Wednesday, December 24, 2008


It's Christmas day here in Japan... One day ahead of those of you in western Canada and the United States. The turkey is cooking, the lights are twinkling and the champagne is chilling. Our guests arrive at 6:30 for their first Christmas Supper. There are no rice balls, deep fried pork pieces, noodles or mackeral on the menu. We're eating with forks and knives instead of chopsticks and the wine glasses are twice the size of the normal asian glasses. Instead of the many, small, individual dishes, there is only a dinner plate and a salad plate and the napkin goes on your lap, thank you very much.
We say a prayer before dinner, instead of ringing a bell and sing Christmas carols after supper, instead of climbing a mountain. Yes, traditionals are very different. Christian beliefs are not followed in this part of the world. The Japanese celebrate New Years . So ZaaArt of eating turkey off the bone with mashed potatoes, turnip and cranberry sauce will be a completely new experience for all .

Monday, December 22, 2008


Looking for Christmas in Japan... I seem to be wandering around the streets at night trying to catch a glimspe or glimmer of the festive spirit. I think it's a Western thing !!! In Canada, I made my own decorations, poured rum on the traditional fruitcake and toughed it out in the blistering, zero below temperatures, to select just the right Christmas tree. Suddenly, I've discovered fibre-optics and developed an Eastern mentality for the excitement of the season.

I have a five foot glistener in my Tatami room, a three foot, fibre-optic fairy tree in the hallway and a fibre-optic, giggling, jiggling Santa, in the livingroom window. Oh and did I mention, the 200 or more outdoor twinklers that blink on and off, for the curious neighbours. Yes, I've gone crazy for lights.

Needless to say, Japan is an electronic world. They do not celebrate Christmas but do partake in cookies and New Years' festivities . The effect of the electrical displays are the same around the world... It's magical. In Maigaoka, if I'm not listening to Christmas Carols, I'm hanging around local alleyways, snapping picture of neons lights and experiencing ZaaArt of plugging into the season. Merry Christmas to you all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


ATC's are always a challenge for me... Flower Blossom #1 and #2 were a swap project for a friend in Germany. I was alittle worried that they might get damp in the mail, due to the humid weather.

The question was..Do I or don't I seal them with Hodge Podge? Washi paper is so much more porous and absorbant than most papers. It was a big decision, especially since I had worked for many days on the dollies.

What the heck, I took the challenge and this was the result... Two glossy Washi dolls. They look alittle too stiff and unnatural for me .. So I chalked it up to ... A lesson well learned... Apple Blossom #1 and Apple Blossom #2 are very unique ATC's, but in ZaaArt of Washi Paper, " Natural is Best".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yesterday my friend Yoko invited me to her Ikebana show. As a sensei, of Ikebana many of her students had created beautiful floral designs that were on display in the Riverwalk area of Kitakyushu. I love flowers, so naturally, I was excited to attend. I have included afew pictures that I hope you will enjoy.
Ikebana was first introduced to Japan in the 7th century by Chinese Buddhist missionaries, who had formalized a ritual, offering of flowers to Buddah. It is an artform based on the harmony of simple linear construction, the appreciation of the subtle beauty of flowers and natural material( branches and stems) .
In it's highest form, ikebana is spiritual and philosophical in nature. In modern Japan , it is practised, as a sign of refinement. I quess , I have a lot to learn, because in ZaaArt of floral arranging, I use way too many flowers .

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Age Features

Remember Yoko from the November 23 post... I just thought you might want to see the differences(below) in the hairstyles and kimonos. Please do ENJOY ZaaArt.

Cho Cho Belt

A new creation admires herself . This is Sachiko, who is willfully vain about her age, her looks and her new position in life. She is afterall a teenage Washi Doll, who is much more sophisicated than her sibling sister doll, below, ( see November 23rd post). You might say Sachiko has attitude. Everyone will know how old she is, by observing her long hair and flowing Kimono sleeves. If you listen carefully , you'll hear her whispering to herself, " Mirror mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all ". Hey Sachiko, that isn't a Japanese Haiku !!! How will I ever get her away from the mirror?

My greatest enjoyment while working on the teenage doll was the hair styling and the obi belt. Washi paper is so flexible and user-friendly. This particular tied bow shape is called 'cho cho' because the bow resembles a butterfly, thus giving it the name, butterfly obi. I just love making them. Doesn't take much to get ZaaArt all aflutter.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Collage Sheets.

My new collage sheets are here... I'm so excited. Look at all the wonderful beauties awaiting their destiny as cards and art projects. I found these ones at She has a wonderful selection of collage sheets, tranparencies, rubber stamps and scrapebooking materials at a very reasonable price. They arrived so quickly that I added her to my bloglist if you are interested: . It's quite interesting reading. Right now, it's time to get started on some new cards. How will I ever decide on ZaaArt picture.? I'll post it soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Paper Dolls

Fantastic Flat Paperdolls is a creative group that I participate in. The themes vary according to the season of the year.

This particular month was "costumes". While most participants dreamed of Marie Antoinette and her lusty gatherings..I was quite content to get right down creative with the traditional Geisha.

I had some geometric origami paper that I loved and a small piece of stretchy gold cord in my 'Fluffy Bag" . Good start , I thought.

The basic form of the doll is easy .. It's like tracing the shape of a wine bottle for the shoulders and following it all the way down. Then I trace a circle, the size of a bottle cap for the head, glue it onto a paper post for the neck and reshape the face.
Creating the face is always a challenge for me, so I got out my historical Japanese art books... There were so many interesting faces and eye shapes... I chose a less than perfect face, because , when I look at the people in Japan, I do not see perfection. There is a real individual characterization in the various facial features and positioning of the eyes here in Japan. So, this paperdoll looks very similiar to an authenic Geisha beauty from the past.

I tried to incorperate some of the traditional body embellishments in the hair styling which I made from rolled black paper. While she is not perfect... She is an experiment in the beginning styles of a Japanese PaperDolls ..ZaaArt way. Her name is Ming Lee.

Friday, November 28, 2008

ZaaArt Bow

This is Sakura, my latest Paperdoll with a twist, in her obi. Instead of making the conventional Kimono, I decided to venture in to the realm of east meets west. Sakura's obi looks more like a couture design from the ZaaArts' fashion world... A bow instead of an obi ... How does that work?
There are many rules that govern the wear of a Japanese kimono and obi. I humbly apologize to those purist in the name of ' Creativity" . I just can't seem to follow conventional rules all the time. But as you can see Sakura is very gracious and the ZaaArt couture Bow does wonders for her ever evolving image. I personally like it.

Some two hundred rules were at one time established for the kimono, dictating such things as combinations of colors. Even today, only certain colors are considered acceptable for certain times of the year depending upon the season. While all these purist rules have turned many people off, there is a new movement to re-introduce the Kimono as regular wear. That means making the kimono and obi more wearer friendly . So, I quess ZaaArt Bow may be acceptable after all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Cherry Blossom#3 : This is an example of my ATC Washi, Geisha Card. Each is an individually made doll using Washi paper. You can choose from such a wonderful variety of colors and designs. This one has butterflies and blossoms with gold embosted fans and backgrounds . It so delicate and beautiful to work with .. Cherry Blossom, as I call her has long flowing Crepe paper hair and holds a cherry blossom sprig in her hand. She is one of a series of 3 Cherry Blossom ATC's . She was personally made for my friend Suzee Q.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Living Doll

Living Doll

Kannon giggles with excitement. At seven years old, she is ready to celebrate in the tradional 'Girls' Day " Festivities. It is a special time , when Japanese Families honor and support the beauty and glory of young daughters growing into life.

Girl's Day is a celebrated tradition, inwhich little Japanese girls, don time-honored kimono's, much like their adult mother's, adorned with the precious accessories. Colorful Kimonos, matching zori shoes, obi belts , complete with a fan tucked in and beautiful hair embellishments, all add to the excitement of this much anticipated day. I was so honored that my friend Hiroko, brought her beautiful grandaughter to my house on her special day. It was an honor to witness, ZaaArt of youthful beautiful !!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Playing With Washi

This is Keiko, my latest creation. I'm so pleased with her and funnily enough, her ball... I had so much fun, tearing, rolling and compressing the cotton into a circle. It took me, nearly thirty minutes of playing around with that little old ball of cotton. The colored washi strips were pre-cut earlier and then were carefully positioned around it . I then, sealed the colored edges with a tiny dot of gold, washi paper. It's all the little embellishments that take the time and are the most fun to create. Keiko is dressed in a traditional Kimono basically the same as an adult's Kimono, except that it is perhaps more colorful. She wears her hair in a traditional bob and is ready for her first Girl's Day Celebration in March. ZaaArt of growing up!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This is a fine example of a Washi Doll created by an ancient paper folding and gluing technique. This particular beauty was a gift from my Dollmaking Sensei in Japan.

I always thought that paper is paper is paper, but I'm wrong. All paper has varying characteristics of texture , weight, and color. Washi paper is very unique. After handling and working with it's flexible nature ,one naturally begins to feel that there is some kind of communication or ' Contact" happening between the natural fibres of the washi and the artisan, who is creating the doll.

Washi Paper is handmade from the bark fibres of three Japanese shrubs. ' Gami", "Kozo"(Mulberry) and "Mitsumata", which all grow naturally across Japan.

Master craftsmen utilize ,stencils, woodblocks and silkscreens to create exquisite patterns that resemble oriental textiles. The paper has a soft, pliable nature that accomodates the expressive, three dimensional shapes of the Washi Doll. It's a pure delight to work with.

Every part of this Washi Doll is cut, shaped and folded by hand. My biggest challenge is getting to know the nature of the paper.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Zaa Art Is Here

OK, so I'm a self -indulged, creative fanatic... semi-retired and living in Japan. I've had a thing for paper since childhood. My mother was always met at the door with a song, dance and a story, complete with a full cast of paperdolls.

Nowadays, my husband is the one who walks over the scraps, pencils, paints and paper. He smiles and says, Where's the paper, DOLL? I say, ' Honey, ZaaArt is here on my blog for everyone to see and ENJOY!!!! He sighs with relief knowing that all my creativity is online instead of on the livingroom floor.

Japan has had a long love affair with paper and paper fibre arts Currently I'm studying with a Washi Doll Master learning the art of Washi paper and 3- dimensional Washi Dolls. It's a journey into a very special culture that shares many exotic and ancient gifts. ZaaArt postings will include Paperdolls, Washi Dolls, ATC Trading Cards, and various art mediums and creative adventures.

You're invited to journey with me through Lotusland and ZaaArts of my world.