Monday, August 29, 2016

Nippon Red

It all started a few weeks ago when my brother dragged me to a local showing of a Japanese film based on our favorite anime from our childhood. I am not a particular anime fan, mostly because I haven't had time to sit and watch much, but Rurouni Kenshin is an exception. My brother was right to convince me to go, I ended up loving (understatement!) the live action adaptation and have already booked tickets for the screening of the second film! Then of course I re-watched the original anime, and the most excellent OVA (original video animation) called Trust & Betrayal. I went a bit crazy for Rurouni Kenshin. Am I an adult? Nope ;)

I'll note that the story takes place just after the Meiji restoration in late 1870's Japan, which means the film is full of traditional Japanese clothing and architecture from that time. Talk about a rekindling of my love affair with Japanese design, I've fallen head over heels all over again! I was already working on this 1930's inspired red linen/rayon blend wrap dress and I knew I just had to shoot it in Denver Botanic's Japanese gardens. I paired the dress with a new-to-me vintage parasol and a Japan Airlines souvenir hand fan. I'm not sure what the fan says on the front, probably have a nice flight ;) I have always loved parasols but only ever owned one...which I have now remedied in my Japan fever as I've added three more to my collection! Opps. I love the transparency of the one I'm carrying here, and the shine of the finish. I think if I ever make it to Japan I'll go nuts buying all the touristy parasols and fans <3

You may notice that I've trimmed my bob again and dyed my hair back to it's more usual darker shade. I rarely wear my hair straight here on the blog, and it isn't really short enough to qualify as a true 30's bob for this ensemble, but it will do! I wear my hair like this to work during the week all the time as it is quicker to straighten it than curl it most mornings. I finished the outfit with more new Japanese goodies; my new Amita damascene brooch and earrings. I just love that the brooch is a maple leaf as my dad is a huge fan of Japanese maple trees and we have many in our back garden. The best part of his love for these trees is that the largest prettiest tree is just outside my sewing room window and I get to enjoy the way light plays on its leaves as they shimmer in the wind. Perfection indeed.

Have any of you ever seen Rurouni Kenshin? Anyone as crazy for Japanese design as I am right now? I am already doing mental gymnastics to figure out how I could possibly afford a trip to Japan next year...

Dress: Made by me
Shoes: Urban Outfitters (very old, painted gold by me)
Tights: Amazon
Jewelry, Clutch, Parasol & Hand Fan: Vintage

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Spotlight: Damascene Jewelry

Last week I picked up some new-to-me vintage jewelry, shocking I know ;) I have long wanted to pick up some more damascene pieces to match a bracelet I have that I wear often. In the end I decided on the two pieces above, a maple leaf shaped brooch and a super cute pair of earrings--but you know what? These new pieces don't match my bracelet, because these pieces are Japanese (Amita) damascene and my bracelet is Spanish damascene. Huh? Well yes, there are two major types of damascene jewelry out there, but before I show you the difference, lets talk about what damascene actually is!

Wikipedia describes damascene as follows: 

"Damascening is the art of inlaying different metals into one another—typically, gold or silver into a darkly oxidized steel background"

Makes sense when you look at the jewelry above, dark metal background with designs inlaid in brighter metals. The technique is as old as ancient times in several parts of the world and has since had a long history in Japan, where it was used to decorate katana fittings among other things. Though popular as decoration on swords during the Edo period (1603-1868), after the Meiji Restoration government banned the carrying of swords the craftsmen turned to using the technique on other objects and jewelry. Damascene jewelry and items became a major souvenir and export items to the West and the most common name I've seen on Japanese damascene jewelry, Amita, started in 1932. There is a cool little breakdown of the company's history on their website here. Goodness knows I'd love to pick up some more damascene as souvenirs while traveling in Japan, anyone want to pay for my trip? 

All of this history is of particular interest to me as I have recently become really interested in the Meiji Restoration time period in Japan, but more on that nerdiness in tomorrow's post ;) Want to see some more pretty Japanese damascene (or as it is often known in Japanese, Shakudō (赤銅))?

Gorgeous! Then there is Spanish damascene, which is similar but the designs themselves are very different, tending to be more Renaissance or Islamic in style. My hunt will continue for earrings and a brooch in the Spanish damascene to match my bracelet, while of course now I want a Japanese damascene bracelet to match my new pieces! #shopaholic, or is it that I am a "collector"? Yeah that sounds better, collector *cough* Some examples of Spanish style damascene below :)

My bracelet is similar to this one :)

Do any of you have any damascene jewelry or objects? I definitely will be collecting more in the future! The Japanese designs particularly hold my heart at the moment, but the Spanish style is really pretty too! I hope you enjoyed our little jewelry lesson today :)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Strawberries, Sunflowers, & Straw Boater Hats

You know, until recently I didn't have many circle skirts, and my collection is still on the smaller side for a mid-century lover. This skirt I have on here however is my first vintage circle skirt! It was described as 80's does 50's, and judging by the more modern-ish zipper that is most likely the case, but I think it plays the part of a true mid-century skirt quite well! How was I supposed to resist the lovely colors and profusion of berries in the print?! I couldn't ;)

I paired the new-to-me skirt with a crisp white blouse with red stitching that I made last year as a bit of a Peggy Carter inspired make (she has a few with similar stitching on the show). Since I was wearing red I pulled out my Luxulite cherries brooch again, I love Luxulite! I really can't wait to snatch up some of their fall offerings this year <3 

It has actually already begun to cool down here in Colorado this week, I wore tights and a scarf yesterday! A little rain, a cool breeze...ahhhh I can smell the pumpkin spice already :)

Skirt, Hangbag, Belt, Hat, & Earrings: Vintage
Shoes: Bait (Modcloth)
Brooch: Luxulite
Blouse: Made by me

Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer Magnolia

The white flowers on this crisp rayon fabric remind me of magnolias, though sadly I have never seen any actual magnolia flowers here in Colorado. We had them back in California where I grew up, and seeing such large blossoms in a tree seems oddly surreal looking, and beautiful too.

This fabric was an Etsy find, and when it arrived I doubted it was truly rayon as the texture is very similar to linen. It had a rough crisp texture I don't associate with rayon, but as soon as I started to iron the fabric I knew it must truly be rayon indeed as no linen ever pressed so nicely and easily! This is the first dress I have made since setting up my mom's serger/overlocker to use and it was so wonderful to have the raw edges all finished before constructing the dress! No frayed seams for me! It will be nice to have an alternative to rayon seam binding for future projects as sometimes I am just too lazy to go that "couture" inside my projects.

I styled the new dress with cognac brown accessories including my beloved Gibson's from American Duchess footwear. Shoes that would really look even better with this outfit are Royal Vintage's new Peggy spectators, but as they don't ship till October (yes, of course I have pre-ordered the Peggy's in brown and white, they are the perfect shoe!) I'll just have to wait on those! I've snatched up two pairs from Lauren's new Royal Vintage 40's line so far, but I still remain tempted by others...thank goodness there are wonderful people out there recreating vintage shoes!

This necklace happens to be rather special too, it's a real Miriam Haskell! I found it for a complete bargain on Etsy and cant believe I got to add a Haskell to my collection. The beads are white milk glass interspersed with braided/woven straw beads, perfect to match all of my straw hats :)

Speaking of hats, I bought this straw hat last spring, but I'm not sure I'll be keeping it in my collection. As much as I like it, I feel like the crown is just a bit too tall for me. If I do decide to part with it it will end up in my Etsy shop with a few other hats I'll be letting go of soon. Trying to curate my hat collection isn't easy, but I cant keep all the hats to myself now can I? ;)

Dress: Made by me
Hat, Jewelry, Clutch: Vintage
Shoes: American Duchess
Belt: Target
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