Hina-Matsuri 2021

Typically for Hina-Matsuri I do a somewhat thematic coordination or DIY a set of dolls. This year, however, my motivation hasn’t been where it should be, and I was worried I’d let the day go by without anything. But then I remembered that somehow last year I managed to get not one, not two, but three separate sets of Obina & Mebina dolls! I’ve posted some of them on Instagram previously but this seemed like the perfect time to share better photos and details.

First, I have this lovely traditional hakata ceramic set. These were totally unexpected – I found the Emperor on a shelf mixed in with the other “decorative clutter” at the local Goodwill-owned thrift store. I nearly didn’t take him, since he was alone, but then it occurred to me the Empress was likely somewhere nearby so I went hunting. I found her a few shelves over and I’m so happy I was able to reunite them and give them a home where they can be appreciated and treasured. Unbelievably, they were only $1.50 each! I don’t think they’re particularly old or “valuable”, but they’re incredibly charming and were such a treasure to find.

Next up is this cute (and slightly ridiculous) cat set by Decole Concombre. They’re quite tiny and made of resin, so they’re nothing fancy and not particularly elegant, but they are adorable and I love them to bits. Like all of Concombre’s figures, they look a bit like they only have one brain cell to share between them, which only adds to their charm, I think. I also have a kimono-clad bride and groom set that are very similar, and I think if I were ever to get married, they’d make a hilarious cake-topper.

Last, but certainly not least, my favourite anime power-couple, Haruka & Michiru (Sailor Uranus & Sailor Neptune). I actually ordered these quite a long time ago and had them shipped to Keith’s, so I was finally able to get them when I went a few months back! They were absolutely worth the wait; they are too cute for words. It’s my first time seeing a lesbian couple as Emperor and Empress, but it totally works with these two! Their outfits are accurate to typical hina dolls, but include references to their characters and Sailor Senshi powers which is a really nice touch. I also love that they also came with the little raised dais and byobu screen backdrop.

I know you guys want more kimono coords, and I promise I’ll have one sometime later this week!

Art Gallery – Haruka & Michiru Wafuku Re-Draw

Forget Usagi and Mamoru, everyone knows that Haruka and Michiru were the real power couple of Sailor Moon. I’ve always loved it when wafuku shows up in anime, so of course I’ve got a soft spot for this iconic imagery of these two in kimono but the colour and design choices always felt a bit arbitrary to me. I’ve had some free time recently (thanks, covid!) and thought it might be fun to redraw that screenshot but put the two of them in kimono that more closely reflected their outfits and personalities.

Haruka’s dressed in a typically maculine style, with colours lifted from her Sailor fuku. There’s a pattern of clouds and thunder dragons on her haori as a nod to her powers. Michiru’s in her typical palette of blues and teals, with a seigaiha wave design on her houmongi. Her obi has a subtle motif of sheet music to reflect her love of the violin. A simple background pulls everything together without being distracting, and I’m quite pleased with how this turned out.

Z is for Zen, Zoge

Zen, , Buddhism
Zoge, 象牙, Ivory

Celebrating the last day of this challenge with a two-for-one. Zen, the Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasising the value of meditation and intuition, and Zoge, the Japanese word for Ivory.

Rather than dump more info on you, I thought I would just let this statue speak for itself. There’s a grounded beauty in its simplicity I could never hope to explain properly. This ivory Buddha belonged to my grandmother. Both my father and I grew up playing with it. The texture on his head is incredibly soothing, and I have strong tactile memories of running my fingers over it whenever I was allowed to take it off the shelf where it was displayed.

Please note, I absolutely don’t condone the sale, trade, or collection of ivory. This piece is from a time when people had different mentalities and knowledge about this sort of thing. It’s treasured by our family and we appreciate it for what it is, and have no intention of ever letting it go back on the market.

Art Gallery – Eeeveelution Girls

What’s this nonsense? Pokémon fanart? I was inspired by the Kimono Girls who are present in both the games and the anime and manga. I thought it would be really cool to do a series of them inspired by each of the evolution forms of Eevee, who is one of my favourite pokemon. Hopefully it’s obvious which one is which, but just in case it doesn’t come through clearly (or you’re not familiar with Pokemon), we have, in order:

  • Eevee – Since Eevee is the original/unevolved form, I wanted her outfit to be basic and versatile. Eevee’s distinctive fur ruff and tail formed the starting point for her kimono.
  • Vaporeon – For the water evolution, I knew a seigaiha obi would be perfect, and I’ll never pass up the opportunity to include Kanagawa’s Great Wave when I can!
  • Jolteon – Modern lightning motifs for the electric evolution, of course.
  • Flareon – Hot colours and traditional flames suit the fire evolution perfectly.
  • Espeon – The psychic evolution is hard to convey visually, so I chose to do a base kimono in a subtle gradient of Espeon’s colours, and the sakura motif obi as a nod to the trainer Sakura in the anime, who has an Espeon.
  • Umbreon  – Like psychic, dark is a hard concept to convey, so Umbreon’s style was inspired directly by the visuals of the game.
  • Sylveon – The pastels and bows of the fairy evolution seemed perfectly suited to tabane noshi. This is actually the first one I made, and inspired the rest of the project!
  • Glaceon – Yukiwa motif for the ice-based Glaceon just made sense. The diamond pattern of the obi helps reinforce the crystalline feel.
  • Leafeon – Swirling vines and shades of green and brown were the clear choice for Leafeon’s grass form.

I had a lot of fun finding the right colours and patterns for each of these little ladies, and I love how they look all put together! If you get a kick out of them too, prints are available in my Society6 shop.

Art Gallery – Takarazukushi Motif

Happy March! Spring finally feels like it’s within reach after this miserable winter. Something about the change in the air has got my creative juices flowing. I got the idea for this pattern while stuck at work earlier this week and spent my day off getting it out of my system. I was inspired by the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram motif in both the traditional brown colourway and the neon colours, combined with simplistic kamon-based representations of Takarazukushi (宝尽くし, mixed treasures).

Typically the combined motif has seven of these treasures, and which seven varies from representation to representation, but I couldn’t decide which ones I like best so I drew them all. It was a challenge, but a fun one. They are:

  • nyoihōju (jewel of one’s wishes)
  • kakuremino (cloak of invisibility)
  • kakuregasa (hat of invisibility)
  • chōji (clove)
  • uchide no kodzuchi (fortune-bringing small mallet)
  • hōyaku (treasure key)
  • kinnō (money bag)
  • makimono (scrolls)
  • fundō (counterweight)
  • gunhai (war fan)
  • shippō (seven precious gems)

See if you can figure out which one is which! The three triangles that look like the Triforce from Legend of Zelda is uroko (鱗 fish scales motif), often paired with takara. I wanted something a little simpler and more neutral for the smaller repeat, and think this worked out great.

Feel free to download these patterns and use them as wallpapers (right-click and “Open as new window” to get the large version), phone lock screens, or whatever other personal use tickles your fancy. They’re seamless so they’ll repeat very smoothly. Just please don’t use them on things you plan to sell.

These patterns are available on all sorts of cool products over in my Society6 shop, along with prints of some of my other kimono-adjacent artwork. Please do check them out, it helps the blog out enormously when people buy things from there!