Sunday, December 17, 2017

Art Mail From My Third and Final Summer in Tokyo

Well look at what we have here, a post with the images already in it that just needed text. 
Don't mind if I do.

This art mail spans May through September, so it's pretty much everything I made and sent this past year. I sort of kicked the whole thing into high gear because I wanted to use up as many supplies as possible before moving, and because I haven't had time to continue doing things like this the past few months and put it on hiatus. 
I told people I was going to stop, but let's be real, it's been my main motivation to actually finish creative things these past two and a half years or so, and I'm never going to be able to stop hoarding interesting paper ephemera like a weird little scrapbooking squirrel. 
Art mail will start again in January.

But for now, let's take a trip back to May and see the oversized Japan-themed 
collage card thingy I made Hannes' dad for his birthday :D

I went with the ございます because it looked like it needed more text :P
That little calendar page is from the box of 2017 calendar colouring pages NiQui got me. 
I used them at every opportunity that came up! 

It was also Mother's Day and Easter so I grabbed cherry blossom rice crackers and castella and a pretty little box of mini snickerdoodles from Dean & Deluca, and put in one of the little handmade paper chopstick holders I got at the wonderful fabric dyeing festival we went to this past spring. My mom and I have the other two.

Hannes also bought a nice Japanese cooking knife and a little handmade, cast iron tea kettle for them, but I didn't take a picture because I didn't want to open them again. It shaped up to be a super nice box of gifts, and those aforementioned items are proudly displayed on a fancy shelf.

Also in May is my mom's birthday, so I set to work on a pretty, arty, feminine box for her that included all kinds of little things I'd been accumulating, per usual.

Carefully wrapped with a fold-out paper from a mid-century propaganda art exhibition Rejon and I went to in Omotesando the previous summer, but still not smooth and crisp. Oh well.

The origami paper lining the inside is printed with old-timey Mickey Mouse comics.

I also made a miniature photo album of favourite memories using a Finding Dory stamp rally pamphlet because she likes Dory, plus another colouring page of course. Got her right in the feels.

It ended up being sweets-heavy but oh well lol. Those little bunnies are handmade marshmallows from our neighbourhood traditional sweets shop, the yellow box is an interesting baked cheesecake candy, and the packets under it are Childrens' Day rice crackers (damn cute packaging gets me every time) and Taiwanese white chocolate squares with bubble tea and pineapple cake flavours. 
The tiny blue dish sitting on The Secret History with a primitive Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe on it is handmade, and came from the Mashiko Ceramics Festival, which I can't wait to post about because it was great.

Some postcards I sent, obtained in Nikko, Seoul, at the Eric Carle exhibition at the Setagaya Art Museum (which is way the fuck and gone, prepare the spend half the day waiting for a taking the bus once you've spent an hour on the train), and at ヨロコビto in Nishiogikubo, one of my (and Rejon's!) favourite galleries.

This box of gluten-free goodies was sent to me by Erin Batty, who lives in Seoul and posts lovely photos of the vegan, gluten-free things she bakes on her site,, which isn't a hyperlink because for some reason it's down right now. 

We met when I was there over the summer, and I sent her katakuriko (Japanese sweet potato starch that in the past was made out of a specific type of lily bulb), kinako (toasted soybean powder), and little glazed sweet red bean paste balls that are kind of like cookies because I thought an exchange would be interesting. A few months later she visited Kyoto and was, like, completely over the moon about its primary traditional sweet, yatsuhashi. She couldn't believe the baked version (there's a bag of them up there with my mom' package) is the same as the raw mochi type and is also gluten-free, and was super grateful that I had told her about it :3

These are the cute postcards I sent from the main post office in Taipei! The one Rejon got for her parents is in here too. I would've snapped a better picture but I was in kind of a hurry.

These marker illustrations I bought from a Japanese artist who had been following me on Instagram for a while and who I finally followed back, once I saw what they (actually still don't know if Lion Cider / @raionsaida is a man or woman lol) were doing. Hannes doesn't get it, but I think each fairly large, daily lowbrow illustration is of real quality. The movement and widely varying perspectives speak of real talent, and I told this artist that they should contact a newish gallery-café in Roppongi called Camelish and ask to have their illustrations displayed there. Because, like, that's a perfect match.

Speaking of Japanese Instagram illustrators, I finally successfully bought one of the adorable tiny kakapo magnets @pinopinetree makes; she does exclusively kakapo-themed crafts and doodles.

The first time I tried to buy one through a Japanese website it predictably just didn't go through at all even though there was no apparent reason it shouldn't have and I never even got an e-mail or anything. I was glad when I told her and she responded by opening an Etsy shop. She also included a... kakapostcard.

It took a few months but I finally responded in August, with a little kakapo painting.

I'm not happy with how it turned out but whatever, I sent it to a woman I don't even know 
because I think she's really nice and charming lol.

I had also started three other small paintings while I was at home late this past summer, avoiding the oppressively swampy heat, not working, and trying to use up as much paint and as many available painting surfaces as possible.

The Korean temple roof-based diptych on the left I didn't get any further with, but I did send this mini painting (wrapped in the paper it's sitting on) with Hannes when he came back to Germany on that business trip in September as a little wedding present for his friends Denny and Katrin.

I sent my mom one more package, including a letter, a really cute aquarium penguin card (little did I know that we'd go see just that at the Sumida Aquarium for our birthdays!), a copy of the photobooth pics Rejon and I took in Taipei, and the book Alexandra gave me last Christmas and that I finally got to and finished, a feminist classic written by a cantadora and Jungian psychiatrist.

Here's another look at the stupid cute card I couldn't resist :B

I also included a tiny something for Mariya, whose birthday is in August along with my grandpa's. It turns out she really likes that silly pouch and uses it for baby Bre's little magnetic letters :3

For my grandpa, a handmade ceramic fish from Mashiko and the watermelon and firework wind bell; the hydrangea one was for my mom too. I was also really pleased with this box I painted for the fish and windchime.

Surprise! Sara finally got back to me!
She's super busy and was determined to send this out before having her second daughter and before we moved. I would add a couple more pics of the envelope, which was 100% covered in classic Lisa Frank stickers (hrrnnnggg), but they're on that external with the disk error. She sat down and wrote I think 3 full pages, and included drawings and paintings she and her first daughter did. I loved it!

Last but not least, I sent a birthday packet to Jesse, one of my regular correspondents (even if Japan nearly incinerated the package he sent us because it had jerky in it, those asshats)

He was really interested in The Lost City of Z and had asked what we both thought of it and everything, so I sent it to him (notice the steady outflow of books in preparation for changing countries again lol).

Last but most certainly not least, the box I finally put together for Angelique, after years of not seeing her and not being able to get hold of her online and not having her address.

I used the Armani Code box I didn't need anymore because it still smells really good. 
Inside were some Halloween treats, of course; those cookies on the left are supposed to be (pumpkiny and) cheesecakey, and the ones above the white chocolate are roasted sweet potato flavour. 

I have a matching patch and matching pencil; the little tin of German ointment I tossed in because she's always used comfrey ointment for everything and it just made me think of her whenever I looked at it.

Those pages you see there, of concert flyers and other collaged bits and pieces, have a letter with printed-out photos from the last few times we saw each other on the back, before I left the States in 2012. Rejon was nice enough to laminate them for me, and I'm pretty sure I got her right in the feels.

Last but not least, I tied a branch of fake Japanese maple to the box before wrapping it in thick brown paper because it was exactly the same colour and felt appropriate. I sent this out the morning I left for the airport and it felt so good to finally get something to her after all that time!

This aspect of living in Tokyo was pretty great, and I'm really glad I started doing it, even if people mostly couldn't find the time to keep in touch, much less physically send something in response. Of course I had plenty of free time and hardly any money, so that I could put all kinds of little intricate things like this together, so don't think I'm trying to guilt you if you could only respond once, couldn't find the time, or didn't know what to do from a crafty perspective!

Small-scale projects with rough time limits are good for me. And I've been told more than once that actually getting something in the mail from the other side of the world, hand-written, and made just for you, is really meaningful; more than once it's turned a shitty day completely around.

So, like I said, next year (re: soon) it'll start again. And we have an address, so ask for it if you don't have it!

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