Friday, August 22, 2014

Modern Quilt Month: Japanese art quilts

The modern quilt craze has hit Japan !  Here are some spectacular results from Japanese quilt artists.

When the Sunset Crowns Mt. Fuji in my Fascinating Dream, 79 x 67", by Mihoko Tanaka (Miyazaka-Ken, Japan)

Mihoko notes, " Mt. Fuji's imposing appearance attracts visitors from the local area as well as from overseas. Mt. Fuji is especially imposing when the clouds are flowing past the mountain changing not only its shapes, but also its colors during sunsets. It deeply impresses me an creates a kind of 'spirit' that dwells deep in my mind."

Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain at 12,389 feet, can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. Its beauty is often depicted with stunning results, such as Mihoko's use of color saturated silks adorned with a variety of stitches. Mihoko's original design is machine pieced and machine appliqued and quilted.

Stalagmites by Mitsuko Kinoshita (Tokyo, Japan)

Mitsuko says, "I created the scene in the Akiyshidai calcareous cave.  I emphasized the stalagmites and added movement ( by using) tulle fabric."

Close up, Stalagmites by Mitsuko Kinoshita

Mitsuko's shimmering work, in which the stalagmites are seen as ethereal forms descending though a mist, was part of a retrospective of Yokohama Quilt Week  at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.

Light of Rays by Michiyo Fukumoto (Anan, Tokushima, Japan)

Michiyo states, " I expressed icy and clear light spreading in freezing winter with my favorite monotone colors. I quilted with lame thread and used the luster of satin to emphasize the part of [bright] light."

Close up, Light of Rays by Michiyo Fukumoto

Michiyo's outstanding sense of design and symmetry shows very well as she skillfully arranges neutral tones into light and dark hues.  Her work is machine pieced and machine quilted. We love the pretty cerulean fabric at the top, which seems to us like a hint of blue sky peeking through the winter clouds.

Evolution by Keiko Ike

Second place winner for Best of Country at the  2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival,  Keiko writes, "I have been living with grief in my heart since the 2011 East Japan Great Earthquake and have spent a lot of time thinking about reconstructing Japan. One day, an illustration that I unintentionally drew gave me an idea; and I wanted to express it on a quilt. I wholeheartedly pray for progress and evolution in the future and tried to put this idea on this quilt like it is to be my future life. " 

Close up, Evolution by Keiko Ike 

This exquisite quilt  is designed as a non-objective pattern using mostly solid color shapes, with long slender strands. We love the fabulous quilting, especially the strands of feathers that languidly run horizontally and vertically.   Keiko's original design is machine pieced, appliqued, and quilted. 

Life, 80 x 80", by Yoshiko Katagiri

Yoshiko Katagiri was one of the world renowned international teachers at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival. She has been a quilt maker for over thirty years, winning her first quilt show prize in 1990. Yoshiko states, "Our daily action may be the moving of a circle in the time of the globe. But I feel each circle is brilliant and lovely."

Life by Yoshiko Katagiri, Japan

These carefully appliqued circles contain bits and pieces from silk kimono fabric.  A beautiful display of pale colors or of motifs with a white background, they stand out elegantly against a sophisticated dark background, which appears to be hand quilted. Yoshiko's  striking and innovative design made this quilt one of our favorites at the entire festival.

 Believe II by Reiko Nobata (Nanto City, Toyama, Japan)

Reiko notes, "People, once in a while, can't step forward when they do something. They wonder whether this is the right direction and something wrong might happen to them. There are mixed feelings of expectation and uneasiness. There must be good results, if they believe in themselves. Call up all your courage and go forward. " Reiko's original work is machine pieced and quilted.

Close-up, Believe II by Reiko Nobata

To us, this piece seems to depict a giant vortex or maze, with an opening of light at the end of the swirled tunnel. We imagine that it might symbolize the swirl of decisions or choices that all of us face in our quest to meet our goals. Notice how the parallel lines of quilting help to distinguish and highlight each piece of fabric from the others.

Image credits Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival and Houston International Quilt Festival.


  1. It is interesting to see the trend of quilting in Japan. Years ago quilters were obsessively copying western quilts like Baltimore album antiques. Then they moved to using their own choices of fabrics. Though traditional hand quilting still is popular, each year the shows are branching out into more creative pieces.

  2. Estos quilts son impresionantes y lo que mas me gusta son los juegos con el color y el acolchado es espectacular.Gracias por las fotos!!

  3. Spectacular is right! The Japanese quilts are usually show stoppers and these are no exception.

  4. Those are either stalagTites (rather than stalagMites) or your quilt is upside down.

  5. Hi Anonymous, thanks for pointing this out to us. The quilt is displayed correctly, so the quilter must have meant to call it "Stalagtites", as those are the limestone forms that hang down from the ceiling. This quilt card was translated into English from Japanese, so it may be that the Japanese word was translated incorrectly. You're certainly right that it should be "Stalagtites". Thanks again, from Marina and Daryl Lynn

  6. I have seen Life by Yoshioka katagiri at the 2013 International Quilt Festival, Tokyodome, Tokyo, Japan. It is magnificent!


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