Letsu Go! Tanabata Kazari

August 13, 2010

in Fun

Sorry things have been quiet this past week on my Facebook and Twitter. August marks the first anniversary of Letsu Go!, and I was finishing up a 6.5 foot surprise for you … the Letsu Go! kazari (decoration) for the 2nd Annual Los Angeles Tanabata Festival!

The opening ceremony is today, August 13, at 5pm outside the Japanese American National Museum and MOCA in Little Tokyo, and it’s just one of over 200 kazari that’ll be on display through this Monday as part of Nisei Week festivities.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the festival, it’s based on a folk tale about two celestial lovers, banished from seeing each other, whose wishes come true when they’re allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. People in Japan celebrate this “star festival” by making paper decorations to wish for various things.

Last year, Letsu Go! kicked off with a video of the festival, and I wanted to come full circle with my own tanabata kazari to thank all of you for your readership and to wish you good luck in the next year. Though they’re traditionally made of special paper called washi, the Letsu Go! decoration is made of recyclables and well, trash, as a way to promote recycling and repurposing and to act as sort of a three-dimensional pep talk to say that the resources you need to make something awesome are right at your fingertips … now letsu go out and do it!

At the Little Tokyo Koban and Visitor’s Center, I picked up a kit that served at the skeleton for the decoration:

tanabata kazari kit

tanabata kazari kit

The folks there were very generous with their time, teaching me how to connect it all together and how to make the flowers that are clustered on the top “ball” portion:

tanabata kazari flowers

tanabata kazari flowers

See the bits of green on the brown flowers? Those are sliced up plastic shopping bags from Fresh & Easy! The white flowers are made of bags from everywhere in-between JCPenny and Banana Republic, but mostly from Mitsuwa and Albertsons.

Below that is the ring on which I attached paper chains:

tanabata kazari paper chains

tanabata kazari paper chains

Let’s just say I wasn’t the only one going crazy with more than 1,000 individual links rustling about the house. If you’re able to see it in person, look out for the red stripes from a Fosselman’s Ice Cream “keep it cool” paper bag, magenta and dark blue from The Container Store, or a rainbow of colors from a Nordstrom’s anniversary sale.

To make the chains more easy on the eye to focus on, and to give the kazari a little sparkle, the inside of the ring has a wall of long streamers made of snack wrappers with their silver-linings facing outward. Here’s the view if you were to stand underneath it:

tanabata kazari streamers

tanabata kazari streamers

And here’s the finished piece of recycled art I dropped off yesterday afternoon:

Letsu Go! tanabata kazari

Letsu Go! tanabata kazari

I snuck in as many sevens as I could in the patten, like the seven individual flowers that make up each larger flower and the seven rows of the paper chain checkerboard. Coincidentally, I used up about seven rolls of double-stick tape!

Please come out to the Tanabata Festival! Thanks again for following Letsu Go!

P.S. My hands. They need a massage. I can barely type!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy Inouye August 13, 2010 at 7:28 pm

That was my chicken kazari, thank you! It’s for my very long-standing art project, Chicken Boy–long story, but funny (you can see the story at my site). So I always have to do chicken-related stuff. Anyhow, this was my first kazari so I went to a demo at the koban, bought all my materials, and made all the flowers while watching TV. The crown and the beak took awhile to figure out–I bought some cheap plastic baskets at 99¢ Only so I could cut and bend it into shape, and also then wire the flowers onto the shape. It worked out pretty well even though I slightly misjudged the volume the flowers take up and I think the beak is a little botoxed-looking. But not matter, it was fun. Also, there was no black paper for eyes, so I tried dying paper (too messy), and I ended up buying black roses at Stats and reconfiguring those for the eyes. Then I wanted to put gold and silver stars in the center, and learned how to make them on youtube. Anyhow, you’re right–it’s very exciting and inspiring to see them all together.

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Amy Inouye August 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm

PS: chickenboy.com

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Letsu Go! August 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Hi Chicken Boy’s Mom! Thank you for saving him! I’ve been meaning to swing by on a NELAart gallery night. I promoted your recent quilt exhibit, but well really, I love all things chicken! Your kazari is so awesome! Thanks for sharing the story of how you put it together. It was my first time making a kazari, too. If you make another kazari sometime, for black flowers you might want to try slicing up some black plastic bags, heh heh, but the black roses totally worked! That’s cool how you were able to shape the beak and crown. I hope chicken head and everyone’s kazari survive the weekend winds!

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