Review – Erstwilder “Nihon Journey” Collection

Erstwilder is a small Australian company that makes some of the most fun and funky accessories out there. So when I was presented with the opportunity to review some pieces from their new Japan-themed Nihon Journey collection, you can bet I was over the moon.

I selected three pieces; the Mysterious Maiko brooch, the Nishikigoi brooch, and the Noble Neko sweater chain/brooch. They arrived in beautiful boxes that serve as both protection and display, each one with a cute little card describing the design. The pieces are made out of layers of vivid, shimmering acrylic bonded together, and feel incredibly solid and secure without being bulky. They’d make excellent gifts for both kimono collectors and non-collectors alike. While these are all a fantastic way to inject a little Japanese flair into a non-kimono outfit, I thought they’d well and truly shine used as kitsuke accessories as well.

The polymath of the Japanese tea-houses across the land.
From serving to singing, dancing to dining. These girls do it all.

Mysterious Maiko is utterly lovely. She definitely has a hint of the vintage pin-up vibe Erstwilder does so well, but she’s still far more accurate than a lot of maiko and geiko imagery. It’s very clear that Carmen Hui, the designer of this collection, really loves and respects Japanese culture. The pieces are all quirky and unique, but still so undeniably Japanese in style and influence. The pattern detail on her kimono is gorgeous – I’d love one like this for myself. Her hairstyle is simplified, but definitely has the overall shape and volume it should. Her face, despite being reduced to a few graphic black and red swatches, still conveys a sense of coy playfulness. Since the pin back on this one is vertical, I just slid it around the obijime and I think she looks very at home here!

Koi ponds and water gardens are my habitat of choice.
Although I’ve often been known to appear in tattoo form.

Nishikigoi might be the stand-out for me. The colours used are so impossibly lush and deep and iridescent, and the photos I took barely do it justice. The water is rich and shimmery, the koi itself glows from within, and the blue and orange contrast each other perfectly. This brooch will need an obidome converter, unless you’re okay with the fishie being sideways. Honestly though, it works from all angles so if you don’t have access to a converter you could still make it work. I’m also absolutely going to be wearing this with western-style clothing too!

Never ignore my motion as I just might be attempting to divert you
from something dangerous on your intended path.

Noble Neko is absolutely adorable! I actually requested this one because I was curious to see how a traditional sweater chain would work as a haori-himo, and look how perfect it is! The two maneki neko are mirrored, which I think brings a lovely balance to the whole piece. Using it to hold your haori shut is the easiest thing, you can just slide the vertical pin backs through the loops on the haori, so there’s no chance of permanent damage. I honestly find it easier to do and undo than a traditional haori-himo or a chain-style himo. The neko are also small and subtle enough that they would work with a slightly more traditional outfit, while still injecting a bit of cuteness.

All in all, I am very impressed with this collection. The pieces are so well-made, and it’s clear this theme was designed with love and respect and just the right amount of whimsy. Far too often lately have we seen “Japanese” themed things released quickly and with no forethought, clearly designed to take advantage of a culture and aesthetic that’s not well-understood. That is absolutely not the case with Erstwilder. I am seriously debating adding a few more pieces from this collection as well as some from their other collections to my own stash!

If you’d like one of these for yourself (and I highly recommend them), the Nihon Journey collection is on sale as of today.

I received this item from the manufacturer for review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

Review – Obi Handbag from Sachi and Co

When I was given the opportunity to review one of Sachi and Company‘s beautiful handbags, I jumped at the chance. The store was started by friends from Okinawa, the United States, and Canada, working together to recycle traditional Japanese textiles into gorgeous modern accessories.  They make beautiful kimono fabric scarves as well as the handbags, and they’re sold along wall hangings and traditional kokeshi dolls. Their passion for tradition and Japanese culture is evident in everything they do, and it’s infectious.

The handbag itself is absolutely amazing.  The primary maru obi fabric was clearly very carefully selected and cut in a way that shows it off very well. It’s incredibly well-finished both inside and out, being fully lined and finished with mofuku obi fabric and solid-feeling plastic handles that are very securely attached. There’s an interior slip pocket for smaller items, and the bag itself holds a huge amount without feeling overwhelmingly big. The only “issues” I had with it, minor as they are, are lack of a zipper and shoulder strap. Living in a big city, the lack of a zipper makes me wary, but I will be keeping it as a special-event handbag so security is less of a concern. It will also help keep the beautiful fabric clean. If you’re looking for a great way to inject a bit of Japan into your western wardrobe, I highly recommend checking them out!

Please forgive the sticker over my face. I used the bag when I went to see The Book of Mormon yesterday, and while I felt fantastic and confident, every photo came out with a vaguely grumpy bemused expression. I just really wanted to include a photo so you can see the size and shape of the bag, and how well it completes my outfit.

I received this item from the manufacturer for review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.

Mini Review: Mini Moo Cards!

How cute are these? I’ve been wanting business/contact cards for the blog now, and I fell in love with these half-sized cards from Moo.com. I loved the fact that they include printing on both sides of the card, and you can have as many designs as you like, all for no extra cost. Since I change the theme of this blog with the seasons, it seemed perfect to get a selection that matches all four themes. The printing is excellent quality, as is the cardstock itself. I chose the Basic option, as it was the most affordable, and it’s definitely nice and solid and feels good against the fingers. Even the box they come packed in is lovely, and there’s something very satisfying about looking down into the packaging and seeing all the different back designs peeking out.

The pixelated bit is my mobile number, not a printing issue. I just took the precaution of blurring it out to prevent unsolicited phone calls.

If you want to get some custom double-sided cards of your own, please feel free to use my referral code to get a $15 rebate on your first order!

I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site.

Tea Time – Totem “Earl’s Pipe” blend

Totem Tea & Spice is a lovely little shop in Montreal that specialises in, you guessed it, teas and spices. The first time I went in I was overwhelmed with beautiful smells and sights. Aside from delicious custom tea blends, the store is full of interesting objects and artwork. They have tables where you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea and a snack, or even have a little party. It’s an incredibly welcoming place with friendly, knowledgeable staff.

When you enter, you are greeted with a lovely table filed with samples of many varieties of tea for you to look at and smell. The first tea I was drawn to was Earl’s Pipe. One deep inhale and I was in love. I guessed what was in it without being told, but that’s no surprise as it blends two of my favourite teas. It’s a comforting, smoky blend of Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong. In a way, it makes me think of Sherlock Holmes. It tastes a bit how I imagine 221B Baker Street would have smelled in the evening; a good strong but straightforward black tea, with an undertone of pipe tobacco and a hint gunpowder. If you like strong black tea with a lot of character, it’s excellent served pure. If you’re a little wary of the potent smoky notes of the Lapsang it also tastes lovely toned down with a bit of milk and sugar. However, if you know for a fact you don’t enjoy the smoked character of the Lapsang, you may want to give it a pass. My mother refers to it as “that stinky tea” and even counter-balanced with the lovely bergamote notes of the Earl Grey, she still finds it overpowering.

I picked up several other delicious teas that I will likely be reviewing in the future. I also picked up this pretty little art print from local artist Jackie Bassett.

If you’re in Montreal, I urge you to stop by Totem Tea & Spice on Notre-Dame West. In the meantime, you can follow them on Facebook.

Review: Foof Phone Sleeves

Over the summer, I came across Foof.Shop‘s amazing Japanese fabric phone sleeves, and contacted them about possibly reviewing one. They got back to me a while later, offering me a surprisingly vast selection of products with one special stipulation. More on that at the end of this post 😉

I received these before the vacation I mentioned in my last post, and figured that would be an excellent time to test one out. They’re made primarily for iPhones, and even the largest I received was a bit snug on my Samsung Galaxy 6S, but I made it work. Through security, customs, several long flights, a jaunt to Downtown Disney in Anaheim, amongst other things, and my phone felt secure and protected the entire time. Not only that, but the cover stayed clean and snug far beyond what I would originally have expected of a fabric cover. The fleece inner is soft and tight, providing a great protective fit and having the added benefit of polishing the screen every time I put my phone away. Overall, I am very impressed with the quality and finishing of these sleeves, and their wide selection of actual kimono fabric and kimono-inspired cotton patterns are an amazing bonus. If you’re looking for something to protect your mobile device that has a bit of flair to it and would look at home tucked into any sleeve or obi, I urge to you check them out!

So, what’s a girl to do with all these extra phone cases? Why, give them away, of course! With huge thanks to the generous and wonderful folks at Foof, many of these will be part of the giveaway I am planning when my Facebook page reaches 1000 fans. If you want a chance to win one of these and some other goodies, follow me there and keep an eye out for news. You can also follow Foof on their Facebook page for news about new fabrics and new releases.

I received this item from the manufacturer for review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.