Have you ever seen fireflies? I can’t remember when I saw them last time but it was definitely in my childhood, in my home town near the river or stream.

As you may know, Japanese love something doesn’t last very long like cherry blossom, Autumn leaves, fireworks, certain insects. And fireflies are one of them. We can see them flying around only about a week when they became adult and looking for mating partner in early summer.

Also the number of fireflies declined hugely after the war. People are trying to bring them back by restoring their habitat and it is gradually working. Still, you have to go to certain area at particular time of the day of early summer to see them flying. Yes they are very very difficult to see but they are magical!

In Japanese language, we use Chinese character firefly for heat less light, like luminescent light and luminescent paint. Because we love them so much or it just made sense when people translated luminescent? I don’t know for sure. Even we don’t see them at all, they are in our everyday life.


A while back , a call for quilts themed “Illuminate” came through Irish Patchwork Society.  Initially I thought about Kobe Luminarie which is a Christmas period light up in Kobe shopping district started after 1995’s Earthquake. It looks totally amazing but I couldn’t digest it into a quilt design and looked for another idea. And idea of fireflies popped into my head.

I made the background with dark green, blue and blacks and added some very dark red too. I made random triangle shapes with smaller pieces because I was bit bored with squares and also I got a new triangle ruler which I wanted to try(few still available from my studio).

firel fly water

I quilted the all the background before adding any appliqué. That way, I didn’t have to stop and start quilting lines as you can see those unbroken swirls in above photo. As we know, we can’t iron quilts. So instead, I used steam from my iron to fuse all the appliqué. Steam and pat while hot and they work fine. Just don’t burn your hands while doing so.

I made one firefly very carefully. She is about an inch long.


And she landed on a leaf and got legs and antennas.

fire fly

The top half was filled with very light yellow and lime green circles.fireflys top halffire fly sky

A few more quilting was added over the appliqué.


It is 20″ by 40″H which is a challenging size requirement.

fire fly whole


By the way, if you ever come across a Japanese movie called Grave of the Fireflies, do watch it.