The theme seemed to be Sun Bonnet Sue and the little Amish dolls (and the stuffed pumpkins) that the group had made were all over the place and so artistically arranged. There were so many of them that that must have been a requirement for taking part in the exhibition. Make a doll. Another probable requirement was to make a very small applique block of Sun Bonnet Sue or a flower (or both?) because there was one wall just covered with a grid of all these little applique block frames. A lovely little assortment and very well planned.
There were some amazing quilts exhibited. Some were the often seen samplers or postage stamp quilts, many were made of traditional patterns. But I can assure you that not one of those quilts ever saw a sewing machine. As I've mentioned before, machine piecing and machine quilting are just not accepted in Japan as real patchwork. This red and white heart quilt had really postage stamp size pieces and every one was hand pieced and every one had been quilted with an criss-cross. And this was a huge quilt too! Even Tetsu commented that the person must not do much more than quilt all day and everyday.
Well, I didn't take pictures of everything, but here are a couple close-ups of some of the more oriental looking quilts. There was a simple quilt that had the added attraction of sashiko stitching in the open spaces.
This colorful applique quilt was labeled as "A trip to Kyoto" and there were detailed blocks of different Kyoto sites this block being the pretty kimonoed girls called maiko-san.
One very lovely quilt was made of antique kimono fabric. I liked the way the tiny quilting stitches in dark thread accented the beautiful hand painted panel.
My favorite was this lovely combination applique and piecing in the taupe colors. This to me is very typical of Japanese quilters. The subtle colors and blends, the detailed applique and tiny piecing. The fabric looked like it was actually for kimono. And then the infinitesimally tiny quilting stitches and quilting lines. Tetsu thought that this was a carpet it was so tightly quilted!
Can you see the quilting lines in this? Look at the interesting way the trapunto was added to give the quilt more interest. Just here and there at random intervals. Probably this is white yarn threaded through the quilting spaces, but it is very effective and a wonder to imagine all the work that went into this quilt.
I enjoyed this exhibition immensely but I did come away thinking that all the time and work that was put into these quilts probably didn't leave the quilters with time to do anything else. Tetsu and I pondered about the ladies who had made these pieces of art. Older women (my age and older). Probably no one in the throws of child raising would have the time for any of this. Well-to-do ladies whose husbands work late or have temporarily transferred to another city.
And I also thought that though the handwork was exquisite, it was a lot of time and effort to spend on each quilt when there are so many people and organizations and loved ones that need quilts and gifts of time. There is much to be said for the speed of machine piecing and machine quilting too. Even using the sewing machine I don't get all the quilts made for all the people I'd like to.
I wonder what a good balance is between productivity and excellence. Though come to think of it, machine work has its own standard of excellence. It was good to visit the exhibit and think about what is important to me when making quilts. If nothing else I'd better be careful that I don't end up with nil productivity and slap-dash "excellence".