February 28, 2015

Valentines Weekend Ikebana + a Date in Kimono

Ping Wei created this as we watched. The black vertical stripe is not part of the arrangement.

My last blog post mentioned Ping Wei, the Ikebana and ceramic artist from Phoenix- well, I finally got to take a class from him on Feb. 15th. He teaches Sogetsu Ikebana near my home once a month. It was very mysterious and fun and since it was at the local Japanese garden, it became a kimono-wearing opportunity. I even have a kappogi apron for the classes. I wore a basic komon with a hanhaba obi- an everyday look appropriate for the class. The great thing is, Mr. Wei saw nothing wrong with me wearing kimono- seemed normal to him.
Brand new, comfortable zori!
He brought lots of flowering peach or plum branches that was just budding, pink delphinium, tiny yellow mums, and large pink mums. We were to create free-style arrangements in vases we brought. I learned that free-style does have some rules! The challenge was dealing with the large branches- after awhile, it looked like a tree had exploded in the classroom. I did really well; maybe it was beginners luck? I was the only student that didn't need their arrangement corrected during the critique. I think I will try another class on March 15th. It is a challenging art form.

Mr. Wei critiquing our arrangements
My arrangement! 
After the class, I walked out into the garden to appreciate the changes in the season. I saw some spring flowers blooming and the recent rain was causing everything to wake up from winter a bit early it seemed.

After class, I went home, my brain full of new information. I was starving, so my husband suggested we go out- a post-Valentine's Day late lunch. (We missed going on Saturday). 
I was still in kimono, so I decided to keep it on. We went for pizza and wine at a local shopping area- one that happens to have really beautiful architecture. We sat on the patio, sipping wine. Afterwards, we got some gelato. My husband took some photos of me afterwards as the sun was starting to set. 

Of course by this time, I had been wearing a kimono for about 6 hours, so my obijime looks a little messy, but who cares? I wore this new rust red hitoe komon- very comfortable. It's probably wool or a wool-blend. It was overcast but actually in the low 70's. The obi is a wonderful cream and gold hanhaba obi. I added the navy polka-dot obijime at the last minute to dress up the obi. 

Next kimono-wearing event will be last weekend's Phoenix Matsuri! I'm still going through all of  the photos, so look for a post very soon.

January 19, 2015

Gallery Opening: Ping Wei, Ceramics for Ikebana

Last night I went to a gallery opening of beautiful ceramic ikebana vessels by Phoenix ikebana (Sogetsu School) and ceramic artist Ping Wei. It was held at Yume Japanese Gardens. I had seen Ping Wei's work in Phoenix and was delighted to discover his show so close to home.

It was a nice event, very intimate, with people were spilling out into the lantern-lit patio for wine and Pellegrino water. I was the only one in kimono as usual, but I'm getting used to it now and people are starting to get to know me.

The show is really wonderful- the ceramic vases work without flowers.  He did have a few arrangements- the one in the gallery was my favorite- freestyle in an extraordinary vase that looked like mountains to me.
Big free-style arrangement

The kimono I wore to the event was chosen to work with the season, month, and weather as much as possible. It was sunny and 70 F when I left the house at about 4:45 pm. It's a white komon with orange seigaiha (waves) and big patches of faux-shibori. I dressed up the everyday-style kimono with a heavy brocade karabana (Chinese flower) pattern Nagoya obi with red shibori obiage and dark green obijime. I was going for light, bright colors in an almost monochrome palette to suggest spring and well as celebrate January (New Year) with an auspicious pattern that is supposed to be lucky. I took a richly-patterned orange and yellow haori with me for after dark.

Before I left, my husband took some photos of me in the yard on top of our giant flagstones. The weather was perfect- not like winter at all!
Waiting for someone to serve me tea?

Detail of obi and kimono
At the gallery next to one of Ping's vases. The scroll is by Yoshi Nakano.
I was so enamored with Ping Wei's work, I decided to sign up for one of his ikebana classes. He teaches them once a month at Yume. Maybe I will wear kimono- if I can find a kappogi (Japanese apron) to wear over it!

Mochitsuki 2015

Hi everyone
It's been a great month so far for kimono-wearing! The 2nd Annual Mochitsuki event on January 10th was really fun- I think there was about 175 people- an amazing turn out. I played taiko (in kimono!) and volunteered by giving out raffle tickets at the entrance and of course forgot my camera- so these are phone pics- almost as good. Because I was so busy, I don't have a ton of pics.

Since I was playing taiko, moving drums, and hanging out in a big crowd with quite a bit of sticky mochi flying around, I wore a washable poly kimono and Nagoya-style tsuke (two-piece obi) obi. The mochi-pounding was amazing- a local craftsman made the beautiful cherry wood usu (mortar) and kine (mallets). Trained volunteers took turns pounding the mochi, adding water, and making sure it it turned into a sticky, homogeneous dough.

Volunteer cooks turned the sticky mass into little dumplings that were served with sweet kinako (spy flour), shoyu, and seaweed. Everyone seemed to enjoy the special treat.

For my kitsuke, I had to bring everything and change there right before the event started. Hence the tsuke obi- a brilliant device that makes it a bit easier and faster to dress in less-than perfect accommodations. The kimono is one I have had for a while but I had never worn before! It's new and has lovely multi-season design of tzuzumi drums, fue (flute), tachibana (wild orange), sakura (cherry blossom), momiji (maple leaves), and arare (hail)! The obi is soft gold with bamboo; the obiage is light eggplant chirimen, and the obijime is wide fuchsia stripe design that was shorter than I remember, but I managed to make it look presentable with the fluffy tassels.

2015 is the Year of the Ram!

Beautiful Sakura Matsuri happi coat
Zori view

The Blue Music Komon kimono

January 9, 2015

Beautiful Obijime for Sale @ Kyoto Kimono

All images from Kyoto Kimono

Kyoto Kimono, a fabulous kimono and textile dealer in Endicott, New York, has a great selection of unusual obijime on their website! I have purchased from them online and they are great to deal with and everything I have purchased has been excellent quality. 

I love vintage obijime and have about 40 in my collection. Unusual patterns and weaves are always desirable as obijime are an essential accessory in kimono kitsuke. 
Kyoto Kimono has some wonderful patterned obijime (bamboo, yabane, floral), gradation or ombre (bokashi) weaves, as well as some interesting textures and least two summer obijime- I'm sure those will be snatched up quickly since these are harder to find. 

A handy step-by-step guide on how to tie an obijime is here. 
Have fun shopping!

Clear turquoise and gold in an exciting pattern