O is for Orizuru

Orizuru, 折鶴, origami (lit. folded) crane

I’m feeling somewhat under the weather again today, I’m afraid. I was going to create a coordinate using some pieces in my collection with the origami crane motif but I’m just not up to it.

Instead, I thought I would share some quick and easy instructions for a really charming little mobile. This piece was made over a year ago and I never thought to take photos of the process, but I promise it’s incredibly simple.

I had the cranes already; a couple I made myself but the bulk of them were included in packages from friends or as little gifts with kimono purchases. I really wanted a way to show them off, rather than have them all languishing in drawers.

All I did was carefully pierce holes through the centre of the body of each crane and feed through some very fine beading wire, I used a small jewellery crimp beneath each one so they wouldn’t slide down to the bottom of the wire, and interspersed a few tiny orgami lucky stars for some visual interest.

I made several strands of varying lengths, and attached them to the solid piece from an embroidery hoop set, again using the crimps to fix the wires in place. Another wire to form a hanging loop and voila, your own pretty little flock of orizuru!

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K is for Kintsugi

Kintsugi, 金継ぎ, golden joinery

If you’ve ever seen a beautiful piece of Japanese pottery or ceramic shot through with a line of warm gold filling a crack, you’ve seen kintsugi. It’s the art of using lacquer and gold dust to repair an item, giving it a new life and a new purpose. Kintsugi exemplifies the Japanese qualities of mottainai (regret over waste) and wabi-sabi (the acceptance of impermanence and imperfection). Rather than throw out and waste a broken item, it is a way to give it new life, and create something unique.

You can buy kits to do your own real kintsugi repair, but they are expensive and hard to find. If you’d like to do an inspired DIY version using things you may already have at home or that can easily be bought online from places like Amazon, keep reading! You can follow this tutorial to repair an already-broken item or use it to create a new, unique item like a coaster or trivet. Instructions for both are below.

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D is for Daruma

Daruma, 達磨, lucky doll representing Bodhidharma

Daruma are those rounded, roly-poly little dolls (usually red, but other colours exist) with a grumpy-looking face. Often one or both eyes are left blank. They’re said to represent the bearded face of Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Nowadays, they’re used to set goals and encourage perseverance. When you set a goal, you paint in the right eye in. When you accomplish the goal, you fill in the left. At the end of the year it’s common to return the daruma to the temple where it was purchased, for it to be thanked and set ablaze. You would then buy a new one to set a new goal for the upcoming year.

As I mentioned, the traditional colour for daruma is red, but it’s becoming more common to see a whole host of colours used to represent different goals. There are varying opinions as to which colour represents what, but some of the most common meanings are as follows:

Red – Luck & fortune
White – Marriage & harmony
Gold or yellow – Finance
Green – Health
Blue – Success
Pink – Love

If you’d like to make your own daruma, keep reading! However, this one is not made of fragile papier maché and should absolutely not be burnt!

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Review – Pagoda Lantern kit from One Man One Garage

Since we’re all trapped inside for the foreseeable future, it feels like a great time to share this fun little DIY project I found from a wonderful Etsy shop, One Man, One Garage! I purchased this back during the great bedroom flood debacle and assembled it when I needed a meditative little break; it was absolutely perfect.

One Man, One Garage creates laser-cut wood craft kits. All you have to do is carefully pop the pieces out of each board and assemble them, following the numbers etched into each piece. Instructions are provided online, but I honestly didn’t need them. This kit, despite looking incredibly intricate when complete, was very intuitive and smartly-designed. While not all the designs in this shop are Japanese in nature, this pagoda lantern caught my eye immediately and I knew I wanted to share it with you! Look how beautiful it is once it’s all lit up! The shop says it’s safe to use a tealight candle, but I’ve used an LED one here just in case.

It arrived tightly sealed, which helped keep all the pieces snug. This way there’s no risk of breakage. There was also a sweet little hand-signed postcard included, which is a personal touch that I really love when dealing with small artisan shops like this.

 

The only flaw I found in the kit was a very minor one, and I suspect a one-off issue. One of the laser cuts didn’t seem to have gone fully through the wood, which resulted in a bit of difficulty removing a piece. A tiny fragment broke off one end, but it wasn’t enough to impede assembly and it’s not even visible now that it’s all put together. I’m sure if I had contacted the shop they would have worked with me to sort it out, but it was such a tiny problem that I didn’t feel like it was worth bringing up. I just wanted to mention it here in the interest of being thorough.

Overall, this was a very fun, quick, and relaxing little craft. I love how it looks with the light in it, and I’m definitely going to be buying the Zen Garden kit (how utterly adorable is the little maneki neko?!) once I’m back at work and have some cash to spare. 🙂

 I purchased this item myself and chose to review it. 

Say Hello to Akane!

Everyone, please say hello to Akane!

I found this little lady on a shelf at my favourite vintage shop. She’s not particularly old; she’s made of a sort of soft vinyl instead of ceramic and gofun, and seems relatively mass-produced. Nonetheless I was utterly charmed by her and knew I had to bring her home. I was drawn immediately by her bright red kimono, which inspired me to name her Akane (茜), which means deep red and is a traditional girls’ name.

Unfortunately that kimono was pretty much all she had! There was a piece of cardboard wrapped in pink satin tied around her waist like a sort of obi, and a scraggly little piece of twine in her hair, but she had no real accessories or anything, so I decided to make her some custom pieces as well as give her a bit of a glow-up. I did take photos of the whole process, but since it was done more to relax and unwind I took the photos on my phone, wherever I happened to be working so I apologise for the quality and messy background of some of these.

Her face shape is adorable, but it felt very flat due to a lack of shading. She did have some pink blush on her cheeks but aside from that, she honestly looked like a cute potato. She also had lower eyelashes but no upper ones, and nearly invisible eyebrows. Using a combination of actual cosmetics and chalk pastels I gave her some shadows and contouring, deepened the flush on her cheeks, and gave her eyelashes and more defined eyebrows. It’s a subtle change, but she’s gone from a potato to a peach. You can also see the false eri I sewed for her to give the impression of a proper under-layer.

Next up was fixing her hair. Her bangs were quite uneven, but much worse was her hair in the back. I’m not sure if someone tried to trim her hair at some point or if she was made this way, but her hair was very lopsided in the back! I straightened it out and snipped away any broken or kinked hairs I could find. Then I tucked these cute little plum blossoms Kansai_gal sent me. They’re actually from packaging or something but I like that I’ve given them a second life. Since her head is vinyl I was able to just push a straight pin through them and they’re very solidly anchored in there.

With the cosmetic aspects taken care of, I got to work giving her a proper obi. I used some scrap kimono fabric and sewed a cute little tsuke-obi, and used some of the same textured white fabric from the eri to make an obiage. The whole thing attaches with a magnet and then a length of gold cord works as an obijime. Her socks are a bit of a cheat – they’re simply two fingers off a pair of white cotton polishing gloves! They fit her more perfectly than anything I could have sewn.

I’ve never named a doll I’ve fixed up before, but none of them have captivated me nearly as much as this little girl has. All the others reside in a display cabinet but she lives on my bedside table. Maybe I should sew a little zabuton for her to sit on. XD