My New ToolBox!

During my latest artist adventures with Janette Maxey, I found my new toolbox at an antique flea market in Ueno Park here in Tokyo. It’s just the right size in just the right color; purple! And it sparkles! I have been searching for ages for the just the right tool box. I’d find one in the right shape, but not a good quality. Or I’d find one in an ok shape, but more durable but still just not quite right for me.

Formal Kimono Bag I’m using as a toolbox

It’s not an antique, probably not even vintage but that’s ok. My new-to-me toolbox is a formal kimono bag, most often paired with a matching set of shoes. For the cost of 1100yen, approximately US$10, it’s a hard-sided bag with a yellow fabric interior and a gold-handle.

Is that a maker’s mark or an owner’s name?

What is in my artist toolbox?

From true antique tools to high tech accessories and custom made pieces I like to keep my eyes open when it comes to my tools. One of the most important lessons I learned from Sensei Yasasuge, my chyoukin and jewelry instructor, is to be wise with your tools. He had a single tool that was capable of doing multiple tasks. Through this practice I realized I don’t need a specialized tool for each task as much as I expected when working with metals.

There is plenty of room for both my metals and fiber tools; my collection of various tipped pliers, crochet hooks, embroidery scissors, an afghan hook, Japanese scissors, custom crochet hook, special lenses for macrophotography, tape measure, spools of wire, pens, embroidery hoop, needles and meishi. There’s still room for threads, too.

I’m excited to be using my new toolbox!

Artist Date in Ueno, Tokyo, Japan

January is one of the best months to be in Tokyo! The beautiful, clear days are more frequent with the sun offering a warmth that offsets the cold. For this art adventure I chose to visit, kenkyusei, a student oil painting exhibition at Geidai; Tokyu University of the Arts located in the Ueno area of the city.

Moon Pine recreated from original as was in 100 Famous Views of Edo

All big adventures need a friend along so I asked my fellow artist, Janette Maxey, to join me. Meeting at Ueno Eki, we soon stumbled upon a random food festival with a wide variety of options from kaki fry (fried oyster) to ramen and just as many booths of beers and sake. We opted for the delicious green tea soba and Janette found an Iwakuni Coffee stand. Interesting how the most mundane of foods can be exceptionally delicious when standing outside in the cold?

It had been a while since either of us had been to Ueno area so we were happy to stop and look at various things that caught our eye such as this manhole cover over electric lines.

At the Oil Painting Exhibition I am glad I had a chance to see an additional two pieces created by Louise Rouse. Very subtle color choices, deep bold printing juxtaposed with soft stitching recreates letters from home that reflect the deep difficulties of family and aging through the most mundane of modern conveyances; an email.

The oil painting exhibition was very small but I’ve found several very unique pieces which made me smile or made me think. I enjoyed the purple splashes and what will pop out of the explosive part of the oil painting. Unfortunately the map provided to show who the artist is was very poorly done so I don’t know who the artist is.

We wandered around the beautiful grounds a bit and found a group of abandoned artworks behind the Sculptures building. This lonely octopus caught my eye.

Ueno Toshogu Peony Park
Ueno Toshogu Peony Park

Each winter I am always surprised at how richly everything still grows here even in the cold winters. Januaries in my childhood where about snow sports and ice fishing. The chill air here seems to add strength to even the smallest of blooms such as these pink and white cyclamen and helps develop the biggest poofs of petals in the peonies. As one set of flowers are at their peak, the camellias foreshadow their time is coming soon, too.

It was time to take our chilled selves and runny noses inside for more food; a beautiful plate of sushi highlighting my favorite unagi.

Muji B6 Planner with Muji A5 Calendar and 100yen shop notebook

After a fun day of inspiration I was excited to get writing again so I chose to pay a bit extra for a Greensha seat on the JR line home. In a Greensha, there is a fold down tray to use to set my day onto paper.

Janette and I also stumbled upon a little antique flea shop in the park and had fun perusing the wares being sold. Sign up for my emails to be notified when I post the new tool box I bought from the market!

Thank you Janette for a fun day out!

New Year 2020 Intentions at Studio Deanna

It’s been a roller coaster couple of years with lows through muddy puddles and highs in the stratosphere. While I haven’t had much time to process these adventures I will be taking the time in 2020 to examine where I’ve been, what I’ve enjoyed, and how it all fits together in my artistic practice and the resulting sculptural outputs.

Ocean Blues – Colored Copper Wire

Literally getting lost in museums is now my superpower. Taking photos as much as possible along the way, including any signage posted will help me properly attribute the works which impressed me most. My posts will not be in any chronological order to my travels but in an order of how I have connected them with regards to my practice, my learning, or even simply a color scheme that has captured my curiosity.

My favorite colors in which to work are on sale with my favorite supplier and Pantone has announced Classic Blue for 2020 and I’m ready for it all.

Lets’s embrace the joy we find in 2020!

Travels, Art, and the Mundane

What I see in Nice, France…

It has been a very busy year for me and I find myself with an amazing set of photographs showing that while I’m not a great photographer I enjoy simply taking photographs of random inspirational bits along the way.
Continue reading “Travels, Art, and the Mundane”

My Neighbor’s Ajisai flowers in full bloom

In my lovely little neighborhood, around the corner, there is a spindly little ajisai plant. It minds its own business, tucked next to a wall between homes, never being noticed.

When the days become long and warm, the sun is reaching through the clouds, the little neighborhood ajisai bursts forth with the loveliest bunches of lavender, periwinkle, blues, and purple shades of hydrangea.

Posing for the camera with fresh droplets of rain still adorning her petals; my neighborhood ajisai says hello:

Plans, New Plans, and a Round-the-World Trip!

It was all planned out. Since the beginning of the year, in a color-coded Gantt Chart on big 100yen calendar pages taped to my studio walls. Big ideas broken down to easy bite-sized steps to completion.

There were pinky swears & check-in promises.

Of course, you’re laughing, you know where this is going. You’re right, I’m completly off track!

We’ve all been there, that smooth road ahead suddenly curves in an unexpected direction and we find ourselves riding a screaming fast roller coaster!

In late June, my husband earned a spot to compete in a World Championship Race!!!




Bucket List Trip!

Coming up quick in only 6 weeks time, this needed a lot of planning, reservations, and smart packing. Neat, organized lists were quickly made. Adding to the difficulty of coordinating this trip is he already had another race in the US only 1 week before the World Championship competition! He needed to attend that race as other family members were competing together, along with his coach, who is not local to us in Japan. So this was really a big, planned family get-together, in a great vacation spot w/a rented family home to house all of the crazy racers and us supporters.

I had no plans to attend the initial race in the US but he really wanted me to and especially to help him & all his equipment get to South Africa. So as I’m booking flights and booking places to stay I am still looking at my colorful calendar mulling over how can I re-arrange my work so my art life can still move forward.

For one show I went with a secondary idea that I could have the final product printed and shipped to it’s destination instead of completing the original beautifully crafted sculpture idea. The idea is still viable for other shows. Nor was I able to complete the second sculpture in the series for another show.

I am so very, very disappointed I have not been able to do the wirework sculptures I know will feed that unique part of my creative soul. The complications of going through the multitudes of international airports worrying it would get damaged or lost just wasn’t worth pushing through on this aspect of my schedule. I crossed it off =( Both pieces I had started were set aside.

Super excited that when I booked the flights, it checked a Bucket List item of a Round-the-World Trip!! Not the relaxing, retiree-style travelling as I had originally envisioned, but amazing nonetheless!

Literally, the very next day after booking all of the airline tickets, I received a call from a family member that I needed to return to the US to help after they got out of the hospital. Luckily it was minor concerns and all is well, but it added two weeks onto the front of the already surprise World Tour. So that left only 4 weeks before I needed to leave.

I had almost 4 months worth of work plans I wanted to edit, organize, complete, and pack before my trip. Pushing past my disappointment and focusing on the elephants awaiting my arrival, I meticulously re-worked my custom fabric orders, strategically packed certain embroidery works, thread colors, and that one special knitting project I pinky swore I would complete this year.

By the end of the trip I could feel my bag weighted down with multi-country coinage.

Add in epic jet lag brain and I am full.

My heart is full.

My soul is full.

Full of amazement.

Full of wonder.

South Africa is an amazing country full of layers; beautiful people, delicious food, and epic wildlife.

South Africa knew what my soul needed before I realized there was anything missing!

Thank You, South Africa!!

Less than 48 hours after landing back home in Japan, I’m was at a beautiful sayonara lunch in Omotesando, devastated an amazing friend is moving to Europe.

I’m tired, but

I can get back on track, right?

Follow my day-to-day art adventures on Instagram: Studio Deanna