Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rainy Season

This is the time of year in Japan when the hydrangeas bloom, the cool, wet precursor to hot humid summer days to come. Hydrangeas, ajisai in Japanese, are one of the commonest floral images for kimono in early summer, because of their cool beauty. Curiously, however, they are almost the only flower not used for family crests. Because they change color during bloom they are associated with inconstancy, not a good attribute for a noble family. The first significant sale I made, more than ten years ago now, was an art quilt with hydrangeas titled ”Inconstancy in Bloom”.

I made it using appliqué of paper pieced silks on a katazome background of graded color. It had borders of pieced yukata cotton with a hydrangea pattern, and silk dyed with a delicate pattern of hydrangeas and butterflies. I priced it so high that I thought it would not sell and I could continue to enjoy it myself for a little while, but lo and behold it sold to a collector in Florida. I missed it for awhile because I had planned to hang it in my studio, but it was certainly good for my ego as a beginning quilter. The border is the same stencil pattern (RP13) that I use for indigos, but it is lovely in colors. Here it is as a pillow top.

I have revisited hydrangeas several times for stencils. This one I use primarily for garment fabrics for my wrap coat pattern. I made it in delicate blues on white once, but I do not have a picture of it.

Here is another, PP 19, that is new to the indigo inventory. I have not used it for garments yet but the positive negative aspects are intriguing.

The motif of the rainy season has appeared twice since in small art quilts. This one sold at the Japanese Garden a few years ago. I have another piece of this fabric left to make a second quilt. I have a notion to appliqué part of an umbrella in the foreground.

This one was made using a heavy paper stencil to apply soy wax and acid dyes in a class at Coupeville with Betsy Sterling Benjamin.

The last hydrangea stencil is quite large and I am finding it interesting with kakishibu, the persimmon dye used to laminate stencil paper, among many other uses. This is a single panel I am getting ready for Kobo in Seattle.