Art Gallery – Pink Komon Portrait by Logan Spector

I fell in love with illustrator Logan Spector’s art in a group on Facebook we’re both part of. I contacted her about a kimono-related commission, and I am so beyond glad I did! I absolutely love how this turned out.

It’s obviously based off my recent coordination at the botanical gardens, and Logan’s attention to detail is just blowing my mind. From the kimono itself to the pattern on the haneri to my glasses and earrings, everything is spot-on perfect and translated into her unique art style so well.

I get really happy seeing how different artists interpret my face in their own looks while still being true to my weird nose and squishy jaw-line, and Logan was no exception. The whole process from start to finish was very pleasant, she showed me a draft and asked for input and kept me in the loop the whole time.

Please check out Logan Spector’s website and Instagram!

Tsukihana, Custom Geisha Monster High Doll

Hello everyone! I’d like you all to meet Tsukihana! Back at the beginning of the year I got a bee in my bonnet and decided I wanted to customise a doll. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely seen sneak peeks and progress shots, but she’s finally complete and I’m so excited to share her.

She started life as a Draculaura doll I bought on the cheap off eBay. I chose Draculaura because I liked the shape of her face, and her skin colour was close enough to a normal human skin tone that it wouldn’t be too difficult to tone down the few visible bits. I also wanted a doll with primarily black hair, but that ended up not mattering in the end.

I started out with her face. I stripped down the original paint, toned down the back of her head and neck with soft pastels, and used white chalk paint as oshiroi. The face details were a combination of pastels, watercolour pencils, and acrylic paint. The Draculaura doll’s face sculpt reminded me very much of a now-retired geiko named Mamehana, so I referenced the following photos of her quite heavily while painting. (1, 2, 3).

My next step was to change the colour of her hands from pink to a more natural tone. Somehow during this process, I lost her hands. I looked for them for literally months, but they’re just… gone. In the end I gave up and bought a replacement set on eBay. I toned them with brown and yellow chalk pastels that helped neutralise the bright pink tone.

When it came to repainting the face and body, I found Dollightful  and Poppen Atelier, two very helpful YouTube channels with lots of information on customising Monster High and similar dolls. Initially, I’d planned to style her original hair using these traditional katsura styling videos but in the end her hair proved too stubborn and poofy, and it looked pretty awful no matter what I did, so I chopped it all off and sculpted a hairstyle out of clay. It’s primarily based on the tsubushi shimada, but I had to take a few creative liberties. Her kanzashi are beads and charms I had lying around.

The outfit was a co-production. Makiko of JaponSakura (who also made this beautiful Pullip kimono) was kind enough to custom-make me a plain black hikizuri-style kimono and coordinating obi using the fabric I selected, since it reminded me of the moon. Once I received it, I painted the plum and bamboo design around the hem and the custom crests myself, I thought since it was such a small scale, using regular acrylic would be fine, but if I were to do another custom like this I’d definitely invest in fabric paints instead. The crests might seem a bit proportionally large by modern standards, but any smaller and they would have just looked like blobs. Her momi (the red fabric wrap geisha wear beneath the obi), juban sleeves, and underskirt are just scraps of red fabric I hand-sewed and tacked into place. The zori are a pair of MH shoes I repainted and modified slightly – they originally looked like this. I removed some of the strap bulk and painted some white to make it disappear a little. I did debate reforming her feet so they would be flat, but I was hesitant to experiment that much and risk ruining the doll. Makiko also included tabi with the kimono but they made her feet too bulky to fit in the shoes, so in the end I just sanded some detail off her toes and painted her legs with the same chalk paint I used on her face.

Her shamisen was improvised, made from foam board, stir sticks, and gorgeous washi tape from The Rare Orchid. I got a bunch of beautiful paper and tape from them, a full review is coming!

This beautiful lady has been a labour of love. For my first custom doll, I think she turned out spectacularly. I don’t think I’ll be doing this on a regular basis, as she was a significant investment in time, workmanship, and materials, but I might make her a friend or apprentice maiko in the future. I’m also seriously considering turning a Skelita Calaveras into a very stylised Jigoku Dayu but that will definitely be a much longer and more detailed project if it ever comes to pass.

Art Gallery – Six Modern Bijin Artists You Should Follow

Bijin-ga (美人画) literally means “picture of beautiful person”. They originate in the woodblock prints of the Edo era, and typically depicted beautiful women from various walks of life – from everyday women doing everyday things to famous courtesans reclining in luxurious surroundings. Many famous artists produced bijin-ga prints; some of the most well-known being Utagawa Kunisada, Kitagawa Utamaro, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Around the transitional period from late Meiji through Taisho into early Showa era, artists such as Jun’ichi Nakahara, Yumeji Takehisa, and Katsuji Matsumoto‘s modern styles made an enormous impact on traditional bijin-ga and produced works that helped form the flowery, large-eyed shoujo manga aesthetic as we know it.

With the advent of more modern printing technologies and digital painting, art has become more accessible than ever before. There are incredible modern artists out there today producing breathtaking works that continue to challenge the way we think of traditional Japanese art of gorgeous women. These are the sorts of artists I’m going to focus on. I urge you to check out their galleries, follow them on social media, and buy their prints to support them if you can.

While these featured artists are all incredibly versatile and do portraits of women in kimono and modern clothes as well as floral studies and still-lifes, I chose to focus on kimono-clad beauties to keep with the spirit of bijin-ga.

This entry will be long and image-heavy, so please click through to keep reading! Continue reading

Art Gallery – Rilakkuma & Friends


There are a number of Rilakkuma cafés spreading across parts of Asia, and on their coasters is this absolutely charming little drawing of Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori in furisode-style kimono. The first time I saw it, I knew I wanted to make a little drawing based off of it, because it was just too cute. I ended up making this sort of quilted-style illustration and I think it turned out really well.

Now, I realise Rilakkuma is supposedly a boy bear, and putting him in a pink furisode seems a bit odd, but I figured since the original illustration had all three of them in furisode with female-type dressing and accessories, I’d just run with it. I’m glad I did, because this is so adorable it’s kind of making my teeth hurt. I’m quite happy with the end result.

If you’d like a print of this goofy little drawing, you can always click here to buy one from my Society6 shop. You get art, I get a few dollars to help defray the costs of this blog. Everyone wins!

Lastly, a quick note; for the next week or two, I will likely not be changing the mannequin. I’m in the throes of a nasty sciatica flare-up and it’s making it difficult to stand, let alone do something like wrestle with kimono. I’ve got lots of other fun things to share with you all in the meantime, and I appreciate your patience and understanding in advance.

Art Gallery – New Wave Portrait by Mousetivity

About a month back, a friend posted an awesome portrait she’d had commissioned that brought to mind the iconic new wave pop art of Patrick Nagel. She linked me to the artist’s commission page and I bookmarked it for later perusal.

Fast-forward a few weeks and I’m still riding on the high of finding a kimono that fits me and happens to be in one of my favourite colours. I realised that the graphic design of the kimono, bold red lip, and funky glasses would be a perfect fit for the art style, so I contacted the artist and asked if it would be possible to replicate the pattern in his style.

He totally went above and put so much lovely detail into the kimono and my glasses, and even made the portrait larger than necessary to show it off to its best potential and included a background that helped balance the whole piece out. Be sure to view the full-sized version. He was an absolute pleasure to work with, and his prices start at a base five dollars, if you can believe that! If you’re interested in a funky and unique portrait like this, kimono or not, definitely check out Mousetivity on Fiverr.