Bountiful Garden Ikebana

Today’s ikebana is inspired by our beautiful, bountiful garden. I love this time of year. It’s not oppressively hot or humid yet, but it’s warm and sunny and there are flowers blooming everywhere! It’s not great for my allergies, but they’re so pretty I can deal with it.

Everything in this arrangement came from the garden. Irises are one of my favourite flowers of all time, and my mother planted these gorgeous rich purple ones for me. I managed to catch them at the perfect time, freshly bloomed and vibrant. The lilacs are reaching the end of their life cycle, but I still liked the soft, textural quality they brought to the arrangement, helping to balance out the roughness of the wood. The leaves are from a huge ligularia plant. It’s nowhere near blooming yet, but I do hope to use some blossoms off it when it does.

I’m still riding the wave of motivation I got at the ikebana display last week. I was particularly inspired by the use of driftwood in several pieces there, as well as in one of those charming books Naomi sent me.  I put my smaller kenzan in a little glass dish and nestled it into one of the natural curves of the wood. Funny story, this piece of wood is actually an old decoration from our aquarium. Our plecostomus likes to chew on them and smooth them out so we’ve got a bunch of old ones lying around.

Of course, I had to make use of the screen I made last week. I’m so pleased with how it looks, and it has an added bonus of helping diffuse light which makes the photos look much more even. I’m certain you will be seeing a lot more of this screen! I’m tempted to make one in black as well but I have lots of other things that need to be finished first.

Review – Musubi Diary & Pen Case

I have a little something different for you today! From Musubi Atelier, a set of absolutely gorgeous diary and pen case. They are crafted from an assortment of Japanese fabrics with traditional motifs and colours, and the notebooks are filled with unlined Japanese paper that’s incredibly delicate and smooth but still somehow durable. It’s really a work of art. Even the presentation packaging sleeve is solid and high-quality, and feels luxurious. It makes me a little bit sad that the pen case wasn’t packaged similarly, but it doesn’t detract from the item itself.

I chose the Maneki Neko motif journal in Murasaki (purple) and a coordinating pen case in Murasaki Seigaiha. They’re not a matched set, per se, but they do look lovely together. For the journals, there are lots of patterns available, from more mature and subdued geometrics to cuter motifs like rabbits and owls. Currently, the pen cases are only available in different colours of seigaiha, but there may be more options in the future.

One of the most amazing things about Musubi, however, is not the style or quality of their merchandise. It’s their mission, their ethics, and their craftspeople. You can read their entire story and statement on their website, but here is the most touching and important bit.

Our twin operations in Singapore and Indonesia exemplify our philosophy of direct impact: in Singapore, our bookmaking atelier employs only persons with physical and intellectual disabilities, providing them the employment stability and opportunities they previously lacked. In Indonesia, we train women from abusive family backgrounds in the same high-tech methods used to make our pen cases, providing them the skillset necessary to gain financial independence and escape their unfavourable circumstances.

My journal even came with an insert signed by the person who made it, which I think is an amazing touch.

One caveat – these items are not cheap. The journals vary from approximately $80 USD to approximately $130 USD and the pen cases are approximately $65 USD (these are estimates, as site prices are listed in Singaporean dollars and the exchange may vary). These are not “buy a few and throw one in your handbag” notebooks, they are meticulously hand-crafted works of art. They would make a beautiful gift for an important milestone like a graduation, a new job, a wedding, or an important anniversary. You’re paying for fantastic quality and very high-end materials, and more importantly, you’re bringing a better quality of life to the artisans who make them.

 I purchased this item at a discounted price for honest review purposes. 

Vintage Temari

Spring is still in the air, and I’m finally feeling up to dressing the mannequin! I’ve been trying to make coordinations using pieces I’ve never worked with before, and decided it was high time I use this vintage temari chuuya obi. It’s actually the reverse side of the amazing crustacean obi Naomi sent me a while back, this side is just a lovely bonus.

As gorgeous as this side is, it’s a bit difficult to work with. There are two sets of designs on an otherwise solid black base, but no matter how I tried tying it I could not get one on the front and one on the otaiko at the same time. I decided to keep the front plain and use a fun obijime so I could focus on getting the design centred on the back and make it the focal point. Maybe next time I’ll use an obidome to add a bit more interest.

My beloved purple cotton yabane kimono made a wonderful base for the obi, and I pulled the accent colours of salmon red and aqua out of the obi motif in the accessories so everything feels cohesive. I do wish I’d been able to get some sort of design on the front, but I still think that overall this was a successful outfit.

And yes, that is yesterday’s ikebana peeping out from behind the mannequin! I was going to move it for the photos but I thought it added a cute touch and I love how the yellow flowers match the yellow accents in the kimono.

Items used in this coordination

Kits-Mas Day 2 – Oh Christmas Tree!

Yesterday I went with a classic holiday-inspired colour scheme, so today I wanted to do something a little more fun and modern. I bought this hanhaba obi a few weeks back and while it was listed as “geometrical trick art” but it totally made me think of pine needles, which of course made me think of a Christmas tree!

I realise purple is a bit of an unexpected accent colour, but it was already in the obi and coordinates so nicely with the warm green so I decided to run for it. I also added some little sparkly gems to the haneri to make it feel more festive and improvised an obi musubi to look like a tree! I’m not sure how well I succeeded there, but I think it’s cute enough. A few more sparkly gems to emulate ornaments on a tree, and this outfit just came together perfectly.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, those of you that celebrate. Did you receive any awesome kimono or related things as gifts? If so, I would love to see! As for me, I got some great books I’d been wanting; the 25th Anniversary update of Liza Dalby’s Geisha and a lovely little reference called Kimono Design  and I’ll be posting reviews of both when my life settles down a bit.

Vaguely Reminiscent of a Turkey

Today is Thanksgiving in that big weird nation just south of me. Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October and it’s more of a generalised harvest festival than a celebration of any specific event involving settlers. It’s still a bit fraught, but it doesn’t have quite the same baggage attached to it. Last month, I posted a harvest-themed ikebana in honour of our celebration, but since the bulk of my readers and many of my friends and family are from the good ol’ US of A I thought it would be fun to do a thanksgiving themed outfit today.

I don’t really have anything with appropriate motifs, but then I remembered this gorgeous purple tsukesage with peacocks on it. The peacocks are quite abstracted, and if you squint, they totally look like turkeys, right? Humour me here.

Last time I coordinated this particular kimono I went for a very sleek monochrome look, so this time I wanted to do something a little more traditional. This orange and gold obi is an enormous nuisance to tie because it’s incredibly stiff, but it had a sort of festive harvest vibe to it which went well with the theme I was going for. The orange also pops very well against the rich plum of the kimono, I think. I kept the accessories in the same warm-toned range, leaning a bit more towards dark pink but still cohesive.

Unfortunately the weather is garbage today and the light in the living room was quite terrible, so these photos are overexposed in places and underexposed in others, but they still convey the mood I was going for.

If you are observing thanksgiving today, I hope you have a wonderful one. Spend time with your loved ones, eat far too much food, and take a moment to appreciate what you’ve got. Have a good long weekend!