Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Review and Give-away: Confetti Naturescapes by Noriko Endo

Confetti Naturescapes: Quilting Impressionist Landscapes
by Noriko Endo
Dragon Threads, 2010
160 pages
I first saw Noriko Endo’s work in person at the opening of Quilt National 2007, where her Sylvan Ambience #2 had won Best of Show. The piece features one of Endo’s characteristic woodland scenes, with dark tree trunks dancing in the early spring sunshine, bright green and yellow leaves in the background, and a delicate sprinkling of pink wild azalea on the left side. It is magical. 

This is the same piece featured on the front of Endo’s new book, Confetti Naturescapes: Quilting Impressionist Landscapes.

Noriko was unable to attend the opening of Quilt National because it was the same day as her daughter’s wedding in Tokyo. “I nearly fell off my chair with astonishment when I received an e-mail from my friend, Georgia French, who attended the ceremony and knew my quilt had been awarded Best of Show,” writes Noriko in the book. “I thought this was a gift from God to me.”

Confetti Naturescapes features a brief biography of Endo, who was born and reared in Japan, and learned to love knitting and hand crafts from her mother. After earning a degree in English and American literature, she married, and lived with her husband and young children in the United States (Queens, NY) and Pakistan (Karachi) in the 1970s. She made her first quilt (a traditional log cabin pattern) in 1985, and her first landscape using her signature confetti technique in 1993.

The book documents how she started using the technique of creating designs using “toothpick size” snippets of fabric. It also has sections on finding inspiration, selecting photographs on which to base designs, and one project. There are also chapters on creating painted details, embellishing, and longarm quilting, as well as how to make a “rod pocket” (sleeve), and how to bind the piece. But most of the book (105 pages of it) is a glorious stroll through Noriko’s work from 1994 to 2010. 

Most of the spreads in the gallery section feature a full shot of each piece, as well as a detail shot where you can see the stitching and pieces of fabric up close, and comments and insights on the piece by Noriko. The piece in the photo above is Radiant Reflections (2008).

The detail shots in the book reveal the intricate stitching on Noriko’s work that might go unnoticed otherwise – irregular zig-zag stitches on the sides of the trees to imitate the sunlight hitting them, and in her later work, subtle leaf patterns.

The descriptions of her technique are very engaging; I had not realized that her compositions were created directly on top of batting. She places the snippets of fabric and larger, cut pieces – such as the tree trunks –  under a layer or two of tulle, and then heavily stitches them, either on her home sewing machine or on a longarm machine. Although she uses photos as inspiration for her work, she does not work directly from them, nor does she seek to faithfully reproduce them.

Everywhere, Endo’s love of trees is evident. “I love trees, especially mature trees,” she writes. “Most of my quilts are large, as I want the viewer to feel as if they are standing in the woods looking at the trees.” She also loves light – and the way it filters through leaves, changing their colors, creating a reverent mood, and diffusing down onto the forest floor. “When I began my woods series,” says Endo, “I wanted to show the trunks chased by the light.”
This shot shows Noriko with Linda Teufel, publisher of Dragon Threads (left), at the 2010 Fall International Quilt Market in Houston in October:

I also took the two photos below of Noriko’s Peony (2010) at International Quilt Market. This piece marks a bit of a departure from her earlier work, as it features heavy white machine embroidery of tree trunks and peonies on the surface.

Peony (2010; 48 x 45") by Noriko Endo

Peony (detail) by Noriko Endo
The inclusion of Noriko’s early work in the book allows you to appreciate that although her main subject (nature, trees, and light) has remained the same over the years, her technique, style and artistry have really evolved. Her work has become much more sophisticated, and she has started using more diverse materials (paint, yarn, Angelina fibers). While she has never wandered far from landscapes, her pieces now often include more intricate quilting designs, creatures such as herons, chipmunks and turtles; and her growing interest in the reflections in water is more evident. I look forward to seeing how her work evolves in the coming years.

See more of Noriko’s work at You can purchase a copy of Confetti Landscapes at Dragon Threads. (It will not be available from for one year.)

I have a copy of Confetti Naturescapes to give away to one lucky blog reader! Leave a comment after this post; I’ll pull one person’s name at random at noon EST on Wednesday, December 22. If you sign up to follow my blog (see the sidebar on the right side of my blog and look for the "FOLLOW" button), leave me a second comment that you have done so, and I'll put your name in the hat a second time. And if you help me spread the news about my give-away through your blog, Facebook or Twitter, leave me a comment about that, and I’ll put your name in the hat another time!

At the same time, Linda Teufel of Dragon Threads is giving away a copy of my new DVD, Master Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics. Leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win it!

WE HAVE A WINNER! The random number generator drew Ani from Wilmington, NC.