I feel like I've tried it all at this point. Journalling felt more stressful than helpful, visual journalling a burden and Morning Pages felt like a chore.
Even though my job is very creative, the creative itch is still there. In Japanese 'Uzu uzu' (the onomatopaeic way of explaining the anticipatory itch of wanting to do something) best describes how I feel when I get stuck in the day-to-day of my business or take a holiday with no creative outlets. I've been this way since forever, and I now recognise the signs. This year I'm going to do something about it... Join me?
What is The Creative Calm Challenge?
Creativity for creativity's sake is what I've been missing lately, allowing myself the time to try new things, experiment and get into the creative flow to see where it goes. The Creative Calm Challenge is a way to unleash your own creativity by taking a few minutes to create something new, unexpected and have FUN! Something outside of what you regularly do or create.
Why did you start the challenge?
My whole job relies on finding the next creative idea. I have lots of those...so many in fact that sometimes it's hard to know which direction to go in! This challenge will help my brain slow down, make sense of the day ahead and will serve as a transition from home to work life. It will also be so much fun getting my hands dirty and thinking about nothing other than the work in front of me.
Who's the challenge for?
You don't have to be a 'Creative' to be creative. Anyone can pick up a pen and doodle, write some meaningful words to express your feelings or take a photograph.
Anyone can join in this challenge, regardless of your chosen media or job. You could create paintings, prints, drawings, illustrations, lithographs, film, music, sculptures, short stories, poems, wearable art, clothing, embroidery...anything you want to have a go at that is a bit of a departure from what you usually do.
How often do I need to create?
In this challenge there's no prompt for each day...that can get overwhelming fast (and we don't want anyone feeling left behind). Create as often as you want, for as long as you want...your rules. Buuuuut, setting aside a time and space to create will have more impact on how you feel in the long run. The more often you take a few creative moments, the more calm and relaxed you'll feel. Pinky promise.
Join me over on Instagram @bikudesigns and share your creative activities by tagging #CreativeCalmChallenge
Some ideas of things to share:
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From snuggly nights in to sparkly nights out, from art lovers to crafters, we've got your unique holiday gifts covered in this Japan-based gift guide.
By purchasing from a small business this holiday season, you are supporting individual artists and artisans to continue creating beautiful and meaningful work to put out into the world. And we appreciate you.
Small business, big heart.
FOR ART & INTERIORS LOVERS
Art Prints by Erica Ward
Erica Ward is a traditional-media artist and illustrator born in California and residing in Tokyo. As well as selling her original art, Erica creates prints, postcards, stickers and posters from her art work.
Her prints make very affordable gifts and fantastic souvenirs of Japan.
Prints start at ¥1000.
Available online with selected prints and postcard packs at Studio Biku
Washi Paper Wall Art by Mapponica
Mapponica was born from a desire to highlight traditional Japanese paper-making processes, which are slowly being lost in Japan. Each mat board is carefully cut into a patchwork-like map pattern, hand-printed and dyed washi is selected which is then painstakingly adhered to the frame. Mapponica works with 100% Japanese products.
Prices from ¥12,000.
Japan Maps available at Studio Biku and a wider variety of maps online.
Daruma by From Juju with Love
From merchandiser at Chanel, Paris to small business owner in Tokyo, Juliette creates one-of-a-kind art pieces with a nod to Japanese pop culture. Her sleeping/ resting Daruma are a fantastic way to bring peace and tranquility to a room, as well as giving you a wonderful talking point.
A selection of Daruma and dioramas are available at Studio Biku.
'Plastic Water' Eco-Conscious Art by Melissa Finkenbiner
Melissa Finkenbiner is a cross-disciplined fine artist and metalsmith. Each element of her work is linked by the use of recycled and sustainable materials combined with earthy elements. She creates for eco-conscious art lovers and for people who want to connect to the global cultures and landscapes she has lived in.
Plastic Water is made from paper molded in the shape of taiyaki fish. Melissa carved her own mold, used paper from scraps from previous art pieces, and combined them with clear plastic waste she saved over the last year and a half. Melissa wanted to give this one time use plastic a second purpose while also bringing awareness of the shear quantity we consume and leave on this planet.
Taiyaki are vailable online with four different colours at Studio Biku.
Reclaimed Wood Objects by Turning Tokyo
The call comes in from a friend in the construction business...
Friend: Cutting down a tree, do you want some wood?
TT: I really don’t have space or time for more wood.
Friend: It’s cherry.
TT: I’ll be there in 10 mins.
This is how the pieces by Matt at Turning Tokyo begin. Everything he creates is made from reclaimed wood from the construction industry, giving the tree a chance at new life.
Price start at ¥6000
A selection of pieces are available at Studio Biku.
Organic Cotton Tea Towels from Japan Design Collective
Enhance the look of your kitchen with Japanese flair by indulging in one of Japan Design Collective's exquisite tea towels. This newly launched collection is crafted exclusively from 100% organic cotton and other sustainable materials, ensuring ethical production with fair trade practices and fair wages for those involved in the production.
Each tea towel is ready to gift in gorgeous packaging, making it an ideal choice for gifting or self-indulgence. Brighten your kitchen with a pop of color and the essence of Japan through these meticulously crafted, eco-friendly kitchen essentials.
¥2000 per towel including the presentation box.
Available online and at Studio Biku
FOR CRAFT LOVERS
Embroidery Kits from Three Houses Designs
Perfect projects for holiday quiet time or to kick-start your creativity into the new year. Japanese-themed embroidery kits featuring traditional Japanese designs created by Dominique at Three Houses Designs. Each kit contains everything you need to get started with your project (printed cloth design, hoop, needle, floss and a stitching guide and instructions).
Kits start at ¥2000
Available online as PDF patterns or in kit form at Studio Biku
Kimekomi Kits by Bikudesigns
Kimekomi Bauble Kits come in two different colour-ways with everything included to make two baubles. Also included are the tools you need to make more baubles (craft knife, scissors, craft pick, glue) as well as a detailed instruction sheet.
This is a perfect holiday project for your family and friends.
¥4000 per kit.
Available at Studio Biku while stocks last.
Vintage Paper Collage Cards & Sketchbook Kits by Christina Lopp
Personally collected and curated vintage paper ephemera by Christina Lopp are included in these one-of-a-kind craft kits. For the creatively crafty people in your life, especially the ones with a strong sense of sustainabilty, these card and sketchbook kits make the perfect gift.
Christina has also thoughtfully included her favourite pens (mine too!) and her favourite glue sticks in the kits. All you need to do to get creative is open the packet.
¥3000 per kit.
Available at Studio Biku
Creative Workshop Experience at Studio Biku
In the Autumn season Studio Biku hosted lots of workshops for the very first time:
Sign up here.
Book a workshop.
FOR SNUGGLY NIGHTS IN
Woven Shawls by Ito Maki Maki Studio
Ito Maki Maki Studio is a freestyle, fiber arts business located in a small town in Nara, Japan founded by Elizabeth O'Brien. All of their beuatiful pieces are woven in their home studio, and as much as possible, use natural, non-synthetic materials. The core belief of Ito Maki Maki is to embrace imperfections and take things slowly.
Often, Elizabeth's two children, who have Down Syndrome, join in the crafting and weaving, in order to equip them with skills and an art expression.
Prices start at ¥12,500
Available online at Ito Maki Maki Studio
Soy Wax Candles from Hokkaido from North Candles
North Candles was founded in Hokkaido by husband and wife team, Alex and Mami. All candles are hand-poured and use vegan-friendly soy wax. You have to smell these in person to get the full imapact of how accurately the scents have been captured. The coffee candle smells like a high-end coffee roaster and the vanilla, like a custard pudding!
Prices start at ¥1500 for small candles.
Available online with seasonal selections available at Studio Biku.
Patchwork Kimono Cushion Covers by Tabi Tabi Ya
Get your living space ready for the winter by adding a touch of colour and texture to a favourite snuggly reading chair or your sofa. Patricia from Tabi Tabi Ya creates beautiful pieces from personally-sourced vintage kimono, combining different textiles in patchwork. Each piece is a work of art.
Prices start at ¥5800. Available online and a small selection at Studio Biku.
Kumiko Lamp by Night Owl Creative
When the nights draw in, pop on a beautiful Kumiko lamp creating a beautiful glow through the authentic Japanese washi paper. Daniel creates each piece by painstakingly cutting wood strips and assembling them in an intricate traditional pattern.
Pieces start at ¥10,000 with a small selection available at Studio Biku.
FOR LOOKING & FEELING GREAT
Neckpieces by Bikudesigns
Blending the old and the new in this fun collection, modern acrylic chain and vintage kimono . Perfect for people with metal allergies and for the colour lovers in your life. Ultra-light with absolutely no fiddly fasteners make these the perfect 'pop-on' for those jeans and tee days or when popping out for lunch or coffee.
Each neckpiece arrives boxed in a branded Bikudesigns box and is completely one-of-a-kind.
Prices start at ¥4000.
Available online and at Studio Biku.
Vintage Obi Phone Bags from Mikan Bags in Kyoto
Perfect for day-to-day phone and wallet storage but also ideal for travelling (these fit a passport perfectly!)
Made from authentic vintage obi, personally selected by Clementine, and created into a useful bag with a fully modern twist, incorporating a mesh backing and an adjustable cord strap.
Priced at ¥11,800 with a small selection available at Studio Biku.
Limited Edition Desk Calendar from Nozo Kat
After 8 years in Tokyo, Nozomi returned to her hometown of Fukuoka in March 2020. She had lost her job in Tokyo due to COVID-19, and it was a challenging time for her, as she had really come to enjoy her work as an inhouse hospitality trainer and English instructor at one of Tokyo’s most prestigious sukiyaki restaurants. Although she didn’t know it at the time, going back to Fukuoka would be the chance she needed to take a step back from fast-paced city life and reconnect with herself as an artist.
It all started with curiosity, picking up her brush one day and making the choice to create a piece of art, then learning one new little thing at a time-- a new medium, a new technique, and then one day getting her first commission, and then hosting her first exhibit in October 2021. Living in coastal Itoshima on the western edge of Fukuoka, Nozomi is surrounded by beautiful mountains and a majestic sea. She is especially drawn to vibrant skies, sunsets, seascapes, and landscapes
"I hope that when you look at my art, it will give you energy and a sense of calm, taking you away to beautiful memories." Nozo Kat
Priced at ¥4000.
Available online and a very limited number at Studio Biku
Kimono Zipper Pouches from Tabi Tabi Ya
A perfect way to organise your personal ephemera in your tote bag. One for your makeup, one for personal items (think painkillers, Band Aids, lip balm, hand sanitiser), one for life admin (bank books, credit cards, bills).
Beautifully made, gorgeously vibrant and all one-of-a-kind made from vintage kimono and all lined with contrasting fabric.
Prices start at ¥4500.
This collection is available exclusively at Studio Biku
Upcycled Zipper Pouches by Chou Chou San
Japan is known for its speciality Kitkats in a host of flavours, many of which are seasonal. How about matcha, match latte, chocolate orange or cheese cake? Melon, sweet potato, strawberry, mint, sake, soy sauce or sakura? Or even the grillable, Caramel Pudding?!
The packaging in Japan is on another level, but is also over-plentiful (something many peiple despair of). Enter Julie from Chou Chou San who is solving packaging waste one pouch at a time.
Choose your favouraite chocolate memory, cookies or even dog and cat treats- she covers all bases.Sustainability can be fun!
Prices start at ¥1700 (small).
Available online and at Studio Biku
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WHAT DOES AN ORDINARY DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
There are no normal days for me, but the perfect days are spent in the workshop making things.
WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Taking one person’s trash and making it into another person’s treasure.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
I am a big fan of John Jordan, definitely worth looking up on Instagram.
DO YOU HAVE AN EXCITING PROJECT IN THE WORKS?
Finishing up my workshop. Hopefully adding some permanent stairs rather than the current ladders. I still haven’t hooked up the dust collection. And better shelves and storage would be amazing.
THE FINAL WORD...
In my spare time I love eating and trying new ramen restaurants.
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I'm Victoria, the founder, designer and creator at Bikudesigns, a vintage kimono accessories brand in Tokyo, Japan.