The Lily Pad: The Journal of White Lotus Quilting

Kwan Yin and the White Lotus name

Posted in Quilts,White Lotus Quilting studio by whitelotusquilting on February 21, 2007
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Kwan Yin quilt

A lot of people have asked me where the White Lotus name comes from and what it means.  To explain I’ll have to tell you a little about my Kwan Yin quilt project I did for a recent art show.

The Kwan Yin quilt hangs in my office now and I look at it every day, and a small portion of its center section is shown above.  (You can see the rest of it in the OH MY GODDESS! virtual tour). Kwan Yin is the Chinese goddess of compassion, and her image through several cultures is reflected in the center of the quilt, which I constructed to look like a meditation pond.  Serene koi float in the pond, behind leafy green fantasy leaves that sprout three-dimensional water lilies or lotuses.  Miniature prayer flags drape over the still silent water, and you can almost hear their fluttering in the breeze.

Her Chinese image is shown above, and there is also an image from Japan (Kannon) and from Tibet (Green Tara).  She is known as the ‘one who hears the cries of the world,’ and it is said that she has vowed to stay outside of heaven, tending to the mortals of this world, until there is no more suffering to alleviate.  Likewise she sees the good in all, even in those things and people that we have a hard time seeing beauty in.  On my quilt there is a giant eye at the top, complete with center mirror, to signify the eye that sees the good in all.

At the bottom is a section that represents the story of the shattered sword.  Kwan Yin’s compassion is said to be so deep that if one were about to be executed, and cried out to Kwan Yin in sincerity, the executioner’s blade would fall shattered to the ground.

I respect and admire this deity because she embodies so much of who I strive to be.  In my work, I want to see the best in every quilt, honor each and every creative impulse of my clients, and make their pieces shine.  In my personal life I want to open my heart to the suffering of others and alleviate it, even if in some small tiny way.

Kwan Yin is often associated with the white lotus and is sometimes depicted carrying one.  It is a symbol of enlightenment and healing.  When I went to choose a name for my business it seemed the obvious choice.

Patriotic colors for Presidents’ Day

Posted in Quilting tips and techniques,Quilts by whitelotusquilting on February 19, 2007
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Carden quilt in process

One of the best investments I’ve made in my studio so far is the 8’ by 10’ design wall.  Made of insulation foam board, affixed to the wall and covered with batting, it provides a sticky surface for pieced cotton blocks, and an opportunity to stand back from your work and notice how it works at a distance.

Above is a composition in progress designed by the homeschoolers I teach.  They’re studying quilting as both an art and a mathematics class and if you’re a quilter you know you use both in everything you make.

The curvy striped blocks made by the homeschoolers look plain by themselves but when laid out with the funky stack-and-shuffle stars they sewed, a whole new energy emerges.  When seen close-up the stripes don’t match, but from far away the center blocks take on a kind of pinwheel effect that you can’t really see up close.  The stars almost look as if they’re being flung away from the center, or maybe being spun by a sharp wind, shimmering like salmon scales as they twirl.

It’s said that sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees in our own lives.  Maybe all we need is a design wall to get a little distance, and see things in perspective.