Sunday, August 24, 2014

new etegami calendars

I made three new desk calendars for 2015. The Cat calendar and Dog calendar are also available as wall calendars, but I think the etegami look their best in the desk calendar size. They're all listed on my Etsy shop, so please click here for details and check out the sample pages. I'll be taking orders until November 1. The calendars will ship in late-November.

Monday, August 18, 2014

illustration friday (journey)

What an amazing journey the salmon take each fall, returning from the ocean, migrating up the river, over the rapids, and finally to their spawning grounds! On the way to assure the birth of a new generation of their kind, they become food for countless creatures, who themselves, are trying to survive and perpetuate their own kind. The Japanese words on this corrugated cardboard etegami say "Life is desperate for everyone."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

new etegami call-- box card art

I don't think I've instigated an etegami call since I retired the Etegami Fun Club Newsletter. And it's high time I did. The challenge this time will be to use gift boxes, commercial product boxes, or product wrappers to make an etegami collage of some kind.  If you can recall my last post, I confess it was in preparation for this etegami call.

Your submission should combine a product box with a handpainted etegami image in the simplest way possible. If there are sensible words already on the box, you don't need to add your own. But if you can add your own words without turning the etegami-collage into a big mess, please do.

Here are the requirements of the call:

1. Your submission to this call should be a physical etegami, not digital. For this call, it should be sent in an envelope through the postal service to the following address:

dosankodebbie's mailart gallery
Hiragishi 2-11-1-22, Toyohira-ku,
Sapporo, 062-0932, JAPAN

2. The submissions should be approximately 15 cm x 10 cm (6 inches x 4 inches) in size.

3. The deadline for sending submissions to this call is October 31, 2014.


Update: As the submissions come in, I will post them on a new blog I set up just for this challenge. Later in the year, or early next year, I hope to find a more public, real-life venue to display them. Please click this link to see the growing collection of box-card etegami-collages. They are a lot of fun, and everyone has been so creative!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

etegami made from gift boxes

etegami bee on a candy box card
Japan has two gift-giving seasons, one in the summer and one in the winter. But that's just the tip of the iceberg of the myriad occasions on which social rules require the giving of gifts. Proper etiquette also requires a response from the receiver, in some cases a return gift of 1/3 to 1/2 the value of the original gift! The customs differ from region to region, and in these days when company employees and civil servants are being transferred frequently from one area of Japan to another, the rules of gift-giving-and-returning can be very confusing even for a native Japanese. I don't worry much about rules, but I do make it a habit (from the heart) to send hand-painted etegami in response to every gift I receive, and sometimes even in place of a gift that might be expected from me if people didn't already assume I was ignorant of such customs.

Many years ago,  a woman in my etegami group showed me a thank-you card she had received from a woman to whom she had sent a box of sweet melons. The woman had simply cut a postcard-sized chunk from the cardboard box the melons had been packed in, being careful to cut it from a part of the box printed with an image of a melon. Then she wrote "thank you" with a permanent black marker, addressed it, stuck a postage stamp on it, and mailed it to my friend. It was simple, it was creative and considerate, and most important of all, my friend was utterly delighted with it. This was my introduction to etegami made from gift boxes.

Since then, whenever possible, I make my thank-you cards from the boxes that the gifts are packaged in. Especially if they are pretty boxes, or printed with a brand logo that is prized all over Japan. Fortunately, there are a lot of pretty boxes in Japan, and I never have a shortage of material for making box cards.

My own personal rule is to add an etegami element to every box card. To the flowery box card (top) that I cut out of a box from a famous Hokkaido candy company, I added a bee that I had painted on a washi card, then cut out and glued to the box card. I glued an etegami shrimp to the light brown card embossed in gold letters with the name of a famous shrimp cracker maker in Nagoya. To the red card that I cut from the box of a well-known Chinese dumpling maker in Tokyo, I added an etegami dragon. Each of these cards were made for the giver of the treats that came in those boxes.

etegami shrimp on a shrimp crackers box card

etegami dragon on a chinese dumpling box card

Because these box cards already have printing on them, I chose not to add any words of my own. The message of delighted gratitude that I want to convey is clear enough, I think.  But if there is enough open space so as not to make the card too cluttered, I might add a quote or words of my own. Like the cookie box card below, to which I added an etegami albatross and a Robert Frost quote. The body of the albatross is placed right over the cookie brand name because I wanted a clean "canvas" to write words of my own. I think I should have spread the writing further to the left and right side of the card. But I need to remind myself of the etegami motto: "Awkward is okay; in fact Awkward is great!"

etegami albatross on a cookie box card

Saturday, August 9, 2014

illustration friday (king)

King Crab
You know by now how often the poetry of Robert Frost inspires my etegami. But, this week, I had an encounter with a Frost poem I'd never heard of before. It's titled (yes, titled) How Hard It Is To Keep From Being King When It's In You And In The Situation. It tells a story, and it's pretty long. It has a very different feel from his better-known work, at least from my inexpert perspective.

This is how it starts out:

The King said to his son: “Enough of this!
The Kingdom’s yours to finish as you please.
I’m getting out tonight. Here, take the crown.”

But the Prince drew away his hand in time
To avoid what he wasn’t sure he wanted.
So the crown fell and the crown jewels scattered.
And the Prince answered, picking up the pieces,
“Sire, I’ve been looking on, and I don’t like
The looks of empire here. I’m leaving with you.”
So the two making good their abdication
Fled from the palace in the guise of men.

The ex-king and his son, the ex-prince, go on to have some interesting adventures and conversations, and the ex-king ends up as a slave in the service of the Great King, who is well-pleased with him and frequently rewards him with food. In the end, the Great King sort of forces the ex-King to become king in his place. At least that's the best I can figure out. The story is told in a playful, tongue-in-cheek sort of way, with references and (apparently) private jokes that sometimes baffle me. But it also has some really insightful social criticism and some lovely phrases that I enjoy rolling around on my tongue.

I have a tendency to express love through cooking, so this exchange between the ex-King (the slave) and the Great King caught my particular attention:

"I'll bet you anything that's all as King
You think of for your people-- feeding them."

But the King said, "Haven't I read somewhere
There is no act more kingly than to give?"

"Yes, but give character and not just food.
A King must give his people character."

"They can't have character unless they're fed."

"You're hopeless," said the slave.

There are loads more interesting dialogues and monologues on themes like Progress and Freedom and Language and oh! oh! oh! ...please read it for yourself. I'm busy trying to illustrate more lines from this poem that I just can't get out of my head.

Royal Albatross

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

the dragonfly's spectacles

Another etegami carved out of corrugated cardboard. This one quotes the last verse of the beloved Japanese children's song "The Dragonfly's Spectacles" (Tombo no Megane). The dragonfly's spectacles are red-colored spectacles. That's because he flew through the sunset clouds; he flew through the sunset clouds.