Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year and New Site!

Coming Soon!
Don't panic. Everything for customers will just about be the same. 

Except I signed up for Pattern through Etsy, and now I have a legitimate website.  I like the new interface, it feels more like a "shop" than more of Etsy.  Plus I still get to keep Etsy, and that whole back end.  However, I will probably be changing the blog over to the new website, and dropping this older, separated aspect of the store.  Looking for more of an integrated feel this year.

I have also been finishing new pieces like mad!  I finished another headband piece since I liked how the prototype came out so well. I also have a large hair fork, a small hair fork, and I am working on another large piece.  Most of these are large kiku pieces I made and then set aside, and am now able to finish filler pieces and attachments. 

I also have been updating listings on the site, but not much of the kanzashi.  Mostly it has been other items, like bookmarks, and a few pieces I had made and never photographed. 

Coming Soon!!
My new year also brings a new office space (still in my home, of course), a dedicated room to my crafting endeavors.  It is part of the reason I am working through all this new kanzashi, making room to bring out other projects. I am still working on that large embroidery piece, I have a book on white work, and I still have rolls and rolls of washi paper to go through.  Not to mention I will be picking back up on the silk embroidery after my next lesson in March.  I am going to need all the space I can get. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Shop Vacation and New Embroidery Project

 So the last piece of the year has been shipped off and recieved by my lovely customer, Shadowyoai, on Etsy.  (used with permission)

The final product ended up being a little higher up on the head than I had originally intended, but it was still a really good product in the end.  And I learned a few things, too.  Always good. 

She took the customer photos, and sent them to me.  Frankly, she looks FANTASTIC in her kitsuke costume.  LOVING this look!! But as mentioned, this is the last one of the year, and probably the last one for a while.  

Shop Notes:  

So I am still closing up the shop here in a few days.  I am still debating on how I will bring it back, but I have some time still I think to decide on that.  I still need to take more photos, and fixing pieces, but kanzashi just hasn't been in my heart as much lately.  That and being sick is making me really not want to work in general.

My new kimono pieces came in, and the sugata is perfect.  The kimono on the other hand is about 6 or 7 inches too short.  I was considering giving it to my daughter or something as she gets older, but in the meantime I have a lovely kimono I cannot wear, and have kind of lost interest in my own kitsuke collection in general.  Collecting is fun, but I have no one to wear it with, and my husband DETESTS tying my obi.  That and I have had little interest in spending more money to push the kanzashi I am not so interested in making anymore.  I have planned a table sale for the last 3 years and have done nothing.  And not that TZArtizan is no more, I have no steady encouragement to continue my art.  At least with kanzashi. 

I am moving back into needlework.  I have tentatively lined up another Japanese Embroidery Lesson in March, and I have started a new embroidery project in the meantime with thread painting using long and short stitch embroidery.  

So what I have posted here, is a machine embroidery design I have from a book I purchased some time back.  It is really designed to be a 4x5 inch piece, but I have blown it up into a 7x11 inch design.  I used this new print and stick material I found for embroidery, and was surprised that it is working so well.  There is adhesive under a light stabalizer that you can run through an inkjet printer and do an instant design transfer.  

The fabric is a natrual irish linen, and its mounted to a scroll frame (that was not as easy as I had originaly thought it would be).  After I got it mounted and straight, I traced on some guidelines for the background with a non-photo blue pencil, which was difficult since it was hard to tell which parts were supposed to be background and which parts were flower stems.  I am using a horizontal direction, and basted down the guidelines so not only would the pattern lay flat (it moved some after mounting on the frame, it was not easy to get that tension correct), but that the lines would not rub off when stitching. 

I have started just a bit of the painting down the left side, as I am going to work the background from left to right.  I have purple and yellow for the irises, of course, and 3 shades of green for the leaves, a rust brown color for the fan frame, and different blues for the circles on the fan and the cord on the bottom.  

In truth I expect this project to never finish, or at least take me 5-6 years.  If my health doesn't fail me first.   

Monday, November 27, 2017

Work Coming Along And Vacation Announcement!!!!


I have decided to close the shop temporarily after the shipping deadline for Christmas mail out (middle of December) and stay in vacation mode until late January. Lots of reasons why, but good reasons this time.

Firstly, I have a lot of personal stuff that goes on during December besides just the holidays (my extended family has a lot of birthdays, too) and in January I have girl scout cookie business.

Secondly, I have plans.  The store and product desperately need a revamp.  I am still deciding if I am going to take the store off Etsy entirely, and start my own website.  Etsy has been stale lately, but I do enjoy different aspects of it, like vacation mode and not having to deal with credit card payments.

Third, I need to re-do a lot, A LOT of my product.  It's not the flowers themselves, it's the mounting job.  Most of my early work is pretty terrible when it comes to attachments.  I have learned so much in the past year with regards to mounting and thread wrapping, it makes my old product look terrible. Not to mention I have product I haven't listed much less photographed. I also have several projects that are half finished, like washi jewelry, kumihimo, and ornaments.

So its going to be time for a big update.  Not planning on changing graphics though.

Now its time for work updates :)

Almost finished!! YAY!!!
So as you can see, this piece is really coming along.  I have finished mounting the frame for the bira bira and the shidare (you can kinda see the four spokes of gold wire for the shidare) and 2 of it's falls.  They are going to be an identical, repeating pattern of white on red, white on purple and white on white.

None of this part of the work is easy.  Mounting takes a strong grip that wears out the muscles in your hands, often leaving to cramping since I haven't done this in a while.  Also, its a lot of wrapping.  It took like 2 hours to wrap just the left side.  I also have to finish the wrapping on the right side which needs to come down another couple of inches.
The shidare part is the part that, I find, to be the most difficult.  Getting the petals to come together over a thin piece of nylon twine, without getting glue EVERYWHERE, and still managing to cover the high contrast colors underneath the white so they don't show down the middle....it's a lot to handle.  But these two I have managed pretty well.  I find the double layers are bigger and easier to deal with than the singles, so I went ahead and did that since it would give me a chance to lightly add some color, while keeping the white prominent.  (Her kimono is mostly white)

When it't done, though, it is going to be FANTASTIC!!!!  I know she will love it, although it is very delayed.  Like a month overdue.

Also, if there is anyone reading this who likes Facebook, I strongly suggest you check out the Immortal Geisha group, the Immortal Geisha Marketplace, and the DIY kimono group.  The Immortal Geisha people are AMAZING, I have grabbed some INCREDIBLE finds off the marketplace, and the DIY kimono group has some really great ideas for alterations and work arounds for wearing kimono!!!!  They are wonderful, caring people, and I don't say that often about people in groups.

Lastly, I am still collecting donations for Dimitri Conde to help his parents afford the burden of his Leukemia ALL diagnosis.  The local community helped her restore her house after it flooded with sewage, 3k in damages total.  But because of Demitri's condition, they have been back and forth to the hospital on many occasions, the last one requiring a two to three week stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Both parents are working minimal hours to provide around the clock care for Dimitri.  Please, please help in any way you can. :)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Getting Back to Work (Attempt Round 2)

This is yet another painfully overdue update.  But I have some good stuff to report.

So this is the custom order I have been slowly working on.  Very slowly, but thankfully she has been incredibly understanding of my medical predicament (which I will go into later). 

There are three big kikus, several smaller filler pieces and a new dragonfly (which I have never attempted before).  All in all, the bouquet has come out amazing (she loves it), and the rest is falling into place.  I have this half mounted to the headband, and will continue the wrapping to the other side of the band (it's only about halfway right now, just to get the bouquet in place).
I also included a close up of the thread wrapping job, the stems are the usual 40w machine embroidery thread, with the headband wrapping being the nylon crochet thread I use for heavy jobs, and shidare.

wrap job
only halfway wrapped
 So the next part is the bira bira and the shidare frame, which will come down and be wrapped to the bottom half of the piece.  It's probably going to stick out a little bit so it doesn't get tangled in hair fibers and brushing against the ear. But I have to say since this is my first time doing a headband, it's coming out really well. 

Some of you may have noticed that the TZArtisan project hasn't been mentioned in some time.  It has been stalled for a while, and has officially been disbanded.  All the sites have been taken down and my unsold donations have been returned to me.  I feel really bad for my team leader, Ariel, who has simply over committed herself, and can no longer hold a mantle of leader, and no one else has the ability to take her place. I am very sorry to see it go, but in the end, I was not surprised. 

On another note, I have found a group on Facebook that I have fallen completely in love with.  Immortal Geisha has taken their forum community off traditional forums and onto Facebook Groups!!! They are the sweetest, most informative, dedicated group I have ever met.  I love it!!! And if you love kitsuke as much as we do, by all means, JOIN!!!!

Speaking of kitsuke, I have another kimono I have added to my collection!

I found this red lovely on an Etsy shop, and fell IN LOVE.  I have always wanted a red kimono, and though I thought it would be more bright red than this darker rust red, that actually makes me love it more (darker reds are more my coloring).  I have a gold obi to pair it with, or the new green with gold and orange to red stitching, an "orange as orange can be" obiage, and a red silk round obijime.  I also bought a yellow one, but it's really too dirty to use.

I am now on the hunt for a proper nagajuban, but with a 25 inch sodetake, or sleeve length, it's not going to be easy.  I might have to suck it up an alter one. 

The rest of this is personal business.

So I have been sick, and among my various diseases, we have discovered along the way that I am in fact a Type 1 diabetic, I have Autism, and my reproductive system is screwed.   I seem to be always sick with something at some time.  I recently had a reaction to one of my mood stabilizers, forcing me to stop taking it.  Anyone with a mental health history knows what a difficult time this can be.  When I had last written a blog post, I was starting to do better.  I didn't thing the fight would be as long as it has been.  I had been ramping up on a new medication and it really seemed to be working, until I got to the final dosage, at least the actual regular dosage.  Then I broke out in hives all over and realized I was allergic.  2 months of telling myself it would get better, lying to myself. 
Then we tried two more medications, both were a bust.  I am currently on something I have taken before, and it's helping, but I still have side effects, and I don't know how long I have until I have to change on this one, too.

Mental illness is a never ending battle. I will never be cured, and I will fight my extreme emotional reactions, like my blood sugar, the rest of my life.   There is no cure, and there is barely help.  We have made more progress with Diabetes in the last decade than with mental health or women's health.  And while I am very glad to be off of shots and on an insulin pump, I still feel like I am out of my mind, and I never know if it is hormones or Autism. 

I wont go into great detail what I am like when I am sick. Just trust me, I am no fun to be around.

So while I have been sick I have been unable to work.  Which means I am behind on everything. I haven't done my photos, or Japanese Embroidery, or any embroidery.  All I have done is work this custom order and do house chores when I can.

I am going to keep working for now, that I am able.  I plan on putting on the bira bira frame today on that headband order, and after that I will be working on updating inventory for the store.  I might even shut it down and move it to my own hosted site.  Maybe next year.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Commission

This update has been dreadfully overdue....
My health held me back from work once again and nothing has been updated in months.  I am behind on all my projects, and I still haven't taken photos of my last pieces, I could go on and on.  Right now I have been very busy getting my house back in order.

So, once again, I am starting anew with the Emporium.

I have been doing some important things.  Such as, updating the business name and mailing address for the company.  I also toyed around with a new website interface.  I have been able to add a few new pieces to my kitsuke collection, a new bright red kimono and enough pieces to do a double set of kimono.  (Mainly for the photo shoot I hope to do in the future with actual models, but I don't expect that to happen since I haven't been able to find anyone to model for me, much less someone to photograph me as the model)

But the good news is that I have landed a really nice commission!! A standard flower set, three medium sized kiku with rounded petals with purple white and red coloring, and a deluxe shidare and bira.  But the main thing I am really excited about is that it is made to be fitted to a headband, which I have never done before.  Normally this would hold me back but I think I am experienced enough by now that it shoudn't be a real adventure outside my comfort zone.  It would involve a great deal of thread wrapping, but its really nothing I couldn't handle.  

At this point I have so many projects and a very extensive "want to try" list, that if I worked every day for the rest of my life, I would still never get it all finished.  I have learned a great deal along the way, and each new silk craft I try brings me closer and closer to being able to repair and resell good kimono.  But it is becoming apparent that with my health needs, I will probably never really get to that point.  I just don't have as much time as I would hope to get everything done with my sanity intact.

The gofundme for my friend Shanna Conde and her son Demitri, has gone completely dead.  I haven't sold a decent piece in forever, and no help has come to Demitri, in situation, health, or circumstance.  His chemo shots are incredibly expensive, and their insurance has a very high deductible.  Not to mention the sewage system in their house backed up and they had raw sewage flood the house.  This is not only an expensive cleanup, but forced them out of their new home once more.  



In the back log of projects I have completed are:

6-7 ornaments
2 kanzashi peices
3 chirimen necklaces with kits to make more

I have also been racking in supplies, like sheets of yuzen dyed chiyrogami washi paper.  I am going to get around to my fan making project as well, eventually.  I have a good 8-9 sheets now.  

Anyway, I hope sometime after Christmas I can go back to my Silk Embroidery teacher in Oklahoma and get some real work done on my piece.  I know it needs some work with re-framing, but I can live with that.  I hope to get back on it as soon as this commission is done.  I did manage to get a membership to the JEC (Japanese Embroidery Center), and have started receiving my first quarterly Nuido Journal.  It is very exciting to see the full listing of pieces available.  I really am in love with a few of the realy high end teacher level master pieces, but they are so involved, it turns into another one of those "I don't know if I will ever get there" things.

So there, I said it.  I am coming back soon, and working a lot more than I was.  Just not quite back to 100% yet.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Getting Back to Work!

It's four days into August, and I am finally getting unpacked and the store back up. I spent quite a bit of time working to update old listings tonight, with new shipping updates and corrected descriptions.  I hope to have the shop reopen on Monday, August 7.

I have also been able to take some time to cut some of the new fabric I had purchased before I moved.  I found some fantastic multicolor chirimen, named bell flower.  It has lovely shades of purple, indigo, blue, and grey.  The white is always a good offset to use less of the super expensive print fabric and still give a positive dramatic effect.  I still have plans for a bira bira but I can not seem to locate my metal shears for cutting the aluminum dangles.

Also in the works, I have plans for more ornaments.  The holiday ornament section is back, but very bare. I am hoping to sell quite a few and use the money as donation to the Demiti Conde GoFundMe.  He is in remission but his lowered immune system keeps landing him back in the hospital.

However I have my own plans.  I am still going to sell kanzashi for myself, and use those funds to get a new kimono from Ohio Kimono. I am planning a photo shoot with real models, and I need a few more pieces for variety: a couple of obiage and an obi to match my autumn themed komon.  I also want a new juban and a couple more korin clips, and obi clips, and white collars.  Lots of little things.  All so I can have multiple usable sets of kimono for this photo shoot.

My Japanese silk embroidery has taken a back seat unfortunately.  My fabric began to pucker under a place I had recently stitched, which means my frame is set incorrectly. I need to tighten the fabric again, but have been hesitant to do so without instruction.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Ohio Kimono USA!

Found on Ohiokimono.com

So you guys know I love kitsuke, the art of dressing in kimono.  There aren't a ton of kimono shops in the United States, and those that I have found are expensive.  Usually I get my products from Japan off Ebay, but even those are generally in poor condition.

Then I found this shop through my instagram account, Ohio Kimono  and they have some great kimono pieces.   They apparently travel to Kyoto every year or so to purchase more pieces for the shop, so each piece is hand picked.

Not only that, but they are organized and labeled correctly. Strange as it may sound that is a pretty big tell between a professional supplier and someone selling knockoff Chinese polyester bathrobes.

I already have my eye on a green obiage that would be a close match for my deep orange and black furisode.  And the fantastic fukuro obi with waves that I have nothing to wear with, but I would love to own all the same. Not to mention the green kimono in the picture.  They even carry a variety of accessories, like fans, kanzashi, and tea ceremony pieces.  Plus the best part, fabric scraps!

Ok now that I am done with my review, time for the notes.

First, my house move has been delayed.  Not much I can do about it, and it is nothing I did.  Just paperwork taking too long.  Which means the shop will be closed for most of August as well.  Really, it breaks my heart, because I miss my kanzashi supplies so much.  I find that other things are fun distractions, but at my heart I am a kanzashi artisan.  I've been closed for almost a month now, and I am really having chirimen withdrawals, lol.

I am finally over my cold, and plan to go back to stitching my silk embroidery piece soon.  I do like it, but I find I don't particularly love it yet.  It requires a lot of focus, especially since I am still learning the movement.  But I find that since I cant lay in bed and be comfortable (you guys know I was sick for so long that I am accustomed to working while reclined), I just don't enjoy it as much.

I have gone back to crewel again, trying to finish the pillowcase set I started earlier in the year.  I like it more, because it is faster and I can make as many mistakes as I want.  I dont feel paranoid about how it is going to look, since I am actually going to use it.

I have also had a lot of silk dying on my mind, but only in the kanzashi aspect of things.  My friend, Elizabeth Comer of Imlothmelui on Etsy  has essentially switched from making kanzashi to hand made watercolor paints.  They look fantastic!   I really like the pearlescent ones.   She used to be the queen of dyed fabric kanzashi, and I feel that learning from her is the next big thing to my path as a kanzashi artisan.