Saturday, January 3, 2009

Shigoto-Hajime 2009

According to Wikipedia, celebrating the new year in Japan also means paying special attention to the "first" time something is done in the new year. Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year. Before sunrise on January 1, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the first sunrise of the new year. Hatsum┼Źde is the first trip to a shrine or temple. Many people visit a shrine after midnight on December 31 or sometime during the day on January 1. If the weather is good, people often dress up or wear kimono. Other "firsts" that are marked as special events include shigoto-hajime (the first work of the new year), keiko-hajime (the first practice of the new year), hatsugama (the first tea ceremony of the new year), and the hatsu-uri, (the first shopping sale of the new year).

So, this post celebrates the first weekend project of 2009.

It all starts with a clean studio.

A clean glue station.

A Clean Work Station

A Clean Cutting Station

A Cleaner Works-in-Progress and Drying Station

The first real order of business was to make Rice Starch Paste. I always make small batches of paste when I know I will be needing it. It never lasts very long and I end up throwing it away after every project. Therefore, I make the smallest batch each time. I get my Rice Starch from Talas and follow a different set of instructions that are not listed on the package.

I use 5 Tbs of rice starch for 1 cup of hot water. I make a slurry with the paste and 3-5 teaspoons of cold water. If you put the hot water directly into the dry paste, it seizes up and you never get out all of the clumps. After adding the hot water, you put the pan on a low heater and whisk until your arms fall off. When the paste thickens and turns translucent, take it off the heat and let it cool. It will thicken even more. If you want a thinner paste, you can use 3 (or 4) Tbs or rice paste. I prefer the thicker variety, personally. Keep the paste covered when not in use. I will last 3-4 days. If you do not have a lid for your paste pot, you can cover the paste with cold water and place a piece of cling wrap or wax paper on top (in order to prevent a skin). When you want to use it again, simply pour off the water (which should be riding on top of the paste), stir and Bob's your uncle. Some people put their paste pot in the refrigerator but I never have done that. I am afraid that I might get it mixed up with my morning oatmeal.

Put the kettle on, we are making paste

Making the slurry.

The final product cooling.

P.S. I always use a plastic container from my local Chinese food restaurant. I have a fancy for good Hot-and-Sour soup and keep the container. The small container (pint) is perfect for glue pots.


fingerstothebone said...

That's what I miss about living in the NY metro area -- if you get a hankering for hot and sour soup at midnight, it's just not a problem! And I sure did that a lot...go out in the middle of the night for h&s soup.

Here, I can hardly even get coffee after 9pm! And ask the Great Prince...I do complain about THAT!

fingerstothebone said...

Oh yeah, forgot...nice glueing, cutting, drying, and working stations. You can compare notes with Margaret about her wheat paste making entry...

Dr. Russ said...

Thanks for the complements. I never realized that you were nce in the NY metro area. That is one of the nice things about NYC--you can get anything at any time. Sometimes you have to pay extra but at 3:00 am when you need some H&S to stay awake to finish a project--it's no problem.

BTW, Talas just moved to Brooklyn. How scandalous. They will reopen for business on Monday, January 5th.