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Noriko Endo is a textile artist who “paints” her quilts through the use of the so-called “Confetti” technique that allows her to reproduce the shapes, shades and chiaroscuro of natural landscapes using small scraps of colored fabrics. Her inspiration is the play of light between the leaves, the colours of nature and above all the trees, which he portrays, enriching their forms with juxtapositions of strong colours and shades or delicately outlining their profile with white threads.
Noriko teaches his “Impressionist Quilt” techniques in her studio in Tokyo and in various workshops around the world. Her works have won many international awards and are part of numerous private collections.
This is the link to the artist’s website:
“Bankusia”, 2018, 44” x 68”, copyright Noriko Endo
Noriko, why did you choose textile materials to express your artistic creativity?
As I never draw any pictures or oil paintings, so I am not familiar to use paper or canvas. But I could ﬁnd easily fabrics, yarns and threads near me, so I decided to use these textile materials as the medium of the express of my artistic creativity. I love quilts.
“Cherry Blossoms #7”, 2012, 38”x58”, copyright Noriko Endo
“CherryBlossoms #8”, 39”x46”, copyright Noriko Endo
Can you tell us something about yourself and your history as an artist? How did you start?
My love of nature began when I was a child. My father often took me on hunting trips with his two hunting dogs. I sat in the bush watching and playing with the insects, grasses and wild ﬂowers. The joy of looking into the details initiated my interest in nature. My mother was a knitter and and she taught me needle work skills and the color theory at and early age. It was a very curious and very interesting for me to see how she chose the color from a large selection of odd balls of yarn when she knitted sweaters for the family.
I have a B.A. in English and American literature from Gakushuin University in Tokyo. So I have no knowledges about ﬁne art. But I love nature, and the changing colors of autumn particularly inspire me.
I made my ﬁrst traditional quilt in 1985- a log cabin quilt. In 1993, I came up with the idea of “chopping up fabric” while cleaning my house. One of my hobbies when my children were younger was to sew their clothes, so I had lots of leftover fabric and outgrown clothing to use in my art quilts. With these materials, I developed my Confetti Naturescapes technique. My enthusiasm for quilting lead me to teach classes worldwide including South Africa, Dubai, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, England, USA, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Japan
“Simmerig Reflections”,2009, 29”x35”, copyright Noriko Endo
“Lakeside Solace”, 2009, 59”x59”, copyright Noriko Endo
“Secret Vantage”, 2012, 37”x25”, copyright Noriko Endo
Noriko, you are a highly esteemed teacher. I ask you a question that I often ask to the artists I interview: first the technique or the creativity? What do you think determines the quality of a art work? When does creativity risk being suffocated by technique?
I love to walk in the woods. I look for a place chased by the light, where pretty pink ﬂowers are blooming, small mushrooms are smiling and wild birds are calling their partners. I feel nature keeps some of her secret hidden. I can ﬁnd inspiration everywhere and narrow down the ideas to the most compelling. I think I ﬁrst have an idea from nature, then I ﬁnd my techniques.The most important thing is the artists creativity. Any techniques isﬁne if the artists have their own creativity and their own idea using any of the techniques.
The art work has to have its own originality and some unique creativities.
What do you think determines the quality of an art work? I think the originalities of the art works are the most important factors. As I developed my Confetti techniques by myself and kept working on it for many years. While walking in the woods, the play of light through the leaves, the changing colors of through the seasons, and the strength of a mature trunks all intrigue me.
When does creativity risk being suﬀocated by the technique? If the artist tried to copy another artists techniques and use them in her art pieces, then I think the creativity will be suﬀocated by the technique.
“Wood Pecker”, 2013, 70”x56”, copyright Noriko Endo
“Sylvan Splender”,34”x37”, 2009, copyright Noriko Endo
Can you tell us about the birth and development of one of your quilts? How do you plan a new work of art?
While walking in the park near my house, I picked up a lot of dry fallen leaves. Tracing the design of the leaves on the quilting paper, I then quilted with free motion stitching. When the leave are still on the trees, I never noticed such a variety of beautiful designs of the leaves. Once I found then on the ground I noticed their interesting lines.
In my confetti techniques, I cut ﬂower petals of wild azaleas and placed them under the tulle. It was a joy to add pink color in my quilt for the ﬁrst time. It was a success. This piece has lots of trees that needed to be embroidered on the edge of the tree trunks for accent and texture. Sylvan Ambience #2 was entered into Quilt National and had been awarded “Best of Show” 2007.
“Sylvan Ambience#2”, 2006. 60”x49”, copyright Noriko Endo
Can you tell us about the “confetti” technique you use to make your quilt?
I always dreamed I would make art quilts after my three children were grown and I had plenty of time to create art quilts. I had lots of fabric leftover with sewing clothes for my children and outgrown clothing. I added myself if there was a good use for the oddshaped leftover pieces of fabric and the answer came to me.̶-use them in my quilts. I came up with the idea of “chopping up fabric” and use them as paints. That technique has become a hallmark of my work.
To start, I cut fabric into small toothpick shapes and scatter them like confetti directly onto batting, I cover it all with tulle to blend the vibrant colors and hold them in place. With careful consideration of light and darks, I lay the pieces down on the surface as if
painting with cloth, arranging the bits to create a three-dimensional setting often including my favorite, trees. Then I machine quilts across the surface to create texture and details. There by entrapping the “confetti”. It is amazing to see a pile of tiny varying values of color and imagine them turning into beautiful portraits of nature with trees and sky and paths. That is what I do with a love and joy of the process. The image of nature draws the viewer in for a wonderful walk through the landscape. From these seemingly bits of “trash” that most artists would throw away, I create art.
“Spring Delight”, 2016, 31”x 51”, copyright Noriko Endo
What are the differences between your first and most recent works?
The ﬁrst Confetti Naturescapes quilt, I only used commercial print cotton. And in the most recent work I used sheep leather and paints.
And the most recent works of Confetti Naturescapes in 2016, I add lots of paints and more detailed quilting designs. And also I use white color paintings to express mature trunks. Trees are a recurring image in my quilts. I believe that a mature tree is one of the boldest graphic impressions that any human will witness in his or her daily life, and my work express this theme.
“Forest In New England”,84”x65”, 1996, copyright Noriko Endo
“Silvan Ambience #14”, 2016, copyright Noriko Endo
Noriko, how does Japanese culture fit into your work, into the subjects or colours you choose?
Although I was born and raised in Tokyo and surrounded with Japanese culture and the color, my favorite color is from the nature. The typical color in Japan is Indigo blue.
Is there a group of your art works that represents you more, that played a relevant role in your growth as an artist?
Sylvan Ambience and Reﬂections series.
“Silent Sentinels”, 2004, 76”x66”, copyright Noriko Endo
“Sylvan Ambience”, 2006, 78”x54”, copyright Noriko Endo
“Autumn Reflections”, 2008, 52”x44”, copyright Noriko Endo
“Radiant Reflections #2”, 2008, 80”x66”, copyright Noriko Endo
How has your work evolved over time? What are the differences between your early works and your more recent ones?
For any years I have been making quilts of woods and forests because I especially love mature trees yet I have been thinking – what makes an art quilt? Contemporary quilt makers always try something new but on the other hand, try to keep their sense of personal style. I wanted to do something diﬀerent and to push myself toward a new theme. It had to contain some of my woods scenes, so it was a struggle to ﬁnd a direction that retained an aspect of my beloved forest scene. I ﬁnally decided that my new theme would be reﬂection on water.
My more recent works has mature trees expressed with the quilting lines with white threads.
What are you working on right now? Would you like to tell us about your current textile projects and current or future exhibitions?
I am working on my new project which has leather, paints and thread paintings. Last May we had a new, ﬁrst, Quilt Time Festival in Yokohama, Japan. I helped a booth which was selling leather materials. It was my ﬁrst experience to touch sheep leather as the material. I got so interested in it and tried to make a quilt, Fallen Leaves #2, and entered European Patchwork Meeting contest, and accepted. Now it is traveling.
“Fallen Leaves #2”,35” x 47”, 2018, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 1 “WhiteTrees&Butterflies”, 2018, 43” x 57”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 2 “AnEarlySpringDay”,2016, 59”x78”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 3 “BeforeDark”, 2010, 39”x52”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 4 “AutumnSplendor”, 2010, 72.5”x48.5”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 5 “MistyMorning”, 2010, 77.5”x60”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 6 “Peony”, 2010, 48”x45”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 7 “Guest Appearance”, 2011, 45” x 74”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 8 “AutumnEnchantment”, 2008, 67”x89”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 9“RadiantReflections”, 2008, 89”x66”, copyright Noriko Endo
Photo 10“Woodland”, 2014, 70”x69”, copyright Noriko Endo