Journey to Japan

I appreciate all your comments and I like what you taught me.  I learned that if I wanted something rich and visually multi-layered, the black background was the one to lean towards.  And while I don’t like the acid yellow/green, it struck many of you as the way to go.  I started thinking about why green worked and realized that I don’t sew with a lot of greens, that is, I don’t lean to the greens as a dominant color.  So it makes the stars stand out.

Just after 9/11, my husband and I traveled to Japan and to Shanghai, China as he had been asked to speak at a conference.  Since it was right after the horrors of the twin towers falling, nearly half of the American contingent of scientists cancelled their trip.  We went, flying out of a nearly empty Los Angeles airport.  Yes, it was very eery.  But I loved the trip.

Ireland is known for being green, and it may be, but Japan is saturated with greens.  Maybe they’re noticed because they are smacked up against the painted vermillion temples.

And one rainy day in Tokyo we ducked into this shopping arcade.  Two soggy Americans who spoke NO Japanese.  But I could recognize fabric when I saw it, and one little shop had rolls of  yukata fabric, 13″ wide and in rich colors. Of course I bought some, ironed it after the trip home and hung it in the closet, too precious to use.

Until now, some eleven years later.

I had gone to the fabric shop on the way home from school on Friday, and yes–the hot pink with the purple dots didn’t work as well as the Kaffe Fassett Stencil fabric, in two-tones of green.  I liked it . . . but I didn’t love it.  And remembering what Elinor and Bert and others had said, I knew it had to sing to me.  I didn’t touch the quilt all weekend.  I would walk in and out of the studio, did a day’s work on grading and lesson prep, ignored it, studied it.  I unfolded the half-stars, arranged them all neatly and went to bed Saturday night.

I awoke Sunday morning, and I remembered that deep in one of my closets were these pieces of yukata, so I pulled them out.  They were “flat” visually, and I had four small pieces in various shades of green.  I slapped them up on the wall, just before we went to church, snapping a picture to show Tracy at church (another quilter).

Yukata slapped up on wall, underneath scrappy stars

When I got home, I looked at it again.  I’ll have to fussy cut, so as to avoid the big blotch of white, and to strategically position the other parts, but it just might be the fabric that works.  I can fill in with the other domestic pieces of fabric, for this is, at heart, a quilt based on scraps.  And the lesson from this is–trust your stash, and your heart.  Buy when you can, and don’t hesitate to save fabric bought on a rainy day for eleven years.

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5 thoughts on “Journey to Japan

  1. Hey babe I am in favor of using the Japanese pieces as they create a great flavor and tell a goo story and they are you in the moment. Yes on the fussy cutting the white has a loud voice. Japan was the most foriegn place I have ever been. I went there to teach and to bring an exhibit of dolls to their International quilt show. It was an incredible experience. My translator is coming to visit me this summer with her little family. I would love to tempt you to come to the journaling workshop that I am giving in July. The gal who I am teaching with is an excellent watercolor artist and we have some mind bending things planned. Just a mild irritant to add to all your choices. Love epb

  2. love the green on the background – works beautifully – i loved japan – i went 3 times for work – only really saw tokyo and kyoto – next time i want to get to osaka – and i want to take my husband with me – he’ll love it……..and i think i recognise that shopping arcade – was it in asuka?

  3. I was thinking more about your quilt in the shower the other day. Is that too much info? ;) And I decided that it wasn’t that the green was a great color (although I think the Japanese prints are beautiful) it was the fact that the green was bright and read like a solid that made it work and stand out against the stars. I think you have a good thing going with the Japanese fabrics. They are beautiful and aren’t so busy that they will overwhelm the stars. I can’t wait to see the finished product!
    -Love your obsessive-quilts-on-the-brain-reader :)

  4. Krista: I’m totally with you on the chartreuse. I think the Japanese fabric will bring a very interesting element to the quilt–and always remind you of good memories.

    A journaling conference with epb. that sounds so fascinating and interesting.

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