One of the things I love most about Paper Demon Jewelry is that it’s a cross-cultural endeavor. It gives me a chance to celebrate American holidays and American trends using Japanese materials, and to celebrate the beauty of Japanese handmade materials in a way that American buyers can relate to. Origami crane earrings for the winter solstice anyone?
It’s a fun creative stretch. It takes some creative imagining to figure out how to relate my traditional Japanese paper and fabric to things going on in the US! The good part is, I don’t know too many other jewelry makers who inhabit this odd little Japan-America jewelry-making niche.
Two trends hot on Etsy right now are woodland animals and Halloween. Both of these inspired me to dig out my bag of chirimen fabric from the hall closet and start experimenting. I didn’t abandon my beloved paper art jewelry and origami jewelry—just set them aside for a bit to enjoy the chirimen fabric I collected on my last trip to the Nippori textile district of Tokyo.
BTW, I love Nippori!–a total mecca of old and new fabric, notions, and sewing goods of all kinds! It’s pretty close to Asakusabashi–the jewelry and bead neighborhood–by subway, so if you’re a craft-hound, you can spend a very happy few days up there in Northeast Tokyo!
For me, Nippori is all about the chirimen fabric–the traditional crinkly silk (now rayon) used in all traditional Japanese fabric crafts.
Ironically, for a lot of Japanese women, who by the way adore hand sewing as a rule, Nippori is all about finding the American and European fabrics they can’t find anywhere else! But for me it’s chirimen. Gorgeous, gorgeous colors—-of course. Amazing patterns. Check them out in this screen shot of the Japanese fabric store FabricTales.com (my GO-TO shop for all Japanese fabric items, btw! Visit them in Japanese [better selection] at http://www.nunogatari.co.jp)
OK, so anyhow—digging into my chirimen collection, I decided to try my hand at woodland creatures and Halloween items.
Et voila, I present to you my Chirimen Uguisu Bird. The uguisu is the bush-warbler, but because of it’s beloved evening call, is known as the Japanese nightingale. it’s also known in Japanese poetry as the “Sutra-reading bird” because it’s unique call sounds like “Ho Hoke Kyo” (it really does!!!!) which is the line from a famous Buddhist sutra in Japanese.
And here are the Tanuki, which look like racoons but are actually Japanese racoon-dogs. Not sure why, but that’s what the dictionary says. Tanuki are beloved in Japan, although in a mixed-feeling kind of way, since they’re known as destructive, mischievous gluttons. But cute destructive, mischievous gluttons.
And then, there are my owls. Owls are called Fukuro in Japanese, and they’re a symbol of good luck because their name contains the word “fuku” or luck.
last of all, my Quizzical Owl Halloween Squishy. Who can resist a name like that?
Chirimen fabric for Halloween! Why not?