bookmark_borderGiant Squid Brushwork

Choju squiga? A few weeks ago, there was a news story about a town in Japan that is attempting to kickstart tourism after the pandemic by installing a statue of a giant squid. Awesome, huh? I wanted to be able to use the image of the giant squid for my own purposes (porpoises?), so a quick trip to the paintbox later…

Giant Squid (01)
Giant Squid (02)

I’m happier with the tentacles on the second one, but I’m not completely happy with the shading on it.

bookmark_borderIndian Silk Kosode

Basically as soon as Sweetie and I had reached full immunity following our second COVID-19 inoculations (it’s not really a vaccine, you know), we went and visited my parents in NJ. They still live where I grew up in NJ, and although we did not want to go into NYC to visit fabric stores, I decided to search around the area to see what might have become available in the 30+ years since I left. Sure enough, the large presence of immigrants from Southeast Asia in my home town had resulted in some great fabric stores catering to their tastes, including one just 15 minutes from my parents’ house, called “Fabric Guy“. I was looking for some figured white silk for another project, but also wound up buying some of this lovely medium-weight silk brocade.

Close-up on the fabric

I suddenly decided that I needed a fancy kosode, because who doesn’t need a new fancy kosode every once in a while? One difficulty with the project is that the gold metallic threads for the flower buds (or whatever they are) are pretty much just behind those graphics. Cutting the fabric released hundreds of little whiskers, and I realized that wearing the kosode would break off more of those and they would get into everything else. The solution was to add a lining to the plan.

Open kosode, showing lining

I had some light-weight habotai silk in my stash, so I used that. I’ve made lined garments before, so this was not alien territory for me, but it has been a while. The trick, for those who don’t know it, is to leave closing the neckband for the very last step. That enables you to attach the sleeve linings to the body lining easily by pulling those seams to the outside of the garment. This silk was so light that keeping it still enough to sew was something of a challenge, but it came out OK, I think.

Indian Silk Kosode

bookmark_borderPhoto-tracing Brushwork

I want to get better at creating traditional-looking artwork from photographs. I had a couple of photos from our trip to Japan for the 2019 braiding conference, so I decided to try tracing them and making some Sesshu-inspired scroll blanks.

Duck Pond (01)

This first one is actually a composite of two photos. I had one photo of the ducks, and another of the distant shore of the pond. I combined these to create a little bit of perspective. I’m really happy with the way this one turned out. The ducks are attractive, and I was able to show the reflection of the shoreline in the water nicely.

Turtle Rock (01)

I’m somewhat less happy with this one. The turtle and the rock just are not very interesting, and the rocky shoreline at the top is just a bunch of gray blobs. Maybe with some color it could be nice, but maybe not. They can’t all be winners.

Bird Tree (01)

I tried doing this one as a gray wash only artwork, but the tree came out looking like a big gray blob on a stick, so I added a myriad of little daubs in four different colors of green. I kind of like it now. The bird is very visible.

I should note that I have expanded my “SCA Emaki” page to include most of my more recent explorations of Yamato-e brushwork.

bookmark_borderHashi-maki from Surplus Fabric

In Japanese, what Americans call “chopsticks” are called “hashi“. “Maki” is the word for “roll”. Many years ago, I bought a pair of hashi that came rolled in a piece of fabric, secured with a cord and a bead, and this was such a handy thing to have that I realized these would make great gifts, and would be a good way to use up small squares of surplus fabric. I bought a couple packages of bamboo chopsticks at the Asian grocery, and away I went.

8 Hashi-maki, 2021 edition

Here are the products of that idea. The fabric came from my stash of surplus fabric. You may recognize some fabric from previous sewing projects. The beads came out of my stash of beads and baubles that have been given to me as tokens of appreciation over the years. The basic process is to sew two squares of fabric right-sides together, leaving one corner un-sewn, Turn the squares right-side out, and insert the ends of the cords in the unfinished corner. Top stitch all the way around, sealing the corner and securing the cord.

To use, place flat on a surface with the corded corner pointing to the right. Place a pair of hashi just to the left of the center line, oriented vertically. Fold the top and bottom corners over the ends of the hashi, so they can’t slide out of the roll. Fold the left corner over the hashi to the right. Roll the hashi up in the fabric, wrap the roll with the cord, and tuck the bead under the wrapped cords to secure the roll.

bookmark_borderAutumn Brushwork

I did these two paintings more than a year ago (possibly two), but never even scanned them in, much less posted about them. They are more explorations of the artwork of Sesshu, the late-period painter who blended Chinese and Japanese art styles in sweeping landscape paintings. They are both copies of a panel in “The Autumn and Winter Landscapes”, a pair of hanging scrolls from late in Sesshu’s working life.

This first copy, as usual is an attempt to be faithful to the mostly monochrome style. I may have used a gray paint for the shading instead of a dilute ink, because it is way more predictable. I also left out most of the background of the original image, in an attempt to leave space for scroll wording. This image is nearly the full height and width of the paper!

This second painting is an attempt to add a little more color, mostly muted. I put much of the background back in, leaving out the sailboat on the water, but re-adding the hill (island?) beyond and its village. I think the leaves on the pine trees came out terrific, and the stippling for the fields is very good. I’m very happy with the way the dry-brushing for the rocky hillside worked out.

bookmark_borderIn a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.

The water meter for this house is out front, underground, beneath a kind of manhole. Whoever installed the cover thought that plywood would be a good support for cast iron. Eventually, of course the plywood rotted away and the cover assembly fell into the hole. Last year, I replaced what was left of the plywood with some leftover Trex decking, but then I had this circle of Trex cut out from the middle, and a hillside full of pavers in back of the house…

Hobbit Hole, 1105A

It could probably use some more work on the stones, and maybe some iron banding across the front, but for now at least it is out of the garage.

bookmark_borderCompleted Tachi Kake

I built this Tachi Kake sword stand back in July, but I only got as far as putting a few coats of black finish on it before winter settled in. In early Spring of this year, I added embellishment to the Tachi Kake in the form of karakusa vinework in gold paint. I did all the painting by hand, because it is fun and I have started to get good at it. I then put several coats of clear shellac over the gold paint so that it will not rub off at the slightest touch.

Embellished Tachi Kake

I now have two pieces of furniture embellished with gold karakusa. There is this and the kyousoku armrest that I suppose I never formally posted about. One day I suppose I will have a full set of fancy gentleman’s accessories. Anyway, here is what the Tachi Kake looks like with my Tachi sword in it.

Embellished Tachi Kake with Tachi

bookmark_borderMusical Brushwork

More Choju Jinbutsu Giga copies, this time with a fox carrying food and a rabbit carrying a musical instrument. I did a number of variations on this one, with different arrangements of the elements, including some of the greenery that is all over the historical scroll.

I tired coloring in the outlines again, and I think it worked out much better this time than last time.

Here’s one with color outlines, and I think this came out great! It’s basically the effect I’ve been trying to achieve.

bookmark_borderMore Kaminari Kataginu

After I made the two Kaminari kataginu last year as prototypes, I ordered a whole roll of red linen so I could make more. This linen sat in the closet for basically a whole year while I worked on other stuff. With the news that there might be some SCA activities in the medium-future, I realized that I had to get started on this project.

So, I made six more kataginu and embroidered them with the Yama Kaminari clan mon. They are the six you see on the left in this picture. The two to the right are the prototypes from last year.

8 Kaminari Kataginu

The ones that look smaller folded up are 36 inches from shoulder to hem. The larger ones are 48 inches to accommodate those who are taller or otherwise larger. I seem to remember that the prototypes used 54-inch wide fabric, so the panels are 18 inches wide on those two. The new ones are constructed from 45-inch fabric, so they use 15 inch panels.

I can’t wait to seem them adorning my firends in some kind of procession!

bookmark_borderKakejiku Storage Box

If I want to be able to take the Hitomaro Kakejiku with us when we go camping or whatnot, it is going to need a storage box to protect it in transit. Such things exist in the Japanese tradition, so I made one.

Kakejiku-bako, closed

It’s made mostly of poplar. I had an abundance of quart-inch poplar in my stock of surplus wood, so this was an easy choice. The top of the lid is actually 3/4″ poplar, to give the whole thing a little heft. I rabbeted the top so that it would fit inside the walls of the lid, and not appear thicker from outside.The inside is unfinished.

Kakejiku-bako, open

There are small blocks of cedar at either end of the box that cradle the ends of the scroll rod and keep it centered in the box. You can see the rabbet for the lid top and the interior blocks in this process photo.

Kakejiku-bako in progress

The outside is finished with several layers of garnet shellac with a black dye added. That’s what gives the final finish that deep mahogany color. I was hoping this mixture might be a good substitute for black lacquer. It is not, but as its own thing it is very nice.