Kikuya Kanzashi: An Interview with Artist Kirsty Wells
Kirsty Wells is a wonderful artisan inspired by Japan and creating things of beauty and style. She sat down with OohSoCute.com to do the following interview and we are so happy she did. Here it is…
Your work is so interesting and so are you. Please tell us a little bit about your beautiful designs and you, too?
I am 28 years old and currently living in the North of England. I make tsumami kanzashi hair ornaments which I sell through my online shop, Kikuya Kanzashi (www.kikuyakanzashi.co.uk) and at local craft fairs. I have a great interest in Japan and have been learning Japanese for the last two years.
That’s great. So, how did you get into origami?
When I was younger a friend taught me how to make an origami crane. I was really fascinated by this art form and wanted to learn more. I got some books out from the library and practised different folding techniques. I am still very much a beginner as there is a lot to learn. I enjoy making pieces as presents for people and love how something as simple to fold as an origami flapping bird can put such a smile on someone’s face.
So true. It’s always the littlest of things that bring the biggest smiles. Can you tell us…Why did you start making kanzashi?
I have been interested in Japan and Japanese culture since a young age in particular the Geiko (Geisha, Woman of Art) and Maiko (Apprentice Geisha, Child of Dance) of Kyoto. This has led to my passion for Tsumami Kanzashi, which are the folded flower hair ornaments worn by Geisha. Originally I started making kanzashi just for myself to wear. I studied photos of the kanzashi worn by Geisha and tried to develop a more modern style that could be worn every day. I soon started to receive lots of compliments and people would ask me where they could buy one. I really wanted to go to Japan so decided to start selling kanzashi and put the money I earned towards my trip. Having this as an incentive really motivated me. It takes a long time to make one kanzashi and knowing that the hours I spent would help me get to Japan kept me going.
How often do you travel to Japan and do you have any favorite places to shop or that you must visit when you go?
I have been to Japan twice now. I wish I could afford to go more often! I love to travel and visit as many different places as possible whilst I am there. I buy a rail pass and stay in hostels and find that is a really good way to see the country. Kyoto is my favourite place to visit because of my interest in Geisha and traditional Japanese culture. Last April I visited Kyoto during Cherry Blossom season. It is a beautiful time of year to visit Japan and there is a really great atmosphere. My partner actually proposed to me underneath a Cherry Blossom tree during a Hanami (blossom viewing party) in Maruyama park, Kyoto so that will always be a special place to me. Another place I love to visit is Nippori in Tokyo. Nippori is also known as ‘Fabric Town’ and last time I went to Japan I was able to bring back lots of beautiful Japanese fabric and chirimen silk to make kanzashi with.
What are your favorite designs and do you have any new inspirations?
The possibilities are endless when making Tsumami Kanzashi. There are always new designs to try or new fabrics to experiment with. Geisha wear a different kanzashi motif each month of the year and one day I would like to make a full set of twelve. I am inspired by the beautiful kanzashi made by the old masters and by nature too.
Do you plan to have any new or surprise items in your store soon?
I am always adding new kanzashi to my online shop. I am planning on making my own flowers for my wedding (including my bouquet) so could possibly create a specific bridal range. Watch this space!