Blackcabbit's World

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.

My First Attempt on Oshie / Kurumie Craft

In my previous post on Oshie (押絵) / Kurumie (くるみ絵) – a Japanese traditional craft, I promised that I’ll share my undertaking of an Oshie craft kit in details with you. Well, I’d completed the kit in 9.5 hours (in a span of six days). I could only work on it at night (with the help of my husband, whose job was to lure my terrible twos away from me with toy trains).

In the Oshie Craft Package…

Kurumie(A) A reference picture of the end product – A cute little bunny playing drum.
(B) Shikishi (色紙 / fancy cardboard) to mount the handiwork on.
(C) Fabrics included Chirimen (縮緬/ちりめん/crepe cloth) in plain colors and patterns; as well as gradient fabrics.
(D) Wire, colored strings, gold string, cardboards, urethane foam and glass beads (for the eye and nose) were also provided.

The instructions () and patterns (型紙) are in Japanese. I had to consult my husband pretty often because of my weak proficiency in the language. Nonetheless, the diagrams provided were very helpful.

Tools Needed as Suggested by the Kit:

DIY kit(1) & (2) ニッパー (wire cutter)
(3) まち針 (pins)
(4) 赤糸 (red thread)
(5) のり (glue)
(6) & (7) ものさし (measure; ruler)
(8) ピンセット (tweezers; forceps)
(9) チャコペン (marking pens) – After a few attempts, I stopped using them for this project as they “spread” on crepe fabric.
(10) つまようじ (toothpicks)
– In addition to these, I also used small pieces of cardboard to apply glue evenly.
(11) ぬれタオル (wet towel)
(12) 手芸用接着剤 (craft glue)
(13) はさみ (scissors) – I used a pair for fabric & a separate pair for paper.

Let’s Start Gluing!

Kurumie Cardboard patternFollowing the instructions accordingly, I pasted the patterns onto the back of the cardboards (grey side) using glue stick (less messy). A & B were just cardboards while C had the urethane foam on its reverse side.Oshie Craft(1) I let it dry completely out before cutting the pieces. (2) Then I kept them in clear plastic bags just in case I lose any of them. [A little lesson learnt here… I should have scanned the patterns as reference.]

Understanding the Instructions – The Right Fabric for the Right Piece:

Kurumie PatternThere were many instructions & symbols on the 取り方参考図 (method reference diagram). For the cardboard pieces, each had a Katagana label. The above ア-piece required a 0.5 cm seam allowance. The fabrics had a few unique symbols/descriptions too. For instance, in this project:
i) wavy lines represented Chirimen as well as the direction of its grain-line;
ii) double arrows were for the gradient fabrics (ぼかし) ;
iii) 布 = cloth/fabric;
iv) 柄 = pattern.
Even though I knew the Japanese words for various colors, I still referred to the end product’s picture. (Just to be doubly sure).

Three Methods of Part Construction Introduced by the Kit

(A) 厚紙パーツの作り方 – Method for Cardboard Parts:

Kurumie Method(A) This piece was cut according to the pattern that was pasted directly on the cardboard (without urethane foam). Based on the diagram, I determined its placement on the fabric (WRONG side). Note: Sometime it can be difficult to determine which is the RIGHT side of a Chirimen (crepe fabric). If in doubt, the kit suggested choosing the side with the stronger/deeper color.
(A1.) After I applied craft glue (using toothpick) on the cardboard, I pasted it onto the fabric. A painful lesson learnt here: I was so “generous” with my glue that I had to suffer consequences for it. The excess glue left spots on the fabric. Even after I let spotty piece dry out for a few days, the damage could still be seen. Thankfully, it did not affect the end product much since most of it would be covered by top pieces. Having learnt my lesson, I used extra cardboard pieces to apply & scrape off excess glue before joining cardboard and fabric together.
(A2.) Next, I clipped or cut small notches in the fabric (up to the edge of the cardboard). Then, I applied craft glue (using toothpicks) and wrapped the fabric around the cardboard. While the glue was still moist, I gave a few pulls and nudges to “round” the edge smoothly.

(B) ウレタンパーツの作り方 – Method for Urethane Foam Parts:
(C) 二つ折りパーツの作り方 – Method for Fold-in-Two Parts:

Oshie Method(B) The construction for urethane foam part was similar to the cardboard method (A). The cardboard piece with foam also required a 0.5 cm seam allowance. (B1.) With the additional thickness due to the sponge/foam, I had to press it down (in order to see the edge of the cardboard) when I cut slits/v-notches on the fabric. I had to push the foam back in while I applied the craft glue to wrap up the edges. (B2.) Occasionally, I had to trim off excessive fabric to reduce bulk. This would apply to the cardboard method (A) too.

(C) The Fold-in-Two Part Method was totally different from the others (A & B). It did not have any cardboard or urethane foam. (C1.) The measurements for the piece was provided but I used every extra bit of the fabric. (That’s why my pieces were bigger.) (C2.) Then, I fold the fabric into half based on the diagram, and applied craft glue on the inside. This would make the fabric thicker and with two RIGHT sides. (C3.) I waited for the fabric to dry completely before using the pattern provided to cut out the shapes accordingly. Notice that I cut directly with the pattern instead of transferring it on the Chirimen with marking pen. Well, I stopped using the pen when its ink ineffectively “spread” on crepe fabric. Chalk may work better in this case. Nonetheless, I decided it would be better to be overly cautious rather than putting any of the precious fabrics at risk.

Putting the Pieces Together

The kit systematically guided me through stages of part construction. It introduced to me one element at at time. Thus, building up my confidence as I formed the simplest unit and progressively worked my way to more complex assemblages. What I find most helpful, was that the kit provided TWO useful guides in order to put the pieces together with ease:

(1) 実物大 “Actual Size”

実物大 KurumieThe Jitsubutsudai (実物大 / Actual-Size) allowed me to arrange the pieces directly (and in the right sequence) on the instruction sheet since the diagram was drawn to scale. This made it easier to glue the unit together (see examples 1 & 2 above). Useful tip: I glued fabric scraps on the back to secure the unit further. (See Example 2.1)

(2) 実物大完成図 “Full-Size Completion Chart”

The Jitsubutsudai Kanseizu (実物大完成図) was on a separate sheet. It was drawn to scale just like the above 実物大. With all the units in one place, it enabled me to see the bigger picture as well as the precise placement of each units on the Shikishi (色紙 / fancy cardboard). See Example 3.Kurumie FinalExample 4 showed how helpful the 実物大完成図 was as I put the bunny parts together according to the instruction sheet.

Finally, The Masterpiece…

Kurumi-eOverall, I had a lot of fun putting the oshie pieces together and am proud that I did a good job. I love to find it a good matching frame and have it proudly display in my home one day. Ending note…If you look at my finished work closely, you may notice that I did not following the reference picture or actual-size diagrams 100% faithfully. I had a few teeny weeny modifications (especially to the bunny’s eye and mouth), just to add a little personal touch.OshieHere is another view of the finished Oshie craft work, showing a bit more three-dimensional effects.

Related Links

Japanese Traditional Crafts – Oshie / Kurumie
Blackcabbit’s Handmade Adventures


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This entry was posted on August 18, 2012 by in Craft / DIY Projects and tagged , , .
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