Showa Fabulous Christmas in July

It’s still hotter than the surface of the sun here in Montreal, but I was determined to see if I could turn my han-darari tsuke obi into a passable fukura suzume bow in preparation for the Otakuthon fashion show. I figured while I had the mannequin and obi out, I may as well go all-in and change her outfit. This isn’t going to be a full outfit in the show but it’s good practice and visualisation for something that’s in the works.

The obi has such a gorgeously shiny showa fabulous feel to it that it felt like the perfect time to bust out my precious post-war kiku houmongi. I went with gold, red, and green accessories, and while I worried initially that the outfit would feel Christmassy, it actually worked out really well. Besides, Christmas in July might help me feel a little bit cooler!

As for the obi experiment, it definitely worked in theory. I just need a few more himo to make things a little tidier, but I’ll definitely be able to pull it off properly for the show on a real model, and I’m thrilled.

Items used in this coordination

Modern Tulip Ikebana featuring FloraGUPPY

After last week’s relatively unsuccessful ikebana I was determined to redeem myself. I received this really neat little tool that I’d ordered called the FloraGUPPY and found three perfect red-orange tulips in the garden so I figured it was time.

One of the tulips had a bit of a bend in it, so I carefully emphasised that into an organic-feeling curve and then did the same to the other two, for a really nice shape and flow. I framed them with two lucky bamboo stems, and really like how sleek this feels. I’m definitely much happier with it than I am with last week’s!

The FloraGUPPY is a clear plastic two-part sphere that clips together with a number of different-sized holes. You can feed the flowers through the holes at different angles to achieve all sorts of cool arrangements. While not completely invisible, the clear plastic does look much more seamless than a heavy metal kenzan or other traditional tools. This makes it ideal for sparse modern arrangements in glass containers, exactly like this one. It’s also slightly flexible in its default state, which is ideal for putting in odd-shaped vessels. But the really cool part is that if you dunk it in hot water, it becomes even more malleable, making it suitable for pretty much any container! I can’t wait to find more uses for it.

 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. 

The Finnish-Ing Touch

Recently, a friend posted that she was going to be de-cluttering her collection and generously giving some of her pieces away. I fell in love with the rich green colour and charming, almost naive design of this houmongi, and somehow managed to claim it before anyone else did. After nearly a month in transit (what is it with me and mail delays lately?!) it finally arrived safe and sound, and I couldn’t wait until I was able to do something with it.

I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, because of where I got it, but there’s something that genuinely feels very Finnish to me about it. It reminds me of some Marimekko designs, or possibly the background of something drawn by Tove Jansson, Can you not picture a Moomin hiding behind one of the trees?

While it will definitely look wonderful with a more classical, elegant coordination (I’m looking forward to pairing it with my gold Tokaido fukuro obi in the future), I knew that initially I really wanted to play up the fun and quirky quality of it. This tachibana obi seemed like a good choice, since it’s got an almost naive, storybook style to it. Pink accessories made the light pink trees in the hem pop, and a gold kasane-eri was the perfect finishing touch to break up all the heavy green up top. I really love how this all came together, and I hope Jenni thinks I did it justice!

Items used in this coordination

Hinamatsuri 2019!

Today is Hinamatsuri (雛祭, doll festival, girl’s day), a day for girls to celebrate, to set up an ornate display of dolls inspired by Heian emperor and empress, and to wish for love and health in the future. I don’t have a proper set of dolls, but I do like to do a small DIY every year and celebrate by making a sweet, girly coordination on the mannequin.

This year I wanted to feature this green obi with pastel designs, and thought this blush pink houmongi with sagara embroidery of a shifuku (silk pouch to protect tea ceremony tools) with a rabbit on it would be perfect. It’s adorable and feminine and the colours play off the obi so well. Rabbits are also commonly used to represent people in their hina-matsuri doll displays, representing a young girl’s wish for a large family when she grows up. The whole outfit feels sweet, girly, and spring-like, which is exactly what I was going for. The blue beaded obijime was chosen to echo the texture of the embroidery on the kimono, and I tied it in a wisteria knot just because I think it looks pretty.

And of course, I couldn’t let hinamatsuri pass without doing some sort of DIY display. I’ve done origami, perler beads, nanoblocks, and illustration. This year I decided to do some adorable sashiko!

Items used in this coordination

Yellow Iris Ikebana

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.