Discovering Kurumie

Aside from teaching a workshop on stamp carving at last month’s South Bay Craft Group meeting, I haven’t been doing a great deal of crafting. I made a few stamps in preparation, using images from some new stamp books I bought (check My Library for the specific titles). And I created a few square collage postcards, including one for an upcoming color-themed swap, but nothing major otherwise.

Squares Postcard - Light Blue & Light GreenSquares Postcard - Light Pink

However, I’ve been starting to prepare for next month’s workshop, which will be on “washi paper quilting,” based on these kits from Hanko Designs. I’ve done a few of these pieces before, but the idea is that you combine washi paper, cardboard, and thin sponge to create a padded or quilted effect. I’ve been trying to find a pattern that will be easy enough for a first-time project in a class format. I was looking at the Hanko Designs page and saw mention of “kimekomi,” which they said is a traditional Japanese art (or craft?) that inspired their kits, so I started searching for that online.

What I found about kimekomi seemed to mainly refer to 3-dimensional dolls that use fabric and padding, with many layers to add dimension (check out this site’s examples). They’re quite beautiful, but not entirely like the 2-dimensional pieces you can make with the kit. Then I remembered having seen some intricate 2D pieces like this in a local Japanese arts store, so I tried looking for that. Let me tell you, if you don’t know the exact term for something, using general but related terms takes awhile to get anywhere! But I eventually found what I was looking for.

Kurumie, or oshie, is another traditional Japanese art (or craft?) form that uses padded pieces of fabric or paper, but in 2D form. Some of them are quite intricate, like these kit examples, with many complex pieces and layering. The idea is still the same as the Hanko Design kits though. You start with a sturdy base, add some padding (cotton or sponge), and then wrap fabric or paper around it, finally assembling everything to create an overall picture. Some of them even have a bit of embroidery or painted areas on them, to add even more detail.

Anyway, I’ve been looking at so many web sites to find as much as I can about this art, but there isn’t a whole lot out there, especially about the history. It’s really great to discover things like this though, to see where certain creative forms come from and what from the past inspires people in the present. I’m going to continue to look into this as I work on my class examples, but I just wanted to share a bit of this in the meantime.

If you’re interested, I’ve bookmarked a bunch of kurumie links and I would highly recommend the Hanko Designs kits (and their other items) if you want to try your hand at it.