Friday 1 May 2015

Four in Art 2: Haiku

This year I am so enjoying being part of Four in Art - a group of quilters making small (12x12") quilts inspired by an annual theme.   This year's theme is 'Literature'  and we are revealing our quilts for the second quarter today (you can see my first quarter quilt here).   Each quilter interprets the theme in their own way and in their own style, and it's really interesting to see how they all differ, so please do visit the others:

Betty at her flickr page
Elizabeth at
Jennifer at her flickr page
Nancy at  Patchwork Breeze
Rachel at The Life of Riley
Simone at Quiltalicious
Susan at PatchworknPlay

My quilt is called Haiku.  It is inspired by a poem by one of the most famous haiku poets, Basho:

An old pond
A frog jumps in
The sound of water

I wanted to make a very simple quilt which reflects the deceptively simple form of the haiku and the wealth of meaning in it. Some of this meaning is contained in cultural and literary references which are lost to non-Japanese readers, but we can still understand some of the message and find the poem beautiful.

I think that the best literature can be appreciated on many different levels - it should be possible to take something away even if only that it was a good story.

The little square, in lacquer red, refers to the chop or seal used as a signature in Japan.  I wanted it to look roughly woodcut, and used fused appliqué to make it look as if it was stamped on.  It has no readable meaning - but it is an essential part of the composition.

The quilt is made of silk and the overlapping concentric circles are quilted with Japanese sashiko thread.

12 x 12 inches
Sashiko thread quilting on silk

[updated to change generic links to ones for the relevant posts]


  1. I love this! The Basho haiku are ones that I teach, and he is brilliant in his execution of the poetic haiku form. I think you have captured it perfectly, with minimalistic lines radiating out from the "pond" intimating at the existence of a frog, without us seeing it. I love the idea of the chop. I have several from my trip to China and Japan many years ago, and my father still uses the one my brother brought to him. That red color is so hard to interpret and it works so well here, an added detail that adds more than the small size of the actual rendition.

    Another beautiful quilt, Catherine!

  2. so beautiful, and that tiny spot of red is absolutely perfect.

  3. This is just exquisite in its simplicity and significance. I love the possibility of focusing on either the wake or the copy - both just draw you in. Must go and learn more about Basho haiku now!

  4. This is just exquisite in its simplicity and significance. I love the possibility of focusing on either the wake or the copy - both just draw you in. Must go and learn more about Basho haiku now!

  5. I am in love. I wish I had made this quilt. The simplicity of the white on white, the texture, the circles and that exquisite red 'stamp' at the bottom right. Absolutely perfect!

  6. Hahahah! And three of us used exquisite to describe it. It must be!

  7. Beautiful quilting and I love the red 'stamp', also the haiku :)

  8. Simply...wonderful! Haiku and this quilt are perfectly matched! And to use silk and Sashiko thread adds to that perfection! Congratulations Catherine on a most successful execution of the theme!

  9. Such a thoughtful beautiful piece - a lovely visual interpretation of a classic Haiku!

  10. Fabulous interpretation Catherine, being part of this group is really stretching your creative muscles :)

  11. what a beautiful interpretation - just gorgeous. What was it like quilting on silk?

  12. Love the beautiful simplicity of this.

  13. What a beautiful expression of simplified design! I think your radiating water rings expanding into each other are beautiful. The repeating shapes of the circles are perfect for the simplicity of a Haiku poem/quilt! Your pristine white silk fabric and thread are almost untouchable, how did you keep it so white. Absolute love it all. Please keep working your quilting magic to share will us all!

  14. Very clever. I think the chop is just the greatest finishing touch. I was able to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Taiwan 3 years ago and reading about your quilt and the Haiku, made me think of the many things I saw and experienced while there. Your piece exhibits simplicity and beauty.


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