Archive for Inspiration

Washi Tape

I only started collecting washi tape in the last year or so, after holding off for awhile, knowing it might become addictive. There are so many colors and designs and widths! The nice thing is that most of them are fairly inexpensive, about $2 each on average, and now that the chain craft stores carry them, sales and coupons are an option as well.

Here’s my current stash, including some samples I received in swaps:

Washi Tape Collection

I think most of these were from Etsy sellers, but the rest were from local stores, either Scotch Tape Expressions or a craft store chain brands. Joann actually just introduced some brand new “craft tape” of their own, under the “Craft Essentials” name, though they were near the fabric/sewing area of the store for some reason.

Washi Tape at Joann Fabrics

Washi Tape Close-up 1

Washi Tape Close-up 2

These are just a few samples, but I think they did really well with their designs. They seem a lot more stylish and well-designed than the ones I’ve seen at Michaels.

I haven’t really made anything fancy with the tapes I do have, other than sealing up handmade envelopes or other mail with a bit. I’ve seen a lot of great washi projects online though, so I want to at least make a card or something with tape soon.

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Swaps and Inspiration

I’ve been joining one swap after the other on Swap-bot, and just started getting into some more creative ones. Store-bought postcards are nice and all, and definitely easy to send, but I wanted to go a bit further. Further than even handmade envelopes (those are too easy for me).

The first big one for me was a swap about hand-carved stamps; you make one, you get one. I’ve made my own rubber stamps before, though usually of images from Japanese rubber stamp books, but, for some reason, it was a challenge to do it this time around. It’s just been so long since I’ve made one, so I felt a bit rusty, but I was also concerned that my partner might not like what I sent.

After reading Good Mail Day and looking through the related Flickr group, I’d found some lovely postcard collages I really liked, and wanted to make some of my own. (See Postcards from December.) Well, my partner for this swap turned out to be one of those collage artists I’d admired, so I wanted to make sure I sent something nice.

I took so much time debating on what the “right” image for her stamp would be, paging through every rubber stamp book I own (trust me, that’s a lot). I knew it was all self-inflicted pressure, so at some point, I just picked one and went for it. I got it to a point I liked and sent it off, forgetting to take a picture first. Here’s a scan of my test sheet though, with the final image at the bottom right:

Stamps on Scrap Paper (by Valerie.)

When I sent the stamp, I also included a postcard collage I made, as well as a little note explaining that I admire her work and such. Hopefully she won’t think I’m a stalker or anything. :)

After this, I’m not sure what creative swap I’ll try next. I was thinking of a handmade postcard swap, but I’ve gotten a bit sidetracked. I had a few sad swap packages, but then I came across some lovely art forms that I’d like to try my hand at.

A few days ago, I was browsing someone’s Flickr favorites, and came across elise.blaha’s paper projects set. What really stood out to me were the books made from binder rings, combining all sorts of collected papers with photos, notes, and other items, in a sort of informal but beautiful variation on scrapbooking. Most of the individual pages are pretty simple, which I like, but then the books have different themes or time periods, which is nice and also very personal.

delight + full (by elise.blaha)

06.25 (by elise.blaha)

06.24 (by elise.blaha)

To me, the format is really great, since it’s so simple and flexible; you only really need something you can find at an office supply store for cheap, and the rest of the materials can be pretty much anything. I’ve been wanting to reduce what I have in craft supplies (some of which may be done through a giveaway here soon), so this might be a nice way to use them up. I just need to come up with a theme and a size, and then start making things.

However, I just came across another art form that really stood out to me, though I’m not sure if I can manage it. It’s called etegami and is a Japanese art form focusing on simple drawings done in ink as postcards. The intent is to draw something simple you see, like a vegetable, flower, animal, or whatever, add a message, and then send it to a friend. The subject can be something from your day or a seasonal thing, and the message can be a poem, a quote, or just a greeting. They’re not meant to be perfect though, and the rougher they are, the more interesting they can be.

I found out about etegami from Dosanko Debbie’s etegami blog, which is dedicated to her original pieces, and which was mentioned on the Good Mail Day Flickr group (she sent the book’s authors one of her postcards). She explains a lot about the art form on her blog, with plenty of examples, and I like that it’s not about perfection or even the end result. The experience of drawing what you see, and doing it for someone else (you must send them!), are most important.

dosanko_front (by redletterdayzine)

[Etegami]Spider-Lily (by yokuraki)

I tried searching for more information about etegami, but, so far, I’ve only found a few things. Besides Debbie’s blog, the best is Etegami 24 Seasons, which is a series of videos showing a woman painting her own etegami through the various seasons. And there are a few examples on Flickr, so that’s something as well.

I did look into the supplies for making these, and they don’t seem too complicated. It mainly involves ink, paint, brushes, and paper, though the most authentic kinds are not necessarily easy or cheap to track down. I’ve seen inexpensive sumi ink and calligraphy supplies (brushes, ink well, practice paper) at Daiso, but the paint and washi postcards are harder to find. Kinokuniya has sets of the gansai paints Debbie and others in Japan use, but they’re rather expensive. I think standard watercolor paints could be used instead, though I’m not sure if they are quite the same. And I haven’t seen washi paper postcards before, but perhaps the calligraphy paper from Daiso could be used and cut to the right size.

My main concern though is the drawings themselves. I took a few drawing classes in school, but it’s not something I feel I’m good at. I know the idea is to keep it simple and even rough, and I like that the process is sort of a meditation on the object you’re drawing. I just fear I’ll end up with a blob of black ink on paper, and then I’ll just toss it all and quit. I guess you have to start somewhere though, so maybe I can start with some cheap calligraphy supplies from Daiso, and then see if I can track down some cheap watercolor paints, since all I have on hand are acrylic and gouache paints. We’ll see though…

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Yuzen Clothespins


YUZEN wooden clothes pins
Originally uploaded by karaku*

Aren’t these gorgeous?

You can buy these and other handmade items from the creator at her Etsy store.

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Discovering Kurumie

Aside from teaching a workshop on stamp carving at last month’s South Bay Craft Group meeting, I haven’t been doing a great deal of crafting. I made a few stamps in preparation, using images from some new stamp books I bought (check My Library for the specific titles). And I created a few square collage postcards, including one for an upcoming color-themed swap, but nothing major otherwise.

Squares Postcard - Light Blue & Light Green

Squares Postcard - Light Pink

However, I’ve been starting to prepare for next month’s workshop, which will be on “washi paper quilting,” based on these kits from Hanko Designs. I’ve done a few of these pieces before, but the idea is that you combine washi paper, cardboard, and thin sponge to create a padded or quilted effect. I’ve been trying to find a pattern that will be easy enough for a first-time project in a class format. I was looking at the Hanko Designs page and saw mention of “kimekomi,” which they said is a traditional Japanese art (or craft?) that inspired their kits, so I started searching for that online.

What I found about kimekomi seemed to mainly refer to 3-dimensional dolls that use fabric and padding, with many layers to add dimension. They’re quite beautiful, but not entirely like the 2-dimensional pieces you can make with the kit. Then I remembered having seen some intricate 2D pieces like this in a local Japanese arts store, so I tried looking for that. Let me tell you, if you don’t know the exact term for something, using general but related terms takes awhile to get anywhere! But I eventually found what I was looking for.

Kurumie, or oshie, is another traditional Japanese art (or craft?) form that uses padded pieces of fabric or paper, but in 2D form. Some of them are quite intricate, like these kit examples, with many complex pieces and layering. The idea is still the same as the Hanko Design kits though. You start with a sturdy base, add some padding (cotton or sponge), and then wrap fabric or paper around it, finally assembling everything to create an overall picture. Some of them even have a bit of embroidery or painted areas on them, to add even more detail.

Anyway, I’ve been looking at so many web sites to find as much as I can about this art, but there isn’t a whole lot out there, especially about the history. It’s really great to discover things like this though, to see where certain creative forms come from and what from the past inspires people in the present. I’m going to continue to look into this as I work on my class examples, but I just wanted to share a bit of this in the meantime.

If you’re interested, I’ve bookmarked a bunch of kurumie links and I would highly recommend the Hanko Designs kits (and their other items) if you want to try your hand at it.

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Color Kick

I’ve been on a bit of a color kick this morning.

It all started when I was reading through my news feeds and clicked on a link to view Sally’s blog. I don’t normally view her site directly, so I hadn’t seen the design of it in awhile, including the gorgeous aqua color she was using for header text and links (sadly, it’s gone now). I became so enamored with this color that I started thinking of what it would combine well with, beyond the white, yellow, and gray on her site.

I kept thinking about these color combinations on my way to work, noting how colors I saw along the way might work or not work with the aqua. I thought about ways I could play with these combinations, either with paper, paint, or digitally. The last method made me think of a Flickr color tool I’d seen awhile ago.

When I got to work, I couldn’t find the exact tool, but I did find another that was rather fun to play with. The Flickr Color Selector lets you choose a color, and then it loads Flickr images that contain that color. It’s really quite fun to play with and I came across some really lovely photos, including some simple but beautiful ones by tomooka, a photographer in Japan.

I kept following this color kick, eventually coming across a few more color tools that are intended for creating schemes. First, the “kuler” site by Adobe lets you create schemes by starting with a base color and applying a bit of color theory to them, or by making your own custom combinations. If you use any of the Adobe CS2 programs, you can even download the schemes and use them there.

I also found a program called Color Schemer, which lets you do about the same on your own desktop. You can export the results to another program and even share them in their web gallery.

I poked around a bit to find some color wheel posters, but most were based on red, blue, and yellow. When I took a class about color last year, we focused on cyan, magenta, and yellow as the primaries, and I’m a bit fond of these instead. I couldn’t find a full poster, but I did find a nice CMY color wheel I’ll probably order soon.

I’m really quite fond of and sensitive to color, and this was a fun start to realizing its appeal yet again. I’ve been in a bit of a creative lull, but I’m hoping that this will get the juices flowing again. And all because of a single color!

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