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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Featured Artist
Issue 7: March 2021
Photo Essay: 982 words
+ Fabric Art: Six Quilts
By Jan S. Rosin

Quilting: A Form of Meditation


My mother was very creative, and as I grew up she introduced me to many sorts of crafts and sewing, but not to quilting. I was an adult when I first became interested in quilt making. The Bicentennial Celebrations in 1976 inspired me, like many Boomer quilters, to take a class and study books on the subject. I enjoyed making both art quilts and bed quilts for my sons, until I decided to go to graduate school, which led to a teaching career. I can remember the day my sewing machine went into the closet to make room for a computer on my desk. That machine did not come back out until I retired in 2016.

Losing three parents within a couple of years unleashed a torrent of emotions and creativity. Quilting has become my way to process life changes. And sewing by hand is a form of meditation. I love the repetitive motion of hand stitching. All of my serious quilts are hand-stitched which means they’re always soft to the touch. This contrasts with the densely machine-stitched works made with long-arm machines that dominate the craft today. Machine-stitching with many rows spaced closely together produces quilts that feel stiff.

My creative process typically begins with the fabric. Because I’m drawn to texture and color, my taste in fabrics tends to be eclectic. I frequently look for those that reflect a culture, and I love fabrics with a bit of gold or silver to provide a touch of bling. I also like to use lots of different patterned fabrics in my works. After deciding on a theme, I set myself a challenge, to practice a new technique with each project. My designs are loosely planned, and my quilts often grow organically on my design wall. They can either be used as wall hangings, or as what I call “cuddle quilts.” None of these quilts are bed-sized.

Red Thread: Fabric art by Jan S. Rosin

Red Thread (2018, fabric art)
Copyrighted © by Jan S. Rosin. All rights reserved.

Red Thread is a mourning quilt in honor of my mother. She and I were very close and her death was staggering. I processed my grief with each stitch. Structurally, this quilt is simple. Strips of Japanese inspired, indigo-blue fabric are sewn together in rows from light to dark. The indigo fabric represents the years we lived in Tokyo when I was a girl. My mother and I loved Japanese cottons, silks, and brocades. Those years taught me to appreciate the feel of different fabrics and to develop my own unique aesthetic. Here, the red thread appliqued on top of the indigos represents the continuous connection between mother and daughter. This quilt is large enough for me to wrap myself in my mother’s arms.

Homespun Diamonds: Fabric art (2021) by Jan S. Rosin

Homespun Diamonds (2020, fabric art)
Copyrighted © by Jan S. Rosin. All rights reserved.

Japanese fabrics also inspired this creation. Traditional Japanese homespun diamonds are trimmed with jewel tones and metallic fabrics. I wanted to explore the contrast between the humble homespun and the flashy trim fabrics. Homespun fabric is particularly soft once it has been handled for a while. With Homespun Diamonds, I began adding a thin edge of contrasting fabric between the body of the quilt and the border. That edge has become one of my signature elements.

Arabesque Jewels: Fabric art by Jan S. Rosin

Arabesque Jewels (2020, fabric art)
Copyrighted © by Jan S. Rosin. All rights reserved.

This quilt was inspired by a fabric line based on the art of Gustav Klimt. All of those fabrics are full of luscious jewel tones and metallics. I arranged them in the shape of arabesques. For many years I have been inspired by the wonderful tile work in Muslim architecture. The arabesque shape is so visually voluptuous and also technically challenging with all the curves. Again I used a thin inner border to differentiate the body of the quilt from the outer border.

Keep Looking Up: Fabric art (2020) by Jan S. Rosin

Keep Looking Up (April 2020, fabric art)
Copyrighted © by Jan S. Rosin. All rights reserved.

Keep Looking Up began a series of quilts I made during the Coronavirus Pandemic. I needed to keep myself from getting depressed, thus the title. My challenge for this work was a complex method of foundation paper piecing which was difficult to master. I wanted stars and vertical lines of quilting to keep the eye moving upward. This piece grew from bits and pieces from my “stash” of many fabrics. I love the exuberance of scrap quilts, and this one had to look happy.

Variants: Fabric art by Jan S. Rosin

Variants (2020, fabric art)
Copyrighted © by Jan S. Rosin. All rights reserved.

Variants is another work in my Coronavirus Pandemic series. Again inspired by fabric, I found a variety of abstract fabrics in bright jewel tones. Their luscious colors called to me. I wanted to create a color-mutation effect. This quilt grew on my design wall as I played with color placement. I used my signature inner border as well as three outer borders and a binding all in bright colors. And my challenge here was using a clamshell shape that is all curves, instead of using small squares. Quilting along curves is sinuous but leaves open areas of soft fabric, which is perfect for a cuddle quilt.

Pandemic Posies: Fabric art (2021) by Jan S. Rosin

Pandemic Posies (January 2021, fabric art)
Copyrighted © by Jan S. Rosin. All rights reserved.

My most recent Pandemic project is another scrap quilt made from my “stash.” The only fabric I purchased was a large piece for the backing. My goals with this quilt: to make anybody smile, and to make myself slow down. My challenge: to master the technique of English Paper Piecing. All of the hexagons were pieced completely by hand, with an abundance of meditative stitching. The quilting was done with a heavier pearl cotton thread which is used in traditional Japanese sashiko stitching and mending. The center of each posy features fabric with a cherry-blossom pattern. I did not use a border on this more traditional design.

—Photographs are by Jan S. Rosin. Several of these are also published in the Artist’s Facebook galleries; text and images appear here with her permission.

Jan S. Rosin
Issue 7, March 2021

has been a quilter for more than forty years. Mostly self-taught, she has created both art quilts and more traditional quilts. One of her quilts has been exhibited at the Houston International Quilt Festival. Since her retirement from teaching, quilting has become her passion and solace during the Coronavirus Pandemic. She lives in Houston, Texas with her poet husband, Gary Rosin.

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