Birthday Pastels

Today is my birthday! I’m now officially closer to 40 than I am to 30. Ack! My initial plan for today was to dress myself in the blue Cinderella furisode and take pictures, but this week has been a very long and exhausting one and I knew when I woke up I was not going to have the energy to do it. I might try on the weekend, but until then I decided I would at least redo the mannequin.

This obi was an entirely unexpected surprise; I was discussing my collection with a customer at work and she told me she had one of those “belt table runner things” and she’d bring it to show me one day. Imagine my shock when she showed up with this stunning springy green fukuro obi with flowers and foliage all over it and insisted I keep it. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s also got a really nice sage green fabric with gold pinstripes on the reverse, and I’m looking forward to using that side of it sometime soon. It felt like the ideal thing to do a birthday outfit with. It pairs so perfectly with the pink takara houmongi that Naomi’s husband Arian got for me years ago. They feel so classic and elegant together, and subtle pastel accessories finish things off. The obiage is kind of a mess but let’s all ignore that and focus on the beautiful kimono and obi instead.

I’m still holding out hope that I can put the furisode on this weekend but if that doesn’t happen at least I did something productive today!

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.

 

Rebirth and Renewal

I have always tried to keep this blog apolitical. It’s a hobby, a place of beauty fun and a bit of a distraction from the “real” world. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that in the modern political climate, remaining detached is essentially an impossibility. This is not to say that I’m suddenly going to change the focus of things here, but I am having a harder and harder time keeping my mouth shut about the state of things. Syria, Brexit, Trump… we are living in a world that is increasingly on the defensive; cold and closed and unwelcoming.

So with that in mind, I needed a subtle reminder that there is always hope in the world, always a chance for rebirth and renewal. I bought this obi along with the hawk obi from my last coordination, and had intended to pair it with my leaf-green iromuji from the get-go. The obidome and obijime were bought at the same time, and seem like the perfect little complement. I’ve always had a soft spot for pearls, and they draw the eye to the silvery buds on the obi that otherwise blend in and nearly disappear. This felt like the perfect time to tie everything together.

The outfit feels as though it’s looking forward to Spring, but also looking forward in general. In a time when everything seems uncertain, at least we know the leaves and grass and first buds of the flowers will be back soon enough. It may not be much, but at least every time I see it I will be reminded that after every hideous, frozen, deathly winter there will inevitably come a spring when everything is reborn.

Soft spring outfit

So my health is still a bit wobbly and on top of everything else I have a terrible cold, but I’d been itching to attempt the kamifusen (paper balloon) musubi and figured this sweet pussy-willow unlined komon I bought in NYC a few years back would be a great way to coordinate a pretty little casual spring ensemble.

I followed this great tutorial from Bangasa Kimono on youtube. Because the obi I chose to work with is incredibly slippery I ended up needing a hand from my eternally patient father, but we got it looking adorable in the end. Because the obi is quite long, the “bow” portion under the “balloon” portion ended up very wide, which I think makes it even cuter! I also love the pink and blue willow buds on the kimono, and chose to accent them with pink and blue in the accessories. I know I use this blue and pink haneri an awful lot, but it just works so well with so many of my coordinations! The obijime is pale pink on the solid side and blue, brown, and white on the other. I’d forgotten than I had it, but I don’t think I could have found a better one to tie all the colours in the outfit together.