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!

Miniature Washitsu Project

One thing you may not know about me is that I am completely fascinated with dollhouse miniatures. I find something incredibly awe-inspiring about tiny, realistic objects. My father and I built a dollhouse for some of my figurines and decorating it with miniature food and accessories was my favourite parts. Sometimes when I’m bored, I’ll just browse through online retailers and on eBay, admiring the painstaking detail put into these things.

I’m honestly not sure what put the bee into my bonnet in the first place, but I recently decided I wanted to make a traditional miniature washitsu (Japanese room) diorama, and I wanted to make as much of it from scratch as I possibly could, using found objects or bits and bobs from the dollar store. The room started out as a cardboard mailing box. I covered it with brown craft paper. The roof is more cardboard, covered with pieces of a bamboo beach mat. The tatami mats inside were made out of more beach mat, adhered to foam-core and decorated with washi tape. The wood flooring is popsicle sticks, and the screens are sheer mylar with more popsicle sticks and match sticks. They slide open and closed, too, which I am very proud of! I made the zabuton out of leftover indigo fabric from my recent sashiko project. The table is a coaster and a napkin ring, and the console is the holder for the coasters.

Most of the food and accessories are Re-Ment miniatures I already owned. The tiny bonsai I made myself, using a beads, and a bottle cap and some washi tape for the containter. The kakemono was printed and adhered to origami paper and toothpicks. The only items I purchased were the tiny geta, the vase (the pussywillows in the vase were made with wire and pearl flower pips), and the adorable little bowl of goldfish. The lighting was a happy accident; I made the two small fixtures and went looking for a small set of LEDs to light them, and found some at the dollar store that came with the adorable red lantern! I had to incorporate it!

It may not be perfect, but overall I’m so happy with how this turned out, and I suspect I will be making more dioramas like this in the future. I’d love to do a dressing room with a tiny tansu at some point!

DIY Doll Makeover

I found this precious little gal at the thrift store a few weeks ago. She’s not particularly old or valuable, but something about her spoke to me. Her previous owners had slathered her in acrylic craft paint, and it was doing her no justice. I knew I wanted to make her look a bit like a Hakata doll, I just wasn’t sure how I’d go about that. It took a bit of experimentation, but I’m really happy with the end result.

Here she is exactly as I brought her home. Thick, streaky acrylic craft paint hid most of the details of her sweet little face, and the colours on her just weren’t to my taste.


So I stripped her down to bare porcelain with some 100% acetone, and gave her two very thin coats of matte white primer. She could have looked absolutely gorgeous all in white, but parts of her were in rough shape, no matter how much sanding and spraying I did, so I went ahead with my initial plan of colouring her. I tried several different types of paint (fine acrylics, watercolours, etc) but nothing was setting properly. Then I gave my alcohol-based markers a shot, and knew I’d found my solution.

 

The markers did a lovely job of covering her without making her feel heavy. The black marker I used on her hair has a brush tip, and I love the texture it gave her. I also used metallic paint pens to add a bit of depth and texture to her obi and the little flowers that were sculpted in relief on the kimono. I left her eyes closed, I think it gives her a pensive, focused expression. A young lady caught up in her dance.


She may not be perfect, but she’s entirely mine and I’m completely in love with her!

Geta Makeover

Geta Makeover!

I purchased these geta a while back from my friend Amelie, because I’d been looking for a pair of slightly dressier geta I could wear with vintage or casual kimono. The straps were painfully tight and an akward shade of green velour that didn’t really go well with anything I owned.

Naomi sent me a wonderful box full of random goodies, and in it was this pair of gorgeous black pinstripe hanao. They’re wonderfully subtle and iki in my mind, and perfect for what I had in mind for the geta in the first place.

I’d lengthened the hanao on several of my pairs of zori before, so I figured I had enough experience to throw caution to the wind and go all Mad Scientist on the geta. There are a lot of images here, so I’ve made them smaller than usual. Click on them for larger sizes if you are curious :)

Phase 1: Lay the geta, bottoms-up, on a convenient flat clean surface.

Phase 2: Using a pair of small pliers (I used some sturdy jewelers pliers), pull the staple out from the flap under the toes and carefully undo the knotted cords.

Phase 3: Stripped geta bases with no hanao.

Phase 4: Insert the hanao back into the toe-hole, tie it around the metal pin, and carefully hammer the staple back into the rubber flap, making sure the cords are covered.

Phase 5: Thread the ends of the hanao into the back holes and tie the strings together in a tight knot and then tie the excess in repeated square knots around itself.

Repeat for the second geta, and voila, sexy and stylish new look.

While working on them, I noticed the black lacquer had chipped off one of the toes. This was simple to fix with a bottle of black nail polish.

And here I am wearing them with some delightfully obnoxious tabi!

Eventually I would like to replace the rubber soles on the bottom, and will share my adventures with that when the time comes. The whole process only took me about half an hour, and I think it was absolutely worthwhile. I now have a pair of well-fitting and stylish black geta, and the knowledge that I can totally do this again if I ever find another pair that’s not in fabulous shape. I hope seeing the procedure encourages you to try it as well if it’s something you were considering but were feeling overwhelmed by!

DIY Beaded Haori Himo

I love working with beads, and I hate tying haori himo. Clearly, this was the only logical solution! A quick trip to Wal-Mart to get some pretty decorative beads and metal lobster claws, and voila.

If you want to make your own, it just takes 6″/15 cm of elastic cord, two lobster claws, two crimps, and a nice assortment of beads. I find that length is ideal, it’s long enough to give you a bit of freedom of movement and a nice drape, without being too long. I made them with specific haori and coordination in mind, but there are such amazing beads in large chain stores now, why not just go and see what inspires you?

If anyone else made some of these, I would love to see.