Saturday, September 4, 2010

Noriko Endo Inspiration!

The other night I took this recently finished piece to the monthly meeting of the Santa Monica Quilt Guild for the Show and Tell part of the program. I received some great feedback and lots of questions about the technique used in "Autumn Aspens" - so to answer all those questions, here goes....

When the catalogue of the recent International Quilt Festival Long Beach arrived last spring I was excited to see Noriko Endo's name among the teachers and quickly jumped at the chance to take her "Confetti Naturescapes" class. She is a charming and talented, though very self-effacing, quilter and teacher from Japan. A truly lovely lady with a delicate sensibility and a talent for translating the natural world into fabric and thread, her quilts have an ethereal quality I am drawn to.

I had first seen her technique on Simply Quilts and had followed her work since. She has recently published her book Confetti Naturescapes which is published by Dragon Threads Publishing and is available on the Dragon Threads site. My painfully inept attempt at her technique is woefully lacking in the "je ne sais quoi" so visible in hers, but take a look online at her magnificent quilts and I will attempt to describe the process.

First we started with a photo - I chose a photos of a grove of aspen turning to autumn color on the edge of a Sierra Nevada meadow. Looking now at that photo, I realize I should have added more detail in the trunks and branches, but ah...hindsight...

From the colors in the photo we chose fabrics to match (hand dyes and batiks work the best because they are two sided) and chopped strips up into small confetti like pieces. Literally 1/4 to 1/8 inch in size. Lots of slice and dice with the rotary cutter. Following our photos these confetti pieces were piled on to batting and backing the size of our intended quilt to suggest areas of color along with larger pieces of sky to suggest sky or water.

Next, we laid down a piece of fine black tulle over the whole piece and pinned with straight pins every inch or so to keep the whole thing together to get it under the sewing machine. Invisible polyester thread was used to squiggle around the whole surface to apply the tulle and hold the little bits in place. On the next layer free cut pieces of fabric were laid down to suggest trees, branches, and any large foreground details. At this point more confetti was laid on to give an illusion of depth and shading. Noriko went around the room adding very tiny pieces of black and purple confetti fabric which she calls the "magic" of her quilts. Adding these dark bits truly makes the scene look like an impressionist painting.

A final layer of black tulle is laid on and pinned again. More invisible thread is added to secure the layer as well as any free motion stitching in colored threads to add shading, highlights, etc. On my piece I added some gray and white textile paint and some light gray thread to suggest the sun slanting over the tree trunks from one side.

At home I finished my aspen piece by trimming it, and mounting it on a quilt sandwich with thin batting to add to the size and provide a frame which I free motion quilted with silk thread.

I have ordered Noriko's book and look forward to spending many hours appreciating her beautiful work.


  1. Thanks for the great story of Noriko and her class. Hope you like the book. Your quilt looks great for a beginner/keep practicing.

  2. Does anyone know where to find high quality black silk tulle in the USA.