Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hawaiian quilts by Japanese masters

We admire Hawaiian quilts with their symmetrical designs that bring to mind the tropical flowers of the islands. Hawaii is 3,850 miles from Japan, and the Japanese people have a long history of living in and traveling to the Hawaiian islands.  The famous Japanese quilt designer, Kathy Nakajima, was born on the island of Maui.  She designed several of these quilts, which are all painstakingly hand appliqued and hand quilted by Japanese artists.

Tiare Tiare Moorea E by Yachiyo Katsuno (Setagaya, Tokyo Japan)

 Japanese quilters excel in carrying out the large-scale applique work of Hawaiian designs. Yachiyo Katsuno says, “As soon as I saw this fabric, the bell rang in my head as Tahiti! Tiare! Moorea Island!!! Tiare Tahiti is a kind of gardenia that graces the hair of the lovely Tahitian women."

This original design quilt was hand appliqued and hand quilted. The hand-dyed ombre fabric gives the quilt a lovely soft appearance, with the appliqued design blending into the background and enhanced by echo quilting.

Remembering the Island of Hawaii by Fumiyo Sano (Gotemba, Shizouka, Japan)

This lovely quilt reminds us of a fern grotto.  Fumiyo Sano says, "Fern shapes are so interesting that I used one of them to make this quilt as a gift to the future generations." The design is by Kathy Nakajima. This lovely quilt was hand appliqued and quilted with echo quilting.

Lokelani by Mikiko Sakurada (Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan)

Mikiko Sakurada says, "The rose was introduced into Hawaii long ago by immigrants. The rose blooms beautifully at any time, no matter where it is grown." This beautiful and unique design is also by Kathy Nakajima.   The gorgeous center design is embellished with an extra layer of appliqued roses in slightly different shades of rose pink,  as shown below.

A Bumper Crop of Mangoes by Akiko Sato (Takasaki, Gunma, Japan

The mango fruit is revered in many cultures as a symbol of attainment.  This quilt has special meaning for Akiko Sato, who says, "I made a wish that my son would have a successful life, as represented by the branches heavily laden with mangoes." Akiko hand appliqued and quilted this design by Kathy Nakajima. Akiko's precise echo quilting can be seen in the closeup photo below.

Queen Emma's Flower Vase by Toshiko Kurihara (Suginami, Tokyo, Japan)

Toshiko Kurihara says, "This traditional Hawaiian quilt is simple, but I enjoyed seeing the motifs clearly coming to life." We think that this quilt is anything but simple! See the intricate Anthurium and Ginger (Alpinia purpurata) shapes in the closeup photo below, and the perforated cutouts in the vase.  The design is by Kathy Nakajima.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.  For more inspiration and photos, see our 2010 post on Hawaiian Quilts.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Solar Sister: Empowering Humanity through Clean Energy

In tribute to the Summer Solstice on June 21, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, we're showing a quilt challenge that highlights the work of Solar Sister. This  non-profit group  assists women in Africa who want to start their own small business. They sell solar-based appliances that provide light and power to rural households with no electricity, a condition known as "energy poverty."

Good Day Sunshine by Laura Cooke, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

Laura Cooke writes,  "When I read the title of this year’s challenge: Light, Hope, Opportunity: Empowering Women through Clean Energy, the image of a benevolent sun shining down on all of Africa lit up my mind... In Africa, I imagine women enjoying the sunshine as they work through the chores and joys of each day. Perhaps some are now cooking on solar stoves to give children breakfast before school, or using solar cells to charge cell phones to connect to family, or to light lanterns so children can read and study after dark.  Traditional or modern, the sun gives wonderful ways of using clean energy and even a single ray of sunlight can inspire hope."
The sun face reminds us of the fabric collages by Susan Carlson, the author of Serendipity Quilts.

Close up, Good Day Sunshine by Laura Cooke

Monochromatic shades of yellow-orange, plus a splash of complementary lavender, provide a beautifully colored background to highlight the sun's expressive face. Laura adds, "This quilt is an original design from my initial vision of the sun shining down to blanket the whole continent of Africa. It is made using commercially available fabrics, raw edge appliqué and free-motion quilting with rayon and machine quilting cotton thread."

Light-Hope-Light by Marianne Gravely, Virginia, U.S.A.

Marianne Gravely explains, " Our children are both the light of our lives and our hope for the future. While we in the U.S. turn off lights to save electricity, and worry about conserving energy...on the other side of the world.  children live in energy poverty. No electricity means no reading or studying at night, which limits their educational opportunities. This quilt is my vision of a happy planet with plenty of light and energy for all the children of the world." We enjoyed all the happy faces which comprise the border of this fun quilt.

Close up, Light-Hope-Light by Marianne Gravely

Look at this fabulous machine quilting work, whose individual patterns converge on the center of the quilt like rays from the sun !  This light gold thread looks beautiful on the deep blue background.

Light the Darkness by Joan Blade Johnston and and Melanie Johnston, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Joan and Melanie state, "...Without a consistent source of light, it is challenging at best for children to read books for the purpose of doing schoolwork or merely for pleasure. Solar power can mitigate the effects of energy poverty by providing a dependable source of light contributing to greater access to education.... In the bottom right corner, there is a small silhouette of a child holding an open book in one hand and an illuminating “Solar Sister” solar lantern in the other."

Close up, Light the Darkness by Joan Blade Johnston and Melanie Johnston

The quilters continue, "Our quilt consists of a large yellow-gold sun with fabric-collaged rays of sunlight in shades of yellow and blue quilted onto an iridescent “aura.” Like the rays of the sun itself…the fabric rays and decorative quilting extend to every corner of the piece."

These artists  have lettered their quilt very creatively, by placing the message on organza fabric in the center of the sun: “In one second, our sun provides enough energy to meet the current needs of the entire Earth for 500,000 years” attributed to the Boston Globe, Energy Information Administration; The Guardian Unlimited.

Sewing Sister by Allison Wilbur , Rhode Island, U.S.A.

Allison Wilbur notes,  "[This is] the story of Teddy the Tailor. Before she purchased a solar light, Teddy Namirembe would walk to the nearby village in Uganda to work at night, leaving her daughters at home. The simple purchase of a solar light brought  positive changes to her life. She has extra time to work since she does not have to walk to the village, so her income has increased 30 percent. She is safer for not having to make the walk and her children are not alone. Her children also use the light to do  homework. She is not paying for renting a work space or for expensive kerosene and they no longer breathe in the kerosene smoke.  Like most women, Teddy turns the extra money she makes (she sews school uniforms) back into her family and her business."

Close up, Sewing Sister by Allison Wilbur

Allison continues," As the owner of a small home quilting business, I can relate to Teddy.  The hours I have to work after dark, after the work of caring for my family is done, are vitally important to my business. Solar Sister is not only important  to the entrepreneurs who sell the lights, but to many others who buy the solar lights and phone chargers as a part of their small business." We admire the colorful geometric print fabric Allison used to depict Teddy's native dress, plus the elegantly quilted message, "Let your light shine", which applies not only to the Solar Sisters, but to all the people of the world.

Wind to Enlighten by Barbara Eisenstein, Maryland, U.S.A.

Here is a village of  brightly colored homes that are benefiting from electricity generated by wind turbines in motion. Barbara says of her cheerful, positive quilt with energetic quilt patterns, "Electricity brings light for reading and learning, safe refrigerated food and clean smokeless cooking. Electricity brings connection to others, through the wider world of TV and computers. Electrical power means power for women to be educated [through distance learning via the internet]  and to improve the lives of their families. Wind power is a way to generate electricity in very remote areas. I wanted to show the connection between wind technology and the light inside the homes, where women keep themselves and their families healthy, well fed and informed."

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2015 World Quilt Show in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Perfect Pet Quilts - part 2

Have you ever made a quilt of the image of your pet?  We love our furry friends and are always drawn to quilts that celebrate cats and dogs. Smile along with us, as we present Part 2 of some of our favorite pet quilts !

Maynard, 54 x 81", by David Taylor (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)

David notes, "Maynard was adopted from a photo shot by my friend Hilary Spillane of her bulldog. I love the way Hil captured the stark white of a winter's day in Northwest Colorado." We can almost sense Maynard's curiosity to see what's ahead  as he pushes his short little legs through the drifts of new-fallen snow.

Close up, Maynard by David Taylor

David continues, "When I saw the image, I knew I had to turn it into a quilt, as I had been eager to try a white-on-white quilt. Of course, I ended up using different colors of thread to quilt the snow and sky - lavender, green, tan, and a lot of blues."

Cassidy, Chase, Mashatu and JasPurr, 31 x 34", by Nancy S. Brown (Oakland, California)

Nancy states, "The source of my quilting energy and my inspiration are all of the wonderful animals of the world. This quilt depicts the happy family of Cassidy and Chase ( Rhodesian Ridgebacks), Mashatu ( a Savannah cat), and JasPurr ( a gray and white cat). Nancy has used beautiful and subtle gradations of neutral colors to depict this elegant and attractive family of canines and felines.

Close up, Cassidy, Chase, Mashatu and JasPurr by Nancy S. Brown

Nancy has perfectly captured dog Cassidy's extremely handsome face and soulful brown eyes! Her original design is machine pieced, hand appliqued, and hand quilted.

Bathtub Beach by Sandi MacMillan (Florida)

Sandi writes, "Bathtub Beach is my favorite spot on [Florida's] Treasure Coast. I have spent a lot of hours face-down, snorkel-up, enjoying all the creatures on the living reef in the naturally protected and warm water. My design evolved from the literal 'bathtub' on the beach. A banner-flying bi-plane seemed Florida-appropriate for the lettering. The mouse as pilot...well, why not?  The cat's face is from A Year of Cats... in Hats! by Sheila Haynes Rauen."

Closeup, Bathtub Beach by Sandi MacMillan

Sandi continues, "I hope this quilt makes you smile as much as Bathtub Beach makes me smile."  We love the lighthearted humor in this quilt, and we think the quilting, especially the fun bubble pattern on the bathtub and the sand, is very appropriate for this delightful piece.

Family Resemblance, 39 x 31", by Patt Blair (Mount Baldy, California)

Patt tells an interesting story of how she was inspired to create Family Resemblance: " I did this piece as encouragement to students to 'Just try it !'  This was a royalty- free clip art contour drawing [on the internet], for which I searched for animal coloring tips. I first thought the highly wrinkled bulldog was the mom (I was getting angry!)  but later learned this was three generations of English bulldogs." 

Close up, Family Resemblance by Patt Blair

Patt explains that her work was created by hand-dyeing and hand-painting solid white finely woven cotton to create the images of the dogs. She then used her domestic sewing machine for quilting the foreground and the background. She adds,  "I am mostly inspired by things with a heartbeat".  Her inspiration and talent is certainly evident in the very expressive lines and movement she gives to these bulldogs. Patt's work allows us to see their loveable personalities hiding just underneath their serious faces.

Cornered by Wendy L. Starn (Alexandria, Louisiana)

Wendy says, "In August of 2008, my son found a tiny kitten under the hood of the car, covered in grease and fleas. He cleaned her up, and she won his heart, as well as the scorn on our other two cats. Boris, the black cat is determined to be Alpha male, and is also proud of his prowess at catching (catnip) mice."

Close up, Cornered by Wendy L. Starn

Wendy adds, "Moose, the orange cat, is the mighty hunter of lizards and bugs, who is afraid of everything.. Oslo, the kitten, sleeps, dreaming no doubt of how best to annoy her two big brothers."
Wendy's vividly colored background blocks,  which showcase the cats perfectly, are comprised of variations of the "Puss In the Corner" pattern. Her very creative work is hand-stamped with feline images, thread-painted, and collaged.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration of Maynard (in a Faculty exhibit at the 2014 Road to California); Cassidy, Chase, Mashatu and JasPurr (at the 2012 Pacific International Quilt Festival); Bathtub Beach (at the 2015 World Quilt Show in West Palm Beach, Florida); Family Resemblance (in a Faculty exhibit at the 2014 Road to California); and Cornered (at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Perfect Pet Quilts - part 1

Have you ever made a quilt of your pet?  We love our furry friends and are always drawn to quilts that celebrate cats and dogs.  Here are some of our favorite pet quilts featuring adorable kitties, a dachshund, yellow lab, and chihuahua.  (For more pet quilts, scroll down for links to the Best of Cat Quilts and It's Raining Cats and Dogs.)

Relaxing Under the Weeping Willow Tree, 25 x 31”, by Carol Deards (Santa Rosa, California)

Carol Deards says, " I don’t like being pigeon-holed, and art quilting allows me the freedom to rework my content and style in whatever way moves me. This quilt was designed from a photograph provided by a friend. I wanted to give a sense of filtered backlighting via Ricky Tims’ harmonic [convergence] technique and quilted weeping willow leaves."

close up, Relaxing Under the Weeping Willow Tree by Carol Deards

Carol Deards explains that her applique technique utilizes fusible thread and tear-away stabilizer to keep the fabric flexible and pliable when the quilt is put together. Here you also can see the three-dimensional fabric that is peeking out from under the kitty.  Relaxing Under the Weeping Willow Tree was exhibited at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival.  For more examples of Carol Deard's work, see her website at Quilted Pet Portraits.

Live Free by Kathleen Everett (Batavia, New York)

Kathleen Everett says, "After creating a collage on a playing card, manipulating it in Photoshop in a class by Red Dog Enterprises, my pup was printed by a large format printer onto fabric. I pieced varying sized improvisational star blocks using Marcia Derse fabrics, quilted my adorable lab and stitched him to his background. He would be at home anywhere!"

close up,  Live Free by Kathleen Everett

Live Free was exhibited at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.  We love the soulful look in this lab's eyes! The improvisational pieced stars add to the quirky charm of this quilt.  

Mickey Blue Eyes by Julia C. Wood (Auburn, Alabama)

Julia C. Wood is the author of several AQS quilting books including Fabric Photo Play, Quick and Easy Hexie Quilts and MORE Quick and Easy Hexie Quilts. The image of Julia's blue-eyed dachshund, Mickey, appears when you step back from this quilt.  Julia pixelated an image of Mickey into hexagons, then used Kona cotton solids to piece the quilt. The quilt has more than 1300 hexagons, all hand stitched together. She explains the software she used at this post.

close up, Mickey Blue Eyes by Julia C. Wood

In the upper left of this close-up photo you can see the hexagons that make up Mickey's blue eye. The machine quilting was done in a hexagons that were rotated and enlarged as compared to the hexagon pieces themselves.  Mickey Blue Eyes was featured in Quick & Easy Hexie Quilts by Julia C. Woods and Peggy Rhodes. It won First Place in the 2013 AQS GO! Have Fun Challenge.

Inquisitive Fat Cats by Ann Scrivener

Ann Scrivener's quilt won an award as a First Time Entrant at the 2014 Tucson (Arizona) Quilters' Guild Show. She says, "On my first visit to TQG I won a door prize – The Cat’s Meow by Janet King [Kime?] I was hooked! For this quilt I did hand applique as well as machine applique and quilting. My inspiration was my own two cats and the mischief they get into. I immensely enjoyed making this quilt." 

(Note:  We're aware of The Cat's Meow pattern book by Janet Kime. We'd love to know if this is the correct attribution.)

close up, Inquisitive Fat Cats by Ann Scrivener

The cats themselves were made with cat-themed fabrics. Here is a kitty perched on a rock, chasing after a lizard. The sashing fabric is perfect for this quilt.  At first glance it appears to be a sashiko design done in white on dark blue, but on closer inspection the white design is a paw print!

This Arizona kitty is all decked out with a red bandanna, and sitting under a saguaro cactus!

49 Lokis, 50 x 50", by Helena Scheffer (Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada)

Helena Scheffer is a fabric artist and native Montrealer.  She says: "Loki, my Chihuahua, is almost white, which doesn’t match her colorful, larger-than-life personality, so I created the silkscreen image for this this Andy Warhol - inspired portrait. Each square is individually screen printed and hand quilted, embroidered or beaded with a different design. “49 Lokis” became the first of many silk-screened pet portraits."

close up, 49 Lokis by Helena Scheffer

This quilt has been exhibited widely across North America. We photographed it at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration. For more cat and dog quilts, see the Best of Cat Quilts part 1, part 2, part 3; and It's Raining Cats and Dogs part 1, part 2, part 3.
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