Jun 30, 2018

would you cut up 100-year old Japanese fabric? I did...


When I give lectures to quilt guilds, I always share that quilters should not fear cutting up their favorite fabrics.

The Japanese believe that inanimate objects, such as fabric, have a spirit... and by cutting up these old pieces of cloth, you are giving new life to that spirit.

I've been collecting antique Japanese cotton for years, and they have been sitting in a box... waiting for me. I have to admit, I have been afraid to cut them up!

Teresa Duryea Wong. Work in Progress --- Center Block. Made using very old Japanese cotton. 2018
But I finally decided to practice what I preach! haha... I fearlessly started cutting into these very, very old gorgeous cotton fabrics.


But first I needed a plan. I know many quilters have a plan before they start making a quilt... and I used to fall into that category. But over the last several years, as I have experimented with improv techniques, I've been making quilt tops as I go, improvising, with no plan for how they would finish.

With these fabrics, I needed to plan carefully. Most importantly, I wanted an original design that would showcase the imagery of the fabrics in my collection... meaning I did not want to cut them so small that you could not see the beautiful artistry of the designs.

So I sketched out a pattern and measured each element.


This lovely Katazome indigo print will be the centerpiece. I had one long piece with these intricate turtles and flower motifs, so I designed the center to fit the 6 turtles.

The next 2 images are Kasuri textiles, thread-dyed woven cottons. Old, but not 100 years...



I figure it'll take quite a while to piece this one together. Its an exciting venture... I feel I am creating something very spiritual with fabric that has been passed down and touched by many hands.

Jun 16, 2018

one very special Japanese master quilter: Yoshiko Katagiri

May 2018: I made my annual pilgrimage to Japan and while in Tokyo, I visted a strange and lovely quilt exhibition. 

Hotel Gajoen Tokyo is a "museum hotel"... a very upscale and historic place.



The venue included seven large galleries, some with traditional tatami mats, and each gallery was a work of art on its own with inlaid tiles and very traditional Japanese art on the walls. The rooms were beautiful, but also had very strange lighting on the quilts. So my photos look a little odd....


Many of Japan's master quilters were represented. The exhibtion was juried / invitation only. It was fun to see many lesser known quilt artists too. One quilt in particular caught my eye: this one of the four seasons by Yoshiko Katagiri.

Yoshiko Katagiri has been making quilts for decades, and each year, her quilts get more and more original, more abstract, contemporary and interesting. I was fortunate to see two of her newest quilts during my trip.


Each of these sections represent a season - from the left: spring, then midnight in summer, then fall and winter.

The beautiful circle are hand applique and made from antique silk kimono fabric. And the quilt is hand quilted.


The second Yoshiko Katagiri quilt I saw was at the new festival in Yokohama - Quilt Time Festival.


This quilt is a beatuiful tour-de-force in hand applique. The background is her signature dusty black, all hand-dyed to her specification. The rest is all applique, mostly antique silk.

Yoshiko, and her daughter Masako, have become friends of mine over the years. I have visisted their home in Nara. And Masako is a quilt researcher, so we enjoy helping each other and exchanging notes. I feel so lucky to have met them and count them among my growing group of Japanese friends.


We met for lunch while I was in Yokohoma and snapped this photo after. Its an apt depiction of Yoshiko - she is ALWAYS smiling and laughing. And even though we do not speak the same language, we communicate easily through the language of quilting!