First round of REPEAT

Phew!  I got my "Tiny Dwelling" patterns done at the last minute.  All of the patterns are up and there are some amazing submissions!  Go check out the patterns and vote for mine now!  Here's a little glimpse into my process... A photo from one of my favorite books:  The Deep!  It's full of amazing photographs of deep sea life!
I also got a chance to use my handy dandy Spoonflower color swatch chart to match my digital colors to printed samples.
Inside my sketchbook some ink drawings for the Tulip Hill pattern.
Here's "Sleep with the Fishes"
 and "Tulip Hill"
I'm very happy with how they turned out!  Voting is open today-Sunday the 25th so please go vote for me!

Swimming, swimming, keep on swimming....

I just wanted to share some of the sketches and images from the Fish Market. I had a fun time looking through my photos and trying to identify some of the fish. From my sketchbook:

The more I drew the more I felt compelled to create images with paint, paper and pen that captured the textures and colors of Tsukiji.
Next, I thought about how I would explain the market to someone who had never seen it. Images that show the true juxtaposition of the market: intense concentration of the men working on a single fish to someone hacking at whole frozen tunas!
I was mostly struck by the organized chaos; the close quarters of the stalls and narrow alleys filled with booths and tables of fish carefully separated and labeled according to size and type.

The men working at the market seemed incredibly focused. Amidst all the confusion they knew where to go. Running from stall to stall, others carving fish and older men taking copious notes while overseeing the stall.

I loved watching customers interacting with the vendors. People talking about crabs, tasting fish roe and navigating the crowded alleys of Tsukiji at a rapid pace. (trying carefully not to be run over by people driving small vehicles).
How could I make a series of images of Tsukiji and neglect to mention sushi? On the left is what I had for breakfast one morning at the market; ikura, unagi and maguro (salmon roe, sea urchin and tuna over a bowl of rice with some cucumbers and a little wasabi) yumm... I know you might think its gross, but don't knock it till you've tried it! On the right are some other options of nigiri (fish on rice). I left space in the images or around them and i'll add some text but I'm still having a hard time with the writing.
Last image is of the overall market. I struggled with this piece and then I redid it completely. It falls flat for me.... I didn't feel like this captured the true chaos of the market and sheer volume of people and fish. But that's okay there are parts of it I still like.


So that's all for now! Happy Easter, Passover, Spring and April! The weekend was beautiful and the week is shaping up to be just as nice. I'm trying to get some time outside while staying productive before I return to DC next week for the Cherry Blossom race!

One Fish, Two Fish...

Being the largest city in Japan means that Tokyo is a completely overwhelming place to visit. There is so much to see, do and eat. However exciting it is initially, it can feel too big and I'm ready to leave after 4 or 5 days. I've visited Tokyo 4 times now and without a doubt one of my favorite touristy spots to visit is Tsukiji fish market.Tsukiji is the world's largest seafood market. If you want to check out the real action its best to get there early... like 5am. (That's when they auction off the tuna). In the last few years the market has been more restricted due to the fact that people are trying to work and having a bunch of gawking tourists probably gets old.

It was quite challenging to take photos that demonstrate how crowded and busy the market truly is. My family and I didn't even make it to Tsukiji until around 8:30am and it was still mobbed.
Obviously there are fish everywhere. More fish then you've ever seen! And in such a wide array of size and color. Surprisingly enough, if you visit in the morning things are fresh and it doesn't smell that fishy.
 Everywhere are piles of boxes, people pushing carts carrying boxes and people unpacking boxes.
I love the chaos of the market; people running from stall to stall. Everyone had a job and knew what they needed to do while us tourists tried to take it all in and stay out of their way.
This is a shot looking at the storage areas behind the stalls.
Live crustaceans!

and squid probably not so alive...

One of the most awe-inspiring sights is that of the bluefin tuna. Men running by with the tuna on carts or taking an axe to them or putting a whole frozen tuna through a bandsaw.
In general though, I think one of the best ways to get a sense of a cultural or a country is to visit markets. It's always interesting to see what other people eat and buy at the store. While in Hokkaido we visited a much smaller but still fantastic fish market in Sapporo. The benefit of visiting a market like this is that it's much easier to get around. The market mostly consisted of small stores and a lot of them would give out samples.
Hokkaido is known for its delicious crabs and we saw a lot of them for sale here!
Would you like some octopus? or a package of fresh fish? In Japan there is always an impressive fish section in the market. Usually you can find fish that is sushi grade, fish that is marinated and ready to cook and fish that has already been cooked with a sauce. There's always fresh sushi/sashimi and all kinds of other sealife I wouldn't know what to do with. In addition to the wide variety it is also less expensive to buy fish in Japan.
Two different types of crab and some ikura (salmon eggs). They had a table to sample various types of ikura which made me very happy as it is one of my favorite things to eat over a bowl of rice.
Spiney crab. Making a bid for freedom?
In addition to delicious samples we had the chance to interact more directly with some of the fish market guys. This guy saw us photographing the crabs and went as far as to let us each hold one of the crabs and take photos.
I know it looks really badass but the crab didn't put up much of a fight. The crab guy told us this crab was 16 years old; I guess that's why theses King crabs are so heavy and expensive. Here's Victo, Olivier, Steven and I with the crab! Some of my favorite photos from the trip!
We grabbed some tasty lunch after our perusing. I had a giant bowl of ikura and fresh crab on rice. This also came with a variety of small tasty things; shumai, meatballs, something cooked in tofu skin, white miso soup. It was so good!
Our trip to the market inspired me sooooo much that I started sketching fish and then men from the fish market. I got a little carried away and managed to create enough pieces to put together in a small book/zine. I'll put up some of the images from that next!