Art Gallery – Washi Papercraft Maiko

Washi Papercraft Maiko This week has been a long and frustrating one. Bad weather, work stress, and my grandmother is having some medical issues. So yesterday, when I found myself with some free time, I decided to self-soothe by working on a digital washi papercraft maiko collage. Typically, I make these based on characters from pop culture – movies, cartoons, etc – and prints of those are available here. However, I realised that the bold and graphic shape of them would be very well-suited to traditional woodblock printing as well. Armed with my large collection of washi and chiyogami paper stock textures and scans, I set out to work.

I stuck to a primarily dusty, desaturated palette to keep things feeling soft and vintage, and applied textures to her outfit to bring it all to life. I added the origami flowers as kanzashi and the bamboo pole on her parasol to bring a bit more depth to it and make it look even more like a “real” mixed-media piece instead of an entirely digital one.

Overall, I’m very happy with how she turned out. It always feels good to create something pretty and share it with the world. I suspect I’ll be making more of these sometime in the future.

 

Art Gallery – Inktober Compilation

 

Inktober is an interesting initiative to try to encourage people to get out the old traditional media and be creative. For every day during the month of October, the goal is to produce one ink drawing. There are lists of prompts, but you can also choose to work off your own designs if you wish. It’s been quite a while since I did any real-media work so I thought this year I would participate, but rather than use the official prompts, I’d draw one kimono motif a day. I had a lot of fun doing this, and I think I might make it a yearly tradition. Maybe next year I’ll pick one common motif and draw a different variation of it each day. I’m certain I could find thirty-one ways to interpret sakura or ume, for example.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen these already, but I really wanted to put them all together for posterity and reference. I really love the variety in these. Some of them were clearly done on days when I had more free time than others but when you put them all together I feel like they flow very nicely. I think forcing myself to stick to two widths of black ink pen and only gold accents helped make sure that they really do feel like one cohesive project instead of just a pile of unrelated doodles. They’re also all in the same sketchbook on the same paper, the variations in colour are due to lighting differences and instagram filters.

Art Gallery – Yukata Cutie by Nikki R

Check out this utterly adorable drawing of my recent yukata outfit! It was drawn by my friend Nikki, who draws all sorts of awesome comic, pin-up, and stylised artwork. This chubby little caricature style is probably my favourite, though, and I’ve loved watching her artwork evolve over the years.

I’m amazed by how much detail she managed to fit in to such a tiny and cartoony piece. It’s super accurate without feeling cluttered or busy. She even got the ume kanzashi on my hat and the little obi-kazari down pat. For someone not in the habit of drawing kimono-related artwork, she did a fantastic job of getting the details spot-on!

The artist’s going through a bit of a rough spot financially right now, and she deserves all the best. So if you love this style as much as I do and would like one for yourself, please check out Nikki R Illustration on Facebook! Also, I always love seeing how different artists interpret my coordinations so if you’re an artist taking commissions and are interested in giving it a shot, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Art Gallery – Maiko by Charlotte Royal

Sometimes you find the most beautiful things in the most unexpected places. While browsing Kickstarter last year, I came across the Postcards from Japan project by Charlotte Royal. Her goal was simple and straightforward – travel across Japan while creating beautiful and unique works of art for people who helped back her financially.

The painting I received is an absolutely stunning watercolour painting of a maiko, done in Kyoto. I love the rich, warm colours and the thoughtful expression on her face. There’s so much personality and talent in this piece, and the fact that it’s an original, one-of-a-kind artwork makes it all the more special to me. It is large postcard-sized, more than enough room for lush detail but small enough to feel like a little jewel in my growing art collection

I have a bunch of new pieces I need to hang, and this one will definitely be front and centre once I figure out where everything is going.

I received this item as a backer perk for a project or product that was crowd-funded (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc)

Art Gallery – Fuji Musume Doll (and repairs)

You may have seen the little souvenir doll I fixed up recently, and maybe even the ceramic hakata-style dancer I refinished, but this pretty Fuji Musume has been waiting for her moment in the spotlight since February of 2016! She had a very brief cameo on my Instagram account but has been in hiding ever since, unless you’ve been in my bedroom.

I found her in an antique shop near my house before I found the other two dolls. The owner tried to tell me she was in “perfect condition”, but once I took her out and had a good look at her I could see that absolutely was not the case. The delicate painting on her face was faded and chipped, her wisteria branch was sun-damaged and brittle, the structure under her hair was almost bleached, and there was a not insignificant crack in the bisque on the back of her neck. I managed to talk him down to a more than reasonable price for her and her glass case. I knew I wanted to restore her beauty, but I had no idea where to start, aside from the obvious things like getting her a new wisteria branch. While that was in the works, I focused on the other dolls and the things I learnt doing those two helped prepare me for more on her.

Jess from Tiaras ‘n Teakettles came to the rescue for the wisteria! I sent her photos and measurements of the original branch and she crafted this beautiful tsumami branch by hand. It’s got a lovely weight to it, the dangles flow gracefully, and it fits perfectly between her hands. I didn’t even have to glue it, it balances so well.

Once that was sorted I knew it was time to tackle the more serious issues. Her lips were lacquered in an almost glassy red that had cracked and split and faded over time. I ended up having to use Tamiya paint thinner to strip the original off properly, and then used watercolours to repaint her lips and add a tiny hint of red to her eyes. I feel like it helps breathe new life into her facial features.

Next up was the most challenging bit; repairing the cracked bisque on the back of her neck. Thankfully it was just a surface defect, not a structural one, and with the way she stands in her display case it’s virtually unnoticeable, but I knew it was there and I wanted to fix it. I tried a few different things before stumbling upon crafting chalk paint. It’s easy to find in any large craft store such as Michaels. I bought a bottle of white and mixed in the tiniest amounts of peach and brown to make it warmer and less stark. I worked in incredibly thin coats, brushing it over the crack and wiping away the excess each time, essentially filling the crack in with the chalk paint and blending the edges out with a wet brush. If you’re right next to her or looking through a camera lens you can see it faintly, but it’s nearly gone.

Finally I used a black marker to fill in the bald spots on the sides of her hairstyle, repositioned her obiage and gave her a new obijime. I felt that the original one she came with was too big in scale and to starkly white, but I found this thinner gold cord that works perfectly.

I am so glad I waited to work on her, because I know I’ve done the best job possible instead of eagerly rushing through things as I am sometimes wont to do. I love her to bits, and she occupies place of pride on a table next to my sofa now.

Also, you may be thinking to yourself “Isn’t this primarily a kimono blog? Why aren’t you posting any actual kimono lately?” and I would like to address that briefly. I’ve been feeling under the weather, and combined with the heat and humidity this summer, I have no energy to even wrestle with the mannequin. However, I do have a big project in the works, and hopefully it will make up for the sparsity and somewhat disjointed nature of the posts lately! I just need the weather to calm down a little, and the last of the pieces I’ve ordered to arrive in the mail.