Monday, February 13, 2012

Best of the Houston International Quilt Festival 2011

We are continuing with our series on fabulous, inspirational quilts from November 2011, when we visited the Houston International Quilt Festival. This week, we are featuring a "show within a show" from Houston: a traveling exhibit of outstanding Asian quilts from the International Quilt Week in Yokohama, Japan.

We've Not Seen Lines of Ants Before, app. 72 x72 , by Hiromi Tanaka, Osaka, Japan

Hiromi's contemporary quilt is infused with color and movement. Notice how the ants are appliqued outside the background of the quilt, so they seem to be crawling off and on the quilt.  Hiromi writes, "When I drew lines and curves freely, I thought I saw a large ant nest. It was the beginning of this quilt.....While making this design, I remembered we've not seen lines of ants for a long time, and it may be because of herbicide. I hope we retrieve the nature we lost."

Close-Up of We've Not Seen Lines of Ants Before

We like to imagine that this ant is the queen of the ant colony, as her lively blue and pink colors certainly allow her to stand out against the earth-toned background, silhouetted by the busy worker ants. Red and black trim around the ant's legs and body help to  provide a great focal point for the quilt as well as a strong contrast.

Ramble app.65 x 65 by Kieko Kitada, Tokyo, Japan

Kieko says of her pieced and appliqued block quilt, "I remember my happy childhood and used a child's kimono with goldfish for this quilt. The rambling quilting lines depict the movement of water when goldfish swim."  The soft chambray blues and the muted oranges of the silk goldfish make a restful yet interesting complementary color combination.

Close-up of  Ramble by Kieko Kitada

You can see the superb applique work of Kieko's, as she carefully stitches the silk goldfish onto the quilt, then creates the goldfish bowl with a line blue embroidery. We have admired many Japanese quilts that very skillfully blended hand embroidery and applique together. 

My White Garden, 84 x 84"  by Michiko Inaba , Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan

Winner of the Grand Prix Award in Yokohama, Michiko Inaba explains that the gradated green background represents the shadings of different leaves plants in her yard.  The white symbolizes the flower blossoms ad the garden gate, which Michiko has cleverly included as an applique in the quilt border. This exquisite quilt is created in a style very reminiscent of Hawaiian quilting, where an intricate pattern is carefully cut from folded fabric, then opened out full size (much like conjoined paper dolls) and appliqued onto the background.

Here is the center of the quilt, a graceful star, which provides an excellent focal point. You an see the immense amount of applique work which went into this complex design of blossoms, leaves, and vines. In a quilt show like Houston's where every quilt is expertly designed and rendered,  "My White Garden" stood out as a true masterpiece, even in the face of  very talented competition.

A group effort by Mikiko and her friends, this resplendent, abstract work depicts early dawn when purple shadows slice through the blue sky and morning clouds. Mikico writes, "We decided on daybreak as the theme and violet as the main color.We made this as a round robin quilt and tried to express each quilter's creativity." The smaller solid color blocks interspersed with larger blocks of many pieces create a beautiful transition between the peaceful night and the first light of day when all the earth's details come into clear focus.

Wisteria Palace, app. 60 x 65, by Sumie Nishimura, Toyko, Japan

Sumie Nishimura writes that the design inspiration for this quilt came from a huge flowering 140 year old wisteria vine. She says,  "I expressed the spectacular perfection of beauty I saw and felt while I stood under it."  This quilt artist used an innovative technique by creating gorgeous contemporary panels to display the  various forms of the vines, rather than portraying  the plant in its entirety.

Close-up of Wisteria Palace by Sumie Nishimura

Sushie's quilt won First Place for Machine Quilting. She chose threads with an analogous color scheme here to portray in hanging wisteria vines in luscious shades of raspberry, cranberry, and pale lavender.


  1. Love them all....especially Ramble. I couldn't be at Houston International, so thanks for sending all this quilt inspiration through the airwaves!

  2. I loved seeing these at Houston and they were among my favorites. Thanks for showing them again.

  3. Thank you for showing these quilts and especially for the detailed descriptions! They are amazing and original. I currently live in Tokyo but missed the Yokohama show.


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