Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Which I Admit a Lingering Fascination with Japan

I remember in third grade we started world geography, and I thought Japan sounded incredible.  I don't remember much specific, but then, I don't remember whatever other countries we studied at all, so Japan must have made an impression on my forming child mind.

Around the time I was in high school, anime was just coming over in the form of Pokemon, and I was horrified.  Still am, at least of Pokemon and its ilk...I'm not anti-capitalist, but the commercialism was just a little too blatant for me.  I avoided it.

By the time I got to college, anime still wasn't cool yet, and manga could only be found in import shops or online, not in every Barnes & Noble like it can now.  But somehow I hooked up with the geek crowd and landed myself in the anime club, and good thing, too, because that club introduced me to my future husband!  Can't be all bad, right?

So I spent college as a low-level Japan-ophile.  I wasn't nearly as rabid as some of the other students, but I did take the first-year Japanese language course, and since I'm always a crafter and occasionally an ambitious one, I even made myself and my future husband each a kimono.

I've always loved kimono.  I think kimono are the most beautiful clothing in the world (with Indian saris being a close second, and everything else miles and miles behind.)

My mother owned a copy of Geisha, an utterly fascinating book by an American anthropology student who, in her efforts to study geisha, was given the opportunity to become one.  After having devoured this, I went on to read her book Kimono, which, to my everlasting love and delight, had illustrations, including several taken from antique pamphlets describing the colors and embroidery stitches used in creating and decorating kimono.

At the time, I was inspired to recreate a few of my favorites as embroidery pieces.  My skills were poor, and as it turned out, so was the quality of the fabric I'd chosen, so they were failures.  But the idea lingered.

When I was cleaning up and organizing some of my old books, I found the copies of the illustrations I made, and what do you know, I had just read on Craftster about crayon tinting!

A week later, I have this to show for it:

The first in what I hope will be a series of three, maybe four.  I have designs for seven or eight different kimono, I think, but I don't like all of them equally, so I think I may just do my favorites.

I took some liberty with the colors from the original description:  the fabric color was called "tea-green", which I think is just fine, and the grass was a deeper green, but the stems and leaves were supposed to be blue and the flowers purple with scarlet and gold tops.  I didn't want to do goldwork, and I just didn't have coordinating shades of blue, purple, and scarlet to hand (in fact I didn't have any reds at all until a few days ago!) so I went with what I did have, a beautiful range that starts at pale peach and ends with a nice warm rust color.

The grass and leaves are fishbone stitch; the stems, split stitch; the flower buds, long-and-short, plus straight stitch for their tassels.  The outline of the whole thing is back stitch.

I'm not ashamed to say that this might be the prettiest thing I've ever stitched.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful work of art! These will be a beautiful collection. And, I like that you're going to select only your most favorites--I think you'll appreciate the final product more when you're not distracted by pieces you don't particularly love. Your stitch work is just divine!