Spring is finally here… so I thought I’d share the warmth…

‘Hanabi’ is Japanese for ‘fireworks’, and in Japan it is common to play with small hand-held fireworks known as ‘senko-hanabi’, which is what I depict here… origami style.

‘Hanabi’ also literally means ‘flower’ and ‘fire’ (‘hana’ means flower while ‘bi’ means fire), which is why I was inspired to use shiny little miniature origami flowers here to depict the little fiery sparks of the hand held fireworks. Each flower was folded with 15×15mm pieces of paper. I had to place them on needles in order to avoid casting shadows while lighting the flowers to get the glow (see the comments).

525 views as of September 18, 2011

For a better idea of scale

Taken with an Olympus FE-340 using the portrait setting.

Senko hanabi ( ???? sen-kou hana-bi ) (incense stick firework) is a traditional Japanese firework. Essays about them date back to at least 1927… Senko hanabi are said to somehow hypnotize the watcher into silence and to evoke mono no aware (translated as “an empathy toward things,” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”), a Japanese term describing a flash of sadness felt when reminded of the beauty and briefness of life. The poignantly ephemeral has long been appreciated in Japan and is still felt in the quiet celebration of senko hanabi. (Source: Wikipedia)

I have many fond memories of Japan… On the last day of my internship there in 2007, my co-workers threw me a farewell dinner at the beach, where we watched the sunset over Mt. Fuji and Enoshima. Towards the end of the day we played with fireworks – the senko hanabi.
I’d love to go back one day…

On a brighter note, I hear that even amidst the city where disaster took place (Fukushima), the cherry blossoms have bloomed…

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Mui-Ling Teh – Art and Words from the Heart



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Mui-Ling Teh – Art and Words from the Heart

© Copyright Mui-Ling Teh. All rights reserved. My art and writing do not belong to the public domain. Materials may not be reproduced, uploaded, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, copied, edited or published in any form or by any means without my written permission.

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  • Steve Hildebrandt
    Steve Hildebrandtover 3 years ago

    Love it! Great back story as well!

  • Thanks a lot Steve!

    – Mui-Ling Teh

  • mobii
    mobiiover 3 years ago

    An origami sparkler. That is so pretty Mui-Ling. Well done indeed.

  • mellychan
    mellychanover 3 years ago

    very very beautiful. my favourite ‘hanabi’ are senko hanabi – i lived in japan and was enamoured of these in the summer time! how did you set up the glow emitted from them? congrats on your feature!

  • Thank you very much mellychan! It took me a while to come up with a way to light this up effectively. I did try doing this shot long ago, but wasn’t happy with the outcome because the ‘sparks’ were casting shadows (and we all know, the light itself shouldn’t be casting a shadow :P)

    About a month ago I came back to this. I used a piece of black foam core for the background and placed needles in it, so the flowers could be placed over them. This way the flowers were not directly over the background and not casting a shadow.

    – Mui-Ling Teh

  • mellychan
    mellychanover 3 years ago

    ingenious! i think you did a great job – thank you for sharing your technique.

  • Kay Kempton Raade
    Kay Kempton Raadeover 3 years ago


  • Thank you so much Kay!

    – Mui-Ling Teh

  • Rene Hales
    Rene Halesover 3 years ago

  • vampvamp
    vampvampover 3 years ago

  • PhotogeniquE IPA
    PhotogeniquE IPAover 3 years ago

    Thank you for your last facebook message. thinking of you!

    have just sent off a FB friend request from your personal page.

  • DonDavisUK
    DonDavisUKover 3 years ago

    Magical work. Love it. Don.

  • Thank you very much Don!

    – Mui-Ling Teh

  • artisandelimage
    artisandelimageover 3 years ago

    bravo !
    my best, your host (francis).

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