Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday's 'Musement - Lessons from the Far East

Yesterday was a tough day.
In fact, the last four yesterdays have been hard and and in the wake of what is happening in Japan, it was also hard to find my muse. I think it's a form of survivor's guilt really; it's very difficult for me to think about making things when thousands of people have lost every.single.thing.they.own.

I have learned over the years the way to feel close to people, to understand them, is to try to put yourself in their shoes. (Another of my Mom's admonishments from years past, and a very good one I might add.) 

So yesterday I rooted through my unfinished project pile and found these little quilts. The first two are a study in shape. I had cut piles of triangles, all the same size in various colours and fabrics and then played with layout.

The one in these first three photos is somewhat symmetrical in design using the square in a square format. 

I have found it interesting in my studies of Japanese art that while they are masters at symmetry, asymmetry is where their design aesthetic really shines.

The little quilt in the next two pictures is an example of that - it isn't completed yet as I still have to add the borders but I love this one. I love how it moves from dark to light with the red carried all the way through. This one I will hand-quilt.

There is nothing more fun than a stack of shapes and a design wall!

After I played with the first two I moved on both in colour and design. This time I worked in a long, narrow format and although I started this two years ago, I still haven't decided whether it needs a border or just binding. I love the vertical orientation of the design, long and lean with nothing more than it needs. The Japanese are masters at that and I know I have to lot to learn. I don't think it's so much that are minimalists as they are sufficientists (I know there is no such word but it's my blog and I can make 'em up if I want to!).
A Japanese design will never have any component that isn't necessary but will have all that is. 

In Japanese textiles, the crane is representative of longevity and good fortune - and I did take that into consideration when planning this design; I have found it makes my projects more interesting to me when I incorporate things like that.

And finally, a beautiful piece of Japanese fabric that I had to buy and have been reluctant to use. Someday the right idea will come to me and I am happy to wait for it.

The news out of Japan has been weighing on me, as have the images. They are people of great dignity and stoicism, not ever wanting to be a burden on society, not asking for more than can be given. They deal with what is rather than what may be. I laugh when I read stories of foreigners who are frustrated about the lack information, believing that a culture that is not as verbose as ours must be withholding. 

It's easy to look at the complete destruction of a town and understand what a people can be going through. It takes a lot more effort to look at a people and understand that how they react may be very different from what we would expect.

That's what I'm working on today.


Suztats said...

Nice post, Jillayne. Thank you.

Deb~Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

My heart is breaking for Japan, with every picture and every sound bite the crack in my heart opens wider and wider just as the earth did when the quake hit. And now the looming nuclear disaster on top of everything else and the irony that the worst nuclear accident in the history of the world is happening to Japan. I have always admired the Japanese aesthetic, their ability to speak volumes with just one brush stroke or one beautifully placed stone is such a contrast to our Western society where more is more and excess is king. You honour them Jillayne with your exquisite textiles and with your words. Thank you for this post. Deb

Marj Talbot said...

The unfinished items you have shared are very nice for sure. I love the triangles and the fabric with the crane is especially nice.
We cannot fully comprehend what the Japanese folks are going through. One would just want to hug them all and comfort them one and all. How tragic and horrific it has been and continues to be.
Let us all take a few moments to reflect on our way of life, our families and all that we have. We need to be thankfull beyond words - we have a good life and if only we could share with the afflicted.
Thanks again for sharing.

Michelle May (Shell) said...

The best we can do for someone is to think of them in the best possible way we can. To hold them up high and shower them with loving thoughts. You have honored them by thinking good things and letting those good things come out through your hands to create something of beauty. You also gave another gift...understanding. Indeed too many people try to make people react to things as they would instead of respecting and allowing others to be as they are.
My heart and my mind will think of good things and healing for the people of Japan. Hugs to all of them. May blessings come to them.
xx, shell

Laura said...

Beautiful post, Ma. The last two paragraphs are my favorite! Very insightful and very true, especially when you look back and compare Japan to New Orleans or to Haiti.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments about the Japanese people, Jillayne. They have so much dignity and strength and are a people who will persevere through the most challenging of circumstances. Aside from this core character, they are also friendly, polite, hospitable, clean, organized, meticulous about details, kind and consider their responsibilities seriously. My husband spent a year in Japan and came away with a great love for the people and the culture.
Our hearts go out to them as they go through these terrible times...

Bead and Needle said...

What a BEAUTIFUL post...and boy, do I LOVE this blog. Thanks for dropping by, so I had a chance to find this! I started out teaching in the local quilt stores, and am hoping to get back to more of my sewing this year. This might just be the inspiration I need...hope your week is wonderful, and your spirits are lifted just a little bit...let's hope for some good news out of Japan. Tanya

oldgreymare said...

Hello dear,

What a sweet, loving compassionate post. I too have been wrestling with the guilt of an "easy life" these past few days but all of life is balance, the lesson I am working on.
: D

Begin was my word for this year and Balance seems to be at the core of everything for me lately.

The honor and courage that the Japanese culture exhibits is so inspiring to me, especially when our culture seems to have fallen into rampant self indulgence, or worse, what I call " the whine".

More distressing to me is discovering masses of people completely unmoved by this tragedy because it did not alter their lives. When an acquaintance was shocked at my donation to the international Red Cross last week, with the comment "well why don't you help at home?" I do that also, but my reply was that "I do not distinguish aiding my fellow man by invisible lines of country borders." She did not get it..I doubt she ever will. Oh dear, I have ranted...when I merely wished to say - your heart is good.


Maggie said...

I can't imagine what those poor people in Japan are going through. My heart goes out to those people. I thank God every day that I have my family, friends and pets around me and I prey for these people for better times.
Thank you Jill for your wonderful blog.....you said it all.........you are a very loving, compassionate person, and I am glad to know you.
Also to the many people who commented on your blog....you have some great followers with lots of heart....