Festival of Quilts 2018: Focus on Log Cabin

I was at Festival of Quilts 2018 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham yesterday. With hundreds of quilts displayed the show is almost overwhelming. One day is never enough to see everything but this year it’s all I had so I needed to focus! I was drawn to one of the Japanese exhibits, ‘Indigo and Sarasa; Pieces of My Life’ by Shizuko Kuroha. What exquisite work! The interpretation of log cabin piecing was stunning. I loved how the the size of the blocks varied and the tiny scale of miniature blocks were used in combination with the larger ones. Such a clever device for creating a really complex design.

Indigo and Saras; Pieces of My Life, Origin, Shizuko Kuroha

Isn’t it amazing how straight lines can conjure up circles and how a change of value makes some of those ‘circles’ pop out?

Indigo and Sarasa; Pieces of My Life; Origin, detail, Shizuko Kuroha

Tha fabrics had a homespun charm about them too – much softer and with a looser weave than we are used to seeing in European or North American quilts. Not easy to hand quilt I would imagine but there were no shortcuts and these quilts were quite comprehensively stitched!

Indigo and Sarasa; Pieces of My Life; Life, Shizuko Kuroha

This Log Cabin quilt by the same maker was another of my favourite things in the show. All of that indigo dark background was beautifully pieced to create texture and subtle colour variation. And just look at that lovely tonal gradation in the four blue corners that seem to float beneath the central on point square!

Indigo and Sarasa; Pieces of My Life; Life, detail, Shizuko Kuroha

A closer detail of the strip piecing illustrates how effectively the artist has manipulated tonal values to produce those pale squares in the first border that surrounds the red centre.

Indigo and Sarasa; Pieces of My Life; Wish for the Beautiful Earth, Shizuko Kuroha

I struggled to photograph the whole of this quilt because there were so many people studying it I couldn’t stand back in the aisle to show the full width.

Indigo and Sarasa; Pieces of My Life; Wish for the Beautiful Earth, detail, Shizuko Kuroha

I think this detail illustrates the nature of the fabric rather well. I’d happily live with this piece in my home given half a chance!

Flight, Mikiyo Sugimoto

In the neighbouring Quilt Nihon gallery I admired another Japanese quilt that also used log cabin piecing to great effect. This piece had a wonderful sense of movement about it. We usually think of traditional log cabin as quite a static design but here the artists has somehow managed to conjure up the flight of soaring seabirds. How imaginative and clever! The hand quilting added a second layer of of dynamic movement too.

Flight, detail, Mikiyo Sugimoto

The lines of hand stitching converged to a central point and spiralled out to suggest great energy. I may never think of my favourite log cabin technique in quite the same way again!