Art Decisions and more Residency Adventures

Photos from my second week of Artist Residency at Shiro Oni Studio:

I absolutely love the blue wire & yarn crocheted butterfly I created as a centerpiece for my Electric Butterfly Art Installation however the installation said it wasn’t right. IMG_0079 IMG_0080 I changed it to one of the bright neon yellow butterflies I created and the centerpiece butterfly is now much easier to see. Sometimes the artist decides the direction, sometimes the art decides for itself.

IMG_0117 Always need more table space, for the moment this stool will do. My favorite project bags, zip bags! They always keep my yarns clean and dry despite my rough & tumble treatment of them.

Everyday, except Wed, we have been enjoying the breakfast set menu of toast, scrambled egg, small salad and a drink at Oni Cafe. This morning we had the opportunity to eat fresh, local blackberries on our salad: IMG_0083_2


On our bike ride out to the local riding club here in rural Gunma: IMG_0091

Kanna Uma no Kai. (the local equestrian club) has Japanese breeds such as Dosanko from Hokkaido and Kiso from Nagano – IMG_0088  We brushed the horses down, fed them, and watched a few members of the riding club. IMG_0086  The mosquitos were thick out there and I had to return to my studio to douse myself in Tropical Strength bug spray.

Hotaru or Firefly! They are quite rare here in Japan and behave differently than the ones I would catch at my grandparent’s place. These slower moving fireflies hover over the nearby Sanba River yet under the overhanging branches of trees. I went with a friend who was doing great capturing photos of them using time-lapse photos. As a non-photographer, I am so very proud of being able to capture this one as he landed on a leaf nearby: IMG_0094_2

Despite all of my great residency adventures I did get some work done, really I did! Preparing to hang the piece…IMG_0097

IMG_0116 Hanging the butterflies to the piece –  Realized on Tuesday afternoon that by making the change to the larger frame, I will not have enough yarn or the right sized wire to complete the project by my last day on Saturday. If I was required to have a completed project at the end of this residency with an Open Studio I would have stuck with my original idea but sometimes a better one comes along and you have go with it. Thankfully, I have the ability to obtain more yarn and return to Onishi with my completed piece for display at the town’s Summer Music Festival.

My Open Studio for Electric Butterflies will be at the Natsu Matsuri, July 12 & 13 in Onishi, Gunma, Japan.

Despite this miscalculation I’ve made great progress and definitely feel it has been worth it to have obtained the aluminum frame pieces.

Perfect topping to my hot, busy day on Friday was locally made sorbets using locally grown fruits: Peach, Apple and Yayoihime, a specific type of strawberry: IMG_0120


Progress Report – Shiro Oni Studios Artist Residency

One week done and only one week left to go! More photos of my adventures and the work I’ve been doing on my Electric Butterflies art installation project:

IMG_0053_2 June is the rainy season here in Japan and the raindrops clinging to this momiji (Japanese Maple) in the pale morning light were a lovely sight as I stepped out of my ryokan (Traditional Japanese Inn) one morning.

IMG_0060_2 View from my room at the ryokan another morning.

IMG_0064 Thankfully my work with bright neons and el-wire has ensured my days are always sunny!

IMG_0069_2 Found my orange neon yarn at the bottom of the bag.

IMG_0068 The beginnings of putting it all together…

IMG_0059 Laptop speaker ready for placement within the installation.

IMG_0061_2 Breaktime with Sprinkles! Went to a town BBQ at a nearby community center where they had huge tako senbei (Octopus Rice Crackers) that one could paint a design with a red syrup which then had sprinkles poured over the top. This small town used to have a population of approx 12,000 people as little as 10 years ago, now there are estimated to be less than 7,000. This is a phenomenon happening throughout rural Japan as jobs move to big cities.

IMG_0073 I am using the butterfly wing motif throughout the installation on several pieces within the work.

IMG_0070 12 gauge aluminum wire feels as soft as working with 26 gauge copper wire. Must be off to get another delicious breakfast at Oni Cafe, and must get back to work! Last night I realized for the right effect I will need to cover the aluminum frame I purchased in yarn. The current look of raw aluminum is too distracting. For daily progress reports you are welcome to follow me on Instagram at Studio Deanna.



Busy Week at Artist Residency in Gunma, Japan

An artist residency here at Shiro Oni Studio is about more than just making art. There’s making connections, eating amazing food, and learning new skills. Zipping around this little rural space on a hot pink fixed gear bike has been great fun. Here’s a random photo collection from this past week:

IMG_0013 Wifi!

IMG_0015 Not liking this design…

Designing on the fly…


Much better, the ruler measures 50cm.


IMG_0044_2 Taiko Drum music…Our next group practice is Saturday night!! I’m panicking just thinking about it. The drum music seems to be passed down aurally from generation to generation so writing it down with proper rests noted, adagio, staccato, codas, and which stick to hit are just not written. Of course, they are all in synch so even if I hit the beat correctly but with the wrong hand, it’s still not right.  I’ll be off to the side with the little kids practicing on a tire.

IMG_0033 At the end of the day, my worktable looks like this…

But the piece is looking like this:


IMG_0046_2 Local Flowers in front of JPost.

IMG_0047_2 Lovely shop, On Y Va! that has several local artist’s work for sale. Adorable felted items, glass bead works, soap carving and more.

IMG_0035 Bold African print project bag for my stray yarns. Handmade by Kooni, and similar items are available in her online shop.

IMG_0048 A very well loved ‘castle’ in Onishi. A gorgeous home, Shino Atelier, and small Cafe on Sunday and Mondays. I’m looking forward to seeing it on Sunday.

I thought my project was going good until I saw these Aluminum Alien Spaceship frames and said Must. Have! I have no idea what their original purpose was but they were at the local recycling place and when I went in to ask for a couple they even delivered to my studio. Yay! for customer service in Japan! Already starting to integrate them into my project, first step being to cut them down a bit. My time is almost half over so I must get back to work.

IMG_0041_2 IMG_0049_2

RESULTS! Japanese Ceramic Workshop pieces have been fired

Back in early April I took a Ceramics Workshop with John Dix where my novice hands created 2 little cups and a few buttons to be kiln fired during the Golden Week holiday here at Shiro Oni Studio in Gunma, Japan.

IMG_0029 Picked up my pieces yesterday and I’m super happy with the results!

IMG_0027 IMG_0028 One of my cups came out absolutely perfect, the glazing is a natural result of the type of firing, not anything that I did to achieve it.

The buttons I made survived, they are not very big and I thought they may become lost amongst the larger pieces but they look wonderfully raw.

IMG_0030 There is very little glazing, only the smallest spot on each but that’s ok, they’ll still look great with a hand-spun crocheted item.

IMG_0032 My second cup with the adorable pinched ball feet is still whole but it became fused with other pieces so it is not usable and probably not salvageable.

First 48 Hours at Shiro Oni Studios

IMG_0007_2My first artist residency and already I’m loving just one more reason to be an artist! Onishi, in Gunma Prefecure, Japan is a very small town just outside Tokyo. Easy to get here by train, bus and/or car for a quick day trip yet still seems to be untouched by the big city life.

That evening the community got together for Taiko Drumming practice in anticipation of the upcoming Summer Festival here July 12 & 13. I was allowed to join in but my practice was limited to drumming on an old tire like the very young children in the room. They gave me a chance and made me feel welcome. All day the next day as I came across residents who were at the community center the night before, they were encouraging me to keep practicing, がんばって!

IMG_0009  The next morning a local coffee shop had a big projection screen set up and was ready serving waffles and drinks to the fans who came by to watch the World Cup match between Japan and the Netherlands. We all cheered for Japan, yet surprisingly there was a guy from the Netherlands here representing Orange.

Since my second day here was almost half over and I had yet to get any work done in my studio, I couldn’t stay to watch the end of the game.

IMG_0010_2Jumped right into my work with the biggest yarn using my biggest crochet hook. I’m about a third of the way finished with the main framework in which all of the other detail pieces will be attached. It’s those details that will take the longest to complete.

What am I creating? Electric Butterflies: The Demise and Disposal of the Electronic Personality. A technological reclamation art installation project combining metals and fibers. Much of both the metals and the fibers will be crocheted with varying pieces of a killed laptop worked with in the piece. The neon butterflies represent the personality, the energy, or the soul that escapes as the computer died. Showing it’s guts asks us to carefully dispose of the electronic body much as we carefully handle our loved ones or even our enemies who have died. In death, our electronics still contain the potential to harm.

IMG_0001  Open Studio to see my art installation Electric Butterflies will be during the July Summer Music Festival, Sat the 12 & Sunday the 13. You are welcome to stop by Kotoriya Studio here at Shiro Oni to see my progress through Sat, June 28 or follow me on Instagram at Studio Deanna.

The Happy Accident: Following through on a Butterfly Mistake

As I sit and enjoy my meditative crocheting moments I often forget to count and all too often this leads to detrimental mistakes in my work which then needs to be ripped back and redone. Sometimes I just go with the flow and don’t worry if my cute little cherry blossom suddenly has 6 petals. Or if my beret has the correct pattern repeats.

IMG_0001 Such was the day I was experimenting with butterfly patterns. Starting with a simple folded butterfly pattern which started with 8 wings that then needed to be folded for a cute, little 3D butterfly. Of course, my butterfly only came out with 7 wings which does not easily fold in half to provide the correct effect.

IMG_0036 So I sat there, too lazy to rip it back, wondering how to move forward. Using the odd wing out to create a body and then folding only 2 of the wing pieces down, I have now created a much more anatomically correct 3D butterfly, exactly as I was searching to design!

IMG_0037_2 These neon butterfly designs of varying sizes are going into my next art installation, Electric Butterflies: Demise and Disposal of the Electronic Personality. A technological reclamation art installation project combining metals and fibers. On Saturday I’ll be starting my first Artist Residency at Shiro Oni Studios in Gunma Prefecture, Japan! わくわくをします!!

Serendipity. Thank you!