Flower Power - Kanzashi Then and Now

Flower Power - Kanzashi Then and Now

by Kristal Wick, Author, Designer, Instructor and Swarovski crystal Ambassador,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Hair Sticks and Hair Combs Kanzashi literally means folded fabric hair ornament and can been traced back to the Japanese Jomon period (from 14,000 BC to about 300 BC). Traditionally these ornaments were made up of itsy bitsy squares of silk, folded into single petals and strung together (5-75 petals) to create a single flower. Kanzashi were hung from a stick or thin rod and worn in the hair. These hair sticks (much more primitive than FMG's version) were considered mystical, with the ability to ward off evil spirits and became quite popular; they morphed into hair combs over time.

Kanzashi really reached its peak in popularity during the Edo period (1603 to 1868). The Japanese hairstyles grew larger and more complex, incorporating more than one hair ornament at the same time (this must be where Cher got her inspiration for her outrageous headpieces). Craftsmen of the day became more refined in their arts; they produced beautifully detailed hair ornaments, combs and hairpins that could also be used as weapons (talk about multi-tasking)!

There are many styles of Kanzashi and trained professional artisans were required to attend a 5-10 year formal apprenticeship to learn the skill. How Kanzashi was worn had specific meanings; Maiko (apprentice geisha) wore very elaborate Kanzashi and progressed through several different hairstyles in which the flowers had to be worn in a particular pattern. In 1982 Kanzashi was officially designated as a traditional Japanese handcraft and is now used mainly in bridal embellishment and Japanese tea ceremony attire.

EZ Kanzashi

Making your own Kanzashi is easier than ever using fold and sew templates. Use any commercial fabric or fabric you make yourself to create beautiful Kanzashi flowers. (For instructions on making your own fabric, check out my book ''Fabulous Fabric Beads''.) Embellish the fabric flower center by applying Swarovski rivoli stones or Swarovski sew-on filigree flowers using The Ultimate! adhesive. Further embellish the petals with Swarovski hotfix crystal rhinestones using a Hot-Fix Heater™ tool.
Kanzashi Templates and Embellishments

Items for Embellishing Kanzashi for your BFFs

Make Kanzashi flowers for all your breast cancer survivor pals using pink ribbon fabric and embellish with these awareness ribbon charms. Add them to a hair finding or use them to embellish this tote. Select a snowflake-patterned fabric and hot-fix these Swarovski snowflakes to the petals.

Do you have a friend or family member who needs a little boost or they're experiencing troubled times? How about a Kanzashi flower made out of angel fabric with an angel charm or angel wing bead in the middle as the focal and an encouraging thought such as:
  • "If life becomes too much to bear remember your Angel is always there."
  • "The warmth of an angel's light can comfort and illuminate the whole world."
  • "Angels don't worry about you ... They believe in you."

A Kanzashi butterfly fabric with a butterfly button in the center can represent transformation and change. Here are a few encouraging phrases to accompany your butterfly's flight:
  • "'How does one become a butterfly?' she asked, 'You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.'"
  • "When you find yourself cocooned in isolation and despair and cannot find your way out of the darkness, remember that this is similar to the place where caterpillars go to grow their wings."
  • "Don't quit before the miracle happens."
Create a flower for your beady peeps embellished with these "beading fun theme" charms and how about these adorable sewing charms for flowers made for your sewing and quilting peeps.

Holiday fabrics are so festive and make great Kanzashi flowers. Glue these lovely Christmas-themed charms into the middle of each flower for added holiday flair.

Ring Ring

For all your terrific tweens who can't be parted with their cell phone, here's a hip cell phone charm that would make a cute embellishment for a Kanzashi flower. Find some fabrics in their fave colors and make a dozen for all her pals; you KNOW they'll be a hit.

I hope you catch the Kanzashi-itis with me and enjoy adding this fun technique to your jewelry-making repertoire!

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