Wednesday, September 12, 2012

''Tavupo,'' the Hopi Opportunity Quilt

Recently we showed you a close-up of this gorgeous quilt, made with our Marblehead fabrics. Today, we're sharing the entire story. Enjoy!

Hopitutuqaiki, the Hopi School on the reservation in Arizona, is dedicated to developing an educational process derived from Hopi language and culture, preserving Hopi language and craft forms while preparing students to thrive on or off the Hopi Reservation.
Butterfly and Badger Clan & Rabbit and Tobacco Clan symbols
Five Hopi women worked with quilter Linda Visnaw to design, sew and quilt an opportunity quilt to raise money for the school. Linda shared the background of how this quilt came together.
Clouds, rain and lightning symbols

Q. How did you get involved with this project?
A. This is the second year that I have taught quilting at the School. The Hopi learned quilting since the early 1900s, when missionaries taught the skill. They still make quilts by tying them, and one of my goals was to teach them to machine quilt, making their quilts more durable. One of the school's biggest problems is funds, so I suggested that we make an opportunity quilt at the end of my teaching days for the year.
Eagle and Coyote Clan symbols

Q. Tell us about the quilt design.
A. I designed the quilt using their ideas and Marblehead fabric. I cut everything, and two ladies did all the artwork, painting with Tsukineko inks, and three sewed. Every piece of artwork on the quilt is original, created by two of the gals. We had three days to finish the quilt top.

Mary Duwyeni paints a design on a block.

Lorna Quamahongnewa sews block pieces together.

Eleanor Tenakhongva shows a finished block, ready to be embellished.
Eleanor Tenakhongva (left) and Ella Humetewa stand with the finished quilt top.

Q. What about the meaning behind the design?
A. Multiples of three are used throughout to note the importance of the three mesas to Hopi life (the Hopi live on three mesas in Arizona). The ladies used clan and other Hopi symbols to decorate the individual blocks and show the Hopi peoples’ ingrained artistic talent.  Even the pieced blocks look like things you would see in their designs.
Migration symbol

Q. Talk about the machine quilting.
A. The Hopi artwork is really wonderful. Jewelry, painting…there is not one line, not one mark that doesn't have meaning for their culture.I took a lesson from them and tried to make sure everything in the quilting was meaningful. I sat down with the ladies, laid Golden Threads paper over the top, and drew right on the paper to see how designs would look. There isn't one line on that quilt that isn't representative of something: Swirls representing prayers, corn, waves. I also chose thread colors that would blend into the background, because their work was what you are supposed to see. It was so much fun to quilt!
Hopi prayer feathers

Raffle tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. The quilt will be raffled off July 14, 2013
For more information about The Hopi School, or to buy tickets for the opportunity quilt, contact:
Robert Rhodes  Ed.D            
P.O.Box 56                       
Hotevilla, AZ 86030

Spider Clan symbol and pumpkin
Center motif: Dawa, the most important of all the Hopi deities

Hopi Snow Maiden

What have you made with Fabri-Quilt fabrics? Send a photo to or post a photo on our Facebook page


  1. This quilt is magnificent. No other word could describe it. Congratulations to the Hopi artists and the quilt artist, Linda Visnaw. I hope this work of genius earns their school a fortune.

  2. Absolutely breathtaking. Beautiful workmanship

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