February is one of my favorite months for celebrating. There’s Groundhog Day (Very low cost), Valentine’s Day (What’s not to love about a celebration of Love?) and Chinese New Year which gives me another excuse to eat good food. But my personal favorite is Setsubun. Odd that, but so it is.
I first learned of the celebration while living in Japan I must admit to having been mystified. Really knowing when the New Year happens in Japan is tricky. Japan celebrates O-Shogatsu (New Year) by the Western calendar these days, but it was not always so. Chinese New Year still goes by the lunar calendar and Setsubun is set for February 3rd, though it is based on the lunar calendar as well. Let’s just say that Setsubun was part of the ritual of sweeping away the old year and moving into Spring. Literally, the new year is referred to as shinharu or new spring. Who can’t get behind a holiday that aims to sweep away the bad energy of the previous year, especially when that year was 2017?
The spring festival is accompanied by mamemaki, a custom in which soybeans are thrown at people dressed in Oni (demon) costumes while chanting “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” (Outside with the demon, fortune to our home). It is great fun to throw soybeans at the dressed up person and make them leave the premises. Nothing compares to seeing a four-year-old armed with soybeans take on the terrifying oni.
Recent custom includes eating Ehomaki – an uncut maki sushi roll stuffed with 7 fillings. The diner sits facing the direction of the year according to the Chinese calculation and eats the whole roll in silence. (2018 is South- Southeast)
I decided that a Setsubun themed page would be just the thing to try out Seth Apter’s new line of Baked Texture embossing powders from Emerald Creek. Gwen Lafleur has them in her shop and I snapped up two of the colors – Chunky Rust and Rocky Road. Let’s just say I’ll be ordering the other colors.
I started with this picture taken on a Setsubun years ago.
It got taken through a number of photo editing apps to get the outline just right.
I traced important bits with a black sharpie.
Turned it over. Viola! Ready to paste down.
The image was painted with orange. Oni are usually green or orange/red. I chose orange as it would go nicely with the embossing powder I chose. While the paint was wet I sprinkled embossing powder on the surface and hit it with a heat gun.
Onis are often depicted against a night background. Often with fire. They come at night to wreak their havoc. So I threw down a background of yellow and added orangish strokes going up like the world on fire. Then the black paint was added to create a night feeling. While still wet I added the Rocky Road Baked Texture embossing powder and hit with a heat gun. What fun it was to see it melt! It really brought the feeling of charcoal, pitch and fire to life. The oni attack started to feel real to me.
The image was attached with gel medium. Black paint was used for definition of eyebrows, hair, lips and beard. Adding more embossing powder to these areas brought them to life. I especially love the oni’s curls which were later enhanced with white paint pen to bring out the definition of his curls.
Dresden trim was used for his horns and eyes.
To give the feeling of bean throwing, Gwen’s Decorative 6 Petal Flower Screen stencil from Stencil Girl Products was used. With red paint, the center of the flower was sponged randomly to show where the beans flew, exploded and ultimately repulsed the oni attack.
Finally a white paint pen was used to write Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi. As the white pen covered the embossed area, the texture comes through the characters. Swoon! Just love that texture.
Looking for some good luck? Well, here you have some. Gwen is having a Chinese New Year Sale and you are invited!
That’s it for now. If you are looking for me today I’ll be throwing beans and driving away the bad vibes from the past year. Here’s to a 2018 full of prosperity in my home and yours.