Winter to Spring Ikebana

Here is is, guys; my first attempt at a proper ikebana arrangement!  After spending the past week and a half poring over the books I’ve received. There’s two still in the mail, but the ones I’ve got already help a ton. There is so much to learn, and I suspect in a year or so I will look back on this one with embarrassment, but for now I’m very proud of myself.

For this first project I wanted to keep things simple, so I stuck with a moribana-style arrangement with three types of plant materials representing the shin, soe, and hikae elements. The pussy-willows were chosen to represent the upcoming spring, but also to remind me of my grandmother Lorraine, whose collections and passions for Japanese art have always inspired me. She had pussy-willows in a glass vase in her apartment at all times. The white spider chrysanthemums felt like an ideal way to represent Japan. The red berries represent the last of winter, and bring a bit of colour and rhythm into an otherwise very quiet arrangement.

This was very soothing for me to make, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing this project as I get more access to flowers and greenery.

Whisky-a-go-go

Well, would you look at that? I’m not actually dead! Summer here was insufferably hot and damp, intolerable kimono weather, and my health hasn’t been great lately. I’ve been less than motivated to do anything kimono-related recently, but I’d been kind of itching to wear this particular blue tsukesage since it arrived.

The perfect opportunity showed up when I bought tickets to the Montreal Pipes and Drums Whisky-Tasting fundraiser. At first, it might seem a bit incongruous to wear a kimono to a decidedly Scottish event, but the Quartermaster for the band is my friend Nick, who shares and encourages my silly kimono enthusiasm. He specifically requested I wear kimono, and who was I to say no? Initially I’d wanted to wear my tartan komon, figuring it would be much more appropriate, but it’s too narrow in the hips to comfortably wear out to an event, especially one where I’d be sitting in a western-style chair at a tiny bar table. So I finally got to bust out this blue beauty.

Inevitably, I got a few “what are you wearing?” and “I like your costume!” comments, but the response was overwhelmingly positive nonetheless. I think the best question I got was from the (very attractive) bouncer at the venue, who came up and said “Can I ask you a question?”. I cringed, expecting the usual “what is that?” or “geesha girl” type question, but instead, he said “Do they have a Japanese Whisky back there or something?” which made me smile.

Anyway, I’m rambling a bit. Here are the pictures! The angle of these ones is a bit funny, since my tripod attachment is MIA so my father kindly held the camera for me.

It wouldn’t be a Kimono Tsuki entry without a visit from my two favourite furry photobombers, now would it?

Royal blue tsukesage/houmongi with kiku and botan

I found this beauty on eBay, and was initially drawn to it because of its length – a whopping 69 inches or 175 centimetres. At my height, finding long kimono is always exciting. The thumbnail makes it look quite odd – almost unfinished, like there are just big white blobs on a blue surface, and I think this worked in my favour, because nobody else bid on it.

Up close, however, the white “blobs” are incredibly soft, delicate botan with gentle pearly grey shading and gold centres, and then these interesting solid white kiku. They are definitely hand-painted with white and grey dye, not unfinished. The contrast, though, gives the kimono a very bold, modern look while still being soft and girly.

I absolutely can’t wait to wear this, I am thinking of pairing it up with the gold and white obi from this bundle. It will be nice to have both a kimono and an obi that fit me very well and don’t require fussing and fidgeting all evening ;)

Royal blue tsukesage with botan and kiku

Royal blue tsukesage with botan and kiku

Royal blue tsukesage with botan and kiku

New haori from Naomi

Along with all the haneri I got, as well as the geisha hikizuri (which is going to get a proper entry soon, I promise), I ended up with a few unexpected haori and another kimono from Naomi, they came in a bundle of items she purchased and they were not to her tastes. Once again, someone else’s loss is my gain, because I absolutely love them both.

Purple meisen haori with mysterious flowers
Purple Meisen Haori

Purple Meisen Haori

Purple Meisen Haori

This is a gorgeous vivid purple Meisen. I’ve mentioned my love/hate affair with Meisen before – I think the technique is amazing but I have never come across a kimono long enough to fit me. I’ve come to terms with this, I think, and will stick to gorgeous, flamboyant haori. I honestly have no idea what the flowers on here are supposed to be, but they appear to be losing their petals so I assume it’s for autumn. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know!

Delicate kiku yuzen haori
Kiku haori

Kiku haori

Yuzen has long been one of my favourite techniques – it’s relatively common but when it’s done right it has a charming delicacy. My first kimono was yuzen-dyed spider kiku, and it’s still one of my most cherished pieces. When I saw this piece in the bundle she got, I admit I really wanted it. So you can imagine how happy I am to have it in my grubby little paws. I can’t wait until the autumn so I can wear it. Age-wise, this piece is a little odd. It’s got the longer sleeves of a vintage piece, but the short body and simple white lining of a more modern one, so it’s probably from the transitional post-war era.

Black synthetic multi-season flower komon

I know one of my kimono resolutions was not to buy things just because they were affordable and kind of cute, but I technically bid on this at the end of 2010, so I’m safe, right? Also, it’s exceptionally adorable and I did indeed get it for a steal. I’ve also resolved to wear kimono out of the house more frequently, so casual washable kimono are always a good thing to have.

When I bid on this I only noticed the big spider kiku and the sakura. I’m not generally a huge fan of sakura (strange, I know, considering my love for kimono and how frequent a motif they are) but I love spider kiku with a fierce passion – two of my favourite pieces of my collection feature them prominently. They’re what drew me to this kimono in the first place.

When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised – there are tons of flowers for all the awase (lined kimono) seasons – kiku, ume, and sakura, as well as the wavy stripes being bordered by decorative cords which are a lucky/auspicious motif. I thought they were just lines, based on the auction photos. This is much cooler!

Black multi-season komon

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