Monday, October 29, 2007

Magical Mitsumata

One of the cool things about Mitsumata is that after a few hours of soaking it becomes amazingly pliable. The branches have a density similar to that of balsa, and soak up water like a sponge. Here's a picture of a branch that spent a few hours soaking:




Once dry, the branches will keep the form of whatever you molded it into. Here's a gorgeous light created by Mark Figueredo of MF Custom Lighting Design and Fabrication in East Hampton, NY (631 329 5033): 



21 comments:

Suzy said...

Hi, Justin. The shadows these branches cast on the ceiling are fantastic. Did you make this? If so, any tips on how to? I'd love to try. Specifically, did you use anything as a "mold" to shape the branches and what (if anything) was used to secure the branches? Thanks! Suzy

Justin said...

Hello Suzy,

I agree, those shadows are fantastic! I'm used to seeing light used in a passive way, and this is anything but passive. The light was made by a customer of ours who molded them around a balloon, secured the branches together, and then deflated the balloon once the branches dried.

In the next few days we'll be putting up a 2-3 foot size of Mitsumata which should be ideal for a project like this.

lisa said...

I have to make this! Help! On the site it says that only the longer ones are in stock....how many do I need?

Justin said...

Hi Lisa,

To make something of this size, you'll need a whole lotta Mitsumata - probably 8-10 bundles or so of the 3-4 foot size. (Most of the Mitsumata we've processed recently was long, so we ended up with very few of the 2-3' size.) That said, Mitsumata is flexible enough so that you can probably make a light of a much smaller diameter, which will require much less material. Whatever the case, it should be fun - you'll probably find yourself whipping the wet branches back and forth just to watch them bend like rubber - I know that's what I do!

Justin

Anonymous said...

Hi Justin,
I am in charge of the center peices for a charity function on April 5th in San Fran. Our theme is Cherry blossom festival. Our venue is a boutique hotel in Japantown. Our budget is limited, and although Natural Manzanita would accompany the cherry blossoms perfectly, I think I will have to go with the Mitsumata, since it is pliable, cheaper and I can hang votives from the branches. My question is: Can these branches be spray painted a metalic gold? Ayesha

Justin said...

Hi - The Mitsumata would be a fantastic choice for a Japanese theme, especially given its use in traditional papermaking in Japan. Go to http://www.kansai.gr.jp/culture_e/washi/appli/index.htm for some more information on this. And as you say, they are strong enough to hold votives, can be shaped and are less expensive than Manzanita branches of a similar size.

The branches certainly can be painted, although if you are shaping them you should wait a few days until all the moisture has completely dried from the branches, and given how absorbent Mitsumata is you'll likely need a couple of coats (or use primer) for a glossy finish.

Cynthia said...

Using these for centerpieces is a great idea! I am getting married on Halloween of 2009 and although we are asking our guests not to come in costume, I do want to have some sort of Halloween effect... and these are PERFECT! My only question is how re-usable are these? Once they are soaked, shaped, and dried, can they be re-shaped if I soak them again? And how long do keep?

Justin said...

Hi Cynthia - I love the idea of using Mitsumata for a Halloween wedding! Hmm... we've never tried reshaping them a second time - the biggest hurdle to doing so is that you'll need a pool or something similar because they probably won't fit into your bathtub. My guess though is that repeated reshapings will likely weaken them a little bit. The branches will last indefinitely as long as they are (aside from soaking and shaping) kept dry (don't store them in a damp location). - Justin

fting311 said...

Hi Justin, I was wondering if you knew how the customer who made this lighting pendant secured the branches together..? i'm assuming with wire? frances

Justin said...

Yes indeed, wire was used.

Suhey said...

HI:

I just had a quick question. Can you color the mitsumata branches, for example, by spray painting the branches? Thank you.

Sue

Justin said...

Yes indeed, you certainly can paint the branches, but you will have to do that after you soak and shape them. - Justin

Anonymous said...

I am trying to make 20 centerpieces of abstract African figures that will be 3 foot high. Will the mitsumata work for this? Tx, Lindy

Justin said...

Mitsumata most likely will work very well, although the first thing to do would be to order a few bundles to do a mockup with. That way you'll be able to confirm that it will work, and determine how many bundles you'll ultimately need. - Justin

Anonymous said...

When using these branches for a centerpiece, what is the best way to anchor them to the table in a vase, bowl, etc? I just want to make sure it's sturdy since I'll be attaching tealights.

Thanks..

Justin said...

Hi - As long as you use a heavy filler material like river stones you shouldn't have to worry about securing the container to the table - the weight in container alone should keep the display stable. - Justin

Elena said...

hi there. what kind of wire did you use?

Justin said...

For a project like this, the best thing to use are translucent white cable ties - we used them in a similar recent project and they worked extremely well - http://nettletonhollow.blogspot.com/2008/10/mitsumata-metamorphosis-at-home-ec-part_31.html - they are very strong, easy to use, and end up being pretty much invisible.

Karen said...

Is Mitsumata the only kind of branch that is so bendable? Is there anything that is more natural/wood colored? I love the light and the concept, but not the white Mitsumata...

Justin said...

Mitsumata is definitely the most pliable branch and what you want to use for a project like this. The easiest thing to do would be to stain or paint the branches the color you want after you create the structure.

Anonymous said...

this post is very usefull thx!