Sunday, 10 February 2013
The Spring Festival starts today and, as each year, certain districts of Paris are going to be covered of red lanterns, dragons, lions and other items that belongs to the Chinese tradition. The Chinese New Year is henceforth a folkloristic tradition in Paris: for a week, many activities are organised in several corners of the town and will end next sunday with the "lantern festival" and the traditional Dragon Parade (Le Défilé du Dragon). Today it starts the year of the Snake, which takes the place of the Dragon. And to celebrate the new year and bring good luck with me, I have done some special hand carved rubber stamps that you can find on my Etsy: a Snake, a Cat (Meneki-neko) and a Daruma Doll!!
According with the Chinese mythology, the origins of this festival comes from the legend of Nian, a monster that lived in China and was used to come out from its lair once a year to eat crops, livestocks, people and, especially, children. Then, it was discovered that Nian feared loud noises and things colored in red: for that, the red is still now the lucky color of Chinese New Years and traditional parades are accompanied by dances, songs and fireworks!
As far as the New Year brings with it good intentions and wishes for the future, I have made during last days some Daruma dolls. These dolls, which belongs to the Japanese and Buddhist traditions, are talismans of good-luck and perseverance. It is believed that they can help to realize our dreams and projects. I have already presented these dolls one year ago (see my blog here); this year, I have bought one of this doll in a Japanese shop here in Paris (the bigger one in the picture here above), but, as I had a lot of desires to express, I have also produced more of them with my hands in paper-mache.
If you want to make your own Daruma, I would like to share with you these instructions to make the paper-mache (about 1 kg of dough). You need 5 sheets of newspaper, 3 spoons of vinyl glue, 3 spoons of flax seed oil, and 3 spoons of plaster in powder. Tear up the newspaper sheets in little pieces of 2-3 cm with your hands following the sense of the texture. Leave the paper in a pot with some water for a couple of days for macerating. Then, you can boil the water and you can use a hand blender in order to make the dough more homogeneous. Now, your paper is a mush that has to be filtered in order to expel the water in excess (do not squeeze too much the dough). At this stage, add the glue, the oil and the plaster and work the dough out. The dough is now ready to be used to make your Daruma: a tip to do these dolls is to insert a weight on the bottom of the doll in order to stand up ad a roly-poly. I hope you have fun with paper-mache!!!