Last spring I was honored to receive the Quilts Japan Prize at Quilt National '09. This marvelous award is given by Nihon Vogue, a publishing powerhouse in Tokyo that is largely responsible for the popularity of quilting in Japan. A Quilts Japan Prize is awarded at Quilt National, and also at Quilt Visions, as a way to strengthen the connections between US and Japanese quilters. The award: a trip to Japan, during which the recipient teaches a workshop.
I'm in Tokyo now, having a wonderful time. My workshop on piecing very fine lines was sold out shortly after it was opened for registration, so there ended up being a second workshop the next day. Both sessions were lots of fun, and I was so pleased with how quickly people picked up on the technique and made beautiful study pieces.
I want to stop and give a little shout-out to Nihon Vogue, because I was so impressed by what I learned about their history. The company started by publishing knitting patterns, in book and magazine form (and they still have a huge business in this area), but in the 1980s Mr. Tadanobu Seto, the company founder, became aware of quilting and realized that it had a huge potential in Japan. He branched out into quilting books and magazines, and was rewarded by a growing popularity for the art form. Nihon Vogue (pronounced Nee-hon Voe-goo) also sponsors the prestigious Quilt Nihon show.
In 1994 Mr. Seto decided to sponsor the Quilts Japan prize, with the idea that it would be given five times at Quilt National and five times at Quilt Visions. But at the end of that time, everybody was having such a good time that the prize was extended and has been given six more times (Velda Newman will be number seven, when she receives the award at Quilt Visions this fall and will be in Japan next year to teach).
I'll write lots more about the workshop, and my adventures in Japan, in later posts but for now, let me say how honored I am to have received this wonderful prize, and what world-class hospitality the Nihon Vogue people have provided to me this week. I've wanted to come to Japan for many years and this has been my dream come true.