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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chapter 76a / 77a Partial - The Windows and Shōji to the Right Porch, The Kadomatsu

December 27th - 26th January 2013

The past month has been very busy and somewhat stressful.  I am still laid off.  I am not very motivated to do much of anything at all.  Yet today, 26th January, I woke up with the realization that technically, I am already 50 years old and I haven’t got all that much time left to complete all the projects I have started.  What will happen to them once I am gone I do not know.  But dammit, I owe it to myself to finish them.  So, onwards!!!

I had decided to jump into some of the future chapters to pull out the pieces to make the windows and the shōji for the porch.  I just didn’t feel like painting up more pieces during the holiday weekend leading up to New Year’s so just wanted to do something less challenging and more satisfying.  I actually enjoy installing the windows and shōji.  That was pretty easy and finally I actually got to use the shōji paper I had purchased at my favorite Florentine shop Ajisai.  The paper is gorgeous.  The watermark will make such a difference once the lights are installed.  I only wish I had this paper when I had done the other porches.  Well, the last two will have the actual correct paper!
Shōji window frames.

The shōji paper. You can see the watermark.
Shōji paper in place.

Fixing the first two of four shōji.
I installed the two (out of four) shōji doors and then moved on to the porch windows.  The upper wall area was a total pain to fit (as usual) and only after finishing one window did I realize I was going to have to drastically sand down this piece.  So, at some point after the New Year, I did just that.  Note that I have lots of manual problems when I am working.  I had cut myself badly whilst preparing the New Year’s dinner (nearly taking off the tip of my left index finger) and ended up having to bandage it for over two weeks.  I had just taken off the bandages and was working on sanding down the piece to the window on the porch and of course, the dremel sander slipped and I took off a big chunk of the same finger’s knuckle.  Bleeding again.  The disadvantage of having MS is that often I cannot gauge the actual time/space continuum and end up thinking a knife or tool is a few centimeters or millimeters from where it actually is.  Hence the chopping off of bits of my fingers.  The advantage is that there is a lot less pain involved (reduced sensation) once the cutting has happened.  Which can also be bad since until I see blood, I have no idea that I’ve cut myself.  Anyway..... working along with my dremel and bleeding off a knuckle, I did manage to sand down the piece sufficiently to fit in the windows which, once sized correctly, slid into place.  Done.

The upper small wall area was the one that needed sanding.

Finished windows and half of the shōji.
Over the holidays, I got a FaceBook notification from an association that I have been following.  It’s the Lailiac Association for Japanese expats here in Italy.  Every year they have a wonderful weekend expo of all things Japanese.  Anyway, they had  posted a few pictures of kadomatsu (or matsukado) which are New Year’s decorations.  They are supposed to be in pairs but I’ll make one this year and one next year.  Hopefully the house will be complete by then.  I cut off a branch from my pine tree and let the needles dry out.  Then I could construct my decoration.
Another example of the Kadomatsu

And example of a Kadomatsu

 I used a perfume bottle top and wrapped it with a little double sided tape.  I then wrapped some raffia vertically and tied it off.  I put some florists’ green foam inside and then cut a green straw in three heights which is doubling for my bamboo.  I painted the inside with a little buttermilk to simulate the inside of the bamboo.  I then bound some of my pine needles and found some other greenery to use and stuck it into the base.  The last bit was some red berry like decoration.  I had some white berry bits and just painted them red.
The perfume bottle top. Adding some raffia.

Adding a little green foam inside to hold the florals
The wrapped vase.
Painting the inside of a green straw

The pine needle bunches

Painting the white berries red.

Taken from a simple explaination:
“The central portion of the kadomatsu is formed from three large bamboo shoots, ... Similar to several traditions of ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement), the shoots are set at different heights and represent heaven, humanity, and earth with heaven being the highest and earth being the lowest. Some kadomatsu place the humanity and earth shoots at the same height.”

Wishing everyone a very healthy and happy 2014.
My kadomatsu outside in the front entrance. Happy 2014!


  1. Wher can i purchase the kit you have in your pics?

  2. Sorry to say that it is quite hard now to find this kit. I purchased it in Italy but it was released also in Japan, Korea and Israel.