Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
Oshi-e (押絵/押し絵), which literally means “Pressed Picture,” is a traditional form of Japanese handicraft since the Edo period. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the picture is made up of many pieces. Each piece is wrapped in beautiful kimono fabric or paper, padded with cotton in between, and is nailed/glued together to create a three-dimensionally raised ornament.
Oshie is commonly featured as main decoration (like applique) on various handicrafts (e.g. box making, wall hangings etc.), or simply mounted directly on Shikishi (色紙 / fancy cardboard) as artwork of seasonal symbols (e.g. Japanese New Year’s decorations). However, the epitome of elegance and good craftsmanship can be truly seen in Oshie Hagoita, which primarily depicts figure portrait (e.g. Kabuki or Geisha characters).
You may have heard of Kurumi-e (くるみ絵), which means “Wrapping Picture.” It is a term used interchangeably with Oshie nowadays. However, to be precise, Kurumie is actually derived from Oshie, as an elementary level of the craft. The difference is that, while keeping the essence of the ancient Japanese technique, Kurumie uses sponge (foam) in replace of cotton. Of which, it enables beginners to finish their handiworks beautifully with greater ease, while keeping a reasonable essence of stereoscopic effect.
Kimono scraps were used in the olden days. Nowadays, these are not only expensive but hardly ever come by. In fact, Oshie craftsmen actually seek out the silk in antique markets, or get their stock directly from Kyoto kimono makers. For common folks like us, it is definitely easily to buy Chirimen (縮緬/ちりめん/crepe cloth) from craft stores to wrap the cardboard parts.
Fancy Japanese paper:
Chiyogami (千代紙) – “a thousand generation paper” – is an alternative to the highly-priced Washi (thick handmade paper). The beautiful craft paper is woodblock-printed with repetitive kimono designs, to emulate traditional kimono textile patterns.
I bought an Oshi-e kit that allows me to create a wall display, featuring a cute white bunny playing drum (on unframed Shikishi board; 24×27 cm). I personally felt that as a beginner, buying a kit will be an inexpensive, yet a great way to learn the craft of Oshie (Kurumie) since the main materials needed are included.
On my following blog post, I will be sharing my undertaking of the above Oshie/Kurumie craft kit in details with you. Please check it out and let me know what you think. ^_^Y