Monday, 7 September 2020

Japan House

Last week I ventured out to my first exhibition in months! Japan House, based on Kensington High Street was housing a capsule collection of kimonos created by Takahashi Hiroko. She is an artist and expert in traditional Japanese crafts, seen below using the 'Nioudachi' pose, a pose that two deities would use to protect the dharma and often seen at the entrance of temples.

In this exhibition she was using the traditional idea of handing kimonos down to the younger generation. where the parent's old kimonos would be re-dyed and re-tailored to fit children and grandchildren

She has taken old kimonos and unstitched them, de-colourized them and then re-dyed them with dots before reconstructing the kimonos.

There was only a small number of kimonos, each in a monochrome colour palette with a touch of gold.

Sometimes the gold element was just shown in the obijime - the 'belt' that goes over the obi.

I loved the use of bold geometrics where patterns clash but the colour palette holds them together.

Japan House also has a wonderful shop to browse around. I tend to home in on the bright colours, such as these wonderful washi wrapping papers.

Items are beautifully displayed and a simple wooden bento box becomes a work of art in itself.

Fans take on a modern feel in this geometric print.

Enamel spoons artfully placed on a simple wooden tray.

Tenegui fabrics in many shades, colours and prints.

Tenegui are thin lengths of cloth that are have a number of uses including hand towel, head band or wrapping fabric. They are usually hand printed and come in amazing prints and colours.

These stunning wooden pieces use a technique where the wood is carved by hand and fitted together without the use of nails. It would originally have been used as a window covering.

Hand printed stationery using bold design and vibrant colours.

The kimono exhibition finishes today but it's still worth a visit to the shop if you fancy a little taster into Japanese design.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Japanese face masks

Whilst living in Japan, I amassed a wealth of fabrics and I have quite a hearty collection. Many of the fabrics I bought were beautiful kimono fabrics that I made into clutch bags and purses. But I also gravitated towards the wonderful array of cotton fabrics on offer. There were so many choices and there is even an area in Tokyo called Fabric Town which is in Nippori, north of the city. The best shop was called Tomato, a fabric haven that spread over 5 floors, but along the same street there were a selection of smaller stores which often had hidden gems in them. Along my way, I picked up these two fabulous fabrics - a sumo wrestler fabric and a Mount Fuji fabric which I have now made into washable, reusable cotton face masks.

I love the sweet sketchy feel of these jostling sumo on a fab mustard yellow ground.

Each mask is double sided so that you can use either side depending on your mood. The back of the mask has a contrasting dark grey crosshatch fabric and there are two black elastic loops.

I love the fresh blue of the Mount Fuji fabric and its simple design.

This mask has two white elastic loops to put around the ears.

For the back of this mask I chose a red and white spotty fabric to match the red of the sun in the Mount Fuji fabric.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Cotton face masks

It's been a while since I've added anything new to my blog and the main reason for that is that I've been a tad busy! To fill my time during lockdown I decided to try my hand at making face masks and selling them in my shop and they seem to have taken off! They've been selling like hot cakes and I've been sewing like a mad woman to keep up with all the orders. Here's a little selection of the most popular items so far. Each one has a co-ordinating fabric on the back which makes it reversible.

Many of the fabrics I've used are Japanese or have been inspired by Japanese design, and blue and white is a lovely colour combination. The mask above is made from a blue and white cotton parasol fabric. The mask below is made from a blue and white floral fabric inspired by Japanese kimonos.

I couldn't not make a leopard print mask and this one comes in black and white.

Sausage dogs are always popular and this beige and black sausage dog mask has been flying out! It matches several items in my store such as cosmetic bag, glasses case and tissue holder.

Another popular Japanese image is this stork print that I designed a while ago. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Japanese-inspired artwork

Over the past few months I've been working on ideas for digital downloads for my store. These are not physical items that are sent out, but are instant downloads which means that, once purchased the customer can download the file and print it at home. It could also be taken to a high street printer or printed via an online print company. These bright, fresh prints were inspired by the kimonos I have in my collection and would make a great addition to any room in the home.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Mother's Day

If you can't visit mum this Mother's Day, Cheeky Leopard can deliver direct to her!
We have some fabulous gift ideas in store from coin purses, cosmetic bags and clutch bags to pretty decorative silk scarves.

Card Cases

Cosmetic Bags

Tissue Holders

Coin Purses

Bag Charms and Keyrings


Clutch Bags and Handbags

Monday, 16 March 2020

Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue is an exhibition currently on at the Fashion and Textile Museum that is celebrating the work of Designers Guild, a design company founded in 1970 and still going strong today. It was founded by Tricia Guild who draws on colour, pattern, texture and form to create a harmonious space and her signature style is instantly recognisable for its vibrant colour palettes and painterly style.

The first room of the exhibition showcases beautiful hand painted birds and florals. Along with these is a selection of paint and paper mediums that were used to create the birds. It's great to see how important these traditional methods were, and are, still important to the company.

A voice-over by Tricia Guild talks about how the introduction of digital printing has been really useful for the business as it means that you can capture the nuances of colour and texture of hand painted work on the fabric without losing its quality. This is unlike using screen printed techniques where a limit of 18 screens means that you can't often incorporate many tones of colours.

The painted bird sketches were used as inspiration for this final scenic mural in beautiful shades of blue and greens with a hint of pink bird here and there. The colours of the mural tie in with the blue of the sofa and the teals of the velvet cushions.

Tricia Guild's love of nature has always played a large part in the look of the company.

The enormous florals of the 'Le Poeme de Fleurs' collection show how a change in scale and colour can make a radical difference to the final effect. There's a hand painted feel to each flower yet a modernity in the colour palette. Mixed with a mustard yellow vase and vintage rattan chair, the look becomes eclectic and fresh.

Tricia's love of Italy has influenced her designs over the years and she used the luxurious silks from Venice, silk brocades, flocked silk and cut velvet to create a new contemporary elegance in a vibrant colour story. Acid greens sit against hot pinks and vivid turquoise.

She also travelled to India regularly where she came across a plethora of fabrics and got to meet the skilled workers who made them. In the fabrics above she has captured the vibrance of Indian summers as well as the colours of the women's saris. She also used Indian printing techniques, such as block printing, creating a cushion with a gold motif on a luscious turquoise silk. The wallpaper (above right) captures the texture of an aged blue painted Indian wall.

Her style varies quite a bit throughout her career and this can be seen in the two room sets above. They both use shades of green and pink yet the collection on the left (Ornamental Garden) is much more traditional in style than the modernistic theme on on the right.

Plain and semi-plain fabrics have always been an important part of Designers Guild as these fabrics provide relief from the heavily patterned fabrics within a collection. Above, bright woven silks on the left sit amongst sumptuous jacquard velvets on the right.

The creative process can take up to 18 months from start to finish and Tricia Guild works closely with her design team, starting with mood boards and colour chips (above left) to the finished product (above right). As you can see from both images, the integrity of the initial design has been achieved amazingly well in the finished product.

This exhibition is on until 14th June 2020.

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