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…

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…

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! 

A Creative Type with Patience

Does one's art bring out traits otherwise hidden or unattainable in other areas of our lives?Each day as I work in the Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor's Centre I hear the word patience in regards to my work. Never would I ever describe myself as a patient person. But those who stop to see me work, see the meticulous effort I put into my craft. I enjoy the work so much I never feel a need for patience on my part. Today's Cairns Eye in the Weekend Post has a nice well written article about my work on the Butterfly Rainforest: Preparing for Flight.   I decide to stretch my creativity and join in the workshop offered by the Saltwater Creek Basketry Club. My aunt used to have a basket weaving business so all of us cousins learned but the materials used by this group are completely different than what I've ever done before. Using the Palm tree inflorescence native to the Far North Queensland area I attempted a basket. Instead I have a lovely not very basket-like wall hanging.   Interested in learning wire crochet? I'll be offering a wire crochet workshop on Saturday, April 11. Book your space through Tanks Arts Centre; 4032 6600http://www.tanksartscentre.com/home/event.asp?eid=825

Uninterrupted Work

It has been such a luxury to have days and days in a row of uninterrupted time to just work on my Butterfly Rainforest! Each day brings such a huge amount of progress it leaves me so much to look forward the next day. While the photos don't look like I've made much progress, actual measurements do! The tree is a total of 140cm tall and has been branching out. More leaves, more flowers, a trip to the hardware store and introducing a class to working with metals have been the highlights. Oh, and a few interviews, too!A much needed trip to the hardware store led me to find what looks just like a Yoyoi Kusama art installation:  I have now seen, in the wild, 3 of the 4 species of butterflies I'm including in my Butterfly Rainforest; the Ulysses, the Cairns Birdwing, and the Lurcher.    Many have asked how big will the piece be? It will be as big a my supply of colored copper wire. Of which I now only have 10 spools of the 20 gauge. I started with about 70!   Up to 45 cm and growing...while I still have wire.   Wire crocheting buttress roots and stabilizing the tree trunk at the same time.   Adding yarn for color and texture,    A lovely sky at dusk: Only two weeks left until the Launch and my Artist Talk at Cairns Botanic Gardens Visitor's Centre, 2PM. For more day to day progress on my wire crocheted Butterfly Rainforest art installation, follow me on Instagram: Studio Deanna. 

Butterfly Rainforest Research is Solid

The area in the Cairns Botanic Gardens where I am working is a multi-use space and I found myself attending the latest "Walk & Talk" event hosted by Friends of the Botanic Gardens: Watching Out for Wicked Weeds. Many native butterflies here in Far North Queensland enjoy plants and flowers from non-native species. Some are also killed by them.  It took me a long time to wade through information to ensure each plant and   flower I created was, in fact, a native species. Common names and Latin names were often haphazardly applied leaving this non-botanist a bit perplexed. Today's informative session by members of Australia's Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry solidified for me that the initial research I did was worth the effort! Having access to Botanists has helped also. I did stump them with my question about the fruit on the Walking Stick Palm tree:Each Walking Stick Palm I have seen in photos or here in real life has either orange fruit or red fruit. Do the orange ones become red or does each plant have its own specific colored fruit and they don't change color?The Botonists didn't have an answer for me as it takes 10 years for the Palm to come to fruit and an experiment started by one could not completed with a reliable answer. But he did tell me they are edible and the red ones taste better :)As a painter will paint what they see, I will stitch what I see!For more of my day to day Artist-in-Residence adventures, follow me on Instagram: Studio Deanna