Turning the Page–An Art-Book and Zine Exhibition at PAPER 2 Gallery

“Turning the Page” was an Art-book exhibition at Paper 2 gallery in Manchester that ran from September 29-October November 3, 2018. The exhibition was a collaboration between British artists and members of a Tokyo art collective called Art Byte Critique.

It was really exciting to see the collaboration between the two work and for artists from each group to see their work in the other country via Skype chats and videos.

The British artists generously shared their images of the reception at Paper 2 Gallery. It looked like a great time. I wish I could have been there.

-above images courtesy of the artists

Joan Birkett of St. Helens connected with Tokyo-based Art Byte Critique through Arthur Huang to develop relationships and collaborations. The two groups have had previous collaborations in St. Helens, UK,  at Heart of Glass  and Eccleston Community Library for for World Book Day.

Find out more about the participating artists by clicking the links below:
Jane Barwood
Joan Birkett
Paul Cousins
Deanna Gabiga
Arthur Huang
Patty Hudak
Mariko Jesse
Yuko Kamei
A.J. Malone
Jeni McConnell
Carol Miller
Julia Nascimento
Lyle Nisenholz
Mia O
Lori Ono
Jacqui Priestley
Louise Rouse
Yvonne Tinsley
Claire Weetman
Nick West

New Jewelry 2015 at 3331 Arts Chiyoda Review

The New Jewelry show at 3331 Arts Chiyoda (Dec 5-7, 2015) showcased some Japanese jewelry makers taking traditional materials and techniques into modern directions.

newjewelry.JPGJewelry is the ultimate meeting of design, craftsmanship and function. The New Jewelry show at 3331 Arts Chiyoda (Dec 4-6, 2015) showcased some Japanese jewelry makers taking traditional materials and techniques into modern directions. It was particularly interesting to talk with some of the artists and learn about their themes or inspirations. There wasn’t enough to talk with everyone but below are some very brief artist chats organized into material themes.

Pearls
Thanks to Mikimoto, pearls are strongly associated with jewelry in Japan. Mikimoto has a variety of styles, from traditional to modern, but the usage of pearls at New Jewelry had an energy I don’t see in Mikimoto.

aya-hasegawa-karot-newjewelryAya Hasegawa of Korat is a Nagano based artist doing interesting designs with pearls. She carves a design in a pearl then adds urushi (laquer)to it. I asked her where she got the idea to do this with a pearl and she said it just came to her. She noted that the process can be nerve-wracking because a mistake means that the pearl is wasted. The work is whimisical and finely detailed.

muresi-newjewelry2015-pearl
Muresi is the work of Yuji Ishigami of Yamanashi. Ishigami works in metal and created the coral and pearl pins. He does fine metal work yet decided to use unpolished coral. The rougher coral is a nice counterpoint to the fine metal.

Another artist at the Muresi table (I didn’t get her name) didn’t use pearls but uses photographs to make jewelry.

The idea behind using photographs is to play with memory. One style is to take parts of photos printed on a semi-transparent material and to put in metal shapes to make earrings, pendants and brooches. The effect is like a abstract watercolor until closer examination reveals the actual image. The project uses found photos to make a brooch. The brooch fits into the rest of the original photo for storage and display. The two have been working together for two years.

Dan Tomimatsu (left photo) puts unaltered pearls in cages to present and preserve the pearls. Kenichi Kondo (right) does enamel work and uses pearls for accents.

Cosmos Nostalgie by Natsuko Okano is also Tokyo-based. Much of her work is inspired by astronomy and science and the use of unusual minerals. She has been working in this style for two and a half years. One series has minerals in a rectangular cage. Her inspiration for this design is a science museum display cabinet. Okano has been working in this style for several years.

Glasswork
Glass was the medium of several designers. Whether it was geometric and hard-looking or formed into organic shapes, glass proved more versatile than simply mimicking gems making as beads.

Sorte means good fortune in Italian. She works in her glass studio in Hyogo with her husband. She designs the jewelry but they both have a hand in making the pieces. Mr. Sekino has been working with glass for 20 years. Sekino has been working with glass for 10 years. She started in university. She has been doing Sorte for the last three years. Her jewelry is various types of glass from organic to geometric with gold accents. When asked about the theme of her work she said that glass has lots of different expressions and she wants to demonstrate them in her jewelry.

Moko Kobayashi has a more traditional approach with glass, in that the work is made from French vintage glass beads about eighty years old. Watching the demonstration of making a brooch piques an interest in the finished product. The image outline is sewn onto fabric then the beads are sewn on. The motifs ranged from elegant to playful. I really loved the UFO with the little alien dangling from it. I also love the combination of glass and stitching required for this type of accessory.

Ceramics
This is not really a medium I associate with jewelry or accessories.When I do think of ceramics, I usually think of Wedgewood or something hippy-dippy. I know that ceramics are a wide-versatile material but I was surprised at the elegant offerings here.


Kimiko Suzuki uses ceramics to make her jewelry. At first glance the delicate lace work looks like it has been stitched, or 3-D printed but it is made with a ceramic paste with the consistency of whipped cream. The lace work is created much in the same way as decorating with icing. The result is a unique and delicate look. She has working with this style of production for four years. She likes lace of the symbolism of various motifs. Suzuki also uses ceramics to make molds and figures for her jewelry.

plant-plant-newjewelry
Plant-Plant
Plant-Plant offered coated metal jewelry and items made of porcelain. The poppy petals are particularly beautiful.

Sewing, Embroidery, Fiber Arts
Though I would include Moko Kobayashi in a sewing category, these artist use more recognizable stitching techniques.

monmannequin-kato-tomoka-newjewelry
Tomoka Kato at New Jewelry
Kobe artist Tomoka Kato is the creator of Monmannequin. She had the most playful take own jewelry and accessories like brooches, earrings andnecklaces. She has hand stitched small items five centimeters or smaller entirely of fabric and stitched by hand. She has been doing 3-D fabric for a while, starting with creating dolls. The majority of this work was created for another exhibition with a supermarket theme.

Some other fiber artists at the show to check out are
Akiko Ishiwata;  lace and tatting with fiber instead of ceramic by Filigne and Etsushi who embroiders broaches in a simple, bold graphics self-described as a “primitive” style.

Resin and Washi (and pearls again)
Few materials say “Japan” more than washi. But the idea of paper jewelry sounds very fragile and short-lived. Based in Tokyo, Lisa Nagano of Lissita designs feminine accessories with washi. She maintains the delicacy of washi but adds durability by mixing it with resin. This combination becomes delicate floral motifs in lovely pinks and purples. The flowers look like real petals! And the pearls make an appearance here as well, as flower detail and earring backs. She also had older work on display, (a collaboration with a sumie painter?), done with bold black, gold and resin. It is also striking, though very different from her current work. She’s been working with resin for ten years, and using washi for about two.
IMG_3576

*****

The show is over but the website is still up and has links to all the exhibitors’ pages. They are worth checking out for more photos of the work, explanations of their themes and inspirations and, in some cases, where to buy their work.

http://www.newjewelry.jp/nj2015/exhibitors/

Quilted Octopus Sling Bag

Instead of Yarn Addiction Thursday, I thought I’d go to a different fiber media—quilting. I’d been wanting to do a project with my mom for a long time and the timing never worked out and then suddenly it did.

My parents  drove down to Las Vegas to meet up with my husband and I. My husband was there for work and my parents were doing the snowbird thing. I brought my camera, my dad brought his golf clubs and my mom brought her sewing machine. I planned to do some photography with a friend, my mom planned to do some quilting during her snowbird sojurn. My mom is an excellent quilter. She’d probably say she’s still a neophyte, but her works looks great and she is very meticulous. Being meticulous is a great habit in a quilter I think.

While hanging out with my mom she wanted to go to a quilting store. Suddenly, I had the idea to make myself a quick little bag.  And I could do a project with my mom! I was definitely more excited about this than her. I planned to just get some fabric, fold it over, sew up the sides, add a strap and voila! A bag to take my workout clothes to the gym.

But, as my friend Deanna of StudioDeanna says about my work, why would I do anything simple when I could over-engineer it? She should know. As my crochet sensei, she’s seen me over complicate lots of stuff.Because soon after saying I wanted to make a ten minute bag, I had the idea to make an octopus quilted bag.

This is where my mom and I diverge on things. I’m not a quilter but I understand the basics. I have basic sewing skills. But I do read quilting and craft magazines and blogs. I had recently read a blog post Sewing: Snowman Quilted Pillow Cover at www.craftpassion.com.  The pillow was a trapunto technique. I was pretty sure that I could make my own bag using this as inspiration as long as I kept things simple and used fusible web. My mom insisted that I needed a pattern. She also had a different idea about how I would do the applique.

We compromised by having me describe my idea to an employee at the quilting store and discussing it’s feasibility. If the clerk said it would work then I’d do it. If the clerk laughed her head off, the bag was off.

We went to Quiltique in Henderson, NV. I found the staff really helpful and the fabric selection was gorgeous! I was immediately drawn to a lovely selection of batiks. When I described my idea, showed my sketch and told the her how I planned to construct my bag I finished with, “Will it work?” She gave me a puzzled look and said, “Why wouldn’t it?”
I turned to my mom and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up and my mom just laughed and rolled her eyes.

So… this little bag that I originally planned to make in twenty minutes for $15 max $70 project over two several days.

20150218-222031-80431136.jpgAt first I over-designed. I imagined a scene with coral and sand and the octopus peeking out, maybe playing dice. It didn’t take too long to realize that was too cartoonish and way too much work. I edited it back to just the octopus.  The design is the same on both sides and the head joins along one side so when the bag is full you get a 3-d head view. The inside of the bag is a sandy-colored batik fabric. The pattern of the octopus and the waves outline with the colored thread.

20150218-222030-80430539.jpgI’m pretty happy with it and it looks like I imagined. I originally planned to have two colors for the water lines and have more of them and also to sew some bubbles. I opted for finishing instead of making more work. I’m toying with the idea of adding some very light fabric paint with a stencil brush to give the eye a 3-D effect. Mom says that the eye will pop out more once the bag has been washed. We’ll see.

The hardest part was tucking the loose threads into the work. My mom introduced me to the self-threading needle. A-Mazing. My eyes are changing so it took me five minutes to thread a needle for a thirty second job, multiplied by a hundred loose threads. Oy. The self-threading needle meant I could thread a needle in two seconds.

My other nit-pick are the overlapping tentacles. They aren’t what I intended. They need a bit more volume. If I had to make some changes, I’d fix the overlapping tentacle by quilting it and putting a little washer in the end to weight it down. I’d also finish  the inside edges by covering them with bias tape.

Thanks for helping me make this bag mom!

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Palla, my Finnish Owl.

A while ago on my Yarnspiration post, I posted about the Finnish wool I bought at Lanka Deli by Novita I had originally intended to make mittens but I have a multitude of mittens. What I didn’t have was a stuffed owl. I’m really inspired by the Estonian toy animals in Kiri Kari by Anu Raud and Anu Kotli. I couldn’t find a copy of the book to buy so used them as an inspiration.

I created using an app called StitchSketchLE (look for my review on that next week!). It’s not the most creative design but it was good for a test. I made some pieces that were ok. I find color stranded knitting really hard, especially when I add a third color.

owl_piecesI decided the test pieces would be a good base for my new owl. I originally wanted to just make a flat toy but I get caught up in the challenge of adding form to a design. I ended up adding side pieces and a bottom to give it more volume.  I picked up stitches from the ends and kept knitting from one end to form the tail and the base and the other to make the head.

I used double pointed needles to make the beak and the talons and needle felted the eyes.

And here is the end result:

20141031-124954-46194208.jpg

The Finnish word for owl is pöllö but umlauts are hard to type and plain pollo is Spanish for chicken–not the effect I’m going for. If I were to spell it the way I heard it on Google translate, I get Palla, so Palla it is. One of my friends asked me if there was a connection to Pallas Athena, so yay for coincidence.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Crochet Bracelets with Beads

Last year I was feeling kind of stressed and needed a distraction. My friend Deanna of Deanna Kobou Studio does great crochet work and she really inspired me to try it. Crochet looked like something that would distract me and, at the end, I’d have some kind of product. The plan worked really well. Crochet required enough focus that I didn’t think about my problems, and I chose simple stitches that weren’t overwhelming.

Beads and crochet bracelet.This bracelet was my first finished crochet project after playing with flower motifs. I had first started a free-form plushy I called Doubty Dragon, but Doubty took longer to finish. I used Noro Kureyon Sock (70% wool, 30% nylon) which I bought at Yuzawaya.  I like Kureyon Sock because its colorway gives a lot of different colors in a single skein. It turns out that it is great for making flower motifs of different colors. The bracelet is two crochet strings with leaves, attached by beads acting as bars connecting the strings. I added the flower motif that I learned, attached a clasp and voila! I gave the bracelet to a friend.

Use 'em or trash 'em! I found these sakura I made years ago in an old box.
Use ’em or trash ’em! I found these sakura I made years ago in an old box.

The bracelet  below is a product of some stash-busting I did a while ago. I was going through my stuff trying to figure out exactly what I had. I wanted to use things or get rid of them. I found these flowers that I must have made years ago. I have a vague recollection of thinking I could make a sakura necklace from beads. I love beads but I’m not so great at beading so it was nice to make something out of this.

20140501-232304.jpgI thought about doing the double string like the first bracelet. I like the effect but not the work. This was a simple string with leaves, attaching the sakura, the bird, and the clasp. I thought it made a nice accessory for Spring or Summer.

 

What kind of crochet accessories do you like? Recommendations are always appreciated.

 

Yarn Addiction Thursday: Wrist-warmers in Alpaga Teint

Early Spring was really chilly for my fingers. I had a nice toasty electric blanket for my lap but my fingers got stiff from typing and being cold. My solution? Procrastinate on my writing-work-in-progress by making some wrist-warmers. This project had two-extra bonuses: I could use it for stash busting, and since I had more appointments and commuting time than usual I could feel productive while waiting.

I wanted something warm and fuzzy, yet a little bit lacy. I had made valentine wrist-warmers from the wool I bought at Lil Weasel in Paris. They are super cute, but for a second pair, I wanted something a bit more sophisticated.

half-made wrist warmer
Hanging out at a museum and crocheting while waiting for an appointment.

I had some extra alpaga teint from La Droguerie that I thought would be perfect. Alpaga is a 100% alpaca plied texture wool, fingering weight (4 ply).  In my stash I had some grey and some light aqua blue which made for a subtle combination.

So I had my wool. I needed a pattern. I started looking on ravelry.com for a pattern. Most of what I saw was really cute, but most patterns were long and slouchy. I wanted something fitted, especially around the wrists. Not really finding any, I decided to try to make my own pattern.

I used Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia by Robyn Chachula.  I got the Kindle version so that I could refer to it while on the train.  I crocheted a few swatches of different patterns but settled on the fairy shell. I used a 3.0 hook. I crochet really tight. It’s a problem, but I don’t favor loose stitches so much, either. This will probably change as I mature as a crochet-er (is this the correct word? Seems odd.)

crochet swatch of fairy shell pattern
My swatch of fairy shell

The cuff is made by single crochet in blue and double crochet in the grey, crocheted flat. For the body I added five stitches, joined the ends together then crocheted in the round leaving a gap for the thumb. The thumb was tough to make. Keeping the pattern while expanding and decreasing the stitches was hard. I’m not really satisfied with the thumb, but done is done. The finger-edge trim is  done in a modified fairy shell pattern.

I used old buttons that came with shirts I bought long ago to use up stash. I tried two different ways to fasten the wrist portion. The left hand is a single crochet loop and the right uses three buttons. The three button was necessary because just having the end two buttons allowed the inside edge to poke out. For some reason, the crochet loop doesn’t have anything poking out.

I did really well to use the alpaga I had. Too well. I didn’t have enough to make the second wrist-warmer. I ended up going back to La Droguerie to finish the project. So much for stash-busting. I ended up buying even more yarn! I did manage to restrain myself from buying more buttons, cute and tempting as they were. La Droguerie is such a feast for the eyes and drain on the pocket book.

alpaca-warmers_10

So these wrist-warmers are my second attempt at making my own pattern. I enjoyed the process but endured a lot of stitch ripping and do-overs. At some point, I’m going to try my hand at writing out the pattern. Maybe re-photograph the wrist-warmers, too. It is shockingly hard to photograph your own hand for demos.

If anyone has any great sites or tips on making patterns, particularly for thumb gussets, please share. I’d love to see them.

Snowmen Fight: Samurai vs Ninja. Get Your Winter War Mittens Here!I A Post in 2 Parts. Part the Second.

recycled sweater into mittens
Recycled sweater with my own felted design. Fighting snowmen. Ninja vs. Samurai

Today, I finish the article of the making of the Fuyu no Jin Mittens. As I wrote in the previous post Fuyu no Jin means a winter war in Japanese. Traditionally, it’s army against army in winter but my mittens are going small scale. Yes, I’m taking a lot of liberties.

The previous post was about the designing process. This is about the construction process.

Materials

100% wool sweater to be recycled
Felting wool in 5 colors

  • White or ivory
  • Grey
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Red

Embroidery thread
4 tiny black beads for eyes
Needle Felting Gear

  • Felting Needle
  • Sponge (for underneath the needle and project
  • Liquid soap
  • Water (warm to hot)

Sewing Machine or Hand Needle and Thread
Needle for sewing details
design for felting
Mitten Template (made from tracing hand or a template you like)

Pattern to Sewing
1.  Make a template to trace out the mittens.

  • I searched the Internet for a nice template but never really found one. It seems like thumbs are the trickiest part. This time I added thumbs separately.  I ended up tracing the outline of my hand with a 1 cm allowance I wanted tighter mittens rather than loose and the sweater I was recycling has a lot of give.

2. Trace or pin the template to the sweater and cut it out. I traced one side then flipped the template for the back reverse side then traced, cutting the body of the mitten as one piece and one seam. Thumbs were not part of this template. I added thumbs by draping material over my thumb.

  • If I had to do it again I would trace the whole hand, thumb included then just flip the template. I did that with a second pair. Construction was easier and it didn’t feel different to wear.

3. Sew the mittens up. I hand-sewed these and it took a couple hours for each mitt. I used a sewing machine on a second pair and it went much faster.

  • I first tried to felt the seams. That didn’t go well. It might have worked if I’d allowed more than a .5cm. The seam felting was wasted time.

Adding the Design
1.  Put the mittens on the hand and mark out the part the design will fit into.

2.  Trace the design onto the mitten.

  • I redrew the design from the sketch on the mitt rather than trace. I used disappearing fabric marker which became a bit troublesome. As time passed, I had to redraw on the mitten. This happened several times so the design morphed a bit. Rather than getting upset, I just consider this transition part of the process.

3.  Put the sponge inside the mitten and under where you will needle felt.

4.  Needle felt the design. I followed the instructions from this website for how to felt a design onto a surface. I think their instructions were good. Rather than repeating them here, I recommend you check out the link.

Felting
1.   Hand-wash the design using hot water and liquid soap. Gently rub the design to felt the fibers. You might want to wear rubber gloves if the water is hot but still be careful about burns.

2.  Roll the mittens the mittens in a towel and allow to dry flat. Be gentle!

3.  Check the design when dry and use the felting needle on loose parts or tidy up the design.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 if needed.

5.  If the design is secure and you are happy with it embroider embellishments.
On these mittens I embroidered a mouth and sewed on two onyx beads for eyes.

Care
These mittens might survive a machine wash, though I wouldn’t care to test it. I recommend gentle hand-washing and drying flat.

Use
I’ve used the mittens for daily wear and bike rides and they worked well.  When I made felted seams, the seams opened up during a bike ride. So far, the hand-sewing has been durable and no problems with the designs.

If you have any suggestions of feedback about making the design or construction process easier, I’d love to hear.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hope you enjoyed the two posts.

Snowmen Fight: Samurai vs Ninja. Get Your Winter War Mittens Here!I A Post in 2 Parts. Part the First

recycled sweater into mittens
Recycled sweater with my own felted design. Fighting snowmen. Ninja vs. Samurai

Time: 10 hours (depending on skill and gear)

Materials

100% wool sweater to be recycled
Mitten Template (made from tracing hand)
Felting wool in 5 colors
Embroidery thread
4 tiny black beads for eyes
Needle Felting Gear
Sewing Machine (or Needle) and Thread
Needle for sewing details
design for felting
(for a more complete materials list, check out part 2)

Process

Brainstorming

I attended a local Stitch and Bitch but I hadn’t any current, portable projects to work on. I showed up because it’s a nice crowd and I decided I’d work on an idea of something to make. I had an old cashmere sweater that was just too short for me and thought I’d recycle it. I’d recently seen some needle felting and it occurred to me that I could felt a design onto recycled mittens. I had no idea really what I wanted to sketch so I just let my pencil wander.

I was a bit surprised that this is where I ended up. I love to draw snowmen (in Japanese they are called yukidaruma). I wanted the snowman to have a little bit of character and something Japanese-styled. All I can say about the ninja is that I must have seen something on TV around that time. The way I drew the mask is a little bit like the female ninja character, Nezumi Onna (mouse woman) on a jidai-geki.

The snowflake above the head was supposed to be a shuriken/snowflake. I loved the idea but I quickly gave up the shuriken idea as being too difficult to for felting and the size.

I’m not sure how authentic nunchuks are for Japan and ninja.  I don’t think they are very authentic but they were fun and easy to do, so I used them.

So I had one hand done, but didn’t want to have ninja vs. ninja. So a samurai was the next logical choice.

I had this idea of them fighting on a bridge with a castle in the background and snow falling. Then I had a reality check. This was my first needle-felting design project and I wanted it to looks good and be simple. I still like the idea so I might actually do this as a drawing someday.

I was really happy with how I got this snowman to appear to have more dynamic movement but still be round and weighty. His chomage (the samurai hairstyle) at this point looks ok. The clothes are suggestive of Japanese men’s kimono rather than representative.

That’s a Fun Sketch, but Can You Felt It?

So I had two simple designs that I really liked. Before I started to make the mittens, I wanted to make sure that I could felt the design well enough to satisfy me. This was my first time to felt a 2-D pattern, not to mention one of my own design. I didn’t want to go through the work of making mittens only to mess them up with shoddy work. I needed practice. In all honesty, the project languished at this stage for a few months.

I started with the ninja.

I did a bit of research and found this site for felting designs with a felting needle. I checked out a lot of sites but this was the easiest for me to understand.

Felting test #1. Ninja

I cut out a strip from the sweater and drew the design on the wool. It’s not easy to do a good sketch with a fabric marker on wool. I made an underbody of the snowman before felting his clothes on. I don’t know if I would do it that way again. I didn’t with the samurai and that was easier and less bulky.

When I finished I was pretty happy with it. Since I liked it quite a bit and didn’t want to waste the effort, I made it into a bookmark. The pink border in needled felted from some felting wool I had so that the sweater background wouldn’t unravel.

 

Next up was the samurai.

Having learned my lesson from the ninja (taken out of context, that sounds much more interesting than needle-felting), I didn’t put an underbody and felt clothes on top. The effect is a bit different. It gives the work a bit of a pieced effect, more pronounced lines between the colors. Sometimes it made a bit more of a gap than I would like but maybe that’s just the medium and I have to live with it.

Felting Test #2: Samurai

This time I didn’t make a bookmark. The piece I cut was just large enough to test my design. I felt confident with the felting technique after the ninja. I wanted to practice the samurai before doing the mitten. Now I regret not taking a bigger piece to make a bookmark of the samurai. I’ll maybe felt it onto a larger piece someday.

Which brings us to the end of the design and practice portion of this entry. Check out part 2 on Friday.
If you have any suggestions of feedback about making the design process easier, I’d love to hear.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article. Hope you enjoyed it.

Felt Your Way to New Characters with Needle Felting.

needle felted jam, camera, matsrushyka and a needle charm
From lumps of fluffy wool to unique characters. Kit by Hamanaka.

This is needle felting mixed together with a photography, lomo-esque feel. Crafting and photography in a happy union!

As you may have noticed from my previous post, Dreaming of Imaginary Dragon Fish, I’m really interested in character creation. Fimo is a great option for 3-d shapes, but I’m not keen on baking it in my oven. It’s a poor example of the appliance, but it’s the only one I have. Since I live in Japan, I’m constantly surrounded by cute little things and that led me to needle felting.

People who are really good at needle felting can create incredible detail. Check out this example from feltedmice’s photostream at Flickr:
Needle Felted "Gumdrop" a 2-1/2" Baby Bunny By Barby Anderson / Helen Priem made the Owl
The bunny is by Barby Anderson and the owl by Helen Priem.

Incredible, right?

I jumped in with baby steps and started with a kit. The kit maker is a Japanese company called Hamanaka. The kit cost ¥700. Here is a link for the kit on Amazon Japan. This lomo-inspired kit leapt right off the shelf and into my shopping basket. My own felt camera? Oh yeah! The jam jars were cute and I loved the colors for the matryushka. The kit even called for making a spoon! The instructions were ok. They were written in Japanese so my comprehension wasn’t perfect, but the diagrams made up for it. It took me about thirty minutes to figure out the Japanese instructions. Each character took from one to two hours. Also, if you’ve been having a bad day, poking the needle into a bunch of wool is kind of therapeutic. Just be careful. The needle is very sharp and if you poke your finger, it will hurt.

I plan to develop some skill, then, someday, design my own characters.

The snowman at the back is my creation not from the kit. It’s not spectacular but it was good practice. The snowman is also practical as a sewing needle charm. By needle charm, I mean something like a pincushion, for sticking needles in while working on stuff. I also made a bunny head needle charm, but I gave it to a friend before photographing it.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to start making my own characters yet. There are still a lot of cute kits from Hamanaka. And there is something to be said for being able to follow instructions and end up with something that looks like the example.

If you have any favorite kits or favorite materials for character creation, please share!

Until next time, happy creating!

L.

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