By Any Other Name

This ikebana was a bit of an unplanned surprise. Alex, the great guy who runs my favourite local flower shop, occasionally holds little contests on their Facebook page. They had one on Monday, and whoever guessed the correct number of roses in this enormous bouquet would win a single rose. My father snagged it, so here we are!

I’m leaving for California in under a week, and I’m really trying to save all my money for that, so I decided to stay thrifty with this arrangement and use things I had in the house to complement it. The curly willow is leftover from previous ikebana, and the long green leaves were “borrowed” from a houseplant (Sorry mum!).

This is a really clean, simple piece that makes sure all the focus remains on the beautiful red rose, and I’m very pleased with it. It will give me something bright and lovely to look at until I leave for warmer pastures next Tuesday.

Octopus’ Garden

A few months ago, my father ordered this incredible octopus obi from 3Magpies Studio for me as a Christmas present. It was a pre-order and I knew it would arrive after the holidays, but I didn’t mind a bit. I knew it would be worth the wait. Also included was an incredible matching haneri, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be available any more. I love how the tentacles just seem to be creeping in, and can’t wait to pair this with other outfits.

The obi nearly got lost in the mail – it was scanned leaving Poland and then the tracking never updated again for over a month. It finally showed up last week, much to everyone’s relief. I’m so happy it found its way home, because it’s awesome!

I really wanted to make sure the focus stayed on the fantastic obi, so I pulled out the red tones for the kimono. This one is covered in tiny ume, but from a distance they totally look like the suckers on the octopus tentacles. It’s a match made in watery, undersea heaven. I kept things simple with more white and red accessories. My initial plan was to use this rhinestone octopus obidome as well, but in the end it felt distracting and sometimes enough really is enough. One day I’ll likely pair them up, maybe with a different kimono to pull the blue colour in somewhere else and feel more cohesive.

Items used in this coordination

#MonoKimono Challenge – Bold Red

Can you believe the year is finally over? I knew I wanted to end the #monokimono challenge with a bang, so I went with a really festive-feeling bold red coordination.

I know I use this kimono a lot, but I do love it to bits. It was my first kimono and it’s still one of the easiest to work with. This whole outfit fell into place very easily and dressing the mannequin took no effort at all. Which is a good thing, because I slipped on the ice getting into the car last night and pulled my entire right side out of alignment. Nothing serious, but it’s uncomfortable and annoying! So I’m very glad this outfit cooperated so well.

Once I had the red kimono sorted, this red and white hakata obi was a no-brainer. The reds are nearly identical, and the white geometric plays off the flowing white kiku of the kimono. I don’t have a red haneri so I went with white, also with kiku motif, and a gold kasane-eri for a little bit of punch. The obijime is one I bought at that big kimono bazaar in the autumn and I’m so happy to have found a way to feature it.

This is such a bright, vibrant outfit. It feels perfect for that liminal time between Christmas and New Year’s day. It also brought me a lot of joy to coordinate it, and that’s something I sorely needed in my life right now.

I don’t know if I’ll do this monthly challenge again in 2019, but I know I will still be making monochrome outfits now and again because it’s a lot of fun and encourages me to step out of the “typical kimono comfort zone”.

Items used in this coordination

Silk Peony Ikebana

Last year, I made an origami ikebana arrangement as a gift for a friend. This year, I wanted to make something for my aunt that would coordinate with her decor and last a long time.

Everything here came from Michaels. I started with the gorgeous, bold red peony that I knew would be the focal point of the whole arrangement. Typically I’m not a huge fan of faux greenery, but these monstera leaves had way more substance and punch than most fake foliage, and since real monstera leaves are quite shiny and waxy anyway, these look much more realistic than most. All I needed after that was a something with height and airiness to balance the earthy, heavy quality of the flower and leaves. My father actually found these very thin branches with pretty silver beads on them that work as the perfect finishing touch.

Of course, I needed some sort of vessel, and I spent a fair bit of time rummaging around in a few different aisles until I found this one and fell in love with it. It’s an almost-perfect match for my aunt’s wall colours so I knew it would coordinate well and while it’s simple enough not to compete with the flower, the bit of texture makes it very earthy and interesting.

Typically, ikebana needs to be done with live, fresh, seasonal flowers. However, there are always acceptable reasons to deviate from the norm. Overall, I think for a silk flower arrangement this was very successful. And my aunt seemed to like it, which is the important part!

Kitsune – Yokai Halloween 2018

The Kitsune is quite possibly the most well-known Yokai. Not only are foxes representative of tricksters in so many cultures and traditions around the world, the kitsune figure appears in so much Japanese media that nearly everyone has, at the very least, a passing familiarity with them.

Kitsune are neither inherently good nor evil – there are so many stories and so many variations. There are helpful ones, vengeful ones, playful ones, and ones who punish the wicked, to name a few. I didn’t have one particular variant in mind when I decided to feature this particular yokai, because it’s impossible to choose. I’d like to think she’s more friendly and playful than outright malicious though.

Since kitsune are so varied, I knew I had a lot of creative liberty for this particular outfit. I decided to go with the first kimono and obi I ever purchased, because this particular kimono feels so quintessentially Japanese to me. The bright red colour and iconic white chrysanthemums pop, and the kitsune mask I painted plays off them so well. The finishing touches were a lovely furry tail and ears. Initially I wanted to put the tail at the hem of the kimono but it’s not very large and got a little bit lost, so I put it below the obi instead, and think it looks very cute there.

And just because I’m really proud of how it turned out, especially considering I freehand painted the whole thing, here’s a close-up of the mask.

Items used in this coordination