Google+ StrebeDesigns: Japanese Seasons Tool Holder

Monday, January 25, 2016

Japanese Seasons Tool Holder

(click on images for a closer look) 

The February theme for the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PACAGOE) monthly challenge is the Four Seasons.  The piece Japanese Seasons came about as a result of two factors.  Firstly, I am continuing to make fun polymer clay tool holders for my work area so I decided to make one following the challenge theme.  Secondly, my family and I are traveling to Japan this summer and we are devouring information on the country, culture, and a little bit of the language. This gave me the idea to make a tool holder in somewhat of a Asian/Japanese style and display the four seasons in Japanese. So turning to Google Translation, I came up with four characters in Kanji to use on my tool holder.

Now on to build a tool holder with a little Japanese influence. I decided on a temple tower-like design, even though it would be an inefficient use of some of the space on the bottom.  I cut a cardboard template; rolled out the sides on which I stamped a pattern. After curing, I antiqued them with black artists grade acrylic paint. (A real messy job!)

Next I constructed a support, in the shape I wanted, from heavy duty construction paper.  Then I sealed the sides together with extruded lengths of a right-angle shape.  I cured at this point so it would hold its shape for other work to come.

Next building the "bamboo" facade to cover the corners. 

Well, I got so in the zone, I forgot to take any more photos! But I made the bottom from a thick and textured sheet of black clay, draped over a small square jewelry box lid to form the curve.  

I wish I could say I did the Kanji calligraphy, and I have been practicing, but I am not very good at it yet.  I was afraid that any small deviation of the characters could take the word in whole new (and possibly not desirable) direction.  :) These are printed out from the web on photo paper, and coated with artists grade acrylic gel medium.  They are mounted on black squares and trimmed with a black ribbon of extruded black clay.   After curing, I glued them to the sides. 

Pretty much the top trimming came about on its own.  I didn't really have a plan until it started to happen. 

Here it is, fitting in nicely with my other handmade tool containers. I decided to use it for all my small paintbrushes. 

Thank you for stopping by! Sayonara!


  1. Betsy, I see you conquered the construction 'practicality' brilliantly. I love it.

    1. Thanks so much Line! I worked and reworked those corners! Now I think I know what to do next time ... should write it down I guess.

  2. This is lovely Betsy! And it's so you! And wow, you're going to Japan this year, very cool! You must be so excited about that! I absolutely love the photo of all your handmade tool containers! Such a fun way to keep your studio goods organized!

    1. Thanks so much Beth! And yes we are very excited about our trip.