There is a certain type of excitement I feel when I can utilized the skills I've learn in the SCA, within everyday life. As you may know, His Lordship Kuji is a professional Magician in the real world. On many occasions I am asked to create clothing and props for his performances. Because of this, I have worked in many mediums to create his designs. But I never thought any projects would require the use of my fiber arts skills, particularly kumihimo.
Kuji was working on a new set of rope routines that require flat, flexible cord. In most cases finding a product like this should be easy, but it specifically needed to be a striped pattern of orange and black. He searched high and low for something that matched the requirements, but the color scheme hindered his success. Searching for a solution, I suggested it may be easier to make what he needed as opposed to finding a supplier. So I set off to find the braid pattern that would create the shape
and color pattern needed. A book I tend to reference, for basic patterns, is “Japanese Braiding: the Art of Kumihimo” by Jacqui Carey. It’s a small beginner book, but it’s a favorite. It provides a quick, comprehensive intro in technique and a good set of braid patterns to refer back to. This book does not cover history of kumihimo, simply procedure. I couldn't find a suitable pattern in the book so I turned to another common source for me; Orion’s Plumage website by Rosalie Neilson. Success! The shige uchi braid seemed to work perfect for my needs. To layout and visualize the color pattern, I used the Braid 3D feature provided by Craft Design Online.
The design is planned, the materials are delivered. Now all I have to do is make it, probably the easiest part of the project. I needed to have a finished length of 12 feet. This is my first attempt at making a shige uchi pattern, so I overcompensate for loss by doubling the length of the fiber used. This is probably considered over-kill, but I like playing it very safe when I have no experience with a certain braid pattern. You will gain a better understanding of your loss percentage, per pattern type, after making a few cords. Half of a day and 24 feet later, we have a shige uchi himo in orange and black. The himo ends were finished by Kuji’s instructions and sent off into the world to be put to the test. I’m proud to announce that the cord is working beautifully for his performance and he is thrilled to have exactly what he needed, instead of what he could “get”.
With the design complete, it was time to find the materials. For ease of cleaning, I chose crocheted cotton thread to make the himo (cord/braid). It was surprising to discover that I could only find one company that sold orange crocheted cotton thread. But I’m glad they did! Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet Cotton (size 10) by Red Heart ultimately was my savor with colors: 12 – Black & 431 – Pumpkin. You can order directly from the company. The price (+ shipping) was very reasonable and delivered promptly. I would spend close to the same amount if purchased at the local craft store.
On a last minute whim, I decided to head down to “a war with no enemies”. Gulf Wars has always been on the wish list of events to attend, but I didn't plan it to be this year. During my preparation for travel, I always like to review the class selection for an event. I had expected a collection of Japanese classes available to me, which I typically wouldn't have access to. But to my surprise, the options were very limited. Only two classes on Japanese subject matter were being offered. For me this simply would not do. I was compelled to have more than two classes available on Japanese subjects, so I submitted a few of my classes: “Kosode Construction” & “Happy Japanese Games”.
Not only was this my first Gulf Wars, but it was the first time in a long time that I was attending a camping event alone. My Lord, Kuji-chan was not able to join me, since he was traveling for work. But luck was on my side when I found out he was joining me for a few days. His Majesty, King Cellach had requested his services for the gambling party that Midrealm camp was hosting. Kuji is well versed in the ways of con games, some of which he has performed for Stone Dog Inn in previous years. And since he was closer to Gulf Wars, than Stone Dog, it was only right that he present his talents for the King during this special occasion.
My Lord’s attendance was an unexpected blessing. When I arrived on-site, I was immediately cursed with physical distress. Though I made it through the unpacking/tent set-up process, I was beat up and exhausted from the symptoms. It was best for me to find a more accommodating place to rest, so I traveled off-site and stayed with my Lord in the evenings until his arrival date. After he made it to the site, a few days later, I continued to stay in his quarters: his “house on wheels”. It was much more comfortable and accommodating. But I wish I was in better health, so I might have spent more time getting to know my campmates in Midrealm camp. I knew a hand-full of faces, but much of the camp I was unfamiliar with.
Great fun and good meetings were had during my classes. My first class of the week was the games class. It was an intimate group but all familiar faces, so we could trail off into conversation and move through the material at whatever pace we wished. Much of our time was spent in the open area outside of the classroom, playing hanetsuki. The only down side of the day was discovering much of my kaiooi set (painting clam shells) were shattered in transport to the event. A set of fifty clam shells is now a mere twelve. This does put a delay on my availability to offer this class in the future. I will need to have a new set of shells created by Pennsic at the latest. I was surprised to have a turnout for my kosode construction class, since the sky had opened to pour down like a river. Due to scheduling conflicts, the time for my class was cut in half. I like to do a two hour time for “Kosode Construction”; it seems to allow the right amount for material presentation and other side questions that may come up. I was concerned that the class would be rushed, and comprehension of the material would be a miss. But to my surprise, I received complements on the class. They were pleased with the depth of information I provided, making it easier to conceptually understand the construction of the garment. I will admit it was wonderful to hear because that is exactly what I am attempting to achieve with my classes.
Teaching classes has a wonderful side effect; it draws those to you with similar interests as yours. In my kosode class I met Sakurai Sukeko no Kimi and her lord, Asuka Yukio no Kimi, an enthusiastic Japanese couple from the Kingdom of Meridies. It’s always a pleasure to meet other Japanese persona in the Known World. There are several individuals in the society with Japanese personas, but many of us have the misfortune of being far away from the others. I was amused to find that Sakurai-san was teaching one of the two other Japanese courses that were offered: furoshiki wrapping. Furoshiki (wrapping cloth) is a great, easy way to carry your belongings in a “period Japanese” fashion when at events. You can find more information about Sakurai-san at http://www.takedasakura.com/.
In the mid-week I set off to host the Known World Courtesan Social. It is one of my lesser known projects, but something I greatly enjoy doing. This is something my Co-Organizer and I do at Pennsic, and wish to expand upon. We offer a meet-n-greet environment for courtesan persona, and those interested in the subject, to meet and socialize. Being that I portray a courtesan person, it may be easy to understand why I wish to encourage others to join together, meet and learn from each other. It was a small turn-out this time, but it did allow me to meet and get to know Lady Marie Isabelle Taillour. She is a fellow courtesan of Italian ancestry from the Kingdom of Glean Abhann. She was a pure delight and I enjoyed participating in her “Courtesan Pick-Up Lines” class. Without my presence, she would have been the only Lady in her class…go figure. For more information about Lady Marie visit http://italianmarie.webs.com/.
I was very happy with the results of a project I’ve been working on this last year. I have been researching Japanese cosmetics and experimenting with ingredients to create a make-up base that looks correct, yet healthy for my skin. I don’t intend to ever paint my face in a lead-based product or nightingale poop for the sake of authenticity. I had finally reached a point where my results were successful enough to wear in public, so my make up finally made its debut. It was greeting by many positive compliments. I knew I was doing something right when a Lady stopped me and told me that she had seen a fair amount of attempts at Japanese style make up, but mine was one of the best she had witnessed. I wore the makeup on a couple of occasions during the week, and it wore beautifully. Some days were hot and others were cold. I did not “smudge” or “smear”, even when I forgot I was wearing it and scratched my nose. I will elaborate on this makeup in a future entry, but for now I can say I am very pleased and look forward to wearing it more often.
Over all I had a good experience at Gulf Wars. My Lord and I are already in discussion about attending again. I’m looking forward to (a well planned) next year.
A Whirl wind day from start to finish best describes Tree-Girt-Sea's Twelfth Night event. From the moment I arrived on-site, it was go, go, go! Two classes on the schedule and a display to present in the A&S Craftperson's Faire was on the agenda. With a little help from friends, I was able to be in two places at once. As I taught my first class, Dubheasa and Lukas kindly transported my A&S items to the Craftperson's Faire and placed them on display. The Faire was designed to allow crafters to display or demonstrate their art of preference, or simply show a collection of items they're proud of. They had a tremendous turn -out for the Faire, so many beautiful items on display and fun hands-on craft activities. I brought a small collection of my work, consisting of some of my favorite Japanese garments and accessories, along with a few new projects I have been working on. I've recently become fixated on making warazouri (Japanese straw sandals) and furoshiki (wrapping cloth) decorated with shibori (Japanese dying techniques). I found out later that my sandals were chosen as the winner for the period accessory challenge offered by my Mistress, Sarafina Sinclair. I was surprised that I was chosen, since there was some concern of a conflict of interest. I approached my Mistress after the winners were announced and asked about her decision. Her reply was simply, "I couldn't help it, those shoes were awesome."
I offered my classes on Kosode Construction and Japanese Games. Of course the games class was a blast. It was a great group of people, who were eager to participate, which always makes for a fun environment. It was a particularly special class because I was gifted with a new game piece. A tōko vase made by THL Elaine Ladd, a talented potter, was made to resemble a museum piece that I was longing to acquire. I am so grateful that she was willing to take the time to crate such a fine piece of art for me to use. After the "Ooo's" and "Ahh's", it was immediately put into service. The challenge of the new vase was accepted my many, and there was much rejoicing. So much so that a small group of us stayed and continued to play games for another hour after class was over.
The evening came quickly and I found myself staying for court. It was set in a beautiful backdrop of Gothic style archways and stained glass, such a perfect setting. I was privileged to watch many good and deserving people be acknowledged for their talents and services. I was especially happy that I could be there to watch Lady Dubheasa receive her Award of Arms. I've only known her for a short time now, but she has become a dear friend. She was delightful to watch in her newly acquired garments. Some time ago I was gifted a lovely Italian gown, which I'm told was made by Mistress Juliana. Unfortunately I didn't have a need for it and it was wasteful to have it stored in my closet. So it seemed appropriate to pass on this gift to Dubheasa, since she had no proper attire to call her own. The gown had a few problems to solve before it could be worn. It was too long for her and no proper undergarments existed to wear with it. So I took care of the alterations to the gown and made her a proper camicia (Italian chemise) of linen to wear with it. The timing of it's completion was perfect, as she could now look her best while she received her scroll. It was a pleasure to end my evening watching a friend have a memorable.