11 Mar Pretty Little Paper Things & Other Paraphernalia – KamiKashii
KAMIKASHII HANDCRAFTED ORIGAMI MOBILES – TALKING JAPANESE WITH RACHEL RYAN
MSCL Talks Folding Paper into all Sorts of Pretty Little Things with Rachel Ryan of KamiKashii Handcrafted Origami Mobiles
Nothing is set in stone. A bird can be refolded into a boat, a fish, a kimono, or any other extravagant vision. At other times it aches to return to its original folds. The paper begins to fray. It tires, rebels. — Tor Udall – A Thousand Paper Birds
MSCL – Hi Rachel! Just so you know – We’ve been following you for some time now. So we’re looking forward to getting to the heart and soul of KamiKashii.
So, what’s in a name? Why KamiKashii?
RACHEL – I love the idea of combining and changing things – taking a little part of something and blending it with another. The name KamiKashii is a hybrid, too. There’s a beautifully romantic Japanese word ‘natsukashii’ which describes how seeing a random object transports you back to a wonderful childhood memory. This – combined with the Japanese word for paper ‘kami’ – and KamiKashii was created.
I grew up in Brighton, England, and ‘natsukashii’ – for me – made me remember long summer shadows, fresh cut grass, pebbles on beaches, My Little Ponies, and 99p flakes in ice cream cones. My aim is to bring natsukashii moments into people’s homes with my KamiKashii designs.
MSCL – It’s certainly an intricate-looking art, and we’re guessing it requires a heck of a lot of patience. Where did you learn origami? And what triggered your interest in it?
RACHEL – It definitely tests my patience at times! And I have many little ‘prototypes’ and failed attempts dotted about the house. Origami is something I’d always admired from afar. The ability of people to take an ordinary piece of paper, and quickly transform it into a beautiful crane, animal or object, always fascinated me. But it wasn’t until I first visited Japan that I was truly captivated by it.
Once I have my head wrapped around a new design, I find it so peaceful and relaxing to fold; it’s a really beautiful and creative outlet. I came to doing origami by accident. My mother-in-law first showed me how it was done. I soon realised that origami can be really challenging, while at the same time fulfilling. There is an immense sense of achievement when a piece is finished.
During my last trip to Japan – in 2016 – I attended an origami class in Kyoto with my mother-in-law. It was just wonderful to be able to dedicate the time, and to concentrate on the true nature of this ancient Japanese art.
MSCL – Tell us a little about the paper you use in the mobiles. The prints and designs are exquisite. From where do you source your papers?
RACHEL – A real mix of places. Every time I go to Japan, I try to collect more. I also source my papers from Japanese stores in Australia. I like to shop in and around Geelong. and to support local business, too. The beauty of origami is that many types of paper can be used. I’m always looking at paper in weird and wonderful ways, and imagining what I could change it into.
Some of my favourite pieces have been customised cranes using wedding vows, antique book pages, and maps of special places. Such a beautiful way to capture memories of a special event or location.
MSCL – The little crane mobiles are our favourites. Does the crane have any special significance?
RACHEL – In Japan, the crane symbolises hope, happiness and longevity as epitomised by the legend of Senbazuru – wishes of a long and happy life are granted to those who can fold a thousand paper cranes. You may have heard of the tragic but inspiring story of Sadako Sasaki – it’s a must-read. Visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and seeing firsthand the thousands of cranes people had folded in dedication to peace, had a profound effect on me. I was so inspired by the Japanese people, and their resilience and attitude to overcoming tragedy. When I’m folding my cranes, I like to think about the families that are receiving them, and inspire my creations with messages of hope for their futures, and wish them and their loved ones good luck and good health.
My very first origami mobile was made for my daughter’s room. I loved the finished product so much, that I thought other people might like it, too. I aim to emulate and to capture the soft movement of the hanging origami pieces with beautiful Surf Coast driftwood, or bamboo hoops. The idea of making something truly unique, and designed solely for just one person is so rewarding. I feel all my models are one-of-a-kind – just like every little bubba looking up at them.
MSCL – We’re also thinking that you probably do much, much more than just making beautiful little mobiles and origami novelties all day long. As if that’s not enough!
How do you juggle your time with a young family, and trying to manage a small business with so many other demands on your time?
We’re always interested in the answer to this question, as we know from firsthand experience that it’s all too easy to fall into distractions of every kind at the very moment the creative urge hits.
RACHEL – Yes, it’s definitely a challenge! I also work part-time, teaching PE at Belmont Primary School. So I fit my KamiKashii biz into my evenings, weekends, and days off. It’s a bit of a juggling act; but I like to be busy – however, it means that I have to be super organised. My husband, Luke, is very supportive, and tolerates all my craft items taking up the dining table! We have a gorgeous 2-year-old daughter, Evan, and family time is really important to us.
We love heading to the beach – I was given my first paddle board at Christmas – walking or jogging on the river. We’re both members of the Geelong Cross Country Club. And we love to visit all the great cafes near us. We’re expecting our second bubba in May. So that will undoubtedly change things up again! We’re also passionate about making time for our 2-year-old Golden Retriever, Dusty. So it’s a pretty busy household. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Luckily, Evan still naps during the day – for the moment! – so that’s usually my KamiKashii ‘GO’ time. I’m an avid list-maker. I can’t function without a to-do list. I heard a great tip recently – to choose and to break down tasks into 10-15 minute segments. It’s a super-efficient way to chip away at those larger, time-consuming tasks. For example, when making a mobile, there are so many stages: choosing the right paper combination; folding the pieces; stringing the hoop, or driftwood; attaching the origami; and then packaging, gift wrapping and shipping. So breaking down those tasks further is a good strategy – even if my dining table is often converted into a makeshift work bench!
MSCL – What’s the hardest little thing to make? Do you ever get bad-tempered and/or discouraged when things go crinkly? We ask this because we do – a lot.
RACHEL – The hardest thing I’ve made so far is definitely the little bears I made recently for a customer in the UK. But they turned out to be so cute, and I was totally in love with them by the end of the exercise. Although there were times when I became really frustrated!
I use a few tools to make sure my folds are precise and sharp, and that the final product is the best that I can create. But ‘crinkly’ is a good way to describe it – sometimes the paper just doesn’t want to cooperate. After lots of deep breaths and mini breaks, eventually the bears and I made it through in one piece!
Running a small business comes with a lot of ups and downs as well. This is especially the case with handmade product. It’s hard not to take the down times and quiet periods personally. But I’ve noticed that orders are a bit like buses – and some weeks I’m so busy keeping up with all the beautiful orders. But it definitely tests my resilience and patience at times in that way, too.
MSCL – We won’t talk business non-stop, as My Surf Coast Life love to know about Your Surf Coast Life! Have you always lived in and about the Surf Coast?
It’s such a divine place, that’s a given. What do you love most about where you live? Do you have a favourite beach? Cafe?
RACHEL – I absolutely love living here on the Surf Coast, and I’m so happy and proud to be able to call this my home. I grew up on the South Coast of England, in a funky, vibrant city called Brighton. However, I always had this calling to travel and to explore far and wide. As soon as I finished high school, I bought my first round-the-world ticket and went travelling.
When I visited Australia, I fell in love with the place immediately – especially the stunning coast around Geelong. Finding a cute Aussie boy – who is now by husband! – helped, too. We lived the city life in Melbourne for seven years before we moved to Armstrong Creek, to take advantage of the location, to be close to all the beautiful beaches – and to have our own space! After living in share houses and apartments in London and Melbourne, to finally have our own home – with a garden! – was so exciting.
There are so many places I love to visit. It’s amazing to be so spoilt for choice every weekend. I adore Anglesea, Barwon Heads, and Bird Rock – and love the bush tracks and beaches. We were married at Captain Moonlite in Anglesea, so that view down the main beach will always be very special to me. And every time I visit At The Heads in Barwon Heads, I’m in awe of the incredible scenery there, too. Even closer to home, the crew at Warralily Cockatoo are keeping my pizza cravings at bay with their amazing food. So delicious!!
MSCL – Our favourite question – We ask everybody these questions, because we receive some great answers and follow their lead often.
What are you listening to right now? And reading? And watching?
RACHEL – Unfortunately, I’m not listening to anything particularly inspiring – unless you rate the Frozen soundtrack – and a multitude of Wiggles CDs. But you pick your battles with 2-year-olds! Last weekend, I totally re-lived my ’90s youth at the Robbie Williams concert at Mt Duneed. It was incredible – the man is amazing!
I’m definitely a bookworm, but seem to get caught up in reading heavy, involved, or – as my husband calls it – ‘depressing’ non-fiction. I love reading about people and places. So my library includes lots of stories from other cultures; exploring their history, and the challenges that different people around the world face – books like I Am Malala, Memoirs of a Geisha and China Road. There’s so much inspiration out there from so many ‘ordinary’ people. Reading about people who have faced immense challenges gives me perspective, and makes me feel so grateful for my lifestyle and family.
My hubby and I are big series bingers. At the moment we’re watching Homeland and The Walking Dead, with a bit of John Oliver and Fresh Off The Boat thrown in to lighten things up.
MSCL – What’s in store for the future? What’s the vision for KamiKashii? There are so many beautiful gift and homeware stores here – Do you supply any local stockists?
RACHEL – I’m looking to add new products to the range, so keep a look-out on my Instagram and Facebook page for an upcoming competition! I’ve been working on some photo shoots that will be out soon.
The mobiles are displayed among other Australian handmade products. I currently don’t have any local stockists. But I would love to collaborate with some local stores. That way people can see the mobiles ‘in the flesh’ – as even the best photography doesn’t seem to do them justice. Part of their beauty is seeing the finished product hanging up, especially when the cranes spin and float in the air; they add such a gorgeous feeling to a room. I hope to set up at my first market this year – maybe after the baby arrives – so look out for end-of-year spring-summer markets. That will be exciting!
MSCL – We love that KamiKashii make such unusual little creatures and funny – in a a good way, of course – little bibs and bobs. They’re such wonderful little creations for a pressies-send, to pack and to post.
And on the geography bent – Where do you best like to take friends and family locally when they visit? We love this question, too, as we always seem to hear about surprising new places we’ve never heard of – We guess this is the purport of our blog pretty much!
RACHEL – Thank you. It’s pretty fun creating new mobile styles. And I love being able to customise them to people’s tastes and nursery colours. Each design is then truly unique and personalised – a really special gift.
I love being able to bring a bit of Japanese culture into people’s homes, too, as Japan is such as wonderful place – so culturally diverse, interesting and beautiful. The ancient culture is fascinating, and is kept alive by such a strong people. I’ve been lucky enough to visit three times, and have hiked pilgrim trails between monasteries, eaten in crazy themed restaurants in Tokyo, and learnt origami in the ancient capital. My most recent visit was when my daughter was 11 months old. Between train, plane and boat trips, she got to experience temples, night markets – and cat cafes! Next visit I’d like to see the tropical Okinawa Islands, and the snow monkeys in Sapporo. Can’t wait!
I love to take friends and family from overseas along the Bellarine – the wineries and views are just exquisite. I also love the bush walks around Anglesea and the Surf Coast. The Surf Coast Walk is stunning. I recommend it to anyone. I love The Farmer’s Place and Mannerim Stables for the rustic country feel. We are so spoilt, with so many choices.
MSCL – Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Rachel. We hope you don’t mind – But we’re going to keep on stalking you, because we love beautiful things, and the beautiful people who make them…
Rachel’s charming little origami creations can be found at —
Follow Rachel’s Instagram @kamikashii.au