Bebe Taian: 2015

June 21, 2015

Natsu Matsuri is Next Saturday!

OMG it's time already! I spent so long waiting for this week to come, and now it's here, and where did all the time go? The older I get, the faster I notice it slipping by.

Natsu Matsuri, the annual Summer Festival in Tampa, is next Saturday. I'll have a booth all to myself for a few hours. It only runs from 9am-12noon, since it gets really hot this time of year. I wish it did run longer, though, at least until 2pm. It would give us late-risers and night-shift workers a chance at attending! I don't know about you, but if I work at a gas station, call centre, or even as a first responder (EMS, police, whatever) until 2am, I am NOT getting up at 8am to go to a festival! ::sighs:: Even so, the organizers really do a wonderful job every year, working within the event location that we have. And they managed to secure a wonderful covered location that is large enough for us to spread out a bit, all under a cement pavilion, which helps us avoid the rain and wind of previous years.

I can't wait to break out some of the things I am bringing this year! I should probably get to sewing a bit, to have some handmade crafts for the event, but I don't know that I want to put forth effort on low-demand traditional goods. Unfortunately, competing means having large sums of start-up capital, something I've never had for niche-market projects. I do want to do something different this year, though! I may make a series of magnets or other items to showcase traditional Japanese beauty, and bring high-quality prints of ukiyo-e art to demonstrate that kimono are indeed wearable, and have been for two thousand years.

If you're in the Tampa, FL area, be sure to come by! We're at Christ the King Church on the corner of Henderson and S Dale Mabry Hwy.

June 4, 2015

It's Too Early for Ro, But...

I know it's two months too early for ro, but I seem to only have two sha kimono and a total lack of sha accessories. Really, I preferred only awase kimono for so long that I never bothered buying anything sheer, despite living in such a hot climate. I didn't want to deal with having only sha or ro accessories, juban, haneri, everything when they're only seasonally relevant for a month or two each in the strictest sense. It's very expensive! But now, I'm much more comfortable with my skill of wearing kimono, so finally I've come to terms and started trading out for gauzy things.

... well, it isn't just that. It's also that I'm really self-conscious, so I don't even really have any transparent yofuku either. I wear layers and long sleeves in public pretty often, even in the heat. If I could, I'd dress modestly for an Alaskan, but it's way too hot here.

That being said, I wanted to get dressed for an impromptu meeting at the local teahouse, Kalesia's. But I only have one really viable sha kimono, which is the blue one that keeps showing up in photos, since the other is a fragile Taisho piece that almost feels like stiff, thick paper. The risk of buying antiques: some are too fragile to wear when they arrive. That, paired with the lack of proper accessories, brought me to ro fabric. 80F+ is way too hot to even think about lined kimono! I wanted something bright and colourful. Only one option there: my muted purple kimono with faux-sashiko bishamon kikko in white.

I have a few ro obi, all of which match the kimono- do I do subtle 'older' proper woman, and go with a pale wheat-gold obi with dragons embroidered on it? Black and white hakata? Nah. Let's go bold. I've felt awful with anxiety for weeks. To heck with this. Let's do BRIGHT! A bold salmon-orange 1960s fukuro obi with white, sky-blue, and buttery yellow nadeshiko and metallic gold grass embroidered all over, a faded yellow silk obiage old enough to buy it's own liquor, and a pale pink obijime with a wide, open weave.

The juban is a thin, slightly rough fabric printed with asanoha in a shade of salmon so brilliantly neon that it actually hurts to look at. Under the kimono, it takes on a new dimension. Too bad it's so short! If it were a foot longer, it'd be perfect for me... but I wore it anyways. I adore it too much to worry. I need to make a pair of blue  hanao for the shoes sometime. I've got so much gorgeous fabric... but I never get it done... I think my favourite accessory was this fluffy long scarf that my friend gave me, with gathers similar to shibori, echoing the shibori in the obiage. The Bolivian bag my father sent me from Samaipata ties all of these brilliant colours together.

After the teahouse, we went to the bookstore to look around. Mojo Books is a great place for offbeat stuff that you won't find at a Barnes + Noble (and yeah, some things you will).

I do need to get better at tying Ginza musubi, to make it 'fluffier' at the bottom. I was mostly worried about pulling the fabric on such an old obi, but I might yet find a way that works. It's such a floppy, soft obi too, so it's definitely one of my favourites! If it ever tears, I'll (maybe cry a little) probably frame a section as art. I'll keep practicing! <3

May 21, 2015

Thinking Out Loud: It's Summer Already

It's summer already. Why. Why, Florida? Well, technically, it's been summer since the beginning of the year, but even so. This means I really need to work on converting all of my wardrobe to hitoe fabrics, preferably ro, sha, or perhaps even ra clothing. I'm seriously thinking of getting large spools of hemp and crocheting an obi! Something loose-weave and light for casual wear, which is all it could ever be, like heko obi-style. Fortunately, I still have one or two yukata to wear.

I'm getting prepped for Natsu Matsuri. I'm not sure what to do this year. I may have only one table and I'll bring the shoe rack. I need to find my Square reader and download the app for it. I do have two nice hanging mannequins to dress up this time! So exciting! Although I should think about a new design for how things are set up. I bought a display board for jewellery to help get it above eye level and painted it for Morigyaru style (my current fave). So... maybe a garment rack, which I can borrow... I will likely try to sell off a stack of books this year. There's so much to think about every time, and every time I think I over think the event! Really, it's only three hours long, and it starts so early in the morning most don't even start filtering in until the last hour. Maybe I should make some new stuff for the event?

I want to bring everything I can! Some things you can expect to see:

- Hanhaba obi, including synthetic and cotton obi in various stripes and colours.
- Vintage silk obiage
- LOTS of obijime! I cleared out my drawers of anything non-essential, and there's still plenty up for sale
- Haori accessories
- Obi kazari, charms to tuck into the obi that dangle and tie together colours you might not have thought to pair together
- Kimono (of course)
- A few high-end fukuro obi
- Lots of jewellery, including bracelets and earrings
- Books on Japan or about Japanese culture

Should I bring things like little drawstring pouches for sale (in addition to the jewellery)? Herb sachets for drawers? I'll probably make a bunch of magnets... those tend to be cheap, anyone can use them, and I can produce them quickly. How should I display them? Maybe I should get a really cheap but nice cookie sheet to prop up and cover in the bright sparkly things. I definitely need to print new business cards! Should I go with the old ukiyoe-based red/indigo/parchment yellow? Or should I go for a more modern peach/brown/mint/sky blue palette?

May 16, 2015

For Sale: New Obijime, Obi Kazari

Lots of things for sale this week! I'm clearing out my closets. There are so many beautiful things that I bought and love, but I either don't wear them because I don't wear many things of the formality level required, or I have enough similar things that my outfits can still work beautifully. I can always get more obijime later! I need to work on getting obiage!

 Obi kazari, an obi charm tucked into the top of the obi which dangles and catches light. Used for informal outfits. Hand-beaded in glass and copper; beads are in shades of purples, blues, and yellow, with a hint of pink in the AB finish.

Each kazari is one of a kind and made by me. I used new and vintage beads, so every item is unique! No one else will have one identical to this.

Wide obijime in hot pink and black! It's absolutely gorgeous, despite the subtle staining. I haven't tried to wash it, so they might come out. The tassels are in really good condition, too!

Wide obijime aren't very common, I think. They're informal in category, and this one is so bright and stark in contrast, you could go for a lot of different modern looks with this one obijime.

2.2cm wide x 133.5cm long, not including tassels.


Super-cute silk furisode obijime! Muted metallic threads, cotton candy pink on one side, saturated blue on the other. Tassels need some careful combing and ironing. There's a few tiny loose thread ends, but they don't seem to affect wearability.

1cm wide x 152.5cm long, not including tassels.

 Another formal obijime for young women, this one for ofurisode. It's still new with the tag and tassel protector on it! The main cord is mulberry red with a dusky pastel purple split cord. One side is a normal maru obijime, the other side splits into two cords to make fancier shapes like flowers or hearts when tying the obi.

1cm wide x 154cm long, not including tassel on one side. 

No flaws found.
Beautiful paprika red + green formal maru obijime! Bought new and worn only a few times. It's such a gorgeous colour combo! This one was perfect for houmongi, older iromuji (the kind that actually do have subtle colours and patterns, but pre-WW2 they were still considered iromuji), and maybe 1-3 crest irotomesode. You may also like wearing it with furisode! The tassels are still in great shape, too.

1cm wide x 157cm long, not including tassels.

Another new furisode obijime in mousy grey-green brown and soft purples. This one appears to have a loose thread or two from the manufacturing process. There are some other subtle additions of colour where the purples wrap into the main cords. The tag and tassel protectors are still on it.

1cm wide x 154cm long, not including tassels.

May 2, 2015

Eye-Candy Movie: Lady Maiko

*Paid*? To do art all day? And to hang out and perform and entertain people all night? Sign me up. Minus the art, that's basically what I already do as a waitress. You have to try to keep people entertained with conversation when the kitchen is running behind; it helps the time pass by more quickly, so they are not so upset when the food comes out. Pour drinks, offer another drink, are you sure you don't want just one more? Be beautiful every time you come in: a man will pay you more. But pay the most attention to a woman when she comes in with a man- she might take it the wrong way if you don't, and leave nothing at all. When I finally get some time off to pursue any kind of art, it's short-lived due to lack of resources or time/energy to invest in it. And I certainly don't get paid much for my efforts. Every crafter knows the dreaded "Why do you charge so much? I could make this at home!" or "Ugh, you know, I could get this much cheaper from Claire's!" Yes, you could make this at home... with about $200 in craft supplies, and four or five years of experience to learn how to make something meant to last years.

But that's a geisha's life, isn't it? Painstakingly dedicate years to learning art and how to entertain. Four or five years as a maiko to learn the ropes before you become a real professional. And you'd be paid exorbitant amounts to keep up with that lifestyle. Meanwhile, I spend a bad night's earnings on just makeup for that month... ::sighs::

I guess sometimes I share the fantasy of being something more. Or at least gaining something monetary beyond basic living expenses.

Anyways, I'm thinking this because I'm watching a new movie before I go to work. The downside: no subtitles, and I don't speak Japanese. Ara ma~ But even though it's hard to understand context without it, the storyline, in Kabuki fashion, is easy to follow without knowing the language. Young girl comes to talk with the okaasan of a maiko, is turned away, must learn some things, and reapply to become maiko. As the news review says, it's "My Fair Lady" in kimono.

Even though the movie isn't entirely accurate, even the person who created it says it's 'pure fantasy', so we'll go with it. ^_~ The sets and costumes are beautiful, and the lead actress has a Disney-quality voice (although it doesn't match with what is traditionally 'beautiful' for singing). The whole movie is on Youtube in two parts. Again, only in Japanese; no subtitles.





April 19, 2015

New Haircut

I've been fighting illness for over a week now. Last Sunday I thought, well, muscular soreness and a sinus headache, yeah of course. I'm a full-time + overtime waitress, and I have bad allergies to pollen, trees... basically if it grows from the ground I will have a stuffy face and sound like death. x.x And it's Spring in Florida! So instead of snowfall, we get pollen. Of course I feel wretched! I'll rest Tuesday and feel great by Wednesday...

Heh. heh. heh.

By Wednesday, fevers set in. Everything hurt. Arthritis is flaring up (fun!) and I'm exhausted from all of it. By Friday I was getting sent home from work. I'm glad. This is miserable.

But thanks to a friend making me some magical soul food from his grandmother's recipe, I felt good enough to get my first haircut in a few years! Motivated, even. Actually, I chopped most of it myself and tossed the hair outside for the birds. Then I went off to have the ends evened out, since I couldn't get the very back right on my own. I still look sick (oy, you can tell) and my skin decided that it would massively break out this week, but the hair looks good at least! ::sighs:: When you feel like this, it's the little things...

Can't wait to do a kimono day again, and see how it looks. ^_^ In the meantime, I have soup to eat!

April 14, 2015

Lunchtime Kitsuke

A quick shot from lunch with DH at Ichiban, where I worked years ago. The weather is so hot outside already, really, I should be in summer kimono all year. It was around 80F today, with high humidity... so... Japanese weather? The outer kosode and inner juban are both silk. To be honest, I didn't bother with a third layer under the juban (don't do that! Not having a cotton layer underneath can make your silk rot faster) but I was still way too overheated. If it weren't for the blinding sun and high UV rating, we'd probably have gone to the beach instead!

Even inside, it can be hard to cool off. When it's 80F-ish outside, you can only expect it to be maybe 75F inside in a small restaurant, since the doors open and close all the time. Still the food is good and fairly cheap, and the tea room is filled with framed noren and ukiyo-e prints, so it's comfortable and attractive!

This time, I didn't have a flat obijime that I liked with the obi, so I used two thin kumihimo that are of the variety used in furisode decoration instead. The obiage is plain white, partially shibori- I think I have nothing less formal that isn't sha silk. The obi itself was billed as a Nagoya obi, I think, but it's actually a fukuro that is very floppy and double-sided. One side is brightly patterned with royal blue and white plaid; red, white, and olive green botan (peonies); and bright metallic gold peacocks with hearts in their feathers. The other side is smooth olive silk, no pattern at all. The shigoki obi is only slightly darker than the peonies and is a very thin, loose gauze with a shadow-pattern of birds and tree branches. The kosode, a basket-patterned web, giving (hopefully) the illusion of air moving through the fabric.

All in all, it's a colour scheme I am very comfortable in. My current boss asked me to come to work in kimono one day... but it's a restaurant. Maybe I'll look into a synthetic outfit that I can wash more easily.

January 5, 2015

Iromuji Kitsuke w/ New Obi

Mz J at the grocers' took a few photos of my outfit for tonight. I had to put my hair back up pretty quick.

Not pictured: the other employees I was talking to about fabrics (second photo) and origins, or the friend I was with who was kind of laughing about the whole thing.

Yeah, it's January, I know. Out of season and all. But... it's Florida, and it's really hot and rainy out all night. Like mid-70s hot, especially with three layers on. x.x And I was finally getting to take said friend to dinner! The restaurant, naturally, was cold inside.

So what did I end up wearing?

From outer layer in:
- Deep-necked tank top w/ susoyoke
- Bright orange unlined silk juban
- Ink-blue synthetic sha iromuji (harder to stain accidentally)
- That gorgeous vintage obi with the fire flowers!
- Bright orange silk shibori obiage
- Orange creamsicle-coloured woven obijime
- Rain, and no amageta, so instead regular geta and fashionably(?) no tabi, keeping in line with the hitoe kimono and image of heat

I think I'd really like a darker kimono, likely in a deep rich purple or almost black-blue, with a geometric pattern reminiscent of the designs on the obi, to really make those yellows and oranges pop! I have the bright red iromuji of course, but wouldn't that be too 'loud'? Hnnn I'll have to think about it. I definitely don't want to pair orange with orange! And I'm not sure I'd look that great in all-over yellow with my skin lightening up from working indoors all day. Before I at least got sun from my job at the last restaurant, since we had sun-facing windows everywhere, but the current restaurant is just plain dark, even in the day. The boss thinks it's 'romantic', but really, everyone else thinks they just need a flashlight to see the menu at noon. x.x So I have to be more aware of my palette! Suggestions?