7 Lessons Learnt* During My Artist Residency

After a bit of time unpacking my suitcase and settling into my new home here in Hawai’i, I’ve reflected on some of what I’ve learned about myself as an artist during my time as Artist-in-Residence at Tanks Arts Centre:

7. Bring my laptop! Several weeks of living, working & playing through my smartphone is enough to drive the most dedicated smartphone lover crazy. From setting up the bills for our new place in Hawai’i to creating posts of my progress here on my website. Thankfully WordPress just updated their App to be more user friendly, all that typing on a small screen leads to some very hilarious and many non-sensical auto-corrections!


6. Bring your colored pencils! I love my set of fancy Koh-I-Noor Progresso colored pencils. They fit perfectly into my London Underground pencil case with just enough room left over for a couple charcoal pencils, an eraser and a small pencil sharpener. I can’t draw, nor can I paint but I love to lay down some color on a piece of paper. Most usually around a quote that has resonated with me at the time. It’s a relaxing way to think through a stitch problem. I didn’t bring them because they are very, very heavy for pencils. Nor did I realize how much I used them to document my stitch design work. The colored pencils really give them their needed finishing touch.

5. Easter Monday! It was a confusing learning experience to discover how another country celebrates the same holiday. Everything is closed in the states on Easter Sunday, but in Australia most things are closed on Easter Monday, also. While visiting the small touristy town of Kuranda, I was having a great conversation with another artist when her mobile rang. It was Telstra, her phone company, stating they were at her home waiting. She had no idea they would work on Easter Monday! Well, that made me feel better knowing an Aussie could be just as confused as I regarding Easter Monday :)

4. Just started the Sim Card adventures with my first unlocked smartphone and found an amazing option while in Australia! For AU$50 (approx US$40)/month, I had 3GB of data (with unlimited data on the weekends!), unlimited calls, unlimited texts, AND free calls to 5 Int’l countries, incl the US. This alone made the extra expense of an unlocked phone worth it.


3. One cannot do All of the Things. Plus Build. There were so many amazing things to do in the Cairns area I couldn’t do them all as I would have liked. Yet, what I loved most was the relaxing focus I was able to maintain on building my Butterfly Rainforest wire crochet art installation. It makes me wonder if planning smaller projects during my residencies would be a better way to create a more well-rounded experience.

2. Rainforest is such a lovely, romantic name for the wondrous, creepy, beautiful, crawly, noisy, noisy jungle! Bug spray was my most valuable tool, my best friend during this residency. Between the mossies and the midges, I was a most favorite fresh meat and left a spotted itchy mess any moment I was caught out without any.



Bug Spray Tip: Freshly shaved legs and bug spray will leave one with their very own Kevin, Home Alone, moment!


1. I am a data hog. So many years of inexpensive unlimited internet in Japan have created some major GB sucking habits! Having video podcasts and webinars playing in the background as I crochet instead of ever turning on the television. I also like to document my progress through Instagram, Twitter and my website, consuming even more data. When a residency says they have wi-fi, be sure to ask how many GBs and what date will the new GB limit start again? And is it available in the areas one will need it the most.

My residency at Tanks Arts Centre was a really wonderful learning experience for me. So very glad I grabbed this opportunity. All the hard work has been worth the effort.

*I also learnt a bit of British English along the way :)


Butterfly Rainforest Exhibition through May 11

The Butterfly Rainforest is finished and will be on exhibition through May 11 at the Cairns Botanic Gardens’ Visitor Centre everyday from 10:30 – 3PM.

Professional photographer Michael Marzik has snapped some great photos of the Butterfly Rainforest art installation and I’ve posted a few here, there are more in my Portfolio.  Come explore the fibre and wire crocheted rainforest of Far North Queensland, Australia:










Michael Marzik Photography: M.Marzik (at) hotmail (dot) com

Follow me on Instagram: Studio Deanna to find out what my next project will be!


It’s been 5 years since the original idea of creating a wire crochet butterfly installation crossed my mind. Part of a brainstorming session with my friend Tracy in San Diego about the “Rites of Passage” theme for a festival the next year.

Thus began the crochet chapter of my life. A couple tips from Sarah and then a Saturday class with another friend, Aine, learning flower forms and I was off, stitching hundreds of flowers!

Support from more friends such as Rachel, Daryll, Amanda, Janet, Kelly, and Patti kept me going. Their great advice and never ending patience as I made my first baby steps into the art world. 

Taking bigger steps with the Tokyo Art Byte Critique Group; more group shows as I honed my skills. Arthur, Lori, Ruri, Tanya, Dai, Lyle, Meg, et al Thank You! 

Daytime, Evening, and Yokohama Stitchers; Merja, Eva, Nao, Robin, Wendy, Chandra, Odile, Ellen, Akemi, Liz, and so many more. Everyone has been super supportive in providing constructive criticism, the push to get what needs to be done vs only the bits I want to do :)

All of them have listened patiently as I continually bounced ideas around for months, years! The gallery hopping, the owls, the tea and support from yet more friends; Michelle, Janice, Louise, and Barbara. 

My search for yarns the same colors as the flowers and butterflies of Far North Queensland for the Butterfly Rainforest installation led me to Kiki at Yarn vs Zombies, an indie yarn dyer out of Melbourne. Achieving the brilliant blues, greens, and subtle oranges of the butterflies was pivotal to making this piece work. 

Destashers also have become a part of this project. Any green yarn being given away found its way into my stash and has been utilized in the project in some way. 

Photography by Lori Ono has been essential for helping to present my ideas throughout various media outlets, from newspapers to brochures to websites. Her photos have captured the attention of Aussies and tourists alike to my work and the workshops. 

Lori is also skilled in the art of felting and at my request, made the basic body forms for each of the chrysalises within the installation. A wee bit of trimming, embroidery work, and a thin layer of watery matte medium and they fit perfectly into the Butterfly Rainforest. 

This is a solo exhibition. Yet, clearly, despite 99.99% of the fibre and wire crochet construction being done by me. This took a lot of coordinated effort on the part of so many. 

Thank You to all that have helped me get here!!


Last Days Before the Opening of Butterfly Rainforest

Easter Monday. It’s a thing here in Australia, a holiday from work, many businesses are closed and a source of confusion for this visitor plus a few Aussies, too. 

Took the Kiranda Scenic Railway up into the rainforest for the day.



Kuranda is a nice little town up in the rainforest with the Butterfly Sanctuary. A bit of last minute research and I had a good plan for the rest of the week. 

Lurcher Butterfly:


Cairns Birdwing Caterpillar:


Ulysses Butterfly caterpillar:

Cairns Birdwing, male:    

Ulysses Butterfly:


Tuesday was all about adding the leaves:  

Utilizing one of two large potted Fan Palms in the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor’s Centre, I created an environment for the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly. Wire crocheted Native Dutchman Vine, beads included as eggs, chrysalis, a full grown crocheted Birdwing and a single fallen Wing section representing the end of the butterfly’s lifecycle.  

In both writing and in person, the little strangely shaped flower of the Native   Dutchman Vine was described as ‘insignificant.’ That made me sad as no one wants to be described as insignificant so I had to create them in yarn to show how unique they really are:


The second Fan Palm is home to the Lurcher and also the Green Spotted Triangle. A total of 7 chrysalis are hidden within the three islands of work. 

 On the final day before the opening caterpillars needed to be completed: 

After: My caterpillar army ready for showtime!

The Launch was on Friday at 2PM and I am very happy with how it went. A professional photographer is coming to take good photos of my work as the lighting within the Visitor’s Centre is very poor for my little smart phone photography. So I’m saving the big Launch post with photos of the completed work for after I receive the photos. 

Have a great weekend!!

Butterfly Rainforest – More Progress to Report

Happily, there is a lot of progress to report today! Still living and posting through my smart phone so apologies for typos and formatting issues that are likely to happen. I’ve also blown through the wifi data plan here at the house so thankfully my SIM card plan has unlimited data on the weekends! Yay! AND free international phone calls to several countries :0

Hang in there, art & crochet photos are forthcoming…so follow me on my Cairns adventures this past week:

On my walks through the Cairns Botanic Gardens I see something new each day. For the first time I spied the Desert Petunia, a favorite of the Lurcher Butterfly. I’m super pleased with the final crochet design I created.  

My design for the Native Dutchman Vine, a favorite of the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly went well also: 

Relaxing at the Esplanade is a must for visitor’s and residents of Cairns alike: 

There is no swimming or sunbathing on the beach due to crocodiles!

Dusk brings the spectacular Flying Fox bats to flight in search of dinner, or would that be their breakfast?

 The pink flowered Evodia tree continues to grow, the top branch section at approx 70cm: Trunk details; yarn-y bark work and the early stages of adding on the Strangler Fig:

Finally!! The pieces are starting to come together! A full 165cm of tree so far: 

I would love to see you at the launch on Friday, April 10 at 2PM here at the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor’s Centre:  

Interested in adding a bit of wire crochet to your already enjoyable fibre crochet repertoire?  I’ll be conducting a workshop on Saturday, April 11: 

Fibre crochet for beginner’s and intermediate levels are available the next week. Contact Tanks Arts Centre at 4032 6600. 

To see my day to day adventures and progress you are welcome to follow me on Instagram: Studio Deanna

Everyone in Cairns has been very welcoming and I greatly enjoyed the dinners over at a new friend’s home with her family and lifelong friends. She was very brave and decided to try a new chocolate fondue which was a smashing succes…until we wanted to dip the little Easter chicks, too!