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Japanese Textiles With Patricia Belyea

Patricia Belyea will be your host at Road@Home on Friday, January 22, 2021 from 9:30 -11:00 AM for FL02 – Tokyo Quilt Festival & More Japanese Textile Treasures

Japanese Textiles

American Quilter Turned Japanese Textiles Aficionado

Japanese Textiles

Patricia Belyea began quilting at age 53. She made a baby quilt for a young woman in her design office. At the time, Patricia thought that quilts were made out of old clothes, so she went to Goodwill to buy her “fabrics.” Her project stash ended up including a “pretty” girl’s Gymboree dress, some other clothing, and a striped cotton sheet.

Through her church, Patricia met Maurine Noble—an internationally known quilting teacher. Not only did Maurine introduce Patricia to a rotary cutter, mat, ruled grid, and some ideas for Patricia’s beginner project, she became Patricia’s friend and quilting mentor. Patricia declares that if she “had not met Maurine, I doubt I would have made anything more than my totally imperfect first quilt.”

Three years before Patricia made that first quilt, for her 50th birthday, her husband and she visited Kyoto, Japan for a long weekend. Although their trip was short, the experience proved to be “life changing.” When they returned home to Seattle, their daughters’ high school made a request for families to host Japanese homestay students. The Belyeas “gladly welcomed” Saori into their home for one year and then went on to host seven more Japanese students.

Japan wooed Patricia and her husband with “sweet memories” from their first stay. They returned many times to check in with their “beloved” homestay students. After Patricia began quilting, their trips gained another focus: treasure hunting for Japanese textiles.  

Tokyo Quilt Festival

Patricia’s first time attending the Tokyo International Quilt Festival was in 2010. Her husband was waiting for her in a nearby coffee shop, so she only stayed one hour. Her first impression was “absolute awe” of the Japanese textiles but also chagrin that she could not stay longer.

Since that first visit, Patricia has returned to the Festival six more times, allowing ample time to take in all the Japanese Textiles. Thinking of the Tokyo Quilt Festival, Patricia says, “The three quilt competitions and invitational show exhibit a wondrous array of quilts. But my favorites are the annual retrospectives of famous sensei (honored teachers) and the fabulous feature exhibits. Over the years, different Japanese quilters have begun to recognize me on the show floor. I’ve befriended Sachiko Yoshida, a sensei who specializes in exquisite quilts made with antique kimono silks and visited her home studio.”

Okan Arts

Okan Arts is Patricia’s company that she runs with her daughter, Victoria Stone. Okan means mom in Japanese. Okan Arts is based in Seattle and imports vintage Japanese textiles along with running an online gallery representing national quilters.

Japanese Textiles

Okan Arts also offers textile tours of Japan. Stops on her tours include the Tokyo Quilt Festival and a nearby town that hosts the Akie Ginza Sashiko Museum. Akie-san is an 89 year-old teacher of traditional sashiko stitching known as “little stabs.” Her farmhouse is bursting with her life’s work.

Another popular stop is the Itchiku Kubota Museum in the Mount Fuji region. Here, on display, is an important collection of hand-dyed silk kimono. Patricia recalls that she “got tears in my eyes when I entered the exhibit hall as the textile design and execution were so breathtaking.”

Two other destinations on the tour are the historic town of Arimatsu, home of shibor i dyeing, and the Kyoto area.

Japanese Textiles Lecture During Road@Home

Many people have said to Patricia, Take me with you to Japan. Because the Okan Arts tour caps at 16 participants, a lot of people get left behind. At Road@Home, there’s no limit to the virtual travelers for this unique lecture. This virtual visit includes a front row seat to the 2020 Tokyo Festival as well as seeing several Japanese textile treasures with a tour of a chusen -dyeing workshop, a visit with sashiko guru Aki Ginza, a stop at the secret needle shop in Kyoto, and a peek at the Kubota Museum. Patricia will end her presentation with a trunk show of her creative quilts inspired by these special Japanese textiles.

Patricia knows that those participating with this lecture, will be able to check off their Bucket List their wish to see the Tokyo Quilt Festival and for others who hope to go over to Japan someday, some great ideas for where to visit.

For more information about Patricia Belyea and Okan Arts, please visit her web site.

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