Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obon Lanterns of Juice Cartons and Kadomatsu

I was just researching recycled art projects and came upon this Amsterdam artist, Anke Weiss. I first saw her work on this blog. Wow! Amazing work. I love how the pin pricks transform the cartons into beautiful unique art. So simple, clever and elegant.

Art below created by Anke Weiss

Tonight I am brainstorming on high school craft projects for a Japanese Hawaiian themed workshop for a San Francisco high school's International Day in late April . I need to present three concepts. One of the ideas I am thinking of is a Japanese Obon lantern project (creating recycled carton art like the above, and dropping in battery powered tea lights). I like this idea because: 1. It is gender neutral, 2. uses recycled materials and 3. juice boxes have the same form as the Toro Nagashi Obon lanterns. 4. These look so cool. We would add a floating base and a modified roof element. Here is a nice video on the Obon Festival ritual adapted to Memorial Day in Hawaii.

Above, Toro Nagashi lanterns off Oahu and below in Japan.

My second project idea is the Kadomatsu. In Hawaii these are still made large and with real bamboo. In Japan, Kadomatsu in general are small, plastic and fit on top of the TV. These are a Japanese New Year decorations full of symbolism and like so many objects in ritual and celebration, evolved from a practical object: large sections of bamboo used to be filled with water and kept out side Japanese homes and were used to put out house fires.

Here is an early sample I worked up for a young children's project on this theme. If I did this with teens I would really refine it significantly. I would also incorporate some of the more elaborate elements. The matsu (pine element) is not included in this prototype and the pine is really important. We would use real pine and make elegant cording knots and refined fans. Instead of green construction paper for the bamboo, we'd cover the paper tubes in manga and paint with a green wash so that some of the manga imagery would come through. My dad made lovely bases for a kadomatsu project at the de Young Museum and I still have quite a few left over.
young children workshop prototype

Below is the real thing in Japan. Note the plastic flowers.

The third project idea is lahala weaving with manga, candy wrappers and plastic sushi grass. I'll make a prototype soon.

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