Thursday, March 19, 2015

April Workshop at The Craft Space

Reserve your space here:
There will be a chance to shop at a small exhibition of bikudesigns jewellery after the workshop with 10% off for all participants.

Hope you can make it!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why I Use Old Fabrics

I like that the fabrics I choose for my work are limited. This makes me consider more carefully before drawing and cutting. The average size of a piece of silk in my collection is around 20cm x 20cm (some are much smaller), so I am working within a very limited scale. When it's gone, it's gone.

It's a good feeling to work with fabric that has a story. One piece I uncovered in my last purchase had a fold which had been stitched in typical kimono hand-stitching. What was interesting to me was that the fold had a hole worn into it, as if it had rubbed against something repeatedly. Instead of working I found myself dreaming about which part of the kimono it was from. (The hem I suppose only gets this much friction wear.) And then, who wore it? Where were they going? What did the kimono look like in its entirety? Anyone who knows anything about kimono fabrics, knows that two samples from the same kimono can look like two separate kimonos, so it is difficult to reconstruct the whole garment from such a tiny piece.

The pieces I find are from the 60s, 70s and 80s, a period of great modernisation and emancipation. Wearing kimono became much less of an everyday occurrence and worn only for special occasions: shichi go san (7,5,3 ceremony), coming of age (at age 20), graduations or weddings. Having worn full kimono on my own wedding day, it us fully understandable why western clothes overtook the traditional kimono in Japan. 

The three layers are: hadajuban (underwear made of simple cotton), nagajuban (under kimono visible at the sleeves and hem), the kimono itself, as well as a plethora of strings, collars, clips, boards and padded cushions. Not forgetting the grand finale, the obi (belt) which can be tied in hundreds of ways. And then there are the tabi (socks) and the zori (shoes), the kanzashi (hair ornaments) and obidome (obi brooch clip). Of course, everyday kimono is much simpler in design, fabric and accoutrements and can be tied (with a lot of practise) by yourself.

I love uncovering parts of fabric that are worn, or have tiny holes where someone once painstakingly hand stitched the silk. There are the occasional stains too, which is very common when silk is stored for a period of time. They don't scare me, in fact, quite the opposite. I imagine celebrations, sploshed sake, overflowing beer glasses, soy sauce, celebration food. A story of fun and happiness, positive energy and laughter all encapsulated in one pair of earrings, a necklace, ring or bracelet. Why would I want to make my work out of something new?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rabbit Cafe With Real Live Rabbits

'Usagi no E-hon' is one of Shimokitazawa's rabbit caf├ęs. Up a steep, narrow wooden staircase festooned with white rabbit silhouettes, fake flowers and decals on Shimokita's Ichibangai, you will find nine fluffy bunnies. The space is immaculate and covered in all things 'rabbit'. Stuffed Peter Rabbit toys, rabbit books, trinkets, pictures, ornaments and place-mats are all rabbit themed.

A quick chat about about the 'rules' with the owner and an explanation of the deal (¥150 per person for 30 minutes, one drink or food order, no more than 90 minutes) and off we went free to mingle with the bunnies.
I thought my 4 year old was going to faint with excitement at the sight before her, but she didn't, she just grabbed a box of food, headed for the bunny who had been let out of her cage and started feeding it and stroking it, and talking to it and finally blowing kisses to it!

When our drink arrived, it was of course in a rabbit-themed cup placed on a rabbit themed place-mat with Peter Rabbit sugar sachets.  

And the dessert didn't let us down either. Reasonable for ¥850 for a cake set in this part of town and so lovingly presented.


After a quick browse of the rabbit merchandise (and there was a HUGE amount), we decided on a rabbit badge as a memory of our lovely afternoon. And off we hopped on our two minute journey home....

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

BIKUFEED: Top 6 weird and wonderful things seen in Tokyo recently

1. Hips?
No! Buttocks
Cute Buttocks Creatures

Got to be the best book title. Ever. No?

Shibuya post office. Minding my own business waiting in line at the ATM. The scene outside...

A large paper and fabric monster. You can go inside and peer out of its mouth. And wear a brightly coloured cape and dance around. Appeared overnight in the middle of Shimokita and stayed for about 10 days.

This snail face mask:. Who knew snails had high collagen content?

Shimokita slippers. I bought these, but....just WHY?!

A meat towel complete with polystyrene tray. You just can't make this stuff up...

That's all for now. 
Mata ne,


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wine and Craft...

It's been a busy week here at bikudesigns, and it's only Tuesday!

My first (official) craft night. Wine included, relaxed atmosphere and new friends. Find out more info and reserve your space on my new website (gulp!) here:

Hope to see some of you face-to-face.
Mata ne,

Monday, January 19, 2015

Zawa-Zawa Shimokitazawa

 Welcome to Shimokitazawa. 
Known for its youth subculture and bohemian vibe, Shimokita is also home to lots of families and many elderly people who have lived here all their lives. Antique and vintage clothing shops are everywhere. The trendy and unique sit alongside the traditional and old-fashioned. It's such a fun and friendly place to live with its abundance of coffee shops and restaurants, and always something interesting going on at the weekend. So inspirational for design too...I just have to step outside my door.....

One of the three (yes, three!) local supermarkets within a few minutes of each other.

Colourful shutters keep the graffiti artists at bay in Shimokita (mostly). This is a shot of the Senbei (rice cracker) shop before opening time.

A 4 year old's persepctive of our closest vintage shop. 
When we went in here, my daughter was amazed that I remembered having similar things in our house when I was her age. "Was that the olden days, Mummy." No, no it wasn't!

Traditional toy shop, also selling vintage-style sweets for kids. These displays change for the seasons and the upcoming festivals. Very retro, very cool, always colourful.

 What is this place? Japanese speakers, no cheating please;-)

A) A restaurant
B) A hair salon
C) A flower shop
D) A bar
E) All of the above

Leave your answers on my Facebook page to find out the answer on Friday:)

Much more to show you next time.

Mata ne,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More kimono earrings

Another pair of kimono earrings made the other day. Loving working with these old fabrics. It has been especially challenging to find a process to encase them in resin without changing the colour. At the start I was worried about the bends and irregularities in the finished pieces, but as they are fabric, I think this adds to the end result.