The Musings of a Minimalist

Lynn Schoeffler © 2011

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Recently, Caroline Philips (CQMagOnline October 2008) and I were having a conversation about CQ styles and how, over a period of time, your own personal style starts to emerge and/or change. Not surprisingly, Carolyn said that she saw much of my CQ work as having a 'minimalist' look.

As I was piecing my block for the Sendai Hearts and Hands quilt, sponsored by Crazy Quilt International, I realized that Caroline was quite correct. Over the years, I have gathered some gorgeous fabric, and I find myself reluctant to cover it up with embellishment; I've become ever more particular about the exact placement of any given fabric. Either I want specific colors to show up in the patch, or there is a fabric motif that I want to make a statement with. In the photo below, you can see that I needed all of the colors of the blue calico fabric underneath the silk print to set the color way of the block. Next to it, I have the wonderful hand painted patch that came from a 1920s thrift store tie, and I did not want the seam embellishment to compete with the image.

It's interesting to realize that my style has wandered in this direction. When I first started to crazy quilt, I was mad for encrusting, and of course, I had read every line of Judith Baker Montano's Crazy Quilt Handbook--Judith's highly embellished patches are so enticing to an embroiderer. Then slowly, the work became about the fabric, and even more importantly, about the story I wanted the block to tell.

For my Sendai block, I wanted to share my wish that Japan's children will again play in the sun and that the Japanese people will continue to rebuild with optimism and hope. It seemed important that the silk print from American wood block artist Helen Hyde be the main focus, and I felt that larger patches would keep the entire block simple, balancing the context and the size of the print.

Sparse foliage on the tree is meant to mimic the new growth on a bright spring morning, while breezy cut-lace clouds draw the eye to the appliquéd fish kite swimming along in the sky. Funny thing about that kite--the fabric was a gift from Rengin in Turkey (it truly is a small world), and the colors could not have been more perfect. It was a struggle to appliqué this woven fabric, but worth the effort, I think. Again, no other seam embroidery seemed necessary when I saw that the hand dyed rick rack worked so well for streaming fins.

And, when I would have added several sizes of mother-of-pearl hearts to the blue patch on the right, Caroline easily persuaded me that one was enough to echo the block theme.

My warmest regards go to Leslie Ehrlich, Hideko Ishida and the many women who turned their talents to make wonderful blocks that reflect our crazy quilt love affair with Japanese fabrics and themes. Hideko plans a wonderful exhibition of these quilts in Japan at the Yokohama International Quilt Week, November 10 to 12.

In the meantime, you can view all of the individual blocks at the Hearts and Hands Flickr website, and do stop by Kerry Leslie's September 30 blog post to see several of the quilts that have been so beautifully put together by Leslie.

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