Say Hi to Sophie!

Yesterday, my dear friend Sophie came over and I had the pleasure of dressing her in kimono! She’s worn yukata before, when we went to the Yatai! street food fest, but never anything dressier. She chose this plum tsukesage with stylised peacocks because she loves purple, and we coordinated an outfit around it. I went for a big punch of contrast with the gold obi, then chose an obijime with the same plum tones and an obiage that pulls out the icy blue of the obijime for a good sense of cohesion.

I did dress her over western clothing and undergarments, so the collar isn’t as smooth as it could be, but for someone who’s never worn this many heavy layers before, she looks great! Some people are just kimono naturals.

She was a little nervous posing at first, but once she got a little more relaxed everything just clicked. I think she looks absolutely lovey, and I do like how the gold obi and kasane-eri pop against the rich aubergine of the kimono. Sometime in the future, I’m very much looking forward to both of us dressing up and going out together.

This last photo is a bit of a conceit on my part. I really loved how thoughtful she looked, but unfortunately my flash didn’t fire and the photo ended up being incredibly noisy and under-exposed. I decided to make it look like a vintage daguerreotype, and I think it worked out quite well.

Items used in this coordination

Catwoman

Up next in my Batman-inspired coordinations, Catwoman! A jewel thief extraordinaire and on-again off-again love interest for Bruce Wayne himself, no project like this would be complete without her.

Her look and costume have evolved almost as much as her origins, and my initial plan was to go for black with hints of blue-green to evoke the gritty night-time feel of Gotham as well as echo her outfits in the Batman Ninja movie. But after some discussion with a friend, I realised I could absolutely pull in the purple as well, and have a very harmonious outfit that nodded to her original costume as well as the more modern iterations.

Of course, this was the perfect opportunity to use my teal haneri with black cats on it. I also tied a variation on a standard otaiko musubi with my teal obi that gives off the impression of cat ears. I really wanted this outfit to be as sleek and elegant as Selina Kyle is, but with a sense of whimsy and a clear nod to cats. The obidome is a stylised clay cat face my father sculpted and I then decorated with pearls and rhinestones to call back to her cat-burglar past. A rich purple obiage and obijime tied everything together, both visually and literally.

Unfortunately, the weather here is awful and dreary and the light in the living room was not amazing today. Combine that with the fact that purple and teal are two of the most difficult colours to photograph. I had to process the photos quite a bit, but I think in the end they’re pretty accurate, and the outfit conveys exactly what I was hoping for, so I’m quite pleased.

Items used in this coordination

The Joker

I did Batman last weekend, but I couldn’t very well leave him without a Joker, could I? Translating the clown prince of crime into kimono was no small feat! I knew I wanted to keep the outfit relatively subtle and wearable, like I did with Batman, so I started with the colour scheme.

Purple and green are the Joker’s classic colours, and I pulled in the orange accents from Batman: The Animated Series, which remains my favourite screen adaptation. A big ridiculous orange flower seemed like the perfect accessory. Initially my plan was to use it as an obi decoration, but I preferred up on the collar, where it felt more like a lapel boutonnierere. I went with a plain white haneri as a nod to a white dress shirt you’d wear under a suit. Also, the outfit was colourful enough as-is and didn’t really need more oomph.

I think I did a good job of visually conveying the Joker in all his various incarnations. I’m actually quite proud of that, because as you may or may not know, I am utterly terrified of clowns. So you can imagine how creepy I tend to find the Joker! Oddly enough, harlequins don’t bother me at all, so I am actually very much looking forward to doing something for Harley Quinn! I’ve also got Catwoman and possibly Poison Ivy on the roster. If there’s any famous or infamous Gothamite you’d like to see, do let me know!

Items used in this coordination

Bountiful Garden Ikebana

Today’s ikebana is inspired by our beautiful, bountiful garden. I love this time of year. It’s not oppressively hot or humid yet, but it’s warm and sunny and there are flowers blooming everywhere! It’s not great for my allergies, but they’re so pretty I can deal with it.

Everything in this arrangement came from the garden. Irises are one of my favourite flowers of all time, and my mother planted these gorgeous rich purple ones for me. I managed to catch them at the perfect time, freshly bloomed and vibrant. The lilacs are reaching the end of their life cycle, but I still liked the soft, textural quality they brought to the arrangement, helping to balance out the roughness of the wood. The leaves are from a huge ligularia plant. It’s nowhere near blooming yet, but I do hope to use some blossoms off it when it does.

I’m still riding the wave of motivation I got at the ikebana display last week. I was particularly inspired by the use of driftwood in several pieces there, as well as in one of those charming books Naomi sent me.  I put my smaller kenzan in a little glass dish and nestled it into one of the natural curves of the wood. Funny story, this piece of wood is actually an old decoration from our aquarium. Our plecostomus likes to chew on them and smooth them out so we’ve got a bunch of old ones lying around.

Of course, I had to make use of the screen I made last week. I’m so pleased with how it looks, and it has an added bonus of helping diffuse light which makes the photos look much more even. I’m certain you will be seeing a lot more of this screen! I’m tempted to make one in black as well but I have lots of other things that need to be finished first.

Review – Musubi Diary & Pen Case

I have a little something different for you today! From Musubi Atelier, a set of absolutely gorgeous diary and pen case. They are crafted from an assortment of Japanese fabrics with traditional motifs and colours, and the notebooks are filled with unlined Japanese paper that’s incredibly delicate and smooth but still somehow durable. It’s really a work of art. Even the presentation packaging sleeve is solid and high-quality, and feels luxurious. It makes me a little bit sad that the pen case wasn’t packaged similarly, but it doesn’t detract from the item itself.

I chose the Maneki Neko motif journal in Murasaki (purple) and a coordinating pen case in Murasaki Seigaiha. They’re not a matched set, per se, but they do look lovely together. For the journals, there are lots of patterns available, from more mature and subdued geometrics to cuter motifs like rabbits and owls. Currently, the pen cases are only available in different colours of seigaiha, but there may be more options in the future.

One of the most amazing things about Musubi, however, is not the style or quality of their merchandise. It’s their mission, their ethics, and their craftspeople. You can read their entire story and statement on their website, but here is the most touching and important bit.

Our twin operations in Singapore and Indonesia exemplify our philosophy of direct impact: in Singapore, our bookmaking atelier employs only persons with physical and intellectual disabilities, providing them the employment stability and opportunities they previously lacked. In Indonesia, we train women from abusive family backgrounds in the same high-tech methods used to make our pen cases, providing them the skillset necessary to gain financial independence and escape their unfavourable circumstances.

My journal even came with an insert signed by the person who made it, which I think is an amazing touch.

One caveat – these items are not cheap. The journals vary from approximately $80 USD to approximately $130 USD and the pen cases are approximately $65 USD (these are estimates, as site prices are listed in Singaporean dollars and the exchange may vary). These are not “buy a few and throw one in your handbag” notebooks, they are meticulously hand-crafted works of art. They would make a beautiful gift for an important milestone like a graduation, a new job, a wedding, or an important anniversary. You’re paying for fantastic quality and very high-end materials, and more importantly, you’re bringing a better quality of life to the artisans who make them.

 I purchased this item at a discounted price for honest review purposes.