Dec 14, 2018

the Japanese art of giving, I'm learning...

As I wrap presents and get ready for Christmas, I stop to think about the Japanese art of gift giving.

I feel so fortunate to have been given gifts all year long from my friends in Japan, and I treasure each and every one of these. This photo above is just a few of gifts that have made their way back to my Texas home this year. The Japanese tradition of gift giving is so rich, and something special.

While Westerners load up with presents during the holidays, the Japanese present special friends and guests with gifts every time they meet. And not just any gift! From my experience, the gifts that I have been so fortunate to receive are thoughtful and meaningful, both expensive and handmade, usually with a strong cultural connection to Japan.

I have been given gorgeous pottery and crystal made in Japan as well as handmade - incredibly crafted gifts. The workmanship is impeccable, of course, and I am astonished at the amount of time and money each person invested in these things and then had the selflessness to give them away - to me! 


In return for all of these amazing gifts, I have also tried to up my game in the art of gift giving. I don't always measure up, but I do try.

These two lovely ladies are colleagues who have become friends and I love hanging out with them in Osaka when I am there and in Houston when they are here for International Quilt Market. Hisako Fukui and Etsuko Shibayama both work for Yuwa fabrics, the manufacturer behind the stunning designs by Yoshiko Jinzenji, Keiko Goke and many other artists.

I made both of the tops they are wearing! The fabric is Yoshiko Jinzenji linen and cotton. When attended Quilt Market this year, I turned the corner to find their booth and I was so surprised and honored to see them both wearing my gifts!

The patterns for these tops are from Japanese sewing books, which are not in English I might add. Of course I cannot read Japanese, but I am good at following numbers and illustrations. I'm sure there are details lost in translation... haha... but I do love making (and wearing) these over-sized, hip designs.

Anyway, I have enormous respect for the Japanese art of gift giving. Over the years I have learned and grown in this tradition and its become a part of the experience I truly love.

Dec 12, 2018

waiting... waiting... why not make a quilt?

While I try to wait patiently for the arrival of my new book... I decided to make a new quilt. Of course, right? Like all good quilters, there are dozens of quilts in my head just waiting to come to life. For this one, I chose something I've never done before.

When I was in Lincoln in October giving a lecture on Yoshiko Jinzenji, the IQSCM had an exhibition of cheddar quilts. My first thought was that this exhibit would be a bit limiting, but I walked through it anyway, and I found myself riveted to the color palette and the beautiful quilts. Especially this one!

The exhibition is "Cheddar Quilts from the Joanna S. Rose Collection."

Pattern is Rising Sun or Circle Saw. Sadly, the maker's name is unknown. Made 1890-1900, probably in the Southern U.S. Hand pieced, hand quilted.

The museum article highlights this quote from Joanna - perhaps my favorite quote of the year!

"I am not a collector. I am a treasure hunter. A collector always wants to better a collection. I buy only what I like and for no other reason. Quilts look better when you have a lot of them."

So... I decided to recreate this incredibly original quilt from 1890! I have never done this before... but this awesome color palette and cool design just seems so modern. 

I am taking my time... why not? I decided to make the pieces in applique rather than trying to figure out all that intricate piecing. The applique also gives it an added dimension. 

Four blocks done so far...

For the "how to" part... First, all edges are turned under! I am using a combination of freezer paper or Templar templates, covering the seam allowance with a healthy swab of Magic sizing, then iron the edge over the template to make sharp points and perfectly round circles. 

After the shape is formed, I cut a matching piece of Misty Fuse and then fused the pieces to the foundation. Its a bit painstaking... and there is probably a better way... but in order to have the edge turned, this seemed the most logical technique.

The blocks will be 18 inches finished. Colors are a rich, deep red, charcoal and cheddar. Unlike the original quilter, I will machine quilt this one and I can't wait to get to it! More to come...