Grey Kimono with Floating White Camellia Pattern Inspired by Sanjuro, plus bonus Black and White Kimono

Click for larger version (PNG):grey kimono, black and white kimono; click for PDF version: grey kimono, black and white kimono. Click here for the list of dolls.

Brian and I signed up for Netflix again recently. We had it a few years back, but canceled our subscription when we both went to grad school and then when he started his own business, leaving us little time to see each other let alone watch movies together. Now, with more reasonable work schedules, we’re merrily filling up our queues again — although I think I got up to around 300 movies in my queue last time, and I’m trying to be more restrained this time around.

The last movie I got was Sanjuro, a samurai movie directed by Akira Kurosawa, and I asked Brian if he wanted to watch it with me. “It’s not going to be like that other one, is it?” he replied. “That other one” would be Rashomon, which we went to see last year; Brian had never seen it before, so he went into it expecting some fun sword fights presented from different perspectives. After he crawled out of the theater, he was despondent about the human condition for a full week. “I don’t remember the description too well, but I think this one’s supposed to be funny,” I replied, a little hesitantly, thinking that I really shouldn’t be so impulsive with that shiny “Add” button.

Luckily, I was right: I think Sanjuro is the funniest samurai movie I’ve ever seen, although it’s hardly a comedy. Toshirō Mifune plays a wandering samurai who lends his expertise – less out of pity than from exasperation at their incompetence – to nine young samurai trying to save their clan leader from being framed for corruption. I don’t like to give too much away, so if you like samurai movies, see if you can find this one somewhere.

I’ve taken a stab at drawing a kimono here – my first one, and it sure does show, so if you know more about kimono than I do, please forgive me. I have a passing acquaintance with the various kimono rules and guidelines, but I’m no expert yet, so rather than a formal kimono I was aiming for a more casual and stylish look. (It might help to know I’m a big fan of CHOKOとチョコと, Mamechiyo — just try to tell me this isn’t awesome — and so on) The main design is a reference to the climactic scene in the movie, where the signal to attack is a mass of camellias floating down a stream. Now, camellias are apparently a rare design for kimonos, because the entire flower drops off the plant at once, instead of petal by petal; this was thought to be evocative of beheading, and therefore not the kind of imagery you wanted all over your sleeves. My design is intended to reference the movie, so I will not worry about emblematic misfortune. (But, should your doll accidentally get her head ripped off, she’s in a better position than a samurai — just print her out again.) Incidentally, the white thing on the obi (the sash around the waist) is the sail of a boat – I didn’t position it right, and it’s covered up by the obijime (the yellow cord). Since you can’t see the back of the obi, you have to imagine that the large, flat knot at the back has a pattern with two more boats on it, for a total of three boats. That would be a not-so-subtle reference to the actor Toshirō Mifune, whose family name 三船 literally means “three boats.”

Since I missed Saturday, I’m adding a bonus today, a black and white kimono. Kimono are all about the patterns and colors, so I thought it would be much easier to draw kimono if I could just have a coloring-book style page to test colors on. I’ve been reading about kimono for many months now: the problem is that I’m familiar enough with them to know all the many ways in which I could get things wrong. If I draw a French court gown in colors that weren’t popular back then, or a 1920s skirt with a hemline a couple inches off, it doesn’t bother me, but somehow kimono are really intimidating. But now I’ve gotten over this first hurdle, I’m going to try some more designs!

By the way, there are a couple new paper doll blogs for you to enjoy: …. Of Paper Dolls…. and Kat’s Paper Doll Emporium. Check them out and leave nice comments! Don’t miss the other delightful paper doll blogs, either – there’s a handy list of them to the right.

Prismacolors used: Cool Grey 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70%, Sandbar Brown, Aquamarine, Light Aqua, Indigo Blue, Blue Lake, Powder Blue, Black, Sunburst Yellow, Goldenrod, Tuscan Red, Crimson Red, Dark Umber and Light Umber, Verithin Black, Sakura Souffle White Gel Pen

The Twelve Dancing Princesses (A Christmas Tale), Day 2: Camellia’s Gold Gown with Calla Lilies and Green Ribbons

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

“Those are mine, Father,” the youngest daughter Joy said quickly. “I sent them to the cobbler yesterday because they were so worn. Is something wrong?”

The king’s face softened, and he started to smile. It was quite impossible to be angry at Joy, who had arrived an orphaned baby at the castle in such a miserable little basket during the worst ice storm anyone could remember. “I am just curious as to why your new slippers are so worn. Surely you are not leaving the castle?” Joy turned quickly to Perdita, the eldest, who had come over to them.

“No indeed, how could we leave? There is nothing for miles, and the attendants know that we aren’t allowed the horses and carriages without your permission. Besides, the weather is so very treacherous this month that I for one wouldn’t want to leave, don’t you think Camellia?”

Camellia was one year younger than Perdita and was well known for her wisdom. “Of course! Dear father, the shoes are only worn because we have been so busy preparing for Christmas. We’ve run all over the castle all this week. Juliette even decorated the South Tower yesterday, and you know how many stairs that one has.” When quizzed, each princess could provide a plausible reason for her shoes being worn out — decorating, games of hide-and-seek, aimless walking. However, although they spoke earnestly and without any nervousness, the King felt that all was not right. The explanations were so weak, for one thing, and they moved languidly, as if they were tired. A couple of them seemed to have dark circles under their eyes, Natalie was rubbing her feet when she thought no one was watching, and Daphne was still sleeping. He left the room perplexed, not willing to admit that his honest and good daughters had lied to him, but feeling like something was going on beyond his knowledge.

First he summoned the Minister of Defense and found that the castle guards had neither seen nor heard anyone leaving the Princesses’ quarters or the castle. Next came the Minister of Architecture, who after being briefed by the Chancellor dispatched his subordinates to go over every inch of the Princesses’ quarters and check for secret passages or hidden doors. None were found, and the King resorted to calling the Minister of Sorcery, a mysterious man who the King didn’t really like to bother.

“I quite understand the situation,” the Minister of Sorcery said imperiously after the King had explained all. “Unexplained movement, no possible means of escape, the girls’ excuses have the ring of truth and yet their behavior seems odd… Of course, it can only be an enchantment. Did they seem enchanted to you?”
“Not at all,” said the king uncertainly.
“Well, never mind that, that’s part of the enchantment. Yes, there was a similar case I read about, very curious indeed, where the victims accessed a sort of portal and, led on by demons through halls of crystal and gold, they danced all night with enchanted princes.”
The King’s face had been turning paler with each detail. “Demons? Dancing? Not my poor girls!”
“Your only hope,” continued the Minster, “is to ascertain the details of the enchantment and confront them with the truth. But it must be done secretly, such that the princesses are unaware that something is amiss.”
“You mean to spy on them?”
“Well, yes, you could say as such. I believe I know just the person we need, as well. I have long remarked that the cobbler’s assistant would be better suited to stealthier work, and indeed have even thought of making him my…”
“The cobbler’s assistant?” interrupted the king. “Should it not be a prince of some persuasion?”
The king’s chancellor coughed. “Most of those of noble birth who have visited the castle as of late left almost in tears after being bested in chess. I doubt they would wish to revisit the scene to do us a favor.”
“Princes be hanged, then,” the King replied irritably. “Find this assistant and set him on the case.”

This dress belongs to Camellia, who is twenty-four. Where Perdita is clever she is wise, and when there are differences among the princesses she’s often called on to resolve them; her father also goes frequently to her for advice, for she’s quite as learned as any of his advisors and has even written books about their country’s laws and history. She is a little more assertive and direct than Perdita, but she respects the king and thinks him fair, if a little overprotective, although she would secretly love to travel. (It’s my opinion that if the stronger, more independent Holly and Pieris had been born first, none of this would have happened.) She loves champagne colors and calla lilies.