December 22, 2012

Kimono Apocalypse? No, just modeling for an art class.

I modeled in kimono for a painting class yesterday, on the day of the Mayan Apocalypse! I wore the Meisen kimono I bought from this lovely lady last year! It has some stains on the collar, so I added the dark pink lace. Although it's not traditional, I think it works pretty well without distracting from the overall look of the ensemble.
The painters usually like traditional costumes and were pleasantly surprised by the really bold design of this kimono. The students were probably expecting  feminine flowers and cute butterflies. I dressed so it was elegantly longer and added a hot pink and white uchiwa fan and pink paper bangasa as props. The painters loved it.

I wore the kimono with my fan and drum Nagoya obi and the accessories below:
Camellia obiage

Pale yellow obijime
Fun and fairly comfortable zori
I really, really love this kimono! The Meisen silk is heavy and crisp, almost like taffeta and the sleeve length is fabulous. Considering it's age, it has a decent wingspan and I was able to make a tiny ohashori hidden under the obi. In the top photo, you can see my red silk Taisho-era juban peeking out from the sleeves. The juban has flecks of gold leaf on the silk but it's hidden under the kimono of course. I love the red against the magenta and black.
A professional photographer took some pictures as well, so if they turn out, I will post those too.
Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

November 6, 2012

All Souls Procession: first round of photos

Welcome to my All Soul's Procession mini photo album! I'm still listening to two different election results news sources (One radio, one TV) and posting this at the same time! Multi-tasking is the norm since I've been so incredibly busy lately.
I took all of these photos with my smart phone except for the one near the bottom...husband took that with the camera before I went out. I will get some more professional photos soon, but I though this would give you a nice little amuse-bouche for now. All of my photos are copyrighted by me, so please contact me if you would like to borrow them!
This year's colors were iridescent and opalescent white and black- not that easy to interpret into kimono! I didn't even know black was also a costume color until a couple of days before the event, so my costume is a bit last-minute but I got a lot of wonderful comments and a ton of photos taken of me this time.  A rainbow or spectrum of color plus black or white was supposed to be OK as well, so I went for colorful and even added swipe of rainbow make-up to my face.  I wore my crazy dance kimono for the first time (Mostly blue on the front and green and cream striped on the back) with a black and white obi, orange obijime, green glass obidome, black and white polka-dot haneri, orange headband with white and purple faux flowers, and finally on the feet, white jika tabi that I wear for taiko. They are waaaayyy more comfortable than zori when dancing and processing for a couple of miles and then standing around for an couple of hours.
Waiting before the procession: you can see Odaiko Sonora's big odaiko (taiko drum)on the cart to the right. We dance behind the urn and a taiko player keeps a beat on the drum throughout the entire procession.

Some of my taiko/dance peeps are in the front of the photo. Most wear white happi  or a stylized yukata with a simple colored obi. You can see the tenugui we use as a dance prop around our necks. 

Close-up of the gorgeous new laser-cut steel urn. You can see some of the mementos inside. These will be burned during the finale. 

The urn attendants. These costumed folks stay with the urn throughout the procession by helping people with adding their prayers and offerings to the urn. 

The lights inside the urn change from green... gold!

Far away from the finale stage: the urn on the tower. You can see silvery dancers with very large headdresses on the left side. 

The urn on fire, releasing the prayers, hopes, and mementos of thousands people. 
My costume right before I left for the procession. I'm wearing two photos for remembrance this year: My friend Rosa Nogues, who left us April and my cat K-Pax, who left us in September of this year. I put a special packet for K-Pax in the urn filled with rosemary, catnip, and lavender and a bit of his fur. 

This photo of me shown below was posted by the local news station on their website. 
The entire photo gallery is here! You can really get a sense of the type of costumes and make-up most people tend to go for- classic Dia de los Muertos. 
When more photos surface, I will post them!

October 23, 2012

Otsukimi: a balmy evening in Phoenix

Otsukimi was much better this year than last year...last year it was thwarted by occupiers in the adjacent park.... they turned many people away so attendance was down. This year, Emma and I actually showed up early--around 4:45 to help Fushicho Daiko load in but they didn't need any help. So we left and changed in the dojo. Of course, it gets dark so much earlier, so when we got back all dressed and ready to go in, it was a little after  6:00pm and already dark. (We had planned photos before it got dark...didn't happen). The event had already run out of bento boxes when we arrived, so they knocked $5 off our admission price. We had already planned on going out later anyway, so not a problem. The moon was only a crescent though; apparently the timing of the event was off.
They had made it more "festivally" (new word!) this year with a larger gift sales area near the tea house rather than at the entrance, freshly made otsukimi-dango, a fabulous taiko performance by Fushicho Daiko, an art auction, the tea house was serving tea, etc.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect...the afternoon was hot, about 90 degrees but when the sun went down, it cooled off fast to about 80 degrees. I have been so incredibly busy with work, so I haven't had a chance to really think about wearing a kimono! The Friday night before I was trying to decide whether to wear a yukata v. kimono and while I was ironing the yukata at 6:00pm, it was still 87 degrees outside...that's when I decided comfort was going to win over fashion! Then there is the question of motif: do I go with traditional seasonal patterns such as bunnies, chrysanthemums, and hawks or what might be more appropriate for my region? Again, Arizona seasons won out this time as I wore my new green butterfly yukata. September and October are the seasons for butterflies here, so it seemed appropriate on some level. Plus, it's too warm for wool awase. Because of the still very warm autumn weather, I opted for a yukata worn in "kimono style" rather than a kimono.
With the emerald green butterfly yukata, I'm also wearing a cream and black Nagoya Hakata obi with fuchsia obiage, medium pink obijime, a cream silk haneri, a hot pink and white uchiwa, Alexis Bittar earrings, tabi sox and multicolored geta. The inspiration was the fabulous Jordan McMillan handbag with woven grosgrain ribbons in greens, pink, cream, tan, and black. It's so cute and the colors work perfectly with the yukata. Sorry, no time to recreate this look! Next time, when I have more time!

Emma agreed with choosing a yukata for comfort and wore her favorite tea green dress with violet obi and this time she had a matching handbag and haneri that she made. She had also found a nifty pink silk flower hair clip that made a lovely accent for her light green obijime. 
At the marketplace, I found a cute bokashi (gradation) obijime for $10 and Emma bought a lovely casual fukuro obi- it's hitoe and a pale peachy-pink with a few large butterflies woven into strategic areas. The weaving is very nice and looks almost embroidered. I think she can use it with many future kimono and even a yukata. Sorry, no photo! They only had a few kimono items for sale; mostly it was fans, gift items, some ceramics, etc.

After Otsukimi, we went to a fabulous Italian restaurant that was very close to the garden: Cibo. We had excellent pizza and a lovely wine, a Botromogno Primitivo from Puglia. (Amazing gluten free pizza available!) Their patio was gorgeous with several trees filled with fairy lights; the restaurant is in a lovely historic old home. A perfect end to a fun evening! I hope next year's event is even better.

October 1, 2012

Otsukimi this month in Phoenix

As usual, I'm going to attend Otsukimi at Ro Ho En this month.
I'm not quite sure what I will wear this year but I hope it has cooled sufficiently to wear an actual kimono rather than a yukata. Maybe I will wear something I haven't worn before! If any readers out there want to help plan a kimono-meet up, send me an e-mail! It's a really nice event with food, taiko music, sake, tea ceremony, and most of all, wonderful and lovely cool fall weather in Phoenix.

September 24, 2012

It's finally autumn!

Autumn means the weather is finally starting to change and that means it's almost kimono time!  It's still hot during the day but it cools off to 68-74 degrees F at night, so at least it seems cooler. With some cloud-cover, it really seems cooler although it was 98 today. Plus monsoon is pretty much over, so no more humidity.
I'm anticipating the first official kimono-wearing event in October: Otsukimi at Ro Ho En as well as the All Soul's Procession on November 4th. There also might be an art class modeling opportunity in there as well. And of course, Halloween! Strange that I have never dressed in kimono for Halloween, but if I get invited to a last-minute party, it's always an option. I'm always so busy with art shows this time of year that I forget to plan a Halloween costume.

I've been very busy lately with work, art, and some family stuff; and since the weather here is too hot until the end of September, I hadn't bothered to post anything! When life seems to become overwhelming, it's difficult to just make time to write about anything fun and exciting since my Santa Fe trip. I've been spending all of my money on art supplies in anticipation of the Open Studio Tour in November so I haven't even been on ebay lately looking for cool kimono items! Oh well...I have way too much stuff anyway, so it's a blessing in disguise.
So until I'm ready to post some new kimono photos, kitsuke tips and tricks, here are some fun images!
How cute is this? This is a postcard I picked up at Bode's in Abiquiu, New Mexico of all places! It appears to be vintage but there was nothing on the back indicating a time period or place. I just love it.

And of course, another idea for a kimono; this one is called "The Lotus Pond".
It's made with a photo I took at Bamboo Giant, which is near where I used to live in California. So if you are ever in near Santa Cruz or Capitola, CA go check it out. It would be a fabulous place for a kimono dress-up photo-shoot, with all of the bamboo groves. It's such a nice place to walk on a warm day. Once you are in the groves, the air becomes cooler and more refreshing, the sounds of cars driving by disappears, and you start to hear the sounds of water and birds. It's a magical place.
Kimono magic coming soon, so stay tuned!

August 5, 2012

Museum show in Santa Fe, recent purchases

Howdy all!
I've been out of town a couple of times since July 4th. Last week I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico for eight days. Santa Fe is one of my favorite places to visit, mainly because of the art galleries and museums! I was there for a week-long art workshop but had a chance to go to some wonderful museums, including the International Folk Art Museum to see this particular show: The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946. The show features art and craft items made by Japanese Americans at the internment camps. Some of the items displayed were drawings and watercolors, but many were more utilitarian. Each object had a special artistry due to the materials they used and the circumstances under which the items were made. I was allowed to take photos without a flash, so please excuse the quality of some of the images. Go see the show if you are in the area, it closes October 7th.
A "Flag" made from origami cranes adorns the entrance to the show.
Dolls made from wood, thread, paper, and scraps of kimono fabric.

A child's gi featuring sashiko stitching.
Embroidery by Ochiyo Omori, taught by Mr. Nagahama, who was a 75-year old master of the craft when he was interned at Heart Mountain. He had hundreds of students.
Recent purchases.
I'm not buying anything right now...I have tons of stuff and need to concentrate on art supplies for some new projects and wear what I already have!  I did manage to purchase my first obidome though. I was smitten by the imagery of the dove and moon, since I am surrounded by doves where I live and I seem to have an affinity for them.

The drawback: it's only 1-3/4" long and 3/4" wide; the loops on the back only 3/8" of an inch wide. It's a girl's obidome, which probably explains the small size. Proportionally, it's probably too small for me to wear and I certainly do not own any obijime they are narrow enough to fit. Any ideas on how to make use of this lovely piece? I seriously love it, so it's staying in my collection for now!

Next item: I received this super-cute teal and white striped obiage with camellias on it! I'll have to figure out when to wear kimono wearing events in Phoenix are not until early October but maybe I can create my own meet-up before then- a sushi party in a cool, air-conditioned restaurant! Still, this time of year, the very idea of dressing up in a kimono, even for an indoor event, sounds stifling and sweaty.

That's all for this week! 

July 4, 2012

Rain on the 4th of July: welcome to the Arizona Monsoon

Happy Independence Day everyone! 

Currently it is sprinkling rain outside and about an hour ago it was coming down hard! A very welcome relief from the dry heat but it might be difficult to watch fireworks later tonight. It rained a little last night as well and we should get more rain over the next couple of days. Then hot. Then a rain storm or two. Welcome to the Arizona Monsoon! Too bad it's raining on the 4th of July but at least I don't live in Washington DC, with all of the power outages and no air conditioning! (Finds some wood to knock on). It must be awful!

Here comes the rain again...

Run, Squiggy, run!
Speaking of the summer rainy season, on rare occasion we have special visitors in our yard during monsoon. Like this little (About 10" long) guy that I caught trying to run very fast in our gravel driveway lat weekend. It's a young Gila Monster! It's very rare to see one; I have friends that have lived here for over 20 years and have never seen one! But it inspired another crazy desert-B-movie-themed kimono idea:
Have a wonderful holiday and stay cool!

June 29, 2012

Fun Friday: Ukiyoe art from an antique glass negative

Sorry I haven't posted much, but I have been both busy and it's been really hot here. June is traditionally the hottest month here but the heat is taking the motivation right out of me! So I have had no interest in dressing up (no where to go this time of year except out for sushi) or even taking photos of coordination.

But I do have a fun item to share! I found this amazing item on ebay earlier this year and finally decided to do something with it today. It's virtually an antique, from the late Meiji or early Taisho. It's a glass photographic negative of a Ukiyoe woodblock print. Photos were probably taken of of original prints for reproduction purposes.
6-1/2 minutes, using Bostick & Sullivan's cyanotype printing kit

The glass itself is small, only 4.5" x 6.5" and very fragile. I bought it because one of the art-forms I enjoy dabbling in is alternative photographic processes, particularly cyanotypes.  Earlier today, I coated some paper with emulsion and did some time tests, seeing how long it would take to get a good print. The best print was 6-1/2 minutes in the sun. I'll play with this some more next week, but at least I know I can get a good print. So what to do with these? It's the perfect size for a greeting card and I can hand-color them if I want. Or collage it. Or just use it as is, put it in a cute little picture frame and sell them. It this proves to be something of interest, I might hunt down some more on ebay.

I enhanced the contrast and cropped it in Photoshop so you can see the details a little bit better. I think it's a pretty amazing little piece! Let me know what you think!
Have a wonderful weekend,

June 11, 2012

Obon purchase: the blue bird yukata

I found this unusual yukata at the Phoenix Obon rummage sale for $10 so I wanted to share. It's soft and well-loved and I'm guessing a little bit faded. But I think that is part of it's charm. It also has a definite feeling of coolness because of the predominant pale blue-grey, blue and white of the design.

The fours seasons of blue birds
There are four different bird designs showing the four seasons! I love the little blocky houses and the pink leaves in the beaks of the birds; the birds remind me of doves carrying olive branches. Sorry that the image of the "spring" bird" (upper right) isn't whole but it's the only bird design that is cut off each time it repeats on the yukata. I think the design is really cute and special. It's on the small size...58-1/2" long , with a wingspan of about 50", but I can wear it with a tiny ohashori. I think I will pair it with a red/white or solid white hakata obi to keep the feeling soft and cool. It's in virtually flawless condition.
Let me know what you think of the design!