Margaret Blank – When East Meets West – Tea anyone?

Sometimes, despite initial uncertainty, an idea for a piece to suit a theme presents itself and won’t let go.  Such is true for me with “When East Meets West”.  I am a very “Western” person (even though I was born and grew up in Eastern Canada 😉 )…and often a very literal interpreter of phrases.  This meant that I immediately thought “East” was referring to the Orient; hence my initial uncertainty about doing justice to this theme.

But thoughts began to come.  The first was the idea of hexagons, based on what I’d seen from the work of Yoko Saito, and the work I’d been doing on the Japanese-style ‘taupe quilt’ I am making for my son and his bride, using patterns from Sue Briscoe.  I decided that large, English paper-pieced hexagons in a selection of muted blue-grey and grey fabrics I’d collected (and which I knew, in part, had been imported from Japan) would provide just the right background for my piece.

The second idea answered the question of what to place on that background.  I found myself — a dyed-in-the-bean coffee drinker — researching the origins of tea, which began in China, spread to Japan and then, via British explorers and the Empire, to India.  Tea: steeped in pots of all shapes and sizes, and served in cups, likewise in variety.  I found examples of three typical pots: “veddy” English ;-), Chinese, and Japanese.  A photo of the latter included Oriental cups, which I decided would work better in the space than a full English-style bone china cup and saucer.

Once the background was pieced, I searched for just the right fabric to contrast with and complement its blue-grey tones.  Enter my former City & Guilds tutor, Linda Kemshall, who recently did a DMTV video about creating a sketchbook focused on a single colour: red.

Red!  The colour favoured by royalty in China, by the military in England, and by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police here at home…and present in my stash in some wonderful batik fabrics.  It all went together quite quickly after that — and I’ve titled it, Tea, Anyone?  I hope you like it!

Tea, Anyone - finished

Tea, Anyone?

Detail 1

Tea, Anyone? – Detail 1

Detail 2

Tea, Anyone? – Detail 2


Materials: commercial cottons and batiks, cotton thread, fusible web.

Techniques: English paper piecing, machine applique, machine quilting.





  1. English quilter

    The subtle colors of the background contrast well with the beautiful teapots and cuts. Red and grey/taupe work so well together. Thank you for the information on the red sketchbook.

  2. Perfect interpretation with the taupe background and teapots. Very interesting to hear your thought process

  3. Tea really does unite East and West. This appeals to me as I’m a lifelong tea drinker.

  4. Chantal Guillermet

    I like your choice of colours and reading about your process was very interesting

  5. Good choice of subject, like the colours…

  6. Just beautiful. Love the different red colors and the color of the hexagons in the background.


    Beautiful colours, both in your background and teapots. Tea is a very international thing, and a good way to break the ice in a meeting, between east and west, or any other meeting. I like the way you thought about the theme and the results of your investigations and work.

  8. joanbrailsford

    I like your colour choices, and the reasons behind those choices. The colours and the overall design work really well together

  9. A lovely background and a great design. Well done!

  10. Beautiful work and delightful colours on your background it really sings.

  11. Tea is so universal and the Red teapots look really good

  12. I really enjoyed following your thought process which you beautifully carried through to the quilt. I love the red tea pots against the muted paper pieced background.

  13. Love it! The colors are beautiful, the design very expressive of the theme. Nice to see how much can be said with a deliberately limited “vocabulary” – the choice to use basically only a couple of colors and variations on a couple of shapes.

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