Bountiful Garden Ikebana

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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.

#monoKIMONO Challenge – Wedding White

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I never set out to assemble a full wedding white ensemble, but once I had, it only seemed logical to feature it as a #monokimono outfit. Since lots of folks are still talking about the recent Royal Wedding, I decided to run with it for May!

I originally got this ivory silk uchikake waaaaay back when I first started collecting. I had no intention of buying one, but a professor in the college IT lab where I was working overheard me talking to a co-worker about my collection and asked if I’d be interested in buying a piece that’d he brought home from Japan as a souvenir years earlier. I said I’d take a look, but I’ll be honest, I was fully expecting some satiny tourist robe. So imagine my shock when he showed up lugging a gorgeous warm ivory uchikake in a trash bag! Of course I had to rescue it, and he accepted my ridiculously low offer.

Fast-forward to earlier this year when I stumbled across an astonishingly inexpensive ($18) ivory shiromuku furisode on Ichiroya. Since neither piece was pure white, I expected a close coordination but not an exact match, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered they’re spot-on perfect.

The rest of the accessories kind of fell into place after that. I love the look of beaded obijime, and found a white one on the cheap. The hakoseko set was also a bargain and happens to tie my silver zori into the outfit really nicely too. I don’t usually include footwear in these outfits, but with a wedding set it’s really Go Big or Go Home, right?

Technically, I should have used one of my off-white fukuro obi, but I couldn’t get over how well the hakata coordinated. And I’m firmly of the mindset that hakata ori goes with everything. Since this isn’t actually being worn to a wedding (unless my mannequin’s hiding something from me…) I figured I had a little more leeway. It’s also not unheard of now for brides to add a little more personal and non-traditional touches to their outfits. I love this look with extra lace and a lovely hat instead of the traditional white tsuno-kakushi hood, for example. Since I’d veered off-track with the obi already, I couldn’t resist using my silvery-white beaded obijime as well. This also makes the fact that I’ve yet to find an ivory kakae obi (the narrow, stiff band worn below the regular obi) a little easier to overlook, honestly.

Bonus: For those of you who  miss my furry little interlopers, they’re still around, they just tend to ignore the mannequin. Tribble decided to show up today though!

Items used in this coordination

DIY Tabletop Shoji Screen

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When I said I was inspired by the ikebana displays at the Botanical Gardens this weekend, I bet you didn’t think this was what I meant! But I was so charmed by the smaller-proportioned tabletop shoji screen  used as a backdrop for one of the arrangements, I knew I wanted one as soon as possible. I browsed around and found one online but the cost + shipping came 0ut to $60 US, which was more than I was looking to spend. So I hit up the local Michael’s craft store yesterday and bought a couple of supplies, and with two short afternoons of work out on the back deck enjoying the lovely weather, I’ve got something that I’m really quite proud of. It’s incredibly light and easy to store. It is a bit fragile, but since it won’t be bearing any weight or staying on display for extended periods of time that’s fine with me.

If you’d like to make one of your own, just read on! I will give the exact measurements for this one, which comes out to three feet wide and two feet tall, but you can absolutely scale up or down for your needs. You can also dress it up with fancier paper and different stain or paint on the wood if you want to. I plan to use this as a neutral backdrop for ikebana and product reviews, amongst other things, so I went with plain white and a fairly mid-range cherry stain.
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O-Hanami & Taiko at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

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On Sunday, a few members of the Montreal kimono club got together at the Montreal Botanical Gardens to have our own little O-hanami. The climate here isn’t ideal for sakura, but we’ve got lots of crabapples which look almost as lovely and are almost as transient and ethereal.

I had a blast. We met lots of awesome people, posed for a bunch of photos, and generally had a great time. Although it was slightly marred by me tripping at one point and pulling the hanao out of my zori. I spent the bulk of the day walking in tiny awkward steps, gripping my shoe with my toes to prevent falling off. Eventually I just gave up and walked around in my tabi, since they’d gotten dirty when I tripped initially. A bit gauche, I know, but better than spraining something. Especially since I’m still recovering from falling down the stairs a few weeks back.

This post is going to be incredibly image-heavy, because everything was lovely and also we’re a bunch of silly people who like to ham things up. Click through for kimono, taiko drumming, and a lovely ikebana show!

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Review – Musubi Diary & Pen Case

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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.