Washi and Whetstones

Best place to find a whetstone aka Tokyo Art Adventures w/Mia O – Mokuhanga Artist!

Six of us, all members of Art Byte Critique, set out from our respective homes around the Tokyo Metro area and converged upon the 360+ year old, Ozu Washi paper store in the Nihonbashi area.

We each had our reasons for making this errand; Michelle wanted washi sheets for her contemporary nihonga painting idea. Lori was on a quest to find just the right texture, color, and pattern for her handmade bee-themed mamebon, bean-sized books. Patty, Louise, & Mia O were each looking for paper for their printmaking projects and I was there out of curiosity.

Ozu Washi fits the widest range of washi paper enthusiasts. They inform the tourists, yet showcase their centuries of consistently top quality paper in various forms throughout the other floors with a large room set up as a museum. Lovely displays of amazing art pieces utilizing washi, cones of paper yarns, videos, and classes all in one place!

We each walked out with beautiful sheets of washi that handled each of our widely varying needs. My purchase was a package of five tissue paper thin, buttery soft, all white sheets to create a backdrop for photographing my artwork.

After a delicious lunch of Soba noodles at Takashimaya we made our way to Morihei Knife & Whetstone Shop in the Asakusa-bashi area.

Oguro Sensei brought out his iPad to show us additional information regarding his business; comfortable using modern technology. Some of his offerings are listed on his website, yet many, many more are available in his shop.

Morihei has been around since 1933 and is dedicated to the absolute highest quality whetstones for mokuhanga carving chisels, chyoukin metal etching tools, nigiri sheers, sushi knives, and swords. The variety in each stone was astounding, the color, the grit, the size, all had a unique purpose. Oguro Sensei said many sushi chefs come to Japan to purchase the excellent knives but then need to return to buy a whetstone from him to keep those knives sharp.

Mia & Patty receiving advice and discussing their multitude of choices!

TIP for choosing a good whetstone:

Place a drop of water on the stone; a slowly sinking drop is better and the water stays around to provide lubricant for the item one is sharpening.

If the water drop sinks too quickly, it is a poor quality stone.

Both Patty and Mia needed to purchase a stone for their mokuhanga tools that day and this is what our group, Art Byte Critique, is about, supporting each other so we can each successfully move forward with our own work.

This large whetstone is used to sharpen one’s sword!

Mia O is a Selected Artist at the International Mokuhanga Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. Currently her work can be seen at the UH Manoa Art Building Main Gallery. Mia was among a handful of printmakers to be selected for acquisition awards by the Hawaii State Foundation for Culture and the Arts, Arts in Public Places!!

Mia will be showing additional work available for purchase in the Chinatown Artists Lofts First Friday Open Studios event room 203 – Ark of the Unicorns Gallery Space


Morihei – Knife & Whetstone Shop

111-0053 JAPAN

Taito-Ku, Tokyo

1-28-6 Asakusa-bashi

Approx 2 min walk from either the JR Asakusa-bashi Stn or the Asakusa-bashi Subway Stn

Exploring Toba Nakamichi

Visited the lovely seaside town of Toba Mie Prefecture, this week. Toba is well worth the visit. Gorgeous in that it has been able to keep a lot of it’s old character in the beautiful wooden buildings, temples, shrines, and continue to be friendly and outgoing to visitors.

Soaked in a bit of quiet, rural Japan and attended the Toba Stories Art Project.  Stayed at the KAMOMEnb guesthouse near the train station.

A photo journey of my visit through Toba and the bonus of enjoying an exhibition by the students from Joshibi University. Their task; to speak with the people of Toba and create artwork from these conversations.

Toba CityToba City

Accountant Tanuki
HabuShyuu Tanuki


At Sainenji Temple, Artist Sarah Brasier spotted these two little cats in an antique hanging scroll which she chose to recreate in a single painting. Their very oddness, as if the original painter had never seen cats irl.
Pinhole Camera Photography by Furuichi Kako
Furuichi Kako’s Pinhole Camera Photography in the gorgeous Kadoya Bldg


Glass work by Ootake Mika in Kadoya Bldg
Ootake Mika: In Toba-shi “…I feel there is a shared space rather than a flow of time.”
Kubo Miki – Oil on Canvas
Omori Miho: Spinning Lite
Kadoya Bldg – Previously a drugstore, it was the town’s bustling gathering point as remembered by a senior town member.
I find the best things in the most out of the way places! Yummy, lemon, basil seed drink from Thailand…at the Circle K :)

Art Byte Critique: ‘Game Changing Art Collective…’

Since 2012 I have been a member of Art Byte Critique here in Tokyo, Japan and it has been a game changer for me. We are an international group representing Japan and several countries around the world.

We greatly appreciate our inclusion in the write up by INDIE Magazine, July 21, 2017 by Hannah Cassens Marshall:

“Art Byte Critique (Tokyo)
Art Byte Critique was created in 2012 by Arthur Huang in response to a desire for a community of artists interested in sharing ideas and providing feedback for work; its purpose was to find a productive outlet for resources that could grow studio practice. The collective has become a touchstone or home base for the participating artists. The term “Art Byte” is a play on the Japanese (German-derived) word for part-time work, アルバイト (arubaito), as most of the participating artists also have other occupations. Driven by concerns about the sustainability of an artistic practice in the current globalized contemporary art environment, Art Byte Critique focuses less on the big picture of the contemporary art world and more on the development of a smaller, more actionable community of artists with a range of practices and perspectives. Monthly studio work discussion meetings run alongside regular communications via social media and blogs, as well as updates on creative events in the Tokyo area. There is no formal membership in Art Byte Critique, rather a conscious decision to create a fluid environment where all artists are informed of all activities and are invited to participate as and when they wish.”

Super proud to be a part of Art Byte Critique since its inception. Thank You, Arthur and fellow members members!

While we await anxiously to hear about a group proposal, here’s just a taste of what we have in the works coming up:

July 31 – Artist Talks w/Nick West & Patty Hudak – Good Heavens Brit Bar in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo starting at 7:30PM

Sept 9 – Oct 9 Nakanojo Biennial: Both Arthur J Huang and Yuka Otani each have been chosen to participate.

Sept 28 – Oct 1 Mia Oo will have work and be attending the Mokuhanga International Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii

Oct 5 – 8: Art Byte Critique just rec’d the great news yesterday that we have been included in the upcoming Tokyo Art Book Fair for the 4th year in a row! 6 of us are participating this year, coordinated this year by Lori Ono. Also participating are; Yuko Kamei, Louise Rouse, Arthur J Huang, Patty Hudak, & Nick West

Oct 6 – First Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii – Deanna Gabiga  will have a show of new works at Chinatown Lofts

Expect to see work by Michelle Zacharias to pop-up in Kyoto near the end of October/early November.

Ruri Clarkson – She is keeping us in suspense with a new (still secret!!) project :) In the meantime she has posted work at www.chromatope.com

To keep up with events be sure to follow Art Byte Critique on Facebook

We look forward to seeing you at our events, Thank You!



Rainforest on the Move

Today’s jet lagged post will be a bit haphazard so just sit back and enjoy the eclectic pacing of my latest adventures:

 Everything is still moving forward for me to begin my Artist Residency with Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns, Australia next month! The butterfly research and design work I have been doing for these past months have been to fulfill a 5 year effort to build a wire crochet butterfly art installation.

Photo by Lori Ono
Photo by Lori Ono

The biggest surprise came through a job transition from Japan to Hawaii. Inside a large dishpack moving box went all the materials I need to create my installation. Thankfully it is warm in both Hawaii and Cairns so a basic carry-on can hold all my clothes necessary. The box weighed almost 22KG!! No extra charge for my “luggage -in-a-box” Phew!


In the hotel in Japan, in the hotel in Hawaii, in the new apartment devoid of furniture, I work each day making steady progress:

Hot Metal Coloured Copper Wire Crochet work in Hawaiian sun. This is the start of the Evodia Tree.


Special thanks to SpamKNITsubi for the lovely welcome to Hawaii. Through her I was able to meet other fiber artists here in Hawaii and help HotXTea with his installation for Pow!Wow!Hawaii!


Rug Hooking the rainforest floor using a Locker hook:


A tree grows in a hotel room:


This is where it goes!


Details: Hey, SnB Ladies! Remember that fun green yarn I bought at Classe yarn shop in Daikanyama? It works exactly as I had hoped. The most non-arty person recently said to me, “Hey, that looks like grass!” :)


 Time for me to get back to work! You can watch my day to day progress on Instagram at StudioDeanna


– Hibiscus here in Hawaii –

Art on the Move – As Fast as a Speeding Bullet!

Artist Michelle Zacharias boarded the Bullet Train (Shinkansen) on her way to Kyoto with hoji-cha, chocolate-covered almonds, and 2 pieces of art for two different group shows!



There’s great art to see in Kyoto!

The International Exhibition of Art: Kyoto Art Show from Oct 28 – Nov 2

and at the

Gallery Kei-Fu 

Follow her adventures in Kyoto on Instagram: Misheru32

A Piece at the Kana Art Festival Exhibition

I just sent one of my wire crocheted flowers to be shown at the Kana Art Festival & Exhibition this weekend in Gunma, Japan. This is a free event open to anyone interested in escaping the crowded city for a beautiful weekend in a lovely mountain town. Some of my fellow artists will also have work at the Festival Exhibition such as Lori Ono.

Wire Crochet Flower  Shiro Oni Studio is hosting the Kana Art Festival & Exhibition with details and directions on their website:

Date: September 27-28 – 2014

Time: 10am- 8pm

Place: Onishi 108-2

We’re holding an art festival on September 27 (sat) and 28 (sun) in celebration of Chiaki Horikoshi’s recent lifetime achievement award from the King of Spain for his cultural contributions between Spain and Japan. The Spanish ambassador to Japan will present the medal to Mr. Horikoshi on the 28th at 4pm.
Experience a great combination of Spanish and Japanese Events:
  • Flamenco and cante X Onishi festival music
  • Spanish Piella X Tochanage stew
  • Spanish Wine X Local Japanese sake
  • Kjell Hahn’s tearoom X Chiaki Horikoshi’s tearoom
  • Artwork from area artists and Shiro Oni Studio artists from over 10 countries
  • and its all free.

Good (Bad?) Enough to Bin It!

Yes! That really great idea I had that turned out to be not such a great idea is going in the Bin. More precisely, Michael Landy’s Art Bin at  Yokohama’s Museum of Art. 

As mentioned in my Decluttering Art post, what cannot be reclaimed, repurposed or given away to even one’s mother to love will need to go to the garbage bin.  This huge (1 meter in diameter) black snowflake needs such a home. It reminds me too much of a yucky spiderweb.  I am so very happy my project was good (bad?) enough to be accepted for binning at the Yokohama Triennale.

This huge black snowflake/spiderweb monstrosity of a bad idea will be given a chance to be rejected with dignity in an art museum along with a tribe of other rejected art.

IMG_0018 Thursday, Aug 28th, sometime between 11:00 – 12:00 stop by to watch this and other rejected art be tossed into the Art Bin.