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Amparo Bertram

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04:37 pm: Foreigners are always superstars
Friday the school put on a New Student Welcome performance at the Citizens' Hall. Each club did a short act to convince new freshmen to join. The video the English club students made got a laugh. The audience also cheered the dance put on by the P. E. class that had the Hawaiian exchange student flourishing her long, blonde hair while "beating up" students from a "rival" school as part of the act.

The Citizens' Hall was also showing an exhibit of oshie, a traditional Japanese art that's kind of a cross between a quilt and a mosaic. I dropped by the exhibit before the school's performance started, and the lady who organized it asked me to come back today for an oshie lesson. (She had mailed me an invitation earlier, but I was lazy and didn't reply by the deadline.)

When I showed up this morning, I was surprised to find a photographer present. It seems a bunch of foreigners (ALTs and exchange students) in town were all invited, and the photographer went around taking pictures of the whole process of the foreigners learning how to do oshie. I hadn't expected that, but I did want to learn this particular craft, so oh well. I have no idea where the photographs are going to wind up being published...I probably should have asked.

The first step is to draw a picture as if it were a mosaic and then cut each piece out of thin cardboard. This was already done for us before we arrived. Since it was only a demonstration, it was a simple picture of two gourds. (The pictures on display in the exhibit were MUCH more complicated.) The cardboard pieces are then each covered with cotton batting that is cut to the same shape. Once the cotton is trimmed, the piece is covered with decorative fabric and the edges are glued to the back of the cardboard.

The gluing is accomplished by using a bamboo skewer to spread a small amount of glue on the edge of the cardboard. The fabric is folded over onto the glue and then ironed down using a device called a kote. The kote (in the picture) is simply a wedge of metal with a handle that is left resting on a heat source until needed. Damp cloths are kept nearby to cool them off if they get too hot.

Once the fabric is completely glued down, the pieces look like the picture on the left. This particular kind of fabric is called chirimen and is a traditional Japanese textile. (Most fabric stores here sell it in small squares for crafts.)


Finally, the pieces are given the bows as a finishing touch and glued onto a flat board suitable for hanging on the wall. (The items in the exhibit had other more elaborate things done to them, such as having fine details painted on.) I thought this turned out well for a first try.


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From:firesign10
Date:April 23rd, 2005 05:12 am (UTC)
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Foreigner as photo op aside, that looks very cool! The too-long-dormant crafter in me stirred and said, hey! that looks neat....I could do that! Hmmmm....Yours look great*! Are you going to do more? And how is the yukata coming?

*(I was about to say your gourds looked great but that didn't sound right :-P)
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 23rd, 2005 05:16 am (UTC)
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(I was about to say your gourds looked great but that didn't sound right :-P)

<laugh> My gourds thank you.

Are you going to do more?

I don't need another hobby...but it's VERY tempting. I even already have a book about it that has patterns to try and everything.

And how is the yukata coming?

All I have left to finish is the collar. Of course...the collar looks quite tricky. ^_^;
[User Picture]
From:firesign10
Date:April 23rd, 2005 05:44 am (UTC)

Wow!

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I just did a search on oshie and wow! So beautiful!!! and so intricate.... it's really impressive! I'm always in awe of the combination of both artistry and craftsmanship in things like this. Thanks for sharing :-)!
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:April 23rd, 2005 06:09 am (UTC)
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How pretty!! Thanks for the pictures!

Crafting sounds like so much more fun in Japan. But then, I've always had five thumbs when it comes to anything involving sewing, glue or paint. ^_^
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From:evil_overlord
Date:April 23rd, 2005 10:03 pm (UTC)
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Seeing stuff like this always makes my fingers itch to try new things. *G* That and longing for the opportunity to go store-hopping...one day I might actually get to venture overseas, and see the wonderful fabrics and yarns and everything....

The fabric for your project looks *so* pretty...do you have any idea what *kind* of glue is used? Some fabrics, from what I understand, don't take glue very well.

Sounds like a fun day overall, though!
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 24th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC)
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The fabric for your project looks *so* pretty...

Chirimen is absolutely gorgeous. Some of it is just plain solid colors, but a lot has intricate designs. Many people use kimono fabric and brocade for oshie as well.

do you have any idea what *kind* of glue is used?

The one for sticking the fabric to the cardboard was very transparent, with a similar consistency to rubber cement (though without the smell), and they just called it "glue." It was poured out into saucers for us to use, so I didn't see the container. The kind for sticking the finished project on the display board was thick and white like paste and the container was simply labeled "bond."
[User Picture]
From:firesign10
Date:April 24th, 2005 09:06 am (UTC)
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I would imagine that the standard hot glue gun would work fine for the fabric-cardboard adhesion, and then something stronger (maybe Liquid Nails?) for the mounting adhesion.

*feeling similar crafting itch in fingers...*
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:April 24th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC)
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The kind for sticking the finished project on the display board was thick and white like paste and the container was simply labeled "bond."
I have some glue that's labeled "bond," but it's just like Elmer's Glue. Was that what the glue you used was like, or was it thicker? Elmer's doesn't really strike me as strong enough for something like this.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 24th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Was that what the glue you used was like, or was it thicker?

The stuff we used was very thick, practically solid. "Paste" is the best description I can come up with.
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From:megory
Date:April 24th, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)

Yet another beautiful idea...

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For a while I thought I could just remember all these things I'd like to try some day when I retire or something, but this is getting to be too much. I might just have to retire early! They are really beautiful...so many layers of creativity--the big picture itself, the textures of the materials, the colors, the different kinds of fabric, the way of dividing the parts of the mosaic, the embellishments...too many decisions! I would never finish a project, I'm sure.

Thanks for sharing and for the pictures.
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