bookmark_borderJinmaku no Hara

For Pennsic, the Japanese-themed group we camp with, “Clan Yama Kaminari”, surrounds the camp with camp curtains called “jinmaku“. We typically refer to these as “windscreens”. Our camp is large, and these things don’t last forever, so we typically need to make one or two dozen new jinmaku every year to swap in for faded or otherwise damaged ones. Some time ago, I made some others to serve as personal curtains, or advertising banners for the Barony and Kingdom. For her birthday, I made my sweetie a couple of personal jinmaku.

Jinmaku in white over green
Jinmaku in white over purple

When we make them for camp, we make them in a “black over red” configuration. When I asked Hara Shonagon what colors she would want for personal jinmaku (without my committing to making them), she responded probably white/green or white/purple. Since she seemed undecided, I made one of each.

These are just cotton/poly fabric with webbing tabs at the top for hanging. I did put a lot of sewing into each one. Each has proper flat-felled seams for the top/bottom join, and a real hem at the top. The ones we make for clan spend most of the year locked up in a storage trailer, and only get used at Pennsic. We can use these whenever we want.

bookmark_borderTabi for Tsukime

One of our friends in the SCA, Oribe Tsukime, received a writ for elevation to the Order of the Laurel. The writ was issued back in the Spring, but she was not able to have her actual elevation until this past weekend. This gave me plenty of time to make these white silk tabi for her to wear as part of her elevation garb.

Tabi in fine white silk

This was the first time I had ever made tabi for another person, the first time I had made tabi in a few years, and the process was complicated by Tsukime living somewhat far from my home. Footwear is always difficult to fit, and trying to do it by sending prototypes back and forth in the mail took a few months.

I was able to complete this project with days to spare, however, and she wore them during her vigil and elevation ceremony. They are all fine silk left over from the uenohakama project, sewn by hand with white silk thread. I don’t know how long they will last, and they probably never can be washed, but I was asked to make them and they were ready in time, so I am happy.

bookmark_borderBlue Stripe Hitatare Sugata

I completed this project back in early May of this year. I wore it to War Practice and to court at Pennsic, but I am only just now getting around to documenting it. Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of me actually wearing this outfit. Anyway, I wanted a less-formal and lighter-weight hitatare than my others. This one is made from a mid-weight linen, instead of the heavy-weight linen and hemp from which the others are constructed. I painted some white stripes on the fabric so that it wouldn’t look like a bedsheet. Here is the view from the front:

The assembled hitatare sugata

From the back, you can see that there are also stripes in the back, and that the hakama do not have a koshi-ita panel on the back. Some hitatare of late period had these panels, but since I do not tend to add them, this garment does not.

The hitatare sugata from the back

The sugata part of this post’s title of course means basically “outfit”. The hitatare itself is the upper-body over-garment. You have to make the body panels quite long if you don’t want the tails pulling up out of the hakama waistband.

The hitatare alone

Here is a close-up of the painted stripes. I have stopped using the “Jacquard Neopaque” acrylic fabric paint for most things, and I have switched over to “Jacquard Textile Color” fabric paint. This does not have the same vinyl-esque feel as the Neopaque, but it works well and still resists bleeding into the fibers. I applied the paint after the garments were constructed, so the stripes would match across the seams.

The stripes

At the sleeve ends, the sleeve cords run through “belt loop” style attachments. There’s a hitatare in the Kure red book that uses these attachments, and I have found them to be durable.

A hitatare sleeve end
“Lower-Class Samurai” on page 29 of the Kure red book

Here’s a close-up of one at the bottom of a sleeve. You can clearly see that I have not bothered to braid my own cords yet for this outfit. It uses store-bought cotton braid. The belt loops are made by starting with a rectangle of fabric that is twice as long and four times as wide as the eventual loop. The ends of the rectangle get folded in to the center, followed by the sides getting folded in to the center. The loop is then folded in half along the length to make a short 4-layer strap, and stitched along the long edge to hold it closed. Stitching it on to the garment seals the ends of the loop.

Detail of the hitatare sleeve

Similar loops are at the cuff end of each leg. I only put loops on the outsides of the pleats, so they hold the pleats in place. I’m not sure if this is historical or if the exemplar just has narrower legs.

The hakama cuffs

I also made a kataginu that matches the hakama so that I don’t have to roast if it is very hot. A kataginu is basically a sleeveless hitatare.

The matching kataginu

So there, now I have four hitatare sugata. This one went through the post-Pennsic laundry without falling apart, so I consider it to be a success.

bookmark_border14th-century Japanese Toolchest Mark 3

I have been putting off the next step in this long-running experimental archaeology project more because I wanted to work on it at a particular event than because of my normal level of procrastination. I planed down the 1by lumber months ago, then I cut and assembled the chest at Aethelmearc War Practice. I started this project working on the Mark Zero “proof of concept” chest at War Practice back in 2018 or 2019.

Anyway, this is the fourth try at making a tool chest that looks like one you can see in the Kasuga Gongen Engi-e. This emaki illustrated scroll is from the 14th century and shows scenes from the history of a Kasuga shrine, including the shrine’s construction.

To better match the size and look of the Kasuga chest, I started with 1×6 lumber instead of the 1×8 I used on the Mark 2. It’s only about 39 inches long instead of the fifty-something inches of the Mark 2. I also used the thicker battens like I discussed, which I think worked out well.

Here is what the four chests look like laid out in a row:

I think I really have the look now. The size an proportions may not be exactly right, but it’s pretty much there. I’ll maybe work on a few tweaks at some point in the future.

It’s long enough that I can get some of my longer saws in there, just deep enough that things don’t get buried under several layers, and still wide enough that some of my organizer tills fit in there sideways to keep things from sliding around.

bookmark_borderBanner for Hara Kikumatsu

My sweetie answers her writ to the Order of the Laurel tomorrow. Here is the silk banner I made for her!

Argent, a brown rabbit sejant affronty proper within eight irises in annulo purpure slipped and leaved vert

This banner is made with “Dye-na-flow” paint on habotai silk. I pre-treated the silk with “No-Flow” sizing to make it react to ink more like paper than fabric, so I could just trace the artwork as if it was an illustrated scroll. I’ve had mixed results with this method, but I think it came out wonderful this time around. The suspensory braid is a 16-strand braid in white silk, actually a length of braid left over from Duchess Sir Morgen’s elevation garb.

bookmark_borderBento Lunch

I’ve been making these bento lunches for a few years now, but for some reason I have never posted about them here.

Bento Lunch 2022.10.18

Upper left: pickled daikon, pickled cucumber and peppers, pickled carrot, pickled ginger with yukari, simmered taro

Upper right: Shredded cabbage with dressing, topped with salmon flakes, black sesame seeds, and seaweed flakes

Lower left: Mushroom rice with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Lower right: Tofu with soy sauce and togarashi spices, imitation crab meat with spices

I have to do quite a bit of prep work on the weekend to be able to put these together in ten minutes in the morning, but it is fun and tasty.

bookmark_borderMark 2 14th Century Toolchest

Took a second swing at this project. Here it is up on sawhorses in my workshop/garage:

14th Century Japanese Toolchest

It’s huge! It’s 4.5 feet long and a foot wide. It fits in the trunk of my car ok if I fold the rear seats down, but it’s way too big. Probably at fault is my desire to use 1by8 for the sides. To keep the length in proportion to the height it’s just way too long. Maybe I’ll try again sometime with 1by6 instead. That would make it only about 40 inches long by my reckoning. Compare the image below with the original painting.

Toolchest with Lid Askew

I’m also pretty sure I should be making my battens narrower, and probably from the full 3/4″ thickness of board instead of my 1/2″ planed-down thickness. As a bonus, here is an image of all the tools I needed to construct this Mark 2 chest, stored in the Mark 1:

Tools to Make a Toolchest

There’s not much you need, really, to build a simple chest.

bookmark_borderNew Older Japanese Tool Chest

Most of the Japanese toolchests I make follow the pattern established by Toshio Odate, which makes them very traditional, but very modern.

From Page 10 of Odate’s
Japanese Woodworking Tools

So what were Japanese toolchests like in the medieval period? Similar in some ways, but a lot less sophisticated.

From the circa 1309 emaki
Kasuga Gongen Genki-e

In this fourteenth century illustrated scroll, two apprentices take a break from working on the construction site of a new temple. One leans against a tool chest that is open, showing some tools inside. We can estimate that this chest is about 3 feet long, about 1 foot wide, and six or seven inches deep. The end handles and clever locking mechanism are missing, but the cross battens keep the lid from falling in. The wood seems very thin, represented by a single line whereas the battens are shown with rectangular ends. No joinery or fasteners are visible, which makes them something of a mystery. Butt joinery is used on the modern chest, so we can assume it was used here, too. No edge to the bottom of the box is visible, so the bottom piece is most likely fully captive. Nails are used on the modern chest, so it’s likely they are used here, though they may be wooden nails or pegs.

Here is my interpretation of the fourteenth century toolchest:

My New Older Japanese Toolchest

I ran a 6-foot 1×8 and a 6-foot 1×12 through the planer to shave it down to a half-inch thick. I cut the bottom, lid, and two ends from the wide wood. I cut the sides and battens from the “narrow” wood, ripping the 7.25″ width into 2″ battens. Then, I nailed it all together.

My New Older Japanese Toolchest, Opened

I deadened the nails for the lid, so it should hold together pretty well. The whole thing is 29 inches long, which was about the biggest chest I could make from the two boards with which I started.

What did I learn? My chest isn’t long enough, and it’s possibly too deep. The proportions just don’t look right. My battens should be made from thicker wood, and should be both narrower and closer to the ends of the lid. Because I used thinner wood, this chest is a lot lighter than a previous attempt. Very little wood is wasted, unless you count the one third of the lumber that got turned into shavings.

bookmark_borderSecond Kanmuri Box

Back in October, I was idly searching eBay for Japanese antiques, and I found a kanmuri for sale at a very reasonable price. So, I bought it. This one is not as old or as nice as my other one, but it was less expensive and is in better shape. I won’t be as afraid to wear it or lend it to others. However, it should still have a better storage container than the corrugated cardboard box in which it was shipped to me.

I made two separate boxes to hold the parts of the first kanmuri. This was partially because of the shape of the tail, and because the body of the first kanmuri does not break down into parts. This second one comes apart much better, so I could build a single flat box to hold the parts.

Second Kanmuri-bako, closed

This kanmuri-bako is a simple rectangular, lidded box. The top and bottom are thin birch-faced plywood, and the edges are maple scants. I put a couple of coats of shellac on the outside for protection, but I left the inside unfinished so that the wood can absorb and release moisture as needed.

Second Kanmuri-bako, open

Inside, there is enough room that the pieces of the kanmuri can be individually wrapped to protect them from rubbing. There is actually enough room inside that I am able to store some other formal accessories in there to keep everything together. I can fit a shaku in the bottom, my sekitai, and my hirao. There’s probably enough room to add my gyotai if I ever need to.

Second Kanmuri

Because I just realized that I never posted to my blog about the first kanmuri, here is a picture of the assembled second kanmuri. the tail removes easily. When you remove the horizontal pin, from the hat part, the upright tube can also be removed.

bookmark_borderBeaded Fancy Braid

The braid I used for Fancy Square Braid and Another Fancy Braid has these nice compressed inner threads, and it struck me that you could make those inner threads beaded, and the beads would be nicely couched in the braid. I had some “magatama” beads in my stash from the swag bag of the AKS conference in 2017, so I decided to try it.

Fancy Braid with Beads completed 2021.11.08

I really like how it came out. There are a couple of “errors” in it, but I mostly recovered from them quickly so the overall braid was not disrupted. The magenta inner core on each bead makes a nice counterpoint to the different colors of blue thread I used for the other strands. The beads are strung on “S-Lon” beading cord, were kind of a challenge to get them well seated in their stitches, but I was able to work out a method eventually. The “magatama” beads have a teardrop shape, and are only on every other side stitch, which made it somewhat easier.