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September 23, 2021


As Kabuki Garage grows and I attempt to create new things and take on new projects, I figured I would start to document the process of how I learn these skills as well as being transparent with my success and failure of projects.

So without further ado, let's get into the sticky process of what the heck this is all about!

What is a Tsurikawa?

A Tsurikawa is a suspended object, that traditionally helps Japanese passengers keep their balance while on trains, busses, etc. The handles were traditionally made out of leather. The name "Tsurikawa" literally translates to "Hang" (tsuri吊) and "Leather" (kawa革).

These handles were changed to non-leather materials during WW2, then back to leather after the conflict where leather slowly began to die off as the primary material as the years went on due to increased safety standards and decreasing the cost of each handle with new materials such as plastic. 

Tsurikawas come in many different shapes and colours. Standard shapes include round, triangular as well as pentagonal which was quite rare. The primary colour of these are white or a light grey, and it wasn't until the mid 80's when Shikeisei Electric Railroad started to use yellow rings to highlight priority seats. Modern public transport systems are now rather colourful, with each transport company displaying their own variant colour scheme.

What the hell does this have to do with cars?!

During the late 50's, the Bosozoku began to appear during the Japanese automotive boom as motorbike gangs. This punk movement quickly spread to automotive enthusiasts as well, and local roads became a playground for these gangs and groups for all sorts of illegal high speed activities. These "punks" spent a lot of time and effort modifying their cars to be very extravagant. Picture colourful paint, wide-bodies, extra long exhausts and being ultra low to the ground. Google Bosozoku cars to see what I'm talking about.

These guys decided to steal Tsurikawas from public transport systems as trophy's to display on the interior of their cars or on the exhaust tips as a FU to the man and to the local law enforcement.

While the Bosozoku movement is pretty much dead as far as gangs go. The car community has embraced wild paint and body work as an expression of individualism and passion for their vehicles. This has extended into Tsurikawas being a hot accessory for many budding JDM enthusiasts around the globe and getting one that suits their personality and vehicle aesthetic is essential to complete the look.

Making My Own

I've decided that I want to get into mould making, not only for making Tsurikawas but so I can build the skills I need to create more complex components and accessories in the future.

In saying that...… my first attempt hasn't entirely gone down without a hitch. But I wouldn't call it a failure either, I have definitely learnt a lot about silicone mould making as well as resin casting already.

This is my first silicone mould that I made with a two part silicone. Mixed to a 50:50 ratio and left to cure for an hour. It accepts resin and the yellow Tsurikawa in the image is my first attempt. The black Tsurikawa is the "master" which goes into the silicone to have the mould made from it.

 Round Tsurikawa silicone mould

A big lesson I've learnt here is air is the enemy of making moulds and going as slow as physically possible is the way to go, as pouring and mixing slowly will force air out of the mould as well as promote no new air being introduced into the mixture.

I have also been advised that a two-part mould would be way more effective at ensuring quality control as well as for it being easier for me to make these things. Which is a win win in anyone's book!

My second silicone mould was less of a success all round. I had my ratios correct but I didn't mix it for long enough and the bottom of my mixture hadn't had enough agitation to make it fully homogenized. 

Failed silicone mould for bad romance tsurikawa 

Exhibit B, top of the mould will never set as it was made with the bottom portion of my mixture which hasn't been fully mixed.

On the bright side, I have learnt more about making these moulds and how the mixing process works. I'm definitely going to be more diligent with my mixing and will begin to time my mixing process so I can give myself a good range of working time with the silicone.

Here is the finished product, the first ever Tsurikawa made by me.... god I screwed it up! 

Yellow Resin Tsurikawa

Riddled with air pockets that caused deformity and a reduction in structural integrity. Sanding it back could fix several of the issues but it would basically need to be flattened on the ruined side and would be rather an odd shape for a Tsurikawa. I might get around to doing that, just to see what "fixing" it will achieve.

Oh well, it was my first try and I'm, honestly not even that mad about how it turned out. I think I did an okay job considering the lack of formal training, understanding and experience!

Let me know what you guys think! 
What Tsurikawas should I try next?! What other things should I make moulds out of?!

Thanks For Reading! Looking forward to keeping you guys posted on new updates!

~ Matt