Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Okinawa Gotochi & More Eco-Craft

Sorry to all my beady friends who may be wondering why so many postcard posts.

I Love Postcrossing!

I'm very active and many of my fellow postcrossers have asked 
about my collection so my blog is taking on a duel duty.

Today I found the NEW 2014 Okinawa Gotochi, and 
I'm sharing the Gotochi from other prefectures I've received since my last share.

 Each prefecture launched a new card for 2014. If you want to check them out you can do so HERE.

So you aren't totally handmade creativity deprived 
here's what I've been working on with the eco-craft band material.
Yep the first one is slanted. 
It hurts my finger to pull it tight enough to keep it square, 
but I got it the second time.
This basket will have handles eventually, but I wanted to share 
the new design inspired by Tammy, a newcomer to our local eco-basket weaving group.
Thanks for the inspiration Tammy.

My birthday is in four days! What shall I do to celebrate my 34th?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Show me the Soup!

My soup has been simmering for a bit
 so I figure I should show it to you before I begin to create.

My lovely partner for this year's Bead Soup Blog Hop is 
 Carmen Lau author of the blog Little Maketto.

She's such a wonderful woman with kindness and 
creativity spilling into everything I've seen of her.

I should have taken pictures of the packet with it's lovely gold embossed organza bags, but I was in too much of a rush to open it. There is just something about mail delivered to your door that makes opening it an urgent need.
 I did capture a bit of the packaging. These cute little paper slips with the bead descriptions.
Now all I have to do is quit wondering what this notch is for and start building my ideas.
She also included yummy Malaysian candies and 2 postcards. (I love postcards!)
One of which was made of wood! Yep, one of my coolest postcards ever and I don't have a picture to show you. I'll get one for you by the reveal...promise.

Thanks so much Carmen. I am thrilled with what you sent.
For those of you who haven't seen it on Little Maketto already here's what I sent.

You'd figure as long as I stared at this lot, added this, took out that to refine 
my selections for this year I'd have a better picture, but here's the best shot of the lot.
 You should still go look at her post. Her pictures are magazine worthy.
Wishing you had some new beads to play with?
 There is a mega celebration & GIVEAWAY going on over at the Silver Parrot.
You should check it out for your chance to win.
I know I will.
There are so many prizes up for grabs. Here's the a sneek peek.
UPDATE:  The contest prizes were to be given out every other day after the 14th, BUT all entries had to be in prior. Sorry for misleading you. I didn't understand. There will be one prize offer for all us who came to the party too late.
Sorry. commenting here will not enter you in the contest, 
but I'd be thrilled to hear from you anyway.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coral Bingata

As with so much of my inspiration I found this pin on pinterest, 
and unlike the 100s of other pins 
this one stuck in my mind till I completed it.

Only problem is it takes you to a dead end. Fortunately I'm in half a dozen local craft related facebook groups and someone shared information on where she had gone to try her hand at coral bingata. So I pinned this so I had information when I was ready:
But I'm getting ahead of myself. For those of you who don't know what bingata is it is a textile dying technique that either uses wax, a stencil or coral fossil to created the pattern. I've see examples many examples, but my visit to Shuri Ryusen helped me understand how labor intensive the process is.
 The top floor is set up with fabric on a roll where the design elements are added in stages.
I really wish I'd focused more photos on the designs than trying to show the set-up.
Maybe I'll use that as an excuse to visit again. ;)
Anyway on the second floor we received a brief instruction on the process.
Then my husband and I were literally left alone in this room with four tables set up like this.
So of course after trying two of the coral on our table my husband proceeds to try coral from every other table and both the giant coral that had their own table. I'd have never thought to use anything other than what was set before me, but I'm glad he did because every coral was different.
This one is as big as a stool!
Well, here's what we ended up with. I made a tote bag and he made a t-shirt.
Here are some of the more traditional bingata pieces I have in my home.
 Above is a representation of Shuri Castle and below...
oh I've forgotten what I was told about this one.
I really should learn what that flaming turtle means though.
Next is a tiny snippet of a piece of fabric I bought from Shuri Ryusen.
 Finally some mass produced fabrics mimicking the bingata style.
Hope you enjoyed this. 
If you'd like to learn more there's a great video on youtube.
For those of you who read my Gotochi post at 3min in you'll hear sanshin music.

When you know better you do better, right?
UPDATE: It's not wax, but a starch or seaweed paste that's used to make the blank space in the stencil designs. It can also be piped out (think cake decorating) to make original designs.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gotochi: Japanese Prefecture Postcards

As I've been so fortunate to live in Japan for the past few years,
and stumbled across the Gotochi series. 

Each prefecture (which is sort of like a county or district) 
has high quality, shaped, over-sized postcards with 
images that are symbolic of their prefecture.

As I live in Okinawa the southern most prefecture I'll start by showing you those cards.
This is the card from 2009. It shows a shisha or lion dog. You'll see these in pairs at many entries to homes and businesses. I was taught the open mouth of the pair is the male which keeps away negative spirits or energies while the closed mouth or female keeps in good spirits.
(You may see a tiny version in the top corner of the photo. If you buy 5 they give you a mini at my post office. )
This is the 2010 card which shows a goya. It is a very bumpy wonder vegetable that is often mentioned when people talk of the renowned longevity of the Okinawan people and their diet. 
The 2011 card show a Ryukyu dancer. Before Okinawa was governed by Japan it was the Ryukyu Kingdom (1429-1879). This is traditional dress for that time. The lotus hat and bingata textile dyeing technique I could go on and on about, but I'll save that detour for a future post. I will say that back then that yellow of the kimono was special to Okinawa because it was made from the bark of tree that only grew here.
The card of 2012 card is a sanshin and hibiscus. I honestly know next to nothing about this 3 string instrument other than I've been very fortunate to hear it at sunset a few rare times on my walks by the sea. A single local men sitting on a very large rock by the water plays the most serine melodies. It's also common in local summer festivals as well. The hibiscus of course is the flower of Okinawa as it blooms here all year long. (Yes, this gardener LOVES living here!)
The 2013 card shows eisa dancers. I've been fortunate to see this style of performance as a feature of festivals, but also as a side street treat. When walking one night we heard this thunderous, rhythmic sound and followed it a few blocks off the main streets to stumble across a group of eisa dancers. The chanting and drumming is contagiously uplifting. There is also an annual 10,000 eisa festival, but I prefer smaller events to giant crowds.

I do hope the 2014 card is released before we leave the island this summer. I'm excited to see what it will be. In the mean time here are a few I've collected by trading Okinawa Gotochi for those from other prefectures.

click an image to enlarge

One day I hope to go through all the lovely notes and add for you the information I've received about some of these cards. Until then hope you enjoyed another peek into my world. Oh and sorry facebook friends for the repeat.

The collector in me will sure miss this place.

Yeah, they have seasonal postcards shaped like the old post boxes as well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just Keep Creating

I often find myself in creative slumps that can last up to half a year. 
When that feeling sneaks up on me again I've been switching media. 
It has really helped.
My house looks like a craft supply edition of Hoarders, but I'm happy.

So these are far from my greatest achievements, but 
they all taught me something.

first attempts with my kanzashi template
handmade eco craft basket pin cushion

pot of gold treats for son's class

I have to say the St. Patty's treats were inspired by a pin.
I however used $1 gold sprinkles instead of $7 sprinkles and 
chocolate chips instead of chocolate candy melts. 
The kids didn't seem to mind.
I even got a thanks from the teacher. That's never happened before.

So just keep creating...it doesn't have to be perfect.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hunger Games District 2 Challenge

I will never deny having an obsessive personality.

Sticking with things till I overcome them,

spending way way too long focused on a task &

constantly seeking to do or learn more about what I'm focused on

are all traits that have brought way more good to my life than bad.

So when I recently read the entire Twilight trilogy in a week then 
read the Hunger Games in half that it was not a new experience for me.

This time the second Hunger Games movie was available when I finished so I thought why not.
It's always fun to compare my imagination to that of the movie makers.

Then I get online and run across a blog challenge for Hunger Games.
So of course I'm in.

Here's the inspiration Charlie provided for District 2:
Maybe I was suppose to make jewelry, but 
here's what I made.
Living in Japan I have access to eco-craft tape 
which comes in rolls of 12-14 tiny stands of rolled recycled paper 
adhered together into long strips.
Most people use it for basket making though this one was designed to be a purse.
Sadly my son loved it, and stole it before I ever got to use it though.
Even though it's paper it's surprisingly strong and durable.
If anyone knows of a US supplier PLEASE let me know.
I love this stuff, but know that no matter how much I take back with me I'll want more.

I thought I remembered reading that District 2 mined gemstones, but I was probably mistaken. 
Anyway, catching up on Game of Thrones with my husband led to the addition of the sapphire blue.  Anyone remember the whole bit about the Sapphire Isles?
It's surprising how easily my designs adapt to what's going on around me.
Alrighty, if you want to join the fun next month for District 3 visit the source of this clever challenge.

Thanks Charlie!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It Feels Like Spring!

Since it's been unseasonably cold for many of you I thought I'd share
some flower photos from my trip last weekend to the Ocean Expo Park.
Hibiscus are the official flower of Okinawa.
See my fat finger there? This bloom was massive. 
It probably could have been used as a child's hat.
I read about these in the paper. 
They are genetically engineered "blue" orchids. 
They still look purple to me.
 There were massive orchid displays 
as part of the international orchid show 
that was being held there at the time.
 This is a full view of the display 
with the "blue" orchids mentioned above.
My favorite display of the orchid show each year.
In the background is the symbol of the tropical dream center.
The midground shows the Wonderland maze display for the orchid show.
 It rained all day, but it started to rain too hard to have my camera out.
So we headed for lunch.
 This window shows the banyan tree, a Kijimuna or Okinawan fairy 
& Okinawa's endangered bird the Yanbaru Kuina or Okinawan Rail.
It was created by this artist. She came to one of the base libraries a few years back. My son had the opportunity to meet her, and participate in a class where she taught them to make animal art with recycled materials.
Have a Great Day!