Kiri-e Kite

Kind of by accident, I found myself being invited to a kiri-e (cut paper artwork) class on Sunday. I’d been told that it was going to run from 1:30 to 4:30. But, when I got to the room the group was using (long story), I discovered that the class had actually started at 1. And then, they shut things down at 4 PM. The teacher knew I’d be coming to the class, and had selected 3 harder patterns for me to choose from (just about everyone else were beginners). I’d done one of the patterns before (a water wheel house at sunset), and I decided to try the two kids with the kite. All the beginners were able to finish their pictures in the 3 hours they had. I, on the other hand, was thinking that the class would go to 4:30. I was cutting as fast as I could, but I was still just on the outline when everyone else started cleaning up. I finished the interior cuts and began cutting the outer edges to finish off the pattern. I had 5 seconds left, with about 4 or 5 more cuts, when the teacher tried interrupting me to kick me out of the room. I rushed the last of the cuts, packed the outline away, and left the room just as it was being locked up.

Normally, this wouldn’t have been a big deal. The wheel house pattern took 5 hours to finish, and I had to do that at home, too. The problem this time is that I wasn’t able to consult the teacher on what colors to use for the kimonos and the kite. I’m not particularly good at color selection on my own, and the teacher has a larger collection of patterned paper to work with. On my way home, I looked in Shinpuku, the biggest stationery store in the city, and they didn’t have much in the way of patterned paper (I wanted something like gift wrap). So I had to settle for the paper I already had in the apartment. It took me another 4 hours to finish the picture, and a lot of that was spent just trying to decide what colors would work best with each other. The biggest issue, which I discovered on the wheel house, is that all of the black in the outline really contributes to an over-all darker image when you employ lots of reds, blues and greens. I had to make a conscious choice towards pinks and lighter blues, without making everything boring by having too many shades of the same color. I would have liked to have a yellow kite and/or streamers, but the only yellow paper I had was too garish. This is the best I could come up with.

As I was making the first few cuts on the outline, it suddenly occurred to me that having a record of the shading in the picture would be useful for figuring out what sections all had the same color blocks, so I grabbed my camera and took the top photo. And, yeah, when I got home and had to do all the work on the picture without being able to ask the teacher for help, this photo turned out to be a life saver. I have the bottom black and white outline included here for anyone that might want to try this pattern out themselves.


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