DIY Sanjuhimo Tutorial

While not necessary, a sanjuhimo (三重紐, triple string) is one of those tools that is an enormous help when making big ornate furisode obi-musubi. They can be a little hard to find online, especially if you’re only able to use English-language sites, although KimonoPoncho on Etsy often has them for sale.

Today was a damp, dreary day and I’m feeling a little under the weather with no energy to go out or do anything big so it was a good time to do a little crafting. I thought it would be pretty straightforward to make my own, and I was right! If you’d like to make your own, just keep reading.

You will need

  1. 2.5cm(1″) wide durable non-stretch trim – I used rug-binding tape, which works very well
  2. 2.5cm(1″) wide elastic
  3. Strong thread – I used cotton-wrapped polyester
  4. A strong sewing needle
  5. Scissors
  6. Measuring tape or guide

 

  • Measure out three pieces of elastic 25cm (10″) long, and two pieces of the non-stretch tape 60cm(24″) long.
  • Thread your needle with a doubled length of thread for extra reinforcement.
  • Overlap the three pieces of elastic and one piece of cotton tape by roughly 2.5c(1″).
  • Using small stitches, sew the pieces together using a square shape with an X in it. Since this will be pulled taut and supporting the obi, you want to make sure the tension is spread across a wider area than a single line.
  • Repeat this step with the other tape and other ends of the elastic, so you now have three strips of elastic in the centre of a long band of cotton tape.

That’s all there is to it! Simply tie the sanjuhimo around the top of your obi, like you would with an obi-makura, and have fun experimenting. For some really great video tutorials using a tool like this, check out さんさんmama on YouTube. If you make one and use it, I’d love to see!

Zen Garden Miniature Diorama

First off, please let me apologise for the lack of updates recently. The weather is still miserably hot, and it’s killing both my ability and my motivation to do much of anything. Work has also been busier than usual. I may not have found the time to change the mannequin lately, but I did want to share this little miniature project I completed recently.

The more I make dioramas and miniature-scale things, the more I realise how much I love it. The Japanese-themed dollhouse was such a pleasure to make that I wanted to do something else with a similar influence. These gorgeous glass and metal terrariums I found at the craft store seemed like an excellent place to start.

I laid in a base of rocks and fine sand to serve as a neutral foundation for everything. The tree was made from scratch, I started with a wire armature, covered it in tape, then covered the whole thing in textured clay. I painted that in shades of brown to mimic bark and then glued on clusters of foliage to give the whole thing a windswept bonsai look. The little pond is resin, with a base of blue glass beads, stones, and tiny shells.

The Buddha is antique ivory. It was my grandmother’s, and my father used it as a teething soother when he was a baby. Eventually I will find a suitable replacement that’s a little smaller and holds a lot less sentimental value, and possibly a tiny stone lantern, but for now I think he looks rather at home there. Looking at the whole thing relaxes and grounds me, and I couldn’t be happier.

Mofuku Obi Remake & Giveaway featuring Cutting Edge Stencils

Odds are, at some point in your life as a kimono collector, you’ll end up with one or two mofuku (funeral wear) items in your hoard. Wearing them as-is can often feel disrespectful or inappropriate, but upcycling them into something new and wearable is a wonderful way to give a piece new life. Not only does it make something more wearable, it also fits perfectly with the Japanese theory of mottainai, a disdain for waste and a philosophy of recycling.

I’ve paired up with Cutting Edge Stencils to take this obi, which is in excellent condition but relatively unwearable due to the funerary associations, and turn it into something new! They have a fantastic selection of Japanese inspired wall stencils, but what really caught my eye were the ones inspired by botanical mon, the round family crests found on formal kimono. I love kiku, so of course the Chrysanthemum Twist stencil called out to me the most strongly, and it’s the one we’ll be using today.

Painting over items (particularly black silk) actually has quite a long tradition when it comes to kimono. The technique is often referred to as pente, and showed up frequently in the post-ration era after WWII when access to more traditional techniques and materials was slim. Those of you who are familiar with my amazing lobster tsuke-obi might recognise it as being pente. So this project is really quite appropriate!

What you’ll need:

  1. Solid coloured Nagoya obi
  2. Small-sized (8″) Japanese mon stencil from Cutting Edge
  3. Stencilling brushes
  4. Something to hold down your stencil (I used Zots, which are super useful repositionable sticky dots)
  5. Fabric-safe paint (I used Finnabair’s Art Alchemy Sparks in Butterfly Spells and Unicorn Hair which look amazing on the black fabric)
  6. Painting supplies (Water, paper towels, drop cloth)
  7. Not pictured: Fine detail/line brush, paint in the same colour as your obi

Using an existing Nagoya Obi for reference, determine where you want your stencils to go. I went with a very standard arrangement, the full design on the wide drum and a smaller accent on the front. I used low-adhesive paper tape to delineate my areas because a white fabric pencil could potentially leave visible marks on the black silk.

Lay your stencil out on the drum and use your temporary adhesive of choice to fix it into place. You want to make sure it’s not going to wiggle. Cutting Edge’s stencils are made thicker than a lot of other stencils, so they’re nice and weighty and lay very flat, but you still want to be certain there’s no shifting while you’re painting.

Dip your brush in the paint and wipe off as much excess as possible. When stencilling, it’s always better to start light and add another layer. If you start out too heavy with the paint it can bleed heavily under the stencil and you won’t have clean, crisp lines (note: a little bit of bleed is unavoidable, we’ll be fixing it later, but using a light touch now will save you work and heartache later). Using a very light hand and a gentle swirling motion, begin filling in one colour. I started with the foliage but you could just as easily start with the flowers.

You might be tempted to lift the stencil and paint the front part, but it’s best to leave it on in case you need to do a second coat. Getting them lined up perfectly isn’t worth the hassle. Do your two coats if needed, and then carefully lift the stencil away. No matter how careful you are and how high-quality the stencil is, odds are high there will be a bit of bleed. This is to be expected when painting on a soft, absorbent surface like fabric. Once the paint is dry, it’s time to do your cleanup. Using your liner brush and acrylic paint the same colour as the obi and carefully paint over any messy edges. Take your time here, it will be slow and tedious but the results will be so much better, I promise. Once you’ve cleaned up your edges, let the obi dry completely overnight to ensure you don’t inadvertently smudge any paint. I also used the same stencil to decorate the front, only filling in one flower and a couple of leaves.

I can’t get over how beautiful the finished product is! They may be marketed as wall stencils but you can’t tell me this design isn’t absolutely perfect in this context, both in size and subject matter. Of course, as soon as I was certain it was fully dry I had to see how it looked on the mannequin. I also couldn’t help adding a few adhesive rhinestones as a finishing touch, I love how they pop against the metallic paint and look like drops of dew.

These stencils can obviously be used on fabric and look fantastic on the drum of a nagoya obi, but they would also be beautiful on walls, or used to make pillows or artwork. Cutting Edge actually sent me a couple of smaller bonus stencils, including a swallowtail and a koi fish. I used the swallow and more Art Alchemy Sparks in Mermaid Sparkle to make this pretty trinket dish, and I love how it turned out! I can’t wait to use the fish for something, I just need to figure out what.

Giveaway Time! – Giveaway now closed 01/09/2018

If you’ve read all the way down here, congratulations! Cutting Edge Stencils have also been generous enough to organise a giveaway! One lucky reader will receive an amazing $50 towards the stencil of their choice. The beautiful stencil I used is only $12.95 so that’s quite a fantastic offer. All you have to do is browse their site, and then comment below on this blog entry before August 31st with which stencil is your favourite and what you would do with it if you won. Be sure to include your email address in the proper field so I can contact you if you win. For an extra entry, comment on this facebook post!

*Winner will be chosen using Random.org and must be of legal age and a resident of Canada or the United States*

Items used in this coordination

 

 I received this item from the manufacturer for honest review purposes.If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site. 

Japanese-Inspired Dollhouse

 

Something a little different today! If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, odds are good that you’ve seen little bits and pieces of this Japanese-inspired dollhouse project I’ve been working on for quite some time. It’s finally complete, and it’s so satisfying to see everything together.

I started with this Romantic Nordic Cottage kit, but essentially only used the base structure and wiring kit. I liked the clean lines and open feel of it, and thought it would suit a Japanese aesthetic well. I kept the basic layout the same and used a few of the pre-cut pieces but also added a lot of custom furniture and accessories. I made a functional tansu and a sort of tokonoma out of popsicle sticks and stained with cherrywood stain markers. The markers made things so much easier, the small tip is the perfect size for this scale. The walls were covered with an assortment of embossed paper in neutral tones instead of using the busy and overly shiny print-outs included in the kit.

The bedding, hanging kimono, zabuton cushions, and chair upholstery are all actual kimono fabric scraps, as are the items inside the tansu. I tried to use pieces that had smaller-scale designs, to fit the general scale and dimension of the house. While I tried to make or at least alter nearly every piece, I bought the sushi, edamame, and dishware at a miniature expo. The decorative bowls and small cooking pot in the kitchen came from there too.

The original kitchen included in the kit had no sink, and the oven front was nothing more than a print-out I was supposed to glue onto a piece of wood, but it looked very unfinished. I used some heavy reflective paper to make a metal sink and build an oven door out of more of the same paper and some matchsticks. I even put on a tiny tea towel, made of shibori fabric.

The aquarium is quite possibly the thing I am most proud of. It was my first time working with resin, and I’m so pleased. I built the structure out of more popsicle sticks, used some gorgeous chiyogami paper from The Rare Orchid as the background, and I decorated the inside with some plant matter, teeny tiny shells, and polymer clay goldfish. I also had so much fun making the kokeshi doll in the little decorative shelf. Pretty sure that’s the tiniest face I’ve ever painted!

I really loved doing all the tiny detail work and decoration. I used a lot of beads and minuscule little knick-knacks I had lying around, and these sorts of things really help the whole thing feel like a real, lived-in home. There’s prints in the kitchen, including some vintage Japanese advertising and an adorable Sushi Cats print, and the art hanging in the tokonoma is by Ichiro Tsuruta, whom I’ve mentioned here before.

The tatami flooring is actually tatami repair stickers! The tile in the kitchen is adhesive vinyl cut into 1cm squares, and the flooring in the dining area is  more of the same imprinted heavy paper used on the walls. To give everything a more polished look, I finished off the edges with more stained coffee stirrers. It’s hard to see, but the bathroom is also “tiled” with more self-adhesive vinyl, and I made a mirror with the same reflective paper used in the kitchen. There are little bottles and toiletries made of beads. The initial kit just had clear acrylic walls in the bathroom, but that felt very exposed to me so I used some semi-opaque paper and decorative wire mesh to give a feeling of privacy.

This project was a labour of love, and reinforced how much I love working with miniatures.

 This post contains affiliate link(s). If you choose to purchase, I receive a small rebate or commission which goes to the continued maintenance of this site. 

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.