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!

Re-Use is the New Recycle!  That is the motto of Next Step Recycling, a leader in the reuse movement in Eugene, and the motivation behind their second annual Eugene ReArt Festival , coming up August 6.  The ReArt Festival is an awesome arts and crafts festival devoted entirely to recycled art.  Everything at the festival needs to be at least 75% made of recycled materials.  And by recycled, they mean, actually destined for the trash heap.

Since the Paper Demon is going to have a booth there, she needs to get her act together and start pumping out recycled jewelry!

She had a plan but needed materials.  So, today wonderful partner and I took a trip to MECCA (where else), and I got everything I needed.  I came home and created a beautiful piece of jewelry in almost no time at all.

100% Recycled Paper Art Pendant

I don’t have time to post a tutorial right now, because I also need to create 75 of these for swag bags at a Green Beauty event in San Diego next month.  But I’m going to share my photos of the process in the hopes they inspire someone else to grab something really really old and ugly, cut it apart, repurpose it, and transform it into something beautiful.

A skanky cable bundle and a bread bag full of paper scraps

Noticing the nice soft wire inside the skanky cable bundle

Use a mat knife to cut open and remove the rubber cable cover

unwinding some of the wire

shape and hammer flat a beautiful shape. For me, it's spirals. I burnished for shine.

Attach paper scraps

coat with gel medium. let it dry. Appreciate.

hang on recycled cord. Voila!

I’ve been making jewelry like mad, trying to get ready for the opening of Eugene’s 5th Street Market Artisan’s Market.   It’s supposed to open in July, so they say, and I need inventory!   Bit by bit, it’s making it onto the Paper Demon Etsy store too.

I am still obsessed with washi and wire!  But now I’m exploring solid colors.

Solid blues and whites:

LoveBubbles Robin’s Egg Blue

Gradations of orange:

YuzuCocktail Washi and Copper Choker

Contrasts of deep jewel tones like purple, orange and green.

LuciousFruits Washi and Copper Wire Earrings
LuciousFruits Washi and Copper Wire Earrings

And contrasts of the palest blues and greens:

AfterTheRain Choker

It’s so vivid!  Where else can you find jewely in colors like this?   Sure, you can find swarovski crystals in every color of the rainbow.  But that’s all about the glitz (nothing wrong with the glitz, I’m just sayin’).  My biggest problem–i can’t make them fast enough to try out all the colors I want!

I live a blended life.  It’s assembled from many parts.  We have a blended family–the kids, their bonus mom, and me, plus the rabbit who thinks she’s a dog.  There’s our  bonus extended family in Oregon and then my extended family in Florida and Pittsburgh, and the kids’ family in Japan.  My kids have two homes, one in Illinois, one in Oregon, one all Japanese, one mostly American but with a big dash of Japanese thrown in.  They have an lgbt family and a straight family, go to a Japanese immersion school in Oregon, and a Japanese school in Japan over the summer.  But we love the 4th of July and go all out for parades and fireworks (realized I’m a bit of a pyro when i found myself crossing the Indiana state line to get illegal fireworks last summer)

COTTON CANDYCOUNTY FAIR IN WASHI

LGBT Love in Washi

the Oregon Coast in Washi and Wire

All of these parts come together in my jewelry—the Japan part, the American part, the lgbt part, the 4th of July fireworks, the Oregon Coast…. The rabbit will be in there one of these days; just haven’t figured out how yet.

This week I made these:  CottonCandy SpunSugar Washi and Copper Spirals.  Using fine handmade Japanese washi in honor of county fairs and the joys of an American summer.   Why not?  The beauty is in the blending!

Love is a dangerous and powerful thing.  Love made the world visible to me.    Suddenly I saw colors and shapes and textures that had been hidden inside of the “things” around me.  How to explain it?   The world was no longer full of concrete objects, but of things that were all in a process of becoming.  Process, not outcome.   Walking down the street I see the leaves, against the sky, in the wind, a moment in time.

Rainbows are all about process. They appear in the evanescent space between light and rain.  Their colors blend one into the other without boundaries.    They connect.  They are seen from one angle and not others. A rainbow is mysterious and beautiful.  It comes when you’re not looking for it.  Like love.

Some love doesn’t come easily.  But when it does, it changes the world.

[In honor of love and the rainbow: COLORSOFLOVE Rainbow Bubble Pride Necklace.  Check it out at the Queer Etsy Street Team store:  http://queeretsystreetteam.etsy.com%5D

Miyako in yukata

It’s graduation season and tomorrow my daughter Miyako graduates from 5th grade!  I’m so proud of her, but sad that she’ll be saying goodbye to her wonderful Japanese immersion elementary school 😦

The kids at the immersion school wear yukata (cotton summer kimono) for graduation!  Luckily, we have a few lovely yukata and obi (sashes) that I’ve been picking up over the years in Japan, and now Miyako is big enough to wear one.   It took three tries to get all the parts on right!  Underneath that obi are 4 (four) layers of specialized waist wraps that you have to use to get the “right” kimono sillhouette.   I can’t believe how lovely she looks.

After we got it all on, we decided it just needed something ‘extra’.  It needed that little Paper Demon touch.  So, we decided to design and create an obi ornament.  Traditionally Japanese people wore netsuke ornaments of ivory hanging from the sashes of their kimonos.  Japanese girls today wear all kinds of sweet, original little doo-dads when they go out in yukata for summer festivals.

After much discussion, and debating the merits of tiny koi fish, sakura flowers, and bunnies, we finally settled on these cube shaped acrylic beads that have yukata fabric encased inside them.   I got them last summer at a very special tiny specialty shop in the ancient city of Kamakura, courtesy of a local friend who had scouted out the store for me ahead of time (thanks Yuki!)  I like to make earrings out of these, but I have to admit, they look awfully good as what they were made for—-yukata ornaments.  Maybe I’ll try adapting the idea in a pin!   What do you think? Would you wear it?

One of the most wonderful things about washi paper is its combination of strength and delicacy.  The mulberry, hemp, and other fibers that it’s made from make it like fabric—it can be molded, sculpted, folded, wrapped and manipulated like fabric, without losing its wonderful color and shape.

At the same time, there is nothing as fine, as delicate, as washi.  That’s why it’s used by so many interior designers for lighting.  It is always translucent, and light passes through it with a soft glow.

SeaSpiral Washi and Copper Wire Pendant

My latest experiments in jewelry are inspired by these qualities of washi.  Patterned washi is made by superimposing a gossamer thin color/pattern layer over a slightly heavier fiber layer.  I’ve been developing a new method to separate these two layers, and then **ever so delicately** transferring the color layer onto a wire structure, to make a kind of stained glass piece.  My first finished piece is called “SeaSpiral”—it’s inspired by the colors of the rocky sand of the Oregon coast.I love that it’s translucent like stained glass.

Light shining through washi stained glass

There is only one kind of washi paper that can be used for this technique–chirimen washi, which is the most fabric like of all washi.    I also love to use the tissue-like Unryu washi as well, but that is always in solid colors.  The cool thing about chirimen washi is that it comes in amazing patterns.

Some examples of chirimen washi

Looks like I need to pick up more of this on my next trip to Japan!