21 December 2016
Time is ticking by and it is now just a few days until Christmas. However you spend your days at the end of December and the start of January, please enjoy time to relax, eat, drink and spend time with family and friends. I am certainly planning on doing all of those! I will be back online in the second week of January. See you then! Bis dann, またね!
15 December 2016
As much as I am enjoying the wonderful festive feeling in Regensburg at the moment, there has not been a huge amount of sunshine and blue skies. I thought I’d take a look back at my photos from my trip to Japan in October. Below you will see the contrast between city (もとまち - Motomachi), coast (すま - Suma) and park (あかし - Akashi), all within a 15 mile train ride along the JR Kobe train line. All beautiful in their own way. It is so amazing that this much variety in landscape exists in such close proximity.
9 December 2016
It’s done and is up on the front door! I had to keep opening the door last night to look at it. Maybe I should put it on the inside?!
Have you seen these little gadgets? https://www.amazon.com/Clover-Kanzashi-Flower-Maker-Pointed/dp/B004ZKPY1G I bought a couple while I was in Japan but have only just used them. There are many sizes and shapes to create various petal forms. You then stitch them together and decorate them to create delicate flowers. The process is great as it uses up small pieces of fabric that would otherwise be wasted. I can see myself ordering more… some of the creations I have seen in books and online are stunning. Everthing from a hair decoration to a full bouquet.
6 December 2016
Last week I held my first craft class in Germany, following the same idea that I started in Japan. I am not a teacher or indeed Japanese, but I am aware that the skills and crafts I have experienced in Japan (along with my love for crafts from the UK and other countries too) are so precious, they need to be shared. My friends in Japan gave me great confidence while I shared my British-inspired craft and baking ideas. Now I am lucky enough to have supportive friends here in Germany who have given me the energy to begin again. Watch this space - I plan to create a page dedicated purely to my craft classes - for my thoughts, sign up and catch up.
The first class was gift-wrapping for Christmas with a Japanese-inspired twist. The simplicity of the paper-folding and fabric knotting techniques used in wrapping Japanese gifts is intriguing. Recreating the look takes a little practice, but with accurate measuring, preparation and patience, myself and my two good friends who joined class mastered five wrapping techniques. The options are endless once you succeed and understand the theory. We had a great three hours together, I felt very special to share time, craft, chat and food with new friends. We all agreed that language barriers are broken down (and language skills gradually improved) with the help of craft and cake. In this instance, my version of a Japanese Strawberry Shortcake! Dankeschön meine Freunde x
1 December 2016
Have you ever visited a German-style Christmas market? I have been to some in London and also Osaka, but now we live in Regensburg, the genuine thing is just outside our front door. From the middle of November until Christmas, the streets are full of lights, market stalls and people wandering with a warm drink in their hand. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. The range of food and items for sale is wonderful - very helpful when planning Christmas gifts for friends and family.
Last weekend my husband and I went out to choose our Christmas tree from a local seller in the main square, Haidplatz. The man and his son were very kind, despite our limited German language skills. We said thank you many times and came away with a very smart looking tree that is now fully decorated and standing proudly in the lounge.
29 November 2016
It always amazes me to see these wonderful creations appear over night. During a recent trip home to the UK, I spotted this very intricately decorated bicycle parked up on Chesham high street. The detail is incredible and it makes me happy to think that somebody spends the time to create something so heart-warming. It is a refreshing change to see additions to public spaces that are not vandalism or damage. Keep up the good work!
23 November 2016
I love my autumn wreath that is currently on our front door, but with Christmas creeping up, it is time to create a new one for the season. I have only just started and have used a very clever gadget to create the tiny but perfectly formed fabric flower below (actual size is about 2cm across.) Watch this space to see how the project continues!
10 November 2016
Take a look on the for sale page of my website! I’m happy to announce my first item for sale. Buy securely using Paypal, receive your order at home and enjoy sending a handmade card to friends and family this Christmas. (Please note that all online orders will not be packed and shipped before Monday 21st November, thank you for your patience.)
3 November 2016
My husband and I took the train to Munich last week. Along with the stunning architecture and impressive squares and fountains, Munich has the most beautiful park to the north-east of the city. I didn’t realise there was such a huge stretch of open land there - it covers an area of 3.7km2 and is larger than New York’s Central Park. As quoted from wikipedia, 'The name refers to its English garden form of informal landscape, a style popular in England from the mid-18th century to the early 19th century and particularly associated with Capability Brown.'
It was just stunning to wander in the cool autumn sun. We broke up our day with many hot chocolate, chai latte and cappuccino stops.
1 November 2016
There are not enough words to express the thanks I feel towards my friends in Japan. During a recent trip there, my time was filled with wonderful experiences, more of which I will talk about at a later date.
Tuesday: On a warm and pleasant day, I walked up the hill to the neighbourhood in Shioya, Kobe that my husband and I were a part of for 3 and a half years. Even though I have been in regular contact with friends here, I was filled with excitment to see people for the first time since we moved away at the start of this year. Lunch at a friend’s house was today’s treat. The tray of traditional Japanese food that was lovingly prepared and presented like a piece of artwork, looked too good to eat. Each small portion of meat, vegetable, fruit or rice was placed on a pretty bowl, leaf or plate. Fresh, healthy and delicious. Served with black tea and accompanied by chat with close friends, I couldn’t have been happier. なおみ、ありがとうございました。
Wednesday: As I walked from the local train station to the taxi rank, I could see the car of my friend and also her passenger who would later dress me in a beautiful Kimono. We drove up the hill and entered her house. Within a moment, a small but perfectly packed wheeled-suitcase was opened and a mat laid on the floor. For 1 hour, I was carefully but expertly dressed in each piece of the traditional Kimono. For me, a stunning purple silk one with sakura (cherry blossom) flowers and gold accents. In my hair a delicate gold and pearl pin and on my feet a tiny pair of golden zouri (Japanese style slippers worn with split-toe socks.) The afternoon was spent with a third friend, photographing me in my Kimono around the local neighbourhood. As I said on the day, I felt like a princess. のりこ、たかみさん、むらいさん、ありがとうございました。
13 October 2016
Autumn is certainly here to stay and it felt like a good time to decorate the entrance to our home. I am very pleased with how well my autumn wreath (made last year with friends in my craft class) suits our wooden front door!
11th October 2016
I am really enjoying creating new designs with the soft and easily carved rubber blanks I bought in Japan at the start of this year. I have seen a similar product in craft shops here in Germany, displayed alongside the traditional lino that is regularly used. I am using the same hand tools with various sized tips that I used in college in the UK.
One of the greetings cards in my range for sale, is ready in preparation for Christmas. I wanted to combine some of the wealth of inspiration I have from Japan with a style of craft that is very popular worldwide. Ever since I can remember, I have loved to look at the mass-produced carved rubber stamps found in art and craft shops. It seems that the trend for stamping is timeless, coming and going in cycles, but never disappearing completely.
My zodiac animal Christmas greetings card shows the 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac (as followed in Japan) placed like tree ornaments on a fir tree (a very Western symbol of the Christmas period.) Each animal, the fir tree and the bow on top are all handcarved from the soft rubber blank. I am very lucky to have my own personal ‘gain’ stamp (traditional Japanese artist’s signature stamp, carved by an expert from granite and normally used on shodo work - Japanese calligraphy) and have used this on my greetings cards. The artwork I created with these stamps has then been professionally printed.
I have a limited number of my zodiac animal Christmas greetings card available for sale very soon. Please contact me if you would like more information.
5th October 2016
Now that October has arrived, the warm and still days of late summer have turned fresh and cool. The horse chestnut trees are shedding hundreds of beautiful deep brown shiny conkers in Regensburg. My lovely friend in Kobe tells me that the sweet chestnut (kuri) have also fallen from the huge tree in our previous garden. Another delicacy that makes me think of this time of year is the persimmon. I don’t remember noticing them before our time in Japan, but now I see them on markets and in supermarkets here and they make me think of friends in Kobe.
As the evenings became longer I was looking for something small and crafty I could work on while sitting on the settee. I opened up one of my Japanese handsewing books and picked out the project to make a persimmon. This book contains patterns for many symbolic fruits, animals and items to be made using the special crepe fabric called chirimen. Originally created to use up small scrap pieces of fabric after making kimono, this craft is now a popular way of making items for home decoration and gifts for special events and festivals such as New Year, birthdays and sakura blossom season. My persimmons are made from scraps I have including felt, patchwork cotton and leather thong. It was great to mix and match patterns and colours. I look forward to using some seasonal German fabrics I have spotted in a fantastic local fabric shop and I can’t wait to find more books on my next trip to Japan!