of my favourite flowers but not something I think I’ve ever mentioned. And of course, how could I not be thrilled with the bright bold blue of my hair? If only I could get it to stay this vibrant in real life!

If you liked this gorgeous painting as much as I did, click here to check out the rest of the project and her other amazing creative output!

Odori Otoko-Poi

I bought this dance kimono on a whim a while back, because I loved the graphic quality of it. The seller had listed it as a woman’s kimono but I was fairly certain it was actually a men’s dance piece. My suspicions were confirmed when it arrived. I don’t hold it against the seller, they list tons of items every single day and I’m sure it was an honest mistake. I was still very happy because it’s so fun and bold. I knew I wanted to do an otoko-poi or tomboyish look with it, and I wanted to keep the colour scheme really simple, so I pulled out my tenga obi with a gold side and stuck to black accessories. I would have preferred an all-black or monochrome haneri but since I don’t own one I thought the pink flowers on this one were neutral enough for the time being.

This is my first men’s kimono and I was actually quite surprised by how different putting it on was. I’m so used to slack in the collar, the extra length and ohashori, and the open sleeves that this was much more of a challenge than I’d initially anticipated. Despite that, eventually I’d like to try to wear this outfit, but I’d like a paler gold obi and a solid black collar first. I am curious to see if wearing a men’s kimono feels as different as using it on the mannequin did.

By the way, I am still on vacation, I just took these photos before I left so there wouldn’t be too huge a content gap while I was out of town 🙂 I’ve got a few more things in the works, but this will be the last mannequin coordination until I get home. Thanks for understanding! ❤️

Rough Magnolia Ikebana

As I’ve progressed along this journey I’ve focused on the shin, soe, and hikae of a fairly straightforward moribana-style arrangement, and the low natural shapes and textures of a rougher natural arrangement. For this one, I wanted to focus on the concept of “unbalanced balance”, weighting something off-centre while still evoking a feeling of pleasant balance.

Magnolias are one of my favourite flowers. Honestly, I’ve never met a flowering tree I didn’t love. Magnolia, dogwood, cherry, plum, forsythia, lilac – you name it. If it blossoms on branches it’s more than fine with me! The magnolias in this arrangement were taken (with permission!) from a huge tree in the front court of my local library. They did look at me a little strangely when I asked, but we have to make sacrifices for our art, right?

I wanted to emphasise the raw, natural forms of the branches and the visual repetition of the blossoms, so I chose a fairly simple but interestingly textured little glass vase. I then coaxed the branches into shape slightly, but I preferred to work with them rather than against them, and let their curves and lines guide me. I actually arranged this and let it “settle” for a day before taking the photos, both to encourage the blooms to open slightly and to ensure that the branches were in a natural and pleasing shape. The fact that they ended up looking vaguely fan-shaped was an unintentional but happy occurrence. I placed them on the mantel, leaning towards the window as if to soak up the warm spring sun and they look quite at home here. Overall, I think this was a  fairly successful arrangement. I’m not entirely sure I got the balance ideal, but I will continue to practice and read and learn as I go.

 

California Dreamin’

I’m flying out to southern California today, and will be there for a month. ✈️ I’ve got some entries drafted up and will have access to the internet but my free time will be reduced and I won’t have access to my kimono or the mannequin. Entries will be sparse for a while, but I’ll be back soon!

Thanks for your patience 🙂

Review – Erstwilder “Nihon Journey” Collection

Erstwilder is a small Australian company that makes some of the most fun and funky accessories out there. So when I was presented with the opportunity to review some pieces from their new Japan-themed Nihon Journey collection, you can bet I was over the moon.

I selected three pieces; the Mysterious Maiko brooch, the Nishikigoi brooch, and the Noble Neko sweater chain/brooch. They arrived in beautiful boxes that serve as both protection and display, each one with a cute little card describing the design. The pieces are made out of layers of vivid, shimmering acrylic bonded together, and feel incredibly solid and secure without being bulky. They’d make excellent gifts for both kimono collectors and non-collectors alike. While these are all a fantastic way to inject a little Japanese flair into a non-kimono outfit, I thought they’d well and truly shine used as kitsuke accessories as well.

The polymath of the Japanese tea-houses across the land.
From serving to singing, dancing to dining. These girls do it all.

Mysterious Maiko is utterly lovely. She definitely has a hint of the vintage pin-up vibe Erstwilder does so well, but she’s still far more accurate than a lot of maiko and geiko imagery. It’s very clear that Carmen Hui, the designer of this collection, really loves and respects Japanese culture. The pieces are all quirky and unique, but still so undeniably Japanese in style and influence. The pattern detail on her kimono is gorgeous – I’d love one like this for myself. Her hairstyle is simplified, but definitely has the overall shape and volume it should. Her face, despite being reduced to a few graphic black and red swatches, still conveys a sense of coy playfulness. Since the pin back on this one is vertical, I just slid it around the obijime and I think she looks very at home here!

Koi ponds and water gardens are my habitat of choice.
Although I’ve often been known to appear in tattoo form.

Nishikigoi might be the stand-out for me. The colours used are so impossibly lush and deep and iridescent, and the photos I took barely do it justice. The water is rich and shimmery, the koi itself glows from within, and the blue and orange contrast each other perfectly. This brooch will need an obidome converter, unless you’re okay with the fishie being sideways. Honestly though, it works from all angles so if you don’t have access to a converter you could still make it work. I’m also absolutely going to be wearing this with western-style clothing too!

Never ignore my motion as I just might be attempting to divert you
from something dangerous on your intended path.

Noble Neko is absolutely adorable! I actually requested this one because I was curious to see how a traditional sweater chain would work as a haori-himo, and look how perfect it is! The two maneki neko are mirrored, which I think brings a lovely balance to the whole piece. Using it to hold your haori shut is the easiest thing, you can just slide the vertical pin backs through the loops on the haori, so there’s no chance of permanent damage. I honestly find it easier to do and undo than a traditional haori-himo or a chain-style himo. The neko are also small and subtle enough that they would work with a slightly more traditional outfit, while still injecting a bit of cuteness.

All in all, I am very impressed with this collection. The pieces are so well-made, and it’s clear this theme was designed with love and respect and just the right amount of whimsy. Far too often lately have we seen “Japanese” themed things released quickly and with no forethought, clearly designed to take advantage of a culture and aesthetic that’s not well-understood. That is absolutely not the case with Erstwilder. I am seriously debating adding a few more pieces from this collection as well as some from their other collections to my own stash!

If you’d like one of these for yourself (and I highly recommend them), the Nihon Journey collection is on sale as of today.

I received this item from the manufacturer for review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.