The International Quilt Week in Yokohama and in Tohoku
A Report from Japan

Hideko Ishida © 2006

   
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The “Patchwork Tsushin” is a well-known quarterly magazine in Japan. The publishers hold a big quilt exhibition in Yokohama every November. The 13th exhibition was open from Nov 10 to 12 and then moved to Sendai from Dec 1 to 4. It was a first big international show in the Tohoku area (north of Japan). Luckily I had a chance to visit both Yokohama and Sendai. Most works were traditional patchwork quilts. But I could see lots of crazy quilting techniques were used in some of them. I would like to report about CQ today in Japan.

Japanese CQ

1. Machiko Miyatani

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She might be the first person who introduced crazy quilts, publishing a book titled “Crazy Quilts for Beginners” in 1994. Unfortunately it is out of print now for years. She always uses very beautiful and gorgeous fabrics and her seam stitches are exquisite. Her style is rather classical. I remember she referred to Penny McMorris’s book. She showed two quilts this time. You can see the big flowery motifs in Fig 2. She has used a Japanese origami (paper folding) technique here and also a great deal of machine stitching in addition to the hand stitching.

2. Michiko Sonobe

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She always expresses her own Victorian world with soft pastel colors and gorgeous embellishments of more laces, ribbons, braids and beads than just stitches. Her artistic sense of combining them is excellent and there are many Michiko's fans. Her work in this exhibition is titled “Victorian with Japanese and Western Fabrics”.

As you can see, this is a rather simple traditional patchwork style, but looking closely, you can see some stitches on seams and embroidery on the flowery motifs of the Japanese kimono fabric. She always shows a beautiful combination of traditional patchwork and Victorian style embellishments.

3. Crazy quilting techniques in traditional patchwork quilts

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Most of quilters in Japan begin as traditional patchwork quilters and those who are interested in crazy quilting are under the influences of above two. We can see often the very good combination of crazy quilting style and traditional patchwork method. Here are some examples in two quilts.

4. The Grand Prize Quilt in Yokohama

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Most quilts in the exhibition were traditional in style but this grand prize quilt was an amazingly beautiful and excellent example of crazy quilting. (Fig. 12 & 13) Kikue Nishitani has pieced patches on a big foundation, not using the usual block-piecing. She embellished it mostly with only stitching, hand embroidery, machine embroidery, and appliqué. The scattered red poppies are combining the whole as an accent color. I love this quilt so much. For me this was the best.

5. The small tapestries
 
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There was a small tapestries corner. There were not so many CQ but there were some I liked. Maybe Japanese quilters need to learn more variation of piecing, stitches, and embellishment. We have few models or books available. Language might be a big obstacle to learning from foreign CQ artists.

6. The Japanese taste in quilts

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There were more than I have shown here. But I liked these color combinations. Fig19 is crazy patched though there are no seam treatments.

7. Quilts as modern artart

 

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Fig 23 is by Keiko Gohke, who is one of the Japanese quilters well-known internationally. She is from Sendai and I think she teaches a regular class there.

8. Nobuko Sato’s small wall hangings

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I met her in her stall where some beautiful works of hers were hung. In her quilts, she has used many different techniques; not only embroidery and embellishments but handmade felt. She also uses yoyo quilts as a base. She has also successfully used many colors and every work was beautiful. It was very lucky for me that I was able to become friends with her.

9. Taupe quilts

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Taupe is a favorite color some Japanese quilters often use. Though the grey brown may look to be too plain and monocromatic for you, it is harmonized with any color in dressing or interior. I show you some examples here, for I have been asked about the taupe quilts before.

International works

Canada

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These three are made by Valerie Hearder, a famous Canadian quilter. The readers from Canada must know about her better than I. I loved her color. The titles were “Settlement: Gathering Storm”, “Settlement: Belongings”, ”Settlement: Sheltering Land”.

Turkey

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I missed seeing Rengin’s novice prized work, for it had been sent to Austria for another exhibition. The works of Turkish quilters were really wonderful. The gallery was very crowded with Japanese visitors. I am sure it was the first time for most of them to see full-dress crazy quilting works in person. Every work was lovely. It was very lucky for me to have a chance to talk with Ms Selma Kenter, a president of the group from Turkey. She was a very sweet and nice lady. Fig41 is her work.

Replicas of antique American quilts

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There was an interesting corner in the Sendai exhibition. Chakku Nohara, the most famous quilter in Japan known as one of the Japanese pioneers had a big collection of American antique quilts. Some replicas of them that her followers have made were on display. It seemed to have been very hard work for them but the completed pieces were incredibly beautiful. I thought you might like to see them as well.

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