Your Tour Leader
Susan Ball Faeder
The director of the tour and your escort for the trip is artist and businesswoman Susan Ball Faeder, an American quiltmaker who has studied Japanese art and culture for 40 years. Susan lived in Japan as a high school exchange student and also for a year on an ambassadorial scholarship of postgraduate work and is fluent in Japanese.
Susan started Quilters’ Express to Japan in 1988 with the aim of teaching people about Japan through quilting. Over the last 30 years, she has accomplished this not only through the tours and her retail shop—but also through her lecturing, teaching, vending, designing, and last but not least—her own quilting. Putting it all together is a seven-armed juggling act!
Her first tour to Japan—dedicated to promoting international peace and world friendships through quiltmaking—took place in September 1989. On that first venture, she escorted 33 people to Japan, set up a special quilt exhibit of work by more than half the participants, and arranged for the tour group to meet and exchange 9" blocks with five different groups of Japanese quilters. Since then, she has successfully led a total of 29 tours—all to Japan, all for quilters!
Over the last two decades, Susan has become a well-known vendor at many select quilt festivals across the nation, setting up her beautiful displays and offering Japanese fabric for sale. In 1997, Susan started the Japanese Fabric Club, a unique mail order club for people who love Japanese textiles. “JFC” members received specially arranged packets of beautiful Japanese fabrics six times per year. The club completed its 19th year—with no duplicate mailings even after 114 mailings! Susan also travels to lecture and teach at quilt guilds.
From 1998–2000, Susan designed a fabric line called Japanesque, with four separate collections: Matsuri, Stone Garden, Fujiwara, and Gion. Using her designs as a kick-off point, she then sponsored the nationwide Hawks and Heroes Quilter’s Challenge, awarding as Grand Prize, a free trip on the 11th tour to Japan in November 2000. The best 14 quilt entries from the contest were invited to Japan for exhibition at the prestigious Yokohama Quilt Festival. Susan also designed a 5th line of fabric for the New York-based company, Free Spirit, in January 2003. That collection was called Summer’s Almost Over.
A quilter since 1983, Susan’s work has been widely exhibited, both in the USA and around the world. In July 2005, Susan was one of 12 non-Japanese artists invited to participate in a special exhibition called “I Love Japan” curated by Amy Katoh, and held at the Mitsukoshi Department store in Tokyo. For this particular show, she created the Arigato series, using fabric collage and hand-piecing of vintage Japanese cottons. In January 2006, her work was juried into a unique SAQA venue in New York City. In August 2009, she was the featured artist at Gallery Blu in Harrisburg, PA. Not unlike a retrospective: more than 25 pieces by her own hand were exhibited—including quilts, collages, and Japanese sashiko stitchery—selected from more than 25 years of art work.
Quilters’ Express to Japan welcomed visitors to its downtown Manhattan shop beginning in 1991. After 16 years, in August 2005, Susan relocated to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, located just off Rt. 80 in the central part of the state. She opened a quaint shop in historic downtown Lewisburg, The Beckoning Cat, offering a window to Japanese culture in the local community by way of Japanese fabric and Japanese gift items for 6 years. The shop closed in February 2012, but Susan now accepts customers (by appointment), and teaches private classes in her home. Occasionally, she runs quilting retreats in central PA.