Yellow Iris Ikebana

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Winter continues to be horrible here in Montreal, so when I saw these gorgeous white and yellow iris flowers for sale I thought they’d be a great way to bring a little sunshine into my dreary corner of the world.

I’ve always loved irises, they’re one of my favourite flowers. I love how showy and interesting and almost sculptural they are, and I love the absolutely incredible spectrum of colours they come in. They were, after all, very aptly named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

Since they have such a wonderful, almost architectural quality, I wanted to create a very modern and fluid-looking arrangement and I feel like I succeeded well here. I really love the flow of this piece, and how balanced it feels. The big waxy leaves (I admit I have no idea what they are, I just liked the way they looked) form a great anchor and textural contrast, as well as hiding the kenzan. I saved the protective outer leaves of the flowers as I was trimming them down, and I think they add the perfect sharp finishing touch. This is one of those arrangements that came without a huge amount of forethought and succeeded in spite (or because?) of it? It just flowed very naturally from beginning to end, and I love the finished product.

Memories of Summer

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It’s snowing today. Again. We had a blizzard on Monday. It’s been frigid enough lately that there’s been warnings to stay indoors. I live in Quebc, I expect winter to be unpleasant. But this winter hasn’t just been unpleasant, it’s been brutal. So I thought I’d do my best to remind myself that summer will be here eventually!

I bought this gorgeous usumono (summer weight) vintage komon at the kimono bazaar back in November and initially had no plans to do anything with it until it was more seasonally appropriate. But I really needed a breath of warm summer air, and decided to feature it.

I love the colour of this piece; it’s a shade of plum that’s somehow rich but muted all at once. And the art-deco feeling birds on it are utterly charming. It’s tiny and will never fit me, but it was incredibly affordable for its age and fragility, and I loved it too much to pass it by.

Typically, I don’t bother putting a juban on the mannequin. She doesn’t sweat so I don’t need a layer to protect the kimono, she doesn’t move so I don’t need the security of it, and she doesn’t need any further padding or smoothing, so usually it’s not necessary. However, this kimono is so sheer that it would have looked odd and shapeless, and I’ve been wanting to feature this ridiculously adorable shrimp juban Naomi gave me for a while now. It’s technically too heavy for the weight of the kimono, but I love how the colours work together and thematically I like the idea of birds swooping over the cool, breezy ocean and diving in to catch the shrimp!

I used my white ro hakata obi, partially because it looks refreshing against the purple and partially because it’s the only summer weight obi I own. Pale purple summer weight accessories and a cool white ro haneri tie it all together.

It may be completely disgusting and frigid and messy outside, but it’s good to look back on happy memories of summer.

Items used in this coordination

Biku Designs Recycled Kimono Jewellery

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I’ve been admiring the jewellery from Biku Designs for quite a while now. Owned and created in Tokyo by a lovely woman named Victoria Close, all the beautiful items are made using recycled kimono fabric and representing the values of mottainai. Between gift shopping during the holidays and making more practical purchases like tatoushi and arms for the mannequin I didn’t have much of a budget for pretty fun things. However, to celebrate the new year they released a fukurobuko (福袋), or lucky bag. This a tradition where vendors will offer a bag or bundle with a surprise selection of products available for a really steep discount.

I snatched one up right away, knowing it would give me a lovely variety of items to wear and feature, and I’m so glad I did. The items arrived well-packaged in a lovely little custom bag, emphasising the fukubukuro aspect of the bundle, which was a lovely touch. Each item inside was separately wrapped in red tissue, which made unwrapping it feel like a special event.

I kind of wish I’d waited to open it so I could take better photos, but it arrived while I was at work and I was so excited and impatient I ended up tearing into it and only snapped a few photos on my phone. Today, though, I made sure to take better photos that really show off the beauty of each item.

First was a beautiful fabric cuff, tied in a knot that reminds me of an obijime. I love that there’s a chain on this, because I’ve got very broad wrists and a lot of times bracelets are snug on me. Making this so adjustable is a very thoughtful finishing detail.

Next are a beautiful pair of stud earrings with embedded kimono fabric. You can tell Victoria put a lot of care and attention into these, as the patterns are perfectly balanced. I don’t typically wear stud earrings but they’re all my mother wears and I know she’ll love these, so I’m happy to give them to her.

The third item is a brooch, and again the attention to detail is obvious. The underside is just as well-finished as the top is, and the pattern feels balanced. This will also work very well as an obidome, and I can’t wait to pair it with an outfit!

Last up are a pair of french wire earrings with blue and white fabric under resin cabochons. These are the sorts of earrings I love and wear quite frequently, and I know these will be a cherished part of my regular rotation.

Every single item is clearly made with an abundance of care and attention. There’s not a single messy or unfinished edge to be seen, and everything feels delicate while remaining solid and wearable. If you’re looking for accessories with a bit of wa flair to add to your everyday wardrobe, or a gift for someone who loves Japanese textiles, I definitely recommend checking out Biku Designs.

I love all the items included, and the colours feel very “me” – blues and greens, like my hair! I had been in contact with Victoria before, and included a link to this blog but I have no idea if she actually selected the items for each bag or if it was just a happy accident. Either way, I’m thrilled!

You can find Biku Designs on their website, facebook, instagram, and twitter. Unfortunately the lucky bags are sold out, but there will be plenty of new stock on the website in the near future.

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me. 

成人の日Seijin no Hi 2019

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Today is 成人の日 (Seijin no Hi, coming of age day), so of course it’s time for a 成人式 (Seijin Shiki, coming of age ceremony) outfit! It seems like the further away I get from my 20th birthday the more fun I have with these. Go figure!

I’ve been meaning to pair my newest furisode with this black-based obi to make the hanaguruma stand out more, and this seemed like the best time to do it. Since there’s already a lot going on with the kimono and obi, I went with a relatively neutral haneri that’s still bright and bold enough to feel youthful.

I used my handmade sanjuhimo and had fun improvising a big, bold obi musubi. My original plan was to use this round salmon-coloured obijime to hold everything in place, but it got a bit lost against the obi. Then I realised I could use it as a decorative accent in the obi musubi, and I love how it looks! I used a punchier lime-green and metallic obijime instead, and balanced that colour out in the obiage and kasane-eri.

The white fur collar is a very common addition to seijin shiki ensembles; since they take place in early January it’s a great way to add both warmth and elegance to the furisode. In previous years, I’ve used a brown and grey fur stole, but this year I really wanted to go with the more traditional bright white. You’ve got no idea how hard it is to find one though. I hit up a bunch of boutiques and thrift stores and even went looking in fabric and craft stores, and had no luck at all. I was about to give up when I remembered I had this sheepskin from Ikea, of all things! A few straight cuts with a very sharp blade and voila, a beautiful, fluffy white stole.

I think this is probably the most successful seijin no hi outfit I’ve put together so far.

Items used in this coordination

Outfit Generator Experiment

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A few months back, I coded up a little script to generate some kimono coordination ideas. If you click that link you can play with it as well! I thought it would be fun to use it myself, since I was feeling motivated to play with kimono but wasn’t getting that strike of inspiration I usually start with.

This is the combination I got, so I got to work. Purple iromuji was straightforward enough, since I only have the one. It’s not quite Taisho but it is lined with red and has elegantly long sleeves, so it felt sufficiently vintage to me. All I had to do after that was work on creating an outfit around it.

My original plan was to use this bright turquoise nagoya obi, but against the purple it definitely felt more bold and youthful than “Elegant”. But then I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about how gingko are one of my favourite ornamental trees ever and yet I only have one item with them as a motif, and even then it’s a very small, subtle part.

It seemed like the universe was telling me to use that particular obi. It’s fairly modern, but something about the designs and colour palette feel timeless, and the hints of purple in it play very well with the purple kimono. I pulled accessories out of the obi’s colour selection and finally found an opportunity to use this new haneri.

Everything really came together well, I think. I managed to stick quite close to the suggestions the generator threw at me, and the outfit still feels totally wearable, not costumey or ridiculous. I think whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I’ll use the generator again and see what happens. If you use it, I’d love to see what you come up with!

Items used in this coordination