Art Gallery – Eeeveelution Girls

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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

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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!

Tsukihana, Custom Geisha Monster High Doll

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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 – Rilakkuma & Friends

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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 – Sakura Valentine

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Sakura Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! I had grand plans to do a really sweet, romantic coordination on the mannequin but that went awry as plans are wont to do. I still wanted to share something though, since I love you all so much for continuing to support me. I’ve been working on this illustration for a while now. Initially I was going to share it during cherry blossom season, but the pink floral theme seemed perfect for a Valentine. It’s not much, but it sure is pretty, and I hope you like it!

I’ve also set up a shop on Society6 with some prints of the occasional artwork I do and share here, including this one. I get a few dollars from each one sold, all of which will go back into the fund to help support the blog.