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!

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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?

You love giving gifts, but you hate wrapping gifts.  I get that.  Wrapping gifts is stressful.

That’s where I come in.  I wrap your gifts for you.  I send you hand-folded Japanese jewelry boxes, hand-folded Japanese gift boxes, and hand-folded Japanese gift bags.  All created using traditional origami box folds, and all made from eye-poppingly gorgeous imported Japanese chiyogami paper.  Lacquered jewelry boxes also available.

The PDJ Hand-Folded Origami Gift Bag with Japanese Bead Zipper Pull Extra

Two of the sizes available--2 inch and 4.5 inch

The flat box--6 inches; other sizes available.

And all complete with coordinating ribbons and handles, and optional Japanese imported cute doo-dads for customization.  Custom size orders also gladly accepted!

The PDJ Heirloom Gift Bag is like enclosing your gift in another one of a kind gift.   I start with heirloom quality chiyogami paper.  Each of these papers comes with a story.  All chiyogami papers are replete with history and symbolism.  This paper in the photo, for example, is the Hinadan Pattern.  It is the pattern traditionally used to decorate the doll display for the Girls’ Day Celebration in Japan.  This pattern has been used and loved by Japanese girls and women since the 18th century.

With optional zipper pull from imported Japanese bead

The bag shown is 4 inches high.  (Custom size orders gladly accepted ) .  It’s finished with metal eyelets and handles of imported mizuhiki cord from Japan, in your choice of colors.  The one pictured here is sparkly red.  Green, white, silver and gold also available!

Inside view

If you want, you can add on an optional zipper-pull or pendant dangle made from an imported Japanese bead like this one, embossed with a glorious chrysanthemum pattern.  Goldfish, fabric beads, geisha hair dangles and other one of a kind items are available.

You need these.  You really do.  You want to impress her.  Christmas is coming.  Do you really want to wrap all those gifts?

(Special Introductory Pre-Christmas Price:  $4 for small boxes, $6 for heirloom gift bag; $4 for regular gift bag)

Fall, now THAT is a season of inspiration.

It’s my birthday season, for one thing.   I share a birthday with Joan Jett (yay!) and Andrea Boccelli (yikes!)  and Thomas Felton (cool! [he’s the diabolical Draco Malfoy on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!])

Being a Virgo on the cusp of Libra makes for a slightly schizoid combination of the fiery and the anal–pretty useful for a jewelry-maker!  I wonder how that works out for Joan Jett?   I’m not seeing a lot of Virgo there…

But I love Fall for a whole bunch of other reasons too.  Sure, Spring has its adorable pink blossoms, and Summer has its gardens in wild profusion…. (and Winter has its icy glitter…. or, in Oregon, its sodden gloom, which I suppose is inspiring in its way [we shall soon find out…])….

But Fall—well, look at the obvious reasons—the breathtaking colors of changing leaves, the crisp mornings, the excitement of new beginnings….

Of course Halloween is the best holiday.  That requires no explanation.

And turtleneck sweaters.  I know Stacy and Clinton said not to wear them.   But what can I do?   Who doesn’t love pulling on that first turtleneck of the season?

But above all, I love the colors.  I love the  the cranberries, the clarets, and the rusts, the firy oranges, the maroons and the fuschias and the olive greens, the saffrons, and the champagnes.  Set off with pops of robins egg blue and turquoise too.

And it so happens that I have in my collection several sheets of rare handmade washi in the deepest, firiest colors…So, my Fall jewelry bursts out in a mad rush of inspiration—in honor of Libra, in the colors of fire.  In honor of Virgo–exceedingly well made 🙂

Blackbird Singing Pendant in Autumn Colors

Spooky Washi and Antiqued Silver Spiderweb

It’s been crazy at Paper Demon Jewelry this past month!   Gift bags, giveaways, promotions, 4 local markets, teaching my first series of Japanese Papercrafting classes at the splendid EMU  Craft Center, and a steady stream of orders on Etsy.  Amidst all that, trying to find time to create and perfect new jewelry designs, and switch our entire operations over to all-green mediums, sealers and finishes.  (I’m excited to post on this cool all-natural specialty fiber hardening product I’ve discovered–Paverpol–that comes from the Netherlands!)

But for tonight, let’s keep it short.  I want to introduce my latest items on Etsy.  I’ve been doing a lot with chiyogami/yuzen paper lately.  Actually, ever since my post on the Japanese Paper Place.  For awhile there I was completely entranced with my stained glass, sculptural, and shoji jewelry, all of which played on the color, translucence, and fiber texture of pure plain washi.

But as I explored the hundreds and hundreds of brilliantly colored patterns of chiyogami/yuzen washi at the Japanese Paper Place, I started to feel that maybe I’d abandoned it prematurely!

Chiyogami/yuzen, by the way, is the colorful patterned Japanese paper that so many Japanese crafts are made from.  Here’s how The Japanese Paper Place defines the term:

These wonderfully decorative patterns on paper, known as Chiyogami, are silkscreened onto machine made sheets of mixed kozo and sulphite.  They are more popularly known as Yuzen in the United States.

Originally, Chiyogami designs were developed in the Edo period as woodblock prints by papermakers during the farming season for use as accessories in the house to enliven the interiors. They were based on the bright kimono textiles which the papermakers from the countryside saw on the fashionable wealthier ladies in the larger cities, especially in Kyoto, where the area known as Yuzen had become famous for its sophisticated techniques for dyeing cloth.

Chiyogami was meant to be cut into pieces and made into paper dolls or pasted on tea tins or small paper boxes; still today the scale of the patterns is reminiscent of these early uses.  And still many of the symbols depicted hearken back to auspicious occasions when fancy kimonos would be worn: cranes for long life; bamboo for flexibility; plum blossoms and pine boughs for beauty and longevity.

The striking pigment colours, careful registration of screens and wide range of designs make these papers ideal for picture mats, books and box making.

The range of Chiyogami patterns is endless, and Japanese designers today are tireless in their development of new fascinating patterns.  These patterns are constantly stocked at The Japanese Paper Place.”

Yuzen patterns are the ones that look most like kimono fabric patterns and contain a lot of gold.  Chiyogami are traditionally more repetitive, with smaller scale repeating patterns that are excellent for utilitarian crafts (ie, wrapping tea canisters).

Here are some chiyogami images, taken from The Japanese Paper Place’s website.  The first block are quite modern patterns; the second block are more traditional (don’t stress about the ‘discontinued’ note–the JPP stocks over 1000 patterns and is constantly cycling in new ones and phasing out old ones, and can order anything a person needs, as I found out this past week!  Thanks Nancy!)

Some modern chiyogami

Some more-traditional chiyogami patterns

How can you not yearn to create with these papers?

I mean, the austere simplicity of kozo washi is a fine thing….  But look at these colors! 

So, to make a very long story (with nice pictures) short….  I am working on chiyogami jewelry this past couple of weeks.  And here it is.  Even Chiyogami Gem Pencils for Back to School!  They’re selling like hotcakes–especially the Chiyogami Gem Bracelet.

The Geometric Possibilities of Chiyogami

"All Our Efforts Must Tend Toward Light" inscribed on back

Chiyogami Gem Pencils

Sleek Modern Sterling silver dangle earrings

On a chunky Susan Kazmer Bezel

Chiyogami Gem Bracelet

Regular readers will notice my fabulous new wallpaper!  Just how cool is this?  And I did it all by myself, without even once crying or making a frantic phone call to wonderful partner.

I am not expert, but I’d like to share what I learned.  This is for people using WordPress!  I have no expertise to share beyond what I just did!

If you click on your Appearance button , and look at the categories under your “theme”, you will see listed last   “edit css”

If you click on that, a box will appear with some explanation and directions about css and html.

Scroll to the very bottom of that and press enter to start a fresh new line. In that new line, cut and paste this:

body
{
  background-image:url('http://YOUR IMAGE URL HERE')
}

Now, in the place where I have written “YOUR IMAGE URL HERE” you need to enter the url of the image that YOU want to have as background.

Any image can be used.  (I will tell you about cool wallpaper patterns below, after I finish these instructions.)  It just needs to be uploaded into your media section on your blog.  So, just upload an image as you would any image that you were going to use in a post, and at the bottom, you will see that it is given a url.  That is the url that you will enter in the place “YOUR IMAGE URL HERE”.  Make sure that you don’t have any spaces anywhere in this line of html code.

After you do that you click preview, and your site with wallpaper should pop up in a new window.  If you like what you see, then sadly, it seems you do have to purchase the WordPress Custom CSS Upgrade, for $14.97 a year.  If someone knows a way around that, let me know.  After you purchase it, you should be able to go back to your Edit CSS page and a new button will have appeared next to “preview”, which is “save stylesheet.”  Press that, and voila, you’re done.

Now, in my case, after I paid, when I went back to my other window with the Edit CSS box open, I had  NOT been automatically updated to allow me to “save stylesheet.”  So in my case, I had to copy the 4 lines of html code I had entered, close that window, open the edit css window again, and paste it again in the new window.   That window did provide the “save stylesheet” button that comes after you pay.

It worked!

If I can do this, anyone can do it.  Seriously.  I don’t “do” html.

But here’s why I stuck it out:  Because, when I went online to look at free wallpapers, I could not believe the glorious bounty that met my eyes!  In particular I want to share  the best and coolest site for free wallpapers that I found.  It is Patterncooler.com.

From sheer Boddhisattva-like altruism, as far as I can tell, Harvey R, the mastermind behind this site, has created a completely free gallery of gorgeous, lush, original, stylish, and hip graphics patterns that, get this, are completely customizable for color and dimensions!   Why?  Why would he do this?  I don’t know.  He asks for a $1 donation.  I gave him $5.  Everyone should go there now and give him $1.

Here are a few of his graphics:

 

This last one is my favorite, other than the fabuloso one I picked for this blog.  The neo-Japonesque thing he has going on is what I love most.  But the best part is, all the colors and scales are fully customizable.  So this cool grey-green thing that I have on my design here?  I did that myself….

This is the photo of Harvey that pops up when you download one of his graphics:

“Emergency,”  the caption reads, “My wig is not good!  The ads on this site are currently not covering the hosting fees. After you download one of my patterns please consider donating just $1,-or more if you are feeling generous-so that I can afford to keep this site running and buy myself some razors and maybe even a new wig.”

Harvey’s site rocks.  Visit it.  Enjoy the eye candy. Maybe download a treat for yourself and try your own wallpaper (incidentally it worked on Twitter too!!)  And give the guy a buck.


It’s all about the colors.   At Paper Demon Jewelry, we HAVE THE ABILITY!  The ability, that is, to make jewelry in the most eye-popping, mind-blowing colors on the planet.  Sure there are beads out there, and crystals, and felt, and resin, and many fine and colorful products.  But really, in the end, there is nothing that makes jewelry as SATURATED with color as paper.

And the funny thing is, it doesn’t have to be special handmade Japanese washi paper to do that.  Good old American crepe paper produces some of the richest, most saturated color tones possible, as long as it is treated right.  The trick with crepe paper is treating it right. It is a tempermental little beastie.

The Paper Demon scored a box of recycled crepe paper at MECCA awhile back, and I’ve been experimenting with it.  Here is my favorite item to date, just listed today in the Etsy store:  REDCOSMOS Spinning Sphere REcycled Paper Sculpture and Pearl Choker.

I love this piece.  I love the way the red is a fiery red. I love the organic shape of the spiral.  I love the freshwater pearls and how their lopsidedness mirrors the bead, and vice versa.  I love that it looks super cool on.

And I love the inspiration of this piece:  The Team Challenge of the Crafting in Color Team on Etsy, of which Paper Demon Jewelry is now a proud member!  This is, you know, kind of a big thing.    You see, jewelry makers can’t get onto the Crafting in Color Team, unless they request “special consideration” and prove to be, in the eyes of the administrators, “truly extraordinary.”  Well, who’s truly extraordinary now?  Hmm?  Oh yeah.  That’s right.

Crafting in Color is all about finding the most colorful, most color-forward, color-innovative, color-inspired artists on Etsy.   I like the sound of that.  Because at Paper Demon Jewelry, it’s all about the color.