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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Additional Stuff : Fishing Baskets, Dried Kipper-like Fish, Eels, a Demon Banner

Shōki The Demon Slayer

17 Baskets.
June - October 4th 2015

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Things have changed recently as I have gone back to work full time.  I leave the house at 8:30am and am not home usually until around 7pm.  I really didn’t want to go back to work for such long hours but sometimes we really don’t get to choose what we want out of life.  So, my hobby has pretty much suffered and has been somewhat neglected.

I say somewhat because as usual, I always have my eyes open for certain additions or embellishments for the ryokan.  I managed to find around the beginning of June a bunch of baskets (17 in all) that came from an Ebay seller from Thailand.  I had been searching for months for fishing baskets (even looking on Etsy for basket makers) with no luck.  I searched the internet for instructions and where to buy materials to make them myself but couldn’t find the materials.  I was about to make a $25 purchase for 7 little hand made baskets when I happened upon the Ebay offer.  Seventeen for around a few dollars more for shipping.  I am so glad I made the purchase and even if it took around a month to arrive, I was pleasantly surprised! The quality was very high.  The pieces were more than I had hoped for and I think they add a nice touch to the back house area where the fishing equipment is.  I understood from the listing and the person who sells them that they are typical little souvenir basket type objects sold in gift shops in Thailand.  I just hope no little children were involved in their manufacture.

Fishing baskets in place out back.
I used one of the baskets to place on top of the cabinet in the buddha room along with another little daruma doll that I picked up at Ajisai shop in Florence.  The rest of the baskets will probably be spread over the house somehow.
Inside the buddha room.
Mini basket and daruma doll.

Gluing the fish in place.
Bucket of eels and threaded fish
Not long after, I happened across a FaceBook posting in the miniatures page I follow.  The posting was super interesting.  It had to do with food stuffs from the Tudor period.  I actually enjoy reading a lot of historical information about the Tudor family and medieval English royalty so when I happened across a posting about lamprey (gross sucker fish) I ended up linking over the the poster’s Etsy shop .  Mary Thornton has the most amazing little objects in her shop but what’s more, she has an amazing blog that gets into the details of the food stuffs she reproduces in miniature.  Not long after she had made the lamprey, she made some eels!! Yes eels!! I know that the Japanese use quite a bit of fresh water eel in their kitchen so i decided to order a bucket of eels.  I ended up messaging her and we got to chatting about smoked fish and kippers.  I sent her a pic of the smoked fish I had been trying to find for months (most fish are way too big for the ryokan house’s scale) so she said she’d give the smoked kippers a go.  I’m glad she did! In between the time I ordered and when she actually shipped everything some time had passed (first because it was summer holiday for lots of people including Mary and then we needed a little time for the fish to arrive in Italy....say no more) but when they did I was blown away.  The were perfect! Now I could make my Japanese hanging fish holder (as seen in my favorite wrapping book “How to Wrap Five Eggs” which is a misnomer because they never actually explain how to wrap five eggs or anything else).  I ended up having a momentary lapse on working out the knotting (which ended up being resolved again by posting on the FaceBook miniature page and a having a helpful soul assist me in remembering my crochet!) and finally got around to making the hanger.  I had to chain crochet the fish onto the raffia.  I then put some liquid glue on the back to hold them in place.  And finally I have my smoked kippers and eels ready to serve the guests.  The leftover fish went straight into the salted fish container I had made ages ago (from left over tatami mat) and back in the outside kitchen hutch.  Very cool.
Salted fish container now full.
Hanging fish and eels waiting to be grabbed and skinned!
Around the end of August, my sister came for a visit.  She had been to a show at the MFA in Boston which I would have loved to see.  Since I was a teen, I have been attracted to Japanese woodblock prints.  Mostly the technique is what intrigued me.  In fact, when I finally went to university to study, I majored in printmaking.  Anyway, the show was about the ukiyo-e prints and in particular the works of Hokusai.  Who has been following my blog knows that I used his “Under the Wave off Kanagawa” or more commonly known as the Great Wave print inside the spa.  I’ve always loved this print.  The wave reminds me of a great hand ready to scoop up the long boats in the water.  Well, my sister gave me the MFA’s accompanying book for the show.  Apart from the comprehensive collection info it provided the book showed so many prints in detail that it was amazing.  I think I would have been lost at the show.  It would have taken me ages just to study each print.  In the book, there was a banner of a demon queller known as Shōki.  Like often happens, he was originally a Chinese legend who then became popular in Japan.  Here is an excerpt from the book:
“He was said to be the ghost of an unsuccessful candidate for an official position in the Chinese bureaucracy who committed suicide after he was unfairly disqualified in the imperial examinations, but in his afterlife became a benevolent guardian.  Supposedly, he appeared in a dream to the Chinese emperor and vowed to fight all demons, especially those that cause disease.  A picture of this supernatural warrior was considered an auspicious object that would promote the health and well-being of everyone in the home in which it was displayed, particularly that of children...”
I thought it was pretty funny how in the afterlife a politician agrees to do good and even come back to protect people.  But what I liked most was that the banner designed by Hokusai was created for a festival (then only for boys but today for all children) which is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month and is the same one that uses the koi kites which are already on display on the outside porch of the ryokan.  So Shōki fit right in.
I printed a reduced version of him on some rice paper, then attached some thin wooden strips with glue to simulate the banner staffs.  I then glued a small straw onto the wooden railing and inserted the banner there.  It’s not glued in.  That so I can change banners if I want in future.
Trimming Shōki for fitting on his banner staffs.
Shōki protecting everyone in the house.
Right now I am working on some more geta shoes that my friend gave me.  She has the same kit but since we are no longer working together, she isn’t really working on the mini’s anymore, which is sad.  She was bashing her kit into something different so she didn’t mind giving me a few pairs of geta to make for the house.  Course, they are still a total pain in the ass to make so I suppose I’ll finish them at some point.

Well, that’s about it for now.  I am still looking for a nice 1/20 scale bicycle to add to the outside but no luck so far.  But I’m patient.  I figure like everything up till now, I’ll come across it when I least expect it.

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