May 21, 2017

dogs with glasses

I have a confession to make. It's been 7 months since I made a new quilt! Definitely the longest dry stretch in my ~20 year quilt journey. But, that's over. And I've made a new quilt top... with dogs wearing glasses! This funky print is from Japan. Where else, right?

I Heart Dogs with Glasses.  Teresa Duryea Wong. 2017 Dimensions are ~60 x 65 inches.
Not one of my best photos.... its raining today and I am super tired. So, this is the best I could do. More to come. This is just the top. I plan to start quilting it next week.... I hope anyway!

The world is so serious right now... and I tend to get overwhelmed with all the news and the drama. So I decided to do something that is just pure fun... and kinda wacky. And I love improv because it is so liberating.

Every time I picked up one of these dog prints, it made me smile. Even laugh.

This is the kind of thing where you will either love it or hate it. No worries... but I hope it makes you laugh too.

In fact, I had so much fun this quilt is bigger than my design wall.

More to come. Thanks for following along.

Apr 29, 2017

dragonflies & orange - re-post of Japanese Yukata cotton

Take Two! I am re-posting this post from Oct 18, 2015. I still love this quilt and it seems like yesterday when I made it.

Teresa Duryea Wong. "Dragonflies, Flowers and a Spot of Orange" 42 x 48 inches.
Cotton Yukata prints, Oakshott, wool. Machine quilted. 2015.
Photo shoots always work better with a prop.

I finished this 'improv' quilt today and I was looking around for a prop to use in the photo to help give the quilt some perspective when Tom the dog and his bright orange collar laid down in the perfect spot.

Teresa Duryea Wong. "Dragonflies, Flowers and a Spot of Orange" 42 x 48 inches. 
Cotton Yukata prints, Oakshott, wool. Machine quilted. 2015.
The dragonfly and flower prints are Japanese Yukata (summer kimono) fabric. These are hand-dyed, vintage imported prints and they are a lot of fun to work with.

Read more about these interesting cottons on my previous blog post.

The other fabrics are shimmering Oakshott cotton and I think they set these prints off nicely.

Everything is 'improv' - meaning no pattern, no rulers, just cut and sew. The wonky lines and off-kilter edges are what give this small quilt its own personality.

The flower print has a taupe pallette, yet there is one beautiful orange leaf that just pops out, so that inspired me to add just a touch of bright orange wool to the overall design.

Orange is such a compelling color.

Working in the improv style takes a certain amount of fortitude!

Like, when you get to the edge and the blocks don't line up - don't cut them! Just go with it... these are some of my favorite parts.

I had one of those spelling crisis moments (you know, when your mind tricks you... is it dragonflys or dragonflies? Dragonflies is correct, btw).

I bought this dragonfly from a sidewalk artist in Kyoto. It balances on your finger! So cool.
I could not resist... made of wood, hand painted.
Anyway, I was really drawn to these blue on blue dragonflies because I learned while researching my book on the history of Japanese quilts that in Japanese culture, the dragonfly is associated with strength and victory, especially military strength. There is a stunning dragonfly quilt by Yoshiko Katagiri in my book. You can see a photo of it here, on my website.

So when I looked this word up today, I learned that (according to in the Northern and Western US, another name for dragonfly is darning needle, devil's darning needle or sewing needle. Hmmm... I have never heard this. Have you? Fascinating...

Thanks to Tom the Dog. You and your orange collar make the perfect model!

Apr 15, 2017

moons of Japan - in fabric

Fifteen months ago, I left Japan with a suitcase full of new cotton fabric. Lucky me! It's taken me all this time to finish this quilt - an idea that started forming in my head immediately.

All of the cotton fabric featured is from the collections of Keiko Goke - a designer of extraordinary color, shape, line... all the things! I wanted to make a quilt that would really showcase these fabrics all together in one canvas. Hopefully, this accomplishes that concept!

Keiko Goke (a quilter and fabric designer) is featured in my new book - due out in July! In the book, I also explain how all this gorgeous fabric is printed inside Japan.

I like to think of these floating circles as multi-colored moons.... thus I've titled this one:
"Multi-Colored Moons of Japan"  Japanese love moon watching, in fact they celebrate it with moon with festivals and events. Now I have my own Japanese moons to watch everyday! :)

The background is black Kona cotton, which I covered with quilting using variegated Aurifil cotton thread.

Mar 19, 2017

book review of my Japanese quilts book - a glowing one!

My 2015 book has been reviewed by Museum Anthropology Review.

It is an honor to be included in this online magazine - everything in it is peer reviewed and the reviewer for my book had provided a very thorough summary.

Here's the opening statement:

Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters: The Story of an American Import. 
Teresa Duryea Wong. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2015. 144 pp.*

Reviewed by Amanda Grace Sikarskie

Teresa Duryea Wong’s Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters: The Story of an American Import is a lavishly illustrated introduction to the art of Japanese quilts that will undoubtedly appeal to quilt scholars and novices alike.

Here's a link to the full review.

Feb 2, 2017

big news this week

This was a big, big week for me!

First, I was just notified last night that I have been selected to give a lecture at the Houston International Quilt Festival! This is such an honor and I am thrilled to be selected.

Second, my new book is listed in the Schiffer Publishing Spring catalog - which just came out. The book will be available in July.

Third.... I'm going to California. Well...  not till 2018!
I've been invited to give 3 lectures to 3 different quilt guilds - 2 in San Francisco, and 1 in Napa! I'll be spending 2 weeks there in all. Life doesn't get much better than that, does it?

Texas is also on my lecture list... and lots of awesome guilds have invited me to speak in 2017 and 2018.

All book tour lectures are listed on my website:

Jan 24, 2017

writing, sewing, not so much blogging

This quote is truly precious. I feel like that some days. 

Book number two is in the editing phase! Possible book number three mulling around in my brain.

When you spend your days at the keyboard, or at the sewing machine - and I do both - important things like this little blog get neglected.

You already know - there are only so many hours in the day.

Not only that, I find myself more and more drawn to Instagram, and less and less to my blog, or other blogs for that matter. It feels odd somehow... like I've jumped ship to something more shiny. But IG has a lot of appeal... its creative, quick, all visual and very cool.

So, more IG. Less blogging. And more books - reading and writing them!

Oct 30, 2016

Nancy Crow workshop - an honest review

Nancy Crow teaches art.

Her medium is textiles and quilting, but she's not teaching 'quilting' per se. And this is the real difference in what she's doing, versus most other instructors out there in the quilt universe.

What I mean by teaching art is that Nancy is trying to open her students' eyes to art world training and getting makers to think about color, value, line, proportion, etc. 

She is the antithesis of a quilt teacher who is trying to perfect your skills in applique for example, or any other single technique class. Taking her class means you are in for a week of hard work.
My work-space and my work-in-progress at the 'Crow Barn' in Ohio.
I spent one week in her class - at the 'Crow Barn' in rural Ohio. My class was called "Strip Piecing and Restructuring" and its the second in a series of classes that continue up through the master level. I skipped the first class (it was offered, but I was not able to attend due to a schedule conflict). I thought I was experienced enough to miss this and jump right in, but in hindsight I would have been better off to start at the beginning.

Before I signed up for the class, I did quite a bit of research and talked to one person who has studied with Nancy for years. I had heard all the bad stuff, that there was a lot of crying for instance, and I also heard good stuff and saw the interesting work coming out of her classes.

Nancy is a strict instructor. She does not walk around smiling and when she stops to talk with you, she does not mince words. She speaks forthright, and for some that is very hard to hear. At various points during the week, I got some high praise and some very frank critique telling me what I was doing was pretty awful. 

At one point, early in the class, I heard from across the room.... "Teresa! I don't know what you are doing over there... but it is not right." This really made me kinda laugh inside... because frankly, I didn't know what I was doing either and it clearly showed. I wanted to shout back "honey, if you don't know what I'm doing, then that makes two of us." But I held my tongue. I walked around the room and did some thinking and finally the instructions for the exercise started to sink in. Then I wiped the design wall clean and went back to work. The result got me the high praise that my structures were well proportioned with line and shape.

A series of lines, shapes and new fabric combinations I created during the week.
For this workshop, the Barn was open from 7 am to 9 pm. I pretty much worked all of those hours everyday, as did most every other person attending. I stayed at a hotel about 20 minutes away and I drove there in the dark and drove back to the hotel in the dark (way past my normal bedtime, I might add).
We were at work long before sun up and left long after sunset.
There is a lovely woman who is the chef for the week and her meals were incredible, so it was awesome not to have to worry about where to eat.
I sewed all week on this "antique" Bernina.
(Its not really an antique of course, but it felt that way to me compared to my amazing
Bernina 820 machine at home).
 This little machine was durable and easy to operate, just a bit slow.
Nancy gives a series of exercises with tight deadlines. These exercises are delivered in a combination of lecture and notes. Some of the lectures are short, some are longer. There is no time to waste. Everything is run like a tight ship. 

I've always been one to stay on track and not miss deadlines, but doing so took a ton of work and was truly hard. Making students do these exercises in such a short time frame is intentional - she is trying to get students to not overthink. Just do it. Trust your intuitive feeling. For me, I felt that things like choosing colors and how to use them is something I can do quickly, but then you have to sew these things... and I did feel rushed for the most part. But when I compare this to other classes, when don't we feel rushed? Most every class is supposed to be a jumping off point, not a place to create your masterpiece.

During the class, we were asked to make dozens of new fabric combinations. There were many combinations I made by following her directions that I doubt I will ever use, mostly because of color choices that are not really my style... but that was part of the exercise - stretching your vision - try new colors - see what happens when you put one color next to another, and then take those two colors and add black, or add white, or add a neutral - and so on.

On one of the nice weather days, I took a short break to walk around and get some fresh air. The area around the Barn is quite peaceful.

The last day and a half of the class were the biggest struggle for me. I think I understood the directions, I just couldn't get there. After thinking about it overnight, I think I realized that what I was being asked to do was not something that I would enjoy doing. 

So I decided to take what I'd learned about repetition and symmetry, and line and balance, and take the fabric combinations I had created in the exercise and do my own thing. The quilt top in the first photo above behind the picture of me is the result - but it's not finished yet. This quilt below is the quilt top from the first day. This was a quilt in a day challenge for sure! And I think it works well... and was fun to make.

In my opinion, this workshop and the way it is taught, is equivalent to art instruction at the graduate level... and I truly appreciate that. For me, it would have been better to start with the first class because I needed that first part of the education - rather than jumping to the second one. 

All that said though, I learned a great deal and I am glad I attended. I left feeling exhausted and energized at the same time.

I created two new pieces of art that I love. And most importantly, I truly feel more informed as an artist who makes quilts!