Bebe Taian: February 2011

February 22, 2011

For Sale: Beaded Kimono Accessories + Nagoya Obi

I have stacks of kimono now. I never thought I would. Ten years ago, getting my first kimono, knowing nothing about them and not finding much on the subject in English, I never thought I'd have a closet full of them today. But I did decide back then that, if I could, I wanted to provide them to other people here in America as inexpensively as I could. Kimono should not be a staggering luxury. They are art- wearable, living art, and to truly be enjoyed, they must be able to be acquired, and they must be worn and displayed. Kimono are not precious things meant to be stuffed in a dark closet forever merely for the sake of preserving them. To wear a kimono is to enjoy art, and to breed love of that art in others- and that love will feed the desire to see and wear and enjoy kimono as well, and bring new life to them.

But with me (hopefully) moving in the next few months, it's time to let go of some of my things. I have stacks of obijime, kimono, an entire shelf of obi, and drawers of accessories. It's time to pick my favourites, the things I love most, and coordinated outfits- and then share the rest.

Starting with a pink and blue Nagoya obi ($50).

It's cute, isn't it? I have to find my notes on whether this is silk or synthetic, and retake measurements, but it's a wonderful, fun piece that I'd paired with dark and light kimono. If light, think whites and blues similar to the embroidery. If dark, think black, dark purple, deep blue with pink highlights somewhere in the kimono.

I've always loved some plainer kimono with really patterned obi- for me, focus is often really on the obi!

A dangling obi accessory, a cute handbag, or some awesome hanao on the geta are my usual go-to items for a great outfit. Thus, why I've been making obi charms and beaded haori himo since before Mamechiyo decided that they were fashionable!

Haori himo are a good way to avoid the hassle of changing traditional himo on haori. You have to cut the threads where the himo are connected and undo the himo from the haori loops before replacing them and sewing it back up, or cut your himo! o.O Beaded himo require neither- just attach and unattach. Haori sometimes come without himo pre-attached, so it's nice to have an easy method of closing the haori.

Himo run between 4-6" long. Each one is made of glass and base metals like zinc alloy. Most are one of a kind. $6 apiece. 

Obi charms especially are inexpensive ways to make your outfit stand out, especially when the beads are especially lovely or interesting. They are becoming increasingly popular with less-formal kimono such as yukata and komon. <3 I would, however, advise an obidome with more formal kimono.  Each obi charm goes for only $7. Most of them are one of a kind, and cannot be replicated. All are made from glass and base metals such as zinc alloy. Pics are coming soon!

Obidome for informal kimono can be hard to find, and when you do find one, they're expensive. KimonoHIME fashion is dependent on little touches like unusual scarves for obiage, or mixed fabrics like velvet and lace. Handmade obidome are one of those small touches.

I have two available right now: the blue/purple one shown, and a black/green one with silvertone wire as well. 

These can be custom-made with specific colour requests for only $15 apiece. Stone and sterling options are available, but price requests on cost of the commissioned work.

So, what do you think?

February 20, 2011

Fun New Things, and a Wedding

Fun new things!

Since I am anticipating a sale this weekend, I went ahead and set aside some money for new things. My husband has delightfully surprised me with a vintage chuya obi in colours I adore! I also now have an obiage in a colour that I love with the chuya obi: a pink-purple shade, that I think I will pair with a dark obijime and some shiny obi accessories that I've made just for the occasion. I'm also hoping to have the money for a few odori sensu (mai ougi), but I don't think that will happen right now.

The chuya obi is two-sided; one is the gorgeous blue/turquoise colour you see with dyed maple leaves and shibori patterns (which is just begging for a blue iromuji and white or purple accessories), and the other side is brown with tiny white stripes and dyed flowers. There are some damages and some uneven tailouring, but I hope to fix that! It is a gorgeous piece that I hope to hang on to for a lifetime.

The obiage is just the perfect colour. <3 I have so many kimono that it will look great with.

Really, I'm in love with this specific shade, but it looks so bad on me... it's because my face tends to get red, when the rest of my skin is more gold. This shade of pink/purple tends to make my skin look really yellow, but my face look really flushed. O.o But I love it so much! I think if I wear another colour overall, then accent my clothes with small amounts of this shade, then I can pull it off rather well. 

The geta are not my first choice or even my second, but I think red straps will go well with some of my kimono regardless. At 22.5CM, I think they'll be just small enough to fit fashionably, but not too tightly either.

I'd actually wanted a pair with off-white and mustard hanao, but when I lost on those and the blue hanao pair I'd wanted, red was my third choice. I have a strangely hard time with shoes! The straps always break, but only on the left side. I decided that at this point, I either need some nice-looking but really* cheap shoes, or to get a kind that I can repair the straps on. Geta seem to be the way to go. I haven't been able to keep a pair, and there's no way in hell I'm wearing my Taisho ones until I figure out why they're all breaking! I'm serious! I've been through about four pair in six months! I am hoping these will last a long time.

The last few things are not mine yet, and may never be. Some of them, I will likely sell if I get them. I admire their beauty, and likely, I will photograph them and appreciate them for a short while, but then will want to pass them on... things like this sake set. It would have been lovely to have when I got married. I know that someone here would adore having a sake set like this for their own wedding.

I came to think of this when I contacted a woman who was looking for a seamstress to make her a kimono for her wedding, and I offered her some of the wedding kimono which I already owned. I hope to make her very happy this weekend! Up on offer is a GORGEOUS pink Taisho homoungi, which was actually part of my personal collection, the Tokyo komon, a new tomesode covered in bright cranes, a shiromuku, and a pink iromuji. She doesn't want a traditional wedding, so actually having a shiromuku/uchikake set isn't very important to her. I understand the feeling; with limited incomes these days, if the dress is just for fun, why not get one that you can wear all the time? Or at least, one that will look amazing and which you can hang on your wall later for show?

Myself, I have an ivory shiromuku from the 1970s with kikkou pattern. I originally bought it to layer under a red kakeshita or uchikake, ningyo-style for photoshoot purposes. I still want to do this one day, when my hair grows out long again. Every few years or so, I let it get down to my waist, and then cut it to my shoulders again. I am waiting for this cycle to run before I do more theatrical photos. When I do though, I will once again wear my shiromuku, which I never wore at my wedding- mainly because we didn't really have one. :P I have it matched with a Meiji-era maru obi and some wonderful accessories, and would love the chance to finally wear it. Perhaps for a 5-year anniversary or somesuch. <3 Maybe I will get the sake cups and keep them until then. We talked about maybe doing a cute renewal of vows... although, I don't think we'll ever forget the first ones.

I'll have to think about it. In the meantime, I think I'll go research Japanese wedding customs more in-depth. I know some basics, but when to wear kakeshita and when to wear uchikake is still unclear to me.

February 14, 2011

A Story

Along dream paths / Without waiting / I often go to you. / In the real world, / A single glimpse / I've never even had.

From darkness / On a shadowed path / I make my way; / Let it faintly shine / The moon upon the mountains' edge.

"It's only a dream," / I should say; yet, / In the world of men, / I feel there is reality.

More than my life, / What I most regret is / A dream unfinished / And awakening.

On the eternal Moon, / The Katsura trees / Change their leaves in Autumn- / Is that why you shine so brightly?

On Summer nights, / It's just past sundown, / And dawn is already breaking. / But where amongst the clouds / Does the moon find lodging?

The river wind / Bears a chill; / With the rushing waves / Does Autumn also arise?

Completely swallowed up in desolation, / This Autumn garb / With a river of tears has turned scarlet.

Of this world of ours, / What has become indeed? / Though whispers in the wind / Bring Autumn's satiated feelings.

On his way to leave this world, / A man comes to rest beneath the trees / But he finds no shade / For every Autumn leaf has fallen.

If I knew the way / I'd seek it out / And set forth, too. / With scarlet leaves / Woven into offerings / Autumn has departed.

When I look up at the moon, / Myriad are my grievances- / Though for me alone, / Autumn has not fallen.

All is dark with falling snow, / Yet beneath melts away / My thoughts and life / At such a time as this.

Leg-wearying / Between indigo mountains / Fall white snowflakes... / Robes dyed that hue / Spark such feeling.

The white snow has fallen / Drifted high around the mountain home- / Might even he who lives there / Be buried in melancholy?

In reality, you must do it, I suppose; / But even in my dreams, / Hiding from prying eyes, / To see you do that pains me so.

Feeling- / This thing, most of all, / Is the world of mens' / Unbreakable bond.

One who feels, / You may not be- / Yet to the very depths of my heart, / Do I love.

Not awake, and yet not sleepless through the night... / And with the Dawn comes a scene from Spring. / Ever-falling rain to gaze upon all day.

The colour of this flower / Has already faded away / While in idle thoughts / My life goes by / As I watch the long rains fall.

Our life in this world- / To what shall I compare it? / It is like an echo / Resounding through the mountains / And off into empty sky.

February 13, 2011

A Warning About Kinran


Literally, metal thread. Or rather, it's silk thread with gold or some other metal glued to it.

This is very important to know, especially when cleaning kimono... because these metal thread will deteriorate in bleach and water. A very small amount of bleach to a lot of water. It may also dissolve in just plain water.

I learned this today when cleaning a haneri that was sewn to my Taisho juban. The haneri was a stiff synthetic fabric with what looked* like synthetic kinran (the plastic-wrapped metallic thread used for embroidery). Yeah... five minutes into soaking and lightly agitating the haneri in a bowl of water and bleach, I noticed that the water looked really dirty. Of course it did, since the haneri was turning brown. I turned on the kitchen light. There was a bit of dirt in the water, but there was also... gold. Actual freaking gold. OMG.

The haneri still has its embroidery, since the silk did not dissolve, but the gold is mostly gone. It's still a pretty piece, even though I couldn't get half the stains out of the synthetic fabric. It did show me how to do some of the embroidery patterns that were used! If I get some plain silk haneri, I intend to import silk thread for kimono and make a few haneri for myself. I'll need to practice first, but I've done basic couching and a few different stitches before, so I don't think it'll be too* much of a challenge. I was thinking of restoring the haneri I wrecked, but considering that I can't get the stains out, and the roughness of the synthetic fabric, I think I'll make a reproduction at some point instead. It's still wearable. It's just not as shiny any longer.

So please, when you are thinking of washing something that is very old, remember that long ago, despite the introduction of synthetic fabrics, that real gold and metal was used on various items. Gold and metals that are held on with a thin application of easily-dissolved rice glue.

This has been your kimono-cleaning warning for the week.

February 11, 2011

Etsy News and A Closet of Kimono

I have nearly finished folding all of my kimono.

It's my bad habit: not immediately re-folding kimono when I'm done wearing them. Most of it has to do with my absolute lack of energy in daily life, but the rest is sheer laziness. I'm always doing something besides folding them or ironing them. I really do need to learn how to iron them, though! IG can help, I'm sure. <3 When I get an ironing board...

But anyways, I have an entire closet of kimono now. Some I hope to sell this year- certain kimono are now too small on me, the patterns don't work well with what I have, or were expressly purchased for reselling in the States. I can also trade for other kimono items on some of them, but that is entirely dependent on cost of the kimono and what I already have. For example, I can only do so many trades for tabi and obijime, but sometimes a piece is really worth it- like if I ever find someone with a miko design, or dragons or asanoha, something like this. In the meantime, I'm repacking all of them. Once I pay off current debts, I need to buy some drawer sets for the kimono I have before looking for a kimono hanger to display kimono for photographing. At the moment, I'm using a black curtain rod, which works well, even if it's a little hard to manage.

With everything going on, I'm looking for better ways to store my things. Any suggestions?

Also, Etsy is no longer viable as a sales site. They are having MAJOR ISSUES with following their OWN TOU. -_- There are also gross violations of privacy and member trust in general, so I can't justify using their services any longer. I am looking at setting up more permanently at or on a personal site when I can afford to have one built. In the meantime, I am happy to sell through BebeTaian with Paypal invoices until I get the hang of selling directly with a shopping cart, and in person at shows. <3 If anyone has advice on this as well, I'm more than happy to take it!

Soon I'll be posting more kitsuke and kimono-related items for sale, including rice and silk powder makeup (the real thing, no talc fillers, parabens, or any of that stuff) and obi accessories. ALSO, kimono postcards are coming out June 1st, so be sure to look for them! If you'd like to pre-order any of these things, message me and I can pick up the pace for you.

February 8, 2011

For Sale: Lotus and Butterflies Vintage Dishware

I was thinking this week about a kimono I used to own; a beautiful Taisho piece that I sold in the beginning days of my kimono-wearing, before I knew what I had. It was fairly damaged; the lining was torn, the whole outside was covered in small age spots, etc. but... the large asanoha print and the earthy colours were beautiful. I was in love!

Then my friend showed me these- and the colouring of those days came back again, in greens and gold. I wonder if I would have had a room in those colours one day. These dishes remind me of this time. Would you like to keep them in your home?

The dishes are part of a Toscany Japan set that was discontinued over 25 years ago. The butterfly and lotus pattern stands out beautifully on the white china. Today, these pieces are considered to be collector's items.

Lotus Vase and Trinket Box Set - $50

Lotus Vase:
8.5" tall, beautifully patterned with no chips or cracks.

Lotus Trinket Box:
6" wide by 4" long, an inch or so deep. Also no chips or cracks in the dish or the lid.

Ring shown is not included with the set.

Lotus Salad Set: Bowl and 4 Serving Plates - $75

Lotus bowl and four serving plates are included in the set, but the silverware is not. Measurements are forthcoming. However, if the serving plate is the same size as the silverware, each plate is about 12", and the bowl is slightly smaller, probably 10" and approximately 4" deep.

I can provide a set of four new wooden ohachi (chopsticks) pairs to match the plates for a small additional fee.

I can invoice through and accept Paypal (which includes credit cards) for the sets.

Shipping will be determined by weight of items, which will be sent by Priority Mail with insurance. I cannot accept trades for the dishes.

If you are interested in purchasing these or any other Japanese dishware, please e-mail me or leave a comment! <3 I have an entire house full of Japanese vintage and antiques available upon request.

February 6, 2011

Setsubun and Year of the Rabbit

Setsubun has come and passed- and I've been too busy to do anything about it!

Setsubun is a holiday every year in the first week of February. This year, it fell on the Lunar New Year (year of the Rabbit).

Every year, the calendar turns to one of the 12 animals of the Chinese/Buddhism-derived zodiac. Last year was the year of the Tiger. This is now the year of the Rabbit- my year (and Bebe's year as well)! I intended to visit Ichiban restaurant on that day, wearing my rabbit obi and kimono set again, but alas- it was not to be. So busy. I spent the entire day from waking to late in the evening cleaning and doing errands. I barely ate and didn't go to bed until late. The next day, I rested a little, but that afternoon/evening it was more of the same. Oy. Maybe next year...

That day (which I had totally forgotten about!) was also Setsubun, the first day of Spring. On that day, everyone visits temples and shrines, and participates in a bean-throwing ritual. Roasted beans (white or azuki, I think) are thrown out of the house while saying, "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" ("Devils out! Happiness in!") Then, the number of one's age are picked up and eaten for good luck. Formerly, the festival was celebrated by displaying strings of fish heads and leaves of certain trees while banging drums to keep evil spirits away. This isn't really so common anymore, although some people say you might still see fish heads sometimes.

I certainly hope for better luck in this coming year! I have been unusually distracted and stressed, and hope to return to myself soon. But don't worry, this blog is not going away any time soon!