Shibori Quilt

Shibori quilt

A couple of years ago Sally Brechbill emailed and said she and a couple of friends were planning a vacation to Cambridge NY  and wanted to know if I would be able to have tea with them.   Sally had bought some of my work, but I didn’t know her and honestly, I thought it kinda strange, so I told her I couldn’t meet her.  A few months later Sally and her friends came from Ohio and met with Mary Muncil.  Mary called me after having tea with them and told me how nice they were, still I refused to see them.  Then, as Jon was coming out of Battenkill Books in Cambridge, he bumped into Mary, Sally and her friends.    They talked a bit and Jon invited them to Bedlam Farm.  (there’s a video of their visit in Jon’s ebook The Story of Rose).

When Jon called and told me they were coming to the farm, I couldn’t help feeling like a curmudgeon for refusing to see them again and again.  I was also embarrassed, here I was telling them I wasn’t available and now they were coming to the farm.  Turns out, none of that mattered.  They came to the farm and as Mary said, they were really nice and we had a lovely visit.  Since then Sally and I have kept in touch.  She still buys my work and somethings if she finds a neat piece of fabric she thinks I might like sends it to me.   I always try to do a trade with her.   Cool fabric for a potholder.

Last week Sally surprised me with her story about her trip to Japan.  About 20 years ago she went with a few other quilters met up with some quilters in Japan.  The American quilters brought some of their quilt squares and traded fabric and techniques with the Japanese quilters.  Sally came back with lots of fabric, used some of it and put the rest in a drawer.   When, last week, she asked if I would like to have the Japanese fabric I jumped at it.  I had no idea what shibori was or what it looked like until I got it in the mail. ( It’s actually a dying technique, much like tye dying except they tie grains of rice in the fabric to create the designs.  Sally said she saw people  permanently stooped at a 90 degree angle from working in the rice fields.)   I was thrilled, inspired, I knew it needed to be a quilt.

The quilt came together quickly, somehow I knew just what I wanted to do.   I used all the fabric Sally sent (just a few scraps left over) and added some pieces from Laura Israel’s box of fabric. ( the large  blue and white piece on the top left and the thin strip sandwiched between the greys on the bottom right) The greys come from 2 different pairs of linen pants I got at a thrift store.   Here’s where it comes full circle, the black and yellow pieces with the plants and (I’m not sure if these are Chinese or Japanese Characters) Asian writing was given to me by Mary Muncil.

From Japan to Ohio to Cambridge NY, through friendships and trust and trades and rice and tea this quilt came together.   And now it seems it’s final stop (for a while anyway) will be with Tess, the woman who bought my first quilt 5 years ago.  She plans on hanging it in her new acupuncture office.

Detail from the quilt
Shibori fabric detail from the quilt

18 thoughts on “Shibori Quilt

  1. That is so cool, I love the colors and patterns, and I learned something new today about how this fabric was made! You put it all together so beautifully, it seems perfect for it’s destination.

  2. Hey Maria, This is such a great story and a beautiful quilt. How lucky Tess is.You found a new friend despite yourself!! The angels put Sally B. in your path and it was a gift. I can so identify with your hesitance. Putting people off. Intimacy issues? Abandonment issues? Who the f#$* cares? I think we’re growing stronger. Just last week you touched on vulnerability. It’s still scary at times.
    Love to Frieda, Cindy

  3. That was quick, Maria, and it all came together so quickly and beautifully. These fabrics are exquisite in their design, color and history, and the grey fabric ties them all together in the most lovely way. This piece seems perfectly suited to hang in the office of an acupuncturist. I am sure it will bring peace and healing to many. The story of how this work came together is wonderful.

  4. About the Asian characters: The Japanese borrowed their written characters from the Chinese, so they are the same and have the same meanings in both languages, although the spoken languages are very different. So a Japanese can read Chinese, even though she might not be able to speak it, and vice versa. I once had two graduate students from China. One was from Hong Kong and one was from Beijing. In Beijing, Mandarin Chinese is the spoken language. In Hong Kong, the spoken language is Cantonese. They couldn’t understand each other’s spoken language (they both spoke good English), but they could both read Chinese characters. A beautiful quilt and a beautiful story.

  5. Wow, amazing how a random connection can lead one to a new creative journey, great story, again your honesty is just inspiring. I’m thinking of the people who will go for acupuncture, probably in various states of pain and stress and be comforted by this beautiful quilt. Maybe you could schedule a “Group Tea With Maria” to get all us crazy people out of the way at once! I’ll bring the wine- hehe!

  6. This quilt is so beautiful. It is unique just as the story of how it came to be. I call it the “Friendship Quilt of Rice and Tea.”
    The fabric was meant to be in your hands. The quilt was meant to be.
    Jane Mintz

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