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Kanzashi in Bloom by Diane Gilleland

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Tim

Diane Gilleland, of CraftyPod.com and DIYalert.com, wrote a nifty book about a craft style she enjoys called kanzashi. As you can see, her book is titled Kanzashi in Bloom. I noticed Diane’s book signing from Powell’s Books event calendar and although I was a bit out of place in the crowd, I’m glad I went.

In fact, Diane noticed me and came over to introduce herself, which caught me a bit off guard but was a pleasant surprise. She politely listened as I stumbled through explaining why I was there.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re dying to know what the heck kanzashi is! So let’s get rolling…

What is Kanzashi?

Diane explained that kanzashi is an ancient craft from Japan that started in 1600 during the Edo period. It began as a decorative addition to the elaborate hairstyles of geisha. Later this style was adopted by geisha-in-training known as maiko. Traditionally, kanzashi utilizes silk cloth. However, a variety of materials can be used including precious metals, wood and tortoise shell.

Diane-Showing-Geisha

Dianes-Work

Unfortunately, kanzashi is a dying art. According to Diane, there are only 5 masters in the world! She met one of the masters and, at the book signing, passed around an elaborate hair pin with a small bloom and flowing petals to demonstrate the fine craftsmanship. I have to say, it was pretty impressive. I’m quite sure my big clumsy man-fingers couldn’t fold such intricate patterns!

If you’re interested in more of the history of kanzashi go here.

Kanzashi in Bloom

Diane’s book demonstrates in full-colored detail how to make 20 Simple Fold-and-Sew Projects to Wear and Give. Kanzashi in Bloom shows you how to create the floral patterns with a plethora of quality photographs, taken by Diane’s mother, along with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions.

The method of crafting these floral designs has been simplified from traditional processes to make it easier to learn. Diane also modified the process to account for different material types, since most crafters will not be using silk or other pricey material.

Diane has made crafting kanzashi so easy (and fun) that everyone in the audience at Powell’s, including me, successfully made two different flower petals. The picture to the left here are the two I made. Not too bad, right?

After you’ve made a bunch of petals then you can take a needle and thread to string them together. Then arrange the petals into a flower shape and add any additional decorations.

Take a look at what readers have made from Diane’s book!

If you’ve read the book, and tried out the designs, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

Made by Tim

Flower-Vase
Purse-Flower
kanzashi-on-display

Kanzashi in Bloom - Thumb

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