These three scroll blanks are traced from a frame captured from “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” a 2013 animated film Studio Ghibli. This film is beautiful, and has a large number of beautiful images in it.
This modern animated film is based on an anonymous 10th-century folk tale called “Tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. It follows the life of a mysterious baby girl who is found in a shining bamboo stump and raised to be a princess by a poor childless couple.
For almost a decade following its release, this was the most expensive Japanese film ever produced, possibly due to the art style that is based on the Yamato-e style of old Japanese illustrated scrolls (emaki). In 1999, director Takahata published a book called “From a Painting” in which he explored traditional Japanese art and its ties to his animation.
In this image, the devoted maidservants of the Princess ready her cart for travel.
This one, I think I laid the color on a bit heavy. It’s vibrant as heck, but you can’t tell that the maid’s gowns are four different colors.
This one’s a bit lighter, but still too heavy. I tried a different green on the cart, and embellished it with bamboo leaves the way it is in the film, though.
This one is so much lighter, and you can really see the different hues on the robes. I’m starting to get the hang of using really watery mixes of paint to wash color into the paper. The paper is super-absorbent, so you need a light touch to keep from creating blobs of color. Super happy with this one.
It seems that I did this copy of a portrait from the Zuishin Teiki emaki back in June of 2019, but never bothered to scan it in.
This emaki (illustrated scroll) presents portraits of the members of the Imperial Guard Cavalry, and is representative of the highly realistic “documentary” style of emaki that flourished in the Kamakura period.
It is interesting because although this emaki is from the time period when the black-and-white hakubyou style was the dominant expression of Yamato-e, it has light washes of color on the clothing of the rider and the tack of the horse.
I have exaggerated the coloring on this copy, but left the horse pure white.
Next, I decided to copy another image from Sesshu‘s “Long Scroll of Landscapes”. Sesshu is one of my favorites, and I bought book about the Long Scroll when I visited the Tokyo National Museum during my first trip to Japan (for the TV show) in 2016. They have an excellent bookstore in the TNM, but I knew that I didn’t have a lot of room for books flying back, so I just bought this one. Anyway, the copies:
This first one is done primary with black ink lines, then some shading in paint (mostly gray) to simulate the light ink washes that Sesshu was great at and I am not.
For this one, I added a little bit of color, mostly from my smaller set of sumi watercolors. I’ve done this kind of thing before, and I really like the effect this produces. It’s less traditional than the pure ink style that Sesshu used, but I like it anyway.
For this last one, I used entirely paint and no ink. Even the black lines a re black paint instead of ink. I was trying out some of the color variations in my larger set of sumi watercolors, some of which I had never used before. The overall effect is a little impressionistic, but I like the way some of the background washes came out.
I was recently inspired to start painting SCA scroll blanks again, like I did (gulp!) six years ago. My first recent efforts were these, traced from a photo I took of some Azalea blooms in Sharon’s garden.
Original images are all about 8.5″x5.5″ in size. These are all done with Sumi ink and watercolors on 9″x12″ hosho paper. I’m still in love with my “Kolinsky small” brush from Kuretake. Preserve the kolinsky!
The third picture is probably the least “medieval Japanese” of all these, but I think it’s the most attractive. It is difficult to get good shading and depth in watercolor, and I’m just not good enough yet. The outline form is a little easier to achieve.
I just completed another lantern for the “six lanterns” project. The frame of this one is made out of mulberry wood. I had a small plank of this that Mr. Arimoto gave to me probably about seven years ago, and it seemed like a good project to use it on.
Of course, with the paper on it like that, you can barely see any of the wood. The fibers in this plank were very rough and wavy, but in the places where my plane got a good shaving, the surface is super-nice.
I rough-milled the sticks from the plank using my band saw, then hand planed them down to 3/4″ square rods. There really wasn’t enough wood in the plank to make it entirely from mulberry. To compensate, I made some of the stretchers a little shorter than normal, and used dowel joinery instead of my usual mortise and tenon joinery. This was a little easier, since it meant cutting short lengths of dowel instead of cutting 16 tenons, but it meant drilling twice as many mortises, half of them into the ends of stretchers. I could not have done it without my drill press.
It’s 15 inches wide and 6 feet long of cotton duck fabric in this wonderful deep-yellow color. The black parts of the design are painted on with Jacquard Textile Color, with details on the bunny in gold Jacquard Neopaque fabric paint. The textile color is a really thick pigment type paint, that doesn’t forma film the way the acrylic Neopaque does.
I made a simple 8-strand suspensory braid in some polyester yarn, so that I won’t have to worry about it, either.
I had meant to leave this year’s white kosode half-finished, so I could use it as a demonstrator for a class I was going to teach at Pennsic on kosode construction. Instead of leaving it to fester while we’re waiting to see if there will be a Pennsic next year, I decided to complete it so that I could wear it if we ever happen to have an SCA event ever again.
Gosh that all sounds pessimistic, I know, but there it is. Really, I’m much more optimistic about the future of the SCA than that. I think we will have to reconsider what makes an event and how we run them, but I’m sure we will have events in the future. They might just be very different from the kind of events we’ve had in the past, though.
Anyway, this year’s kosode, in white ramie. I’ve already made two kosode from the white ramie I ordered a couple of years ago. When it became time to make my 2020 kosode, I thought about getting some new fabric, but I realized I still had plenty of this terrific 150 gram ramie linen from Morex Fabrics, so why not use it? The pattern is my standard men’s kosode method, starting from 14.5″ panels. For my technically-minded friends, I continue to use half-panel overlaps and three-layer collars.
I would have tried to get these done before Pennsic, but since Pennsic was cancelled for this year due to nobody wanting to share a campground with 10,000 other people from all over the world, I procrastinated.
These were all machine embroidered onto some nice heavy golden yellow cotton duck fabric, and display the Baronial comet along with “Salve Accolens” (“Hello Neighbor”), the Baronial motto. Each is about six inches wide, and 18 inches long (they are doubled over in the photo). You can see I tried out a couple of different typefaces before deciding on this classy French Script, and if you look closely you can also see that I tried out some of the dozens of decorative top-stitching patterns that are available on my sewing machine but that I almost never use.
It’s not even half-way through the year, and I already have this year’s tabi foot coverings finished.
For those of my readers who are not familiar with this tradition, I started sewing my own tabi a few years ago to go with my Japanese garb. They are usually made from leftover fabric from garb projects, but it’s just regular fabric, so they tend to wear out pretty quickly. I found that if I make a pair a year, I can keep ahead of the curve and always have at least a few pairs of tabi that are not worn out and shabby looking. Usually, I wind up finishing a year’s tabi in January or February of the following year. Not this year! Free time and your wife hosting local sewing circles can do that.
These are made from the blue linen I used for the hippari top I made for the field clothing outfit from this past December. They’re sewn entirely by hand, including attaching the himo ties, which I normally do by machine. This was not a decision to be a stickler about it, just that I was sewing these to have some sewing to do while being social, so why not stretch it out a little bit?
These are apparently the eleventh or twelfth pair of tabi I have made for myself. Scary. Maybe the next pair will be impractically fancy. We still have some really nice silk brocade sitting around.
Way back in 2012, I made a regular size karabitsu entirely by hand from cypress 1×12. I developed a set of ratios that enabled me to design a karabitsu based on the width of the wood. The length of the lid is twice the width of the wood, and so on down. Later, I made a small karabitsu out of cypress 1×10, using the same ratios. I decided to make a pair of even smaller karabitsu out of cypress 1×8, planing the wood down to half-inch thickness because I had purchased a planer. I cut all the pieces to length, and started cutting the joinery, but then life intervened. The pieces sat in a box next to my workbench for at least a year. Then we moved. Then the peces sat in a box on my workbench for four years. It was time to complete this project and get these dang things off my workbench.
I cut all the joinery by hand, but I quickly gave up on doing everything by hand. I used a band saw to cut the legs, a router to shape the legs, a sander to smooth out the boxes, and a drill to make holes for the pegs that secure everything. I did decide to use rice paste to assemble the boxes instead of using modern wood glue. I used more hand-mixed blonde shellac for the finish, and now finally these are done.
Here’s an image showing all four karabitsu stacked up, so you can compare sizes:
I don’t know quite what use I had in mind for these when I started them. They might be useful for carrying one person’s worth of fest gear or something. I’ll have to make some braids for them. At least with two of them, they can balance at either ends of a carrying pole.