If you didn’t know, I do take commissions from time to time. Last December I took a commission to craft three different chrysanthemum kanzashi, which I completed and mailed out last month. Now that this set of commissions has had time to wing its way over to the UK, I thought it might be a good time to share it with ya’ll.
These kanzashi are a little different from my usual work, as they are a kind of reproduction. My client wanted kanzashi inspired by special event kanzashi from previous years. Many traditional kanzashi designs are essentially the same from year to year, but some kanzashi (those worn for special events in January and July) are different every year; they have some of the same elements and motifs that you would usually expect, but also include special design elements unique to that year.
These three pieces are inspired by kanzashi designs from January 2013 (purple and white chrysanthemums with pink and white plum blossoms and heavenly bamboo), 2015 (red and white chrysanthemum with hagotia and metal plum blossoms) and 2017 (pink and white chrysanthemums with hagoita and pine needles), but in a smaller size. The kanzashi that maiko and geiko wear can be very large and unwieldy, really only wearable with special hair styling. These are smaller and easier to wear for the layperson.
I did my best to include all the same elements as the references, but there are differences in color and some details. For example, the heavenly bamboo in the kanzashi at the top right uses a different berry pip than was pictured in the example. The purple is much darker and more red-purple than blue-purple. I also wasn’t 100% sure how the small metally silver dots were made on the inspiration picture, so I just made mine out of silver paper I carefully hand cut into tiny circles.
I thought I was going to have a hard time achieving the metal center pieces for the red and white chrysanthemums, but after staring at them for a few days I finally had a brainwave and realized that brads would work. I cut the insert ends off of some metal brads and popped them in with some glue. They look pretty good, and don’t weigh the accessory down too much.
I don’t take too many commissions, but it’s always nice when I get to work on one like this; the client knew what they wanted, and provided clear reference photos.
I recommend using this approach for anyone who wants to commission an artist – figure out what you’d like, come with references, and be considerate of the artist’s sensibilities and recommendations.
All in all, I feel like these kanzashi turned out pretty good. They are a fair representation of the styles from January 2013, 2015 and 2017 and didn’t lose any design elements despite their smaller size and differing materials.
In general, I don’t consider myself a fan of reproductions. Copying another artist’s work is a good way to learn how to do something, but doesn’t help you grow in your own right as an artist, and making money from another person’s designs is morally grey at best. However, for something like this it doesn’t bother me as much; my work has enough differing elements to make it unique, and there were several techniques involved in crafting these kanzashi that I had personally never tried before.
Crafting these kanzashi was a good learning experience, but I am looking forward to working on my original works again.
Really, I just need to get a move on on my sculpture commission; I’ve been picking at it on and off over the last year and I really should concentrate on finishing it up. It’s an original design I made for my cousin, who is also a fan of cute foxes.
Anyhoo, that is all I’ve got for this week. I hope you check back again next week for more arts, crafts, or cookery!