Happy Hina-Matsuri!

I hope everyone is having a great day! While it’s still March 2nd here in Canada, it’s been March 3rd, Hinamatsuri, in Japan for several hours already. Last year, I made a set of dolls with perler beads. The year before that, origami. This year I decided to go for a double-whammy. I drew a set which are also available as a print, and I made this adorable set from Nanoblock that was super fun to put together.

May this year be filled with luck and love to you and all the girls and women in your lives.

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Review – Doll Kimono by JaponSakura

If you’ve ever gone hunting for doll kimono for smaller dolls (Barbie, Monster High, Pullip, Blythe, etc) you know how hard it can be to find accurate, well-made ones. There are lots of really nice options for wa-lolita styles and more modern/fashion types, and some beautiful options for larger BJDs, but if you’re looking for a stylish traditional kimono the options tend to be slim. I’d been looking for a proper kimono for Willow Grace, my beloved Pullip doll (on a 27cm Obitsu body), for a while and wasn’t finding anything that really spoke to me. Then I found Makiko and her shop JaponSakura on Etsy and I knew that was about to change!

The shop is sorted by doll size and type, so whether you’re looking for a kimono for the tiniest MiniFee BJD or your 70cm tall beauty, there are options available. There are multiple feminine styles as well as masculine options, as well as hakama for both.

There are a huge array of options for kimono fabric, obi fabric, obi style, accessories, etc, allowing for nearly limitless combinations. If you still can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, Makiko will also take entirely custom orders as schedule allows. I’ve got one of those in the works for a big project and will hopefully be showing you all soon!

All the items are very solid and well-made. The kimono is fully lined and everything is very cleanly finished with tiny stitching. The kimono is long enough to make a proper ohashori. I used a small clear hair elastic to hold everything in place, and it worked perfectly. The obi is pre-tied and closes with velcro. At this size, that’s quite helpful; tying a full obi would be incredibly fiddly and frustrating. The obijime is tied in a beautiful decorative knot and then just attaches in the back behind the obi musubi. For anyone wondering, the tabi and zori are standard 27cm Obitsu products that I purchased separately. My custom order will also be including tabi, but for now I can’t comment on the quality of those. However, I can only assume they’re made with as much care and attention as the rest of the items.

And of course, what’s a girl to do when she’s got not only an adorable doll and a gorgeous kimono, but also a doll-sized koto she found at a thrift store for six dollars? Why, take more photos, of course!

Overall, I am incredibly happy with the artistry and craftsmanship of the whole outfit. Everything coordinates very well and I think the fabrics I picked suit my little Willow Grace very well. She looks very at home in the cabinet with my other Japanese dolls now! And yes, I will have photos of that cabinet eventually.

Don’t forget, there’s just over a week to go in my Facebook giveaway! If you haven’t checked that out yet, now is your chance. 💖

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

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.

Tiny Doll, Tiny Makeover

Hello! Just a quick post today. A few weeks ago, I found this charming little doll at one of the thrift stores near me. I posted a photo of her (along with the rest of my haul) on my Instagram but now that she’s had a bit of a face-lift I felt like she needed her own post.

She’s nothing fancy – maybe 4″ tall and made primarily of plastic. I assume she was a cheap souvenir or something. But I was really charmed by her, and wanted to give her a new lease of life. I was inspired by my friend Naomi, who has been rescuing dolls from thrift stores for ages now, and my friend Vi who runs The Heirloom Smith, a small custom design and restoration business.

The biggest and most obvious problem was her head; her hair was a wreck and there was a flat circle of paper glued to the crown of her head, where a hat had likely fallen off. Thankfully, she had two other hats – one in each hand! I carefully pried the hats off and put them aside, and moistened her hair so I could brush it and try to tame it down somewhat. I then soaked her hands carefully in warm water to dissolve the leftover glue and paper. However, without her hats her pose definitely looked a bit funny, and the fact that her hands, feet, and face were made of cheap yellowed plastic was very apparent. I re-posed her slightly (thankfully, her body is a wire frame so she’s relatively flexible), covered over her yellowed bits with white chalk paint, gave her a cute little umbrella to dance with, and glued one of the salvaged hats onto her head. The last step was to give her slightly more subdued facial features with watercolours over the newly-painted surface of her face. She looks very at home in the cabinet with the ceramic doll I repainted a while back. I’m so happy Ito have given both these girls a new home. Their big sister is also in the works, I hope to be posting about her sometime soon.

I didn’t take too many photos during the process, and the ones I did take were done at my desk with my phone so they’re not fantastic, but it’s still nice to see how she progressed to the final result up at the top of the page.

Happy Hinamatsuri!

Just a quick post today, to wish you all a happy Hinamatsuri! One day I hope to own a full, proper set of hina dolls but until I have the space and the budget for it, I’ve started a little bit of a personal tradition. Last year I made an origami set and while I still love them I wanted to do something a little more complex for this year. When my friend Amanda posted her Perler bead hina doll set on Facebook, I knew I’d found my project. They were very fun and relaxing to make. I’d forgotten how fun Perler bead crafts are, and I’m happy to have been reminded. I can’t wait to make more stuff 🙂

If you’d like to try making a set of your own, here is the pattern for the Obina (男雛, Emperor) and here is the Mebina (女雛, Empress). I didn’t have the exact colours needed so I took a bit of creative liberty but I think they look absolutely adorable!