Beautiful Things From Japan

‘Ohisashiburi’ is a Japanese phrase that means, “it’s been a long time….I hope you’ve been well.”

Like so many Japanese phrases, it sums up in one word what a clunky language like English needs a whole sentence or two to say.

It has indeed been a long time.  Turns out with the new job and the kids’ crazy schedules and some family things like my dad dying, the blog just  fell by the wayside.

But, I’m back.  With things to say.

I want to talk about the disaster in Japan, and how Paper Demon raised $2000 for relief with this handmade necklace made from Japanese washi paper on brass.  I was so proud to do something to help!

The Japan Relief Necklace that raised $2000!

And a cool new Japanese art I’ve been working on, this time using Japanese fabric!

Chirimen Fabric ornaments


But today I want to tell you that I’ve opened a second Etsy store!  It’s called Bellabolla Beads.  Here is the shop banner!

At Bellabolla Beads I’m selling my huge collection of vintage beads from Japan, including unusual floral lampwork glass beads known as Tombodama, antique brass buttons, and  Made in Japan faux pearls.

My stock comes from my wanderings in flea markets and antique fairs in Japan, from midwestern farm auctions, and from years of travel.  I’ve got loads of retro plastic faux pearls, Made in Japan, sold in the U.S. in the 1960s.   And some unusual finds, like hand-distressed wooden beads that I wove with yarn to make my son’s samurai armor last halloween!

Here are some of the lovely items:

Japanese Tombodama Bead

Antique Japanese Buttons

Hand-Distressed Vintage Wooden Beads

Vintage Bird Sequins

Come visit Bellabolla Beads on Etsy at!  And come “like” us on Facebook at:!


One of the things Japanese artists and crafters do best is take the beauty of traditional Japanese arts and modernize them.

This is made easier by the fact that so many traditional Japanese arts already had an ultra-modern geometric style to begin with.

For example, the ancient Seikaiha pattern, used in kimono dying for nearly a thousand years.   The pattern was originally used on ancient Chinese maps to signify the ocean, and turned up as a Japanese textile pattern on a Haniwa figure from the 4th century!  Yet, what could be more modern?

I take inspiration from this old-new blend in my Paper Demon jewelry.

But sometimes I like to feature the work of Japanese crafters in my jewelry.  A few years ago, on a supply buying visit to Japan, I discovered the jewelry supply boutique Beads Shop J4.  The artists behind this shop are dedicated to bringing traditional Japanese beauty into modern accessory supplies.  I love them!  They don’t sell online (that is to say, they do sell online but they don’t ship overseas!), so I visit their shop in the Aasakusabashi Beads District of Tokyo as often as I can.

The technique that these artists developed is to encase vintage kimono and yukata fabric in acrylic and cut and seal the acrylic in interestingly shaped beads.  I find these completely entrancing.

There are endless possibilities for how to use these beads.  So far, I’ve only used them in some really awesome earrings!

Find them all at Paper Demon Jewelry!

This fall I’ve been inspired by Mura-zome washi.  There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese washi paper, and each and every one has its own beauty.

But, I have a particular weakness for mura-zome.  Mura-zome is a traditional tie-dye paper in colors that are mind-blowingly vibrant and, to my eye, modern.

It has a cloth-like look and a stained glass look and a look that is all its own.  Here is a screen shot of a few colors from the online shop


The beauty of mura-zome washi


I started the fall entranced by fiery oranges.


Mura-zome paper art pendant


But I’ve recently moved on to greens, in this new piece, “Modern Medieval Medallion.”


Modern medieval medallion choker on copper


I adore the cloudy mystery of the green encircled by copper.  I could see Merlin wearing this, or better yet Morgan La Fay!

My challenge as a jewelry maker is remembering that sometimes my materials can speak for themselves.  I can get so caught up in the challenge of folding something fabulous or winding wire into interesting shapes that sometimes I forget that just showing the paper is all that’s really necessary.

I finally remembered that this week, and decided to try a few simple styles with my most beautiful chiyogami in simple basic frames.

The frames came from Fusion Beads, my favorite source for collage and resin blanks.  I tried antiqued silver and brass for this project, because I think the aged look sets off the organic, exotic feel of the Japanese paper beautifully.

The paper is my best and favorite–in glorious shades of teal and turquoise, orange and yellow, and iridescent silver and gold (a one of a kind paper that i’ve never seen outside the shop in Asakusabashi where i found it last summer).

The biggest challenge is, for me, always the resin.  I know there are loads of crafters out there making all kinds of gorgeous things with resin, but for me, it’s torture.  I make 4 things before 1 works.  It’s a nightmare.  But then, when it works, it’s gorgeous!  What to do?  it’s a conundrum.

Well, at least til I found Magic Glos, a UV-curing resin.  One part, so no mixing, and a 30 minute cure under a UV light (or sunlight) instead of 3 miserable days with resin.  For ADHD jewelry makers like me, this is a godsend.  Here it is on brass.  What do you think?

My kanji stamps finally arrived from Japan, so I can start personalizing my tiny Note to Self Journals.  Personalized jewelry makes such a great holiday gift.  I am happy to have found a way to make personalized, customized origami jewelry with a Paper Demon touch. Right now I have stamps for:









ki (energy)

Also tiny birds, butterflies, and Japanese and English alphabets.

Ki, Eternity, Inspire

I love these little journals.  They’re folded from a single 6″ sheet of Japanese washi paper.

They aren’t the most sophisticated tiny bound book in the world,  but they have a sweet simplicity that speaks volumes.

1 1/4" high

Find them at Paper Demon Jewelry:

Did you know that all across East Asia, little children grow up believing they can see two rabbits in the moon?  It’s true. 

In Japan they believe that the two rabbits are pounding mochi.  If you can find a Japanese person to show you, you’ll be able to see it too!

The two rabbits are as reasonable an option as the Man in the Moon.  And much, much cuter.

Actually, Japan has another moon-rabbit thing going on.  In Autumn, they have the festival of Moon-Viewing.  This falls during the full moon known as “Ju-go-ya,” which actually means 10th month moon, but in the modern day calendar falls in September.

And the Japanese believe that rabbits like to come out and hop to the light of the Ju-go-ya moon, and play amidst the miscanthus grass.

Hiroshige does Moon-rabbits

There’s even a folk song about it.  It’s called “Usagi,” or “The Rabbit Song.”   It’s a sweet, slightly melancholy song, and one of my favorite Japanese folk songs.  I used to sing it to my kids all the time when they were babies.  Listen to it on Youtube here!

I did a piece of washi paper artwork for Ju-go-ya Moon-viewing for my kids’ Japanese immersion school.  It has all the elements: full moon, hopping rabbits, wispy clouds, and miscanthus grass.

Mounted on a straw mat with bamboo accent,  it looked like this:

As you may or may not know, I love rabbits.  We have our own, named Penelope.

"The Rabbit"

Come to think of it, she does seem a little more feisty than usual since the weather turned to Fall!

In honor of Jugoya, the Paper Demon MoonRabbits!

I don’t need to tell you that Halloween is coming up.  In honor of the best holiday of the year, here are some owls that you will find at Paper Demon Jewelry.

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