Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Japanese quilters 1 : Reiko Kato

Hello dear quilters and friends,

Those following me on Instagram know that I am back from a fabulous and amazing trip to Japan. I visited many places : Osaka, Koyasan, Hiroshima; Itsukushima, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Takayama, Hakone and Tokyo.

I have been impressed by what I have seen and about the cleanliness of all the public places. The trains are fast,  clean and on time. And the people were so nice and helpful all along. Believe it or not, there has not been one night since I came back 3 weeks ago without dreaming of Japan! I will return for sure!!

If I find the courage to write regularly again, I might post about this trip.

But for now, I have decided to write 3 posts about the Japanese quilters I have met in Japan : Reiko Kato, Yoko Saito and Masako Wakayama. I love their work. I discovered them a long time ago because they are regularly published in France. I even took several classes with Reiko Kato and Yoko Saito in France.

There will be three posts.  Let's start with Reiko Kato.





If you love Sunbonnets, Reiko Kato is THE quilter!!! She has published several books with Quiltmania, has done a mystery quilt with them too and teaches and exhibits regularly in Spain and France as well as in Indonesia and Japan.

Her quilt company is called Mother's Dream.





Having met Reiko Kato several times in France, I was really looking forward to meeting her again and discovering her new shop! Indeed she has a new shop close to where she lives which is very convenient for her. Imagine that you forget something at your workplace and need it in the evening to finish your quilt top ;-)

Reiko's shop is full of charm. It has an American look from the outside as well as the Japanese style and elegance in all the details. A perfect blend!













There is something that really fascinates me about the Japanese quilters! It is the delicate hand work they do. They piece, do appliqué and quilt by hand, which, as you can guess, is very appealing to me! As I told Reiko, the motto "quicker, easier, faster" that I hear so many times,  is something that does not make me want to learn about the technique. This might sound strange but "quicker and faster" is not what I am looking for when I quilt. I like the process even when it is slow. I am a slow quilter and this is true that I do not finish several projects in a year but I don't mind. Handwork takes time. But Reiko works a lot and works a two new projects each month!! Quite impressive!

I was also happy to discuss extensively with Reiko about how the Japanese quilters learn quilting and their school system around a master teacher. This fascinates me because this is a way to pass down the techniques with respect for beautiful handmade objects. Judge for yourself.



















It is nice to see all the models I had seen in the books exposed above the kits for sale.

When a quilter sign up with a master, they usually do a 5-year program. 2 years are dedicated to learning the basics. The next 2 years are for more advanced work and the last year teaches them how to become a fully professional teacher, how to write a pattern and so on.

Something I also noticed  is that the students work on a quilt as well as an "applied work" during the lessons. An applied work could use the same block you've made for the quilt that you will use to make a pouch or bag or any other quilted item.

It is more a step-by-step approach of teaching than what we do here in France. Indeed, many French quilters learn a technique here, then they try another approach there and they eventually either switch to or incorporate the new technique into their own quilting. It is a different approach and I do not consider one better than the other; It is just different! Yet, it tells a lot about the culture you live in.

When you arrive at Reiko Kato's shop, you see two separate buildings. On your right is the shop and on the left is the classroom. It was wonderful to see in person this place. Reiko's kindness is incredible. She is happy to share with you her experience and her quilts reflect who she is.

Her work is delicate, the details in her quilts are impressive and her hand quilting is jaw-dropping!

The general atmosphere of Reiko's shop is warm and welcoming. And the taupe fabrics that are so difficult to find in France are everywhere!!!





Add the charm of some old furniture and quilted objects and you understand that it is a quilter's heaven!











Isn't this miniature Reiko Kato's shop, with all the covers of her books displayed, the cutest thing she coud have in her classroom?

My wife and I spent the evening with Reiko and a friend of hers in a restaurant in Tokyo and so we talked a lot about her country, France, quilting. My wife even told me that I talked too much!!! That's how I am when I am happy ;-)

I hope that Reiko will one day come to the south of France to teach the quilters in my area. I am sure that many would be interested. I know dreams come true, so let's make it happen ;-)



 Thank you SO much Reiko. See you next year in Nantes and hopefully in the south of France sooner or later ;-)



I hope you have enjoyed discovering Reiko Kato's in her environment.

Until later,


32 comments:

  1. Very interesting, David, thank you and looking forward to more posts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure. Will write them asap. Meanwhile you can re-read this one as I have updated it ;-)

      Delete
  2. Merci David pour ce très beau reportage sur la boutique de Reiko. J'ai eut le plaisir de prendre en avril dernier un cours avec elle à Nantes et je confirme, elle est adorable.
    Douce soirée.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. quand le talent se double de la gentillesse... se taire et être admiratif ;-)

      Delete
  3. I found your post while wandering around and really enjoyed it. I have bookmarked your blog and look forward to hearing more about the Japanese quilters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome to my blog. I do not post often anymore but if you are new here, there are many old posts that you might like. Many are about Japanese quilters, so enjoy ;-)

      Delete
  4. Wow, this is so special. I did a workshop with her years ago at Petra Prins'in The Netherlands. Reiko was such a gentle, soft spoken person. Her techniques were wonderful. I am so glad you got to visit and thank you for making such an informative post. I had heard about the Japanese class system but had no idea about the details. Great to have it explained. Her shop looks wonderful, I can imagine you had the best of times and then dinner with her as well. Superb!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So special indeed, Phyllis. I'm still on cloud nine!

      Delete
  5. Quel beau reportage .....si dans notre village je vois un petit nuage avec des sunbonnets c'est toi ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Profitons enfin d'un ciel sans nuage.... ça s'est fait rare ces derniers temps :-)

      Delete
  6. Quel beau reportage....si jamais je trouve dans notre petite ville (L'I -J ) un petit nuage avec des sunbonnets c'est sur que c'est toi...Amities

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peut être que les sunbonnets viendront un jour dans notre petite ville. Je suis sûr qu'elle s'y plairaient beaucoup ;-)

      Delete
  7. I recently saw an exhibit of Japanese quilts at the New England Quilt Museum in Massachusetts. The level of work and detail in the quilts is something that is rare to see here. Your description of how Japanese quilters learn is very revealing. I look forward to your next posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is always impressive to see the Japanese quilts for real. Not much contrast in the use of taupes and yet so much definition.

      Delete
  8. Quelle chance ! Le Japon et la rencontre de ces 3 artistes.
    Merci pour le partage. J'ai hâte de découvrir les deux prochains posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beaucoup de chance et conscient de mon bonheur d'avoir visité un pays merveilleux et aussi d'avoir rencontré les quilteuses que j'admire tant dans leurs univers.

      Delete
  9. C'est toujours du bonheur de vous lire. J'ai particulièrement apprécié l'enthousiasme qui se dégage de ce message.
    Je partage avec vous le plaisir du slow quilting by hand. C'est une véritable détente que je conseille à tous les gens stressés.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci beaucoup. Le quilting main est très thérapeutique, en effet!

      Delete
  10. Thank you for the tour! I believe this is the first account I’ve read of the Japanese shops. Their quilts fascinate me, with such amazing detail, and usually with a limited color scheme. How fortunate you were to get to go to Japan and see these things first-hand!

    Carole

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had seen many quilts from these quilters in different exhibitions in France but I was very happy to both discover Japan and their shops... it helps me have a better understanding of why they are so beautiful! I believe it's linked to their culture and how very craft is learnt and done as an art. There does not seem to be major and minor arts in Japan... but I might be wrong...

      Delete
  11. Quelle joie et quel bonheur de rencontrer ces talentueuses personnes ! La chance !
    Jamais pu me rendre à Nantes pour le salon mais j'espère sincèrement pouvoir m'y rendre un jour...
    Par contre, si Reiko ou Yoko se déplace dans le Sud de la France pour y dispenser une ou plusieurs classes, je suis très intéressée :-) !
    Merci pour ce partage de photos et d'émotions.
    Bises

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Si cela arrivait tu en seras informée mais Je ne pense pas que faire venir Yoko Saito soit du domaine du réalisable ;-)

      Delete
  12. Un très joli reportage. Merci pour les photos. Un rêve que tu as dû réaliser...
    Tu as dû te régaler...
    Mais n'oublie pas de nous montrer tes achats, je suis curieuse de voir... Tu as dû te faire plaisir et tu as bien raison.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Laurence, je ne posterai pas sur mes achats parce que cela me gêne toujours de mettre ça en pubic, mais si tu veux, contacte moi en MP et je te dirai ce que j'ai ramené ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Fantastisk å få innblikk i japansk quilts. Samler selv på japanske stoff og bøker/hefter og syr litt utfra de. Takk for titten :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do have lots of Japanese books and I have a Japanese taupe fabric stash too ;-)

      Delete
  15. Merci David de partager avec nous cette très belle rencontre.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Toutes mes excuses pour le délai de publication... je ne reçois plus de mail d'avertissement et je n'avais pas vérifié Blogger ;-) Merci à toi pour ton commentaire :-)

      Delete
  16. Just discovered your post, I confess I no longer read blogs :-(
    A lovely post about the beautiful and dedicated work Japanese quilters can produce. I am always speechless when seeing Japanese handwork... and can't help but feel very humble regarding all the work involved each time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Toutes mes excuses pour le délai de publication... je ne reçois plus de mail d'avertissement et je n'avais pas vérifié Blogger ;-)
      Better catch up with my blog... I just posted two other posts :-) Writing when I feel like it only ;-)

      Delete
  17. A dream, isn't it? What a blessing you and your wife had the opportunity to travel and enjoy. Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for the delay in posting the message...I have to manage it through Blogger and I used to received emails for that so I didn't check Blogger... Now I know ;-) A dream indeed... We do feel blessed :-)

      Delete