Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chiyogami: Or, Help! I'm drowning in the prettiest stuff on earth!

I hate papercuts. If you were to give me the option of getting punched in the arm or recieving a small, non-bleeding papercut on my forefinger, I'd take the first choice and ask for more. I hate papercuts. Detest them. Abhor them. Hate them.

Which should tell you how much I love chiyogami. I am constantly risking terrible agony just to be near it: and I covet it. I drown in it.

It is at this point that I should admit that I have a problem. I've never bought anything so compulsively as I buy chiyogami (known to the uninitiated as origami, or origami paper). Fortunately (and unfortunately) it wasn't as ubiquitous in Japan as I expected it to be.

Which doesn't mean that I didn't spend a small fortune on it. Especially the gorgeous double-sided stuff that you can't find or is ungodly expensive over here.

The above image features most of my origami paper-- except for most of the nice stuff, which is kept hidden away. 2.5 of the larger boxes are filled with quarter-size sheets of paper, which means that there are four times as many (albeit smaller) sheets in those.

Now they just need to start sending the season-specific floral paper over to America, for the sake of all that's good and holy.

Steampunk Kanzashi

I am continually inspired by Steampunk and other styles where hardware becomes jewelry. I enjoy the feeling of going into a male-dominated hardware store, making my purchase with care, and then using the metallic things I bought for the typically feminine art of jewelrymaking. I like the contrast between masculine and feminine, hard and soft, geometric and organic.

Thusly the Steampunk Kanzashi was born, bringing into play my other constant artistic influence, traditional Japanese aesthetics. That and the fact that I noticed that even in modern Japan, many women like hair ornaments that involve small swingy, dangly things, and I think that looks neat.
It's about 4.5 cm across, and the central nut has an interior diameter of 2 cm. The entire dangle extends for about 5.5 cm from where it meets the nut.

The decorative elements were already strung together when I bought the hair comb on a whim. I always seem to have pendants lying around, ostensibly for necklaces, that never get used as such. I found this interesting piece, lashed it to the comb with 28 g copper wire (utilizing the wire already in place) and it was done.

It consists of: a nut, a smaller nut-washer-thing, 28 g copper wire stringing and nesting a few slightly opalescent pink glass drops I bought at the last bead show I visited, jump rings, copper chain, a Sand Opal 4mm Swarovski, and, on the dangles, a 6mm pink Swarovski and a 4mm Cantaloupe Swarovski that changes color between blue and green depending on the amount of sunlight it's recieving!

I love it. I'd wear it constantly if my hair wasn't so slippery.

If you're interested in kanzashi and what they are, check out this site.
New to Steampunk? Visit the ever-helpful and/or interesting  Wikipedia.

Crafts: Or, the Overwhelming Urge to Glue/Knit/Tie/Wirewrap Things Together

Ah, craftiness: the reason for this blog. I seem to have this inexplicable urge to take perfectly good things, mess with them, and turn them into other stuff entirely. Sometimes it's as simple as taking yarn and using the socially accepted pointy-stick method to turn it into a knitted scarf bag lipstick holder (I have no patience). Other times I break out the origami paper, only to tear it up into a collage. I glue manga pages to wooden trays, glass half-marbles to scraps of chiyogami, and cut-up magazines to various household objects. I wire-wrap hardware bits to Swarovski crystals and chain, and then wrap the whole thing to a hair comb. I do some weird stuff. But, if I do say so, a lot of it comes out very cool.

If you want things designed just for you, you gotta design 'em yourself. Or bribe someone to do it for you. I prefer the first method.

Who is this Uzume chick anyway?

Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, the "Terrible Female of Heaven", is just about the best Shinto kami (somewhere between 'god' and 'spirit') out there. She is responsible for several awesome things, namely:
  • performing either (a) a comedic dance and/or (b) a striptease that lured the sun goddess out of the cave that she had shut herself away in, thereby bringing sunlight back into the world. She's the sort of goddess who takes matters into her own hands.
  • going forth alone, with bared breast, to meet a gigantic demon who was (ostensibly) sent to kill/maim/block the ancestor of the royal family.
  • shaping the mouth of the sea slug.
Beyond mythology, her dance that lured Amaterasu-omikami out of her cave is still celebrated today, in the form of kasuga dances performed at pretty much every Shinto shrine in Japan.

The kasuga is what, long ago, allowed Okuni to dance in her strange, self-expressive way, and begin the performance craze called "kabuki"-- which, in turn, led to the banning of all women from Japan's public stages, and created a culture of brave women who performed even while faced with the possibility of legal retribution for doing so.

Kabuki, on the other hand, became an all-male performance art. Over time, scandals began to arise regarding relations between the performers, and kabuki gained a sort of lurid air. This sort of sensual environment was what the creator of the Takarazuka theatre was trying to avoid, and he thusly created the all-female theatrical company that is incredibly awesome and generates nearly maniacal fan interest- no, obsession- even today.

So, that's me, or at least who I take inspiration from. The goddess of dawn, dance, and stripping in the name of comedy. Rock on.

Welcome to Uzume's World

Everyone else has done it, and here I am, creating one of these bloggy things for the edification of the masses. Or maybe my own self-expression. Or maybe just a record of the craft-related things I do, with the instructions, so the next time I forget the ratio of kool-aid to water, with the yarn already soaking and ready to dye, I won't go running all over the house/internet scrambling for the recipe.

I can just look here.

This should be useful.