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.

 

Everyone cheer, Melons are here!

I am really making an effort not to buy new kimono, but sometimes I find things that just call to me. When I found this komon (for less than ten dollars, I might add) I knew I had to have it. In my mind, it looked just like a slab of malachite. However, when it arrived the general consensus was that it looked like watermelon, especially with the pink lining. I’m still very likely going to do a coordination around the green stone, but I had to go with the melon first.

A sweet pink hakata obi and pink haneri seemed like the way to go, and then I remembered I have this cute black spade obidome that sort of evokes the feel of a watermelon seed against the pink of the obi. It’s a very simple, very casual outfit but I think it really conveys the fresh, summery feeling of biting into a juicy slice of watermelon. Now, if only the warmer weather would hurry up and get here!

(If the title of this entry seems familiar to you, that’s because it is from a very silly (and not exactly work-safe) video by Mr. Weebl)

Tokai-Dos and Tokai-Don’ts

I’ve had this 53 Stations of the Tokaido tsukesage for a long time now. I’ve never worn it myself, but I did put it on my friend Frances one day. The obi, by comparison, was an absolute impulse purchase a few weeks ago – I was buying another item from the seller and this was only $10 so I couldn’t say no! Especially since it’s a lovely stylisation of Station 49 – Saka-no-shita, which is a station I don’t have on any items in my collection yet. For the price, its absolutely gorgeous. The bulk of the design is woven in, and then touches are pulled out with beautifully lush embroidery to add depth and texture. It’s a bit slippery to tie, but definitely not the most challenging obi I’ve had to work with.

Generally the rules of kitsuke say not to match the motif on your kimono to the motif on your obi, and to contrast the colour of one against the other. However, when I saw these two pieces next to each other, my mind drifted back to my first experiment in very monochrome and matchy outfits, and I wanted to give it another shot. Rules are an excellent starting point, but sometimes breaking them with forethought and intention can produce some amazing results.

I’ve always loved the peachy pink sunset accents on the kimono and decided to make them pop with the accessories. I feel like this resulted in an overall very calm and serene outfit with a bit of punch, and I love it!

I do apologise for the quality of the photos today; my camera was being difficult so I used my mobile phone camera. It worked, but it’s not ideal. However, I make no apologies for the utterly terrible word-play in the title.

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink!

You know how I’m always joking about how I love every outfit I coordinate on the mannequin? Well, today I learnt that nobody can hit a home run every time!

I’ve been wanting to do an all-pink coordination on a Wednesday in honour of the iconic Mean Girls quote for a long time. It seemed like a good opportunity to use this gorgeous pink hakata obi I got in the huge obi bundle, and I tried to build the outfit around it using other pink items in my collection. While I don’t hate it, I’m not crazy about it either. Sometimes a theme or idea just isn’t a winner. I love all of these pieces independently, but together they feel like something is lacking. It even feels like the kimono isn’t hanging quite right on the mannequin. However, it’s been alarmingly hot here (over 40C/105F) for several days now, and I knew there was no way I’d have the energy to re-dress her. So I figured I would give you guys a small glimpse into what happens on the rare occasion that I’m not thrilled with how something turned out!

Hopefully once it cools down I’ll have more energy to do something a little more inspired :) If not, I have a few book reviews to get done.

Vintage style with modern convenience

After Gofuku no Hi, I realised owning at least one other hakama would greatly expand my kimono wardrobe. Even though I’m still far too chunky to fit into most of my kimono properly, they do a great job of hiding a less-than-ideal hip wrap. I found a lovely modern teal polyester hakama from ebay seller Yoshihori and snatched it up. The seller had embroidered ones too, which were utterly lovely, but significantly more expensive. So I decided to be reasonable and buy the plain one. So imagine my surprise when the seller contacted me, incredibly apologetic, telling me the plain one was sold out and would I like the embroidered one instead, for no extra charge? Of course I said yes!

A few days after I bought it, but before it had arrived in the mail, a friend of a friend posted on facebook that she was selling off a large chunk of her collection, including a gorgeous mauve kofurisode that was clearly meant to be worn with hakama. The colours were gorgeous, and it had a wonderful sort of large-scale Taisho-inspired feel to it. I knew it had to come live with me, and be paired up with the new hakama as soon as it arrived in the mail.

Initially, I’d planned to wear the ensemble to Otakuthon, Montreal’s big anime convention. However, it’s in the middle of August and we’re already regularly breaking the high 30s temperature-wise. Even in a heavily air-conditioned convention centre, there’s no way I could wear synthetic awase and not die. So I decided to put the outfit together to see how it looks. Everything is very heavily decorated with sakura, so of course I chose a coordinating haneri. I waffled a bit between yellow and purple obi, but decided to use the purple so it sort of disappeared. The kimono and hakama are busy enough, the outfit didn’t need another level of contrast.

I know I say this a lot, but I love love love how this turned out. I can’t wait until it’s cool enough to wear it. Maybe for my birthday, in November?