Saturday, 7 August 2010

Kanji for quilts

Quilters sometimes ask me about kanji for quilts, as I included a pieced version of "Fuku" (Good Fortune or Good Luck) in "Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match" (second from top left on the book cover). I had another e mail today, and I thought part of my reply might be useful to other quilters.

"Good Luck" is quite an easy design to piece, as it has plenty of straight lines. "Double Happiness" wouldn't be too hard to do either, as again, plenty of straight lines. "Love", "Happiness" and "Peace" are going to be much harder, because they all have lots of diagonal lines - "Love" in particular will be quite a challenge, there are so many strokes in that!

Fuku was designed from a piece of vintage kasuri weaving, so the weaver had almost done the job of translating it into pieces for patchwork. Quite a few kanji have that squared form - the kind used on workers' happi for example - but I don't know that every kanji has been done that way. Some of my old kanji books might be a starting point, but it would be unlikely I'd find "love" done this way, unless perhaps it appeared in a shop name sometime. The other problem with those squared kanji (the proper name escapes me at the moment) is that most are pretty much unintelligible to many people and especially wouldn't be recognised by non-kanji readers (e.g. people who might otherwise know the "proper" kanji from scrapbooking tags, rubber stamping & other crafts).

If I were going to make a quilt with many kanji on it, I think I would probably approach them as appliques. I've attached a cropped photo showing "Yamadera" (mountain temple, the name of my house ) done as a kanji applique on a small quilt - those squares are only 4in.

I found this excellent kanji resource, with each character in several different styles, which would be a great starting point for applique kanji -

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