Hand of the Artist

I was at Art Quilt Tahoe last week taking a class with Lorie McCown. Lorie is a fiber artist and a painter so she brings a lot to the table. She is keen on creating work that reveals the hand of the artist. Her work is created by layering fabric which is held together with some machine stitches, but primarily hand stitches. She and I share an interest in how we create the quilt line in our work — I felt there was something to learn from Lorie.

Right away I was out of my comfort zone. Lorie uses a scissors for some cutting work but never a rotary cutter and mat and usually she snips and tears fabric. So, okay, I’m there to learn, so I dove in, snipping and tearing fabric and placing it on a background. Then I caved a bit, placed tulle on top of the 2 layers of fabric, batting and backing, and quilted the entire surface. This provided a nice flat surface to begin layering a design.

Here is where I dove into my box of threads: embroidery floss, yarn, hand-dyed collections from Oliver Twists and more. I was ready for the comfort of hand work. I started by couching down some hand-dyed ribbon, then moved on to other designs, working back and forth between hand stitching and hand-cutting leaves that I stitched onto the surface by hand. Lorie shared her method for leaf construction — it creates a leaf with real dimension.

Leaf detailI got to a certain point and knew that I had gone as far as I could: the next step needed beads and I didn’t have any with me. I was so in the moment that I completely forgot to take progressive photographs of the process. Here is the completed piece (Click on the image for a larger view):

Hand of the ArtistHand of the Artist measures 14 3/4″ x 15 3/4″. The list of materials is very long for this small piece: commercial and hand-dyed cotton, hand-dyed and silk-screened silk, hand-painted cheese cloth, tulle; commercial cotton embroidery thread, hand-dyed cotton embroidery thread, yarn; beads.

The bead leaves are heavy and thick and getting them to remain where I stitched them turned into quite a puzzle. I stitched several on using what I always use for beads: size D nymo thread. I didn’t like the thread showing and it allowed the beads to twirl. Off they came. I had to use a method that would keep them secure, no matter the orientation I placed them in. Aha! I said. Embroidery stitches. This allowed me to use some of Els van Baarle‘s hand-dyed embroidery thread (She was teaching at AQT and I bought several hanks of her thread.).

Els van Baarle embroidery-threadI used 2 strands of thread and a small embroidery needle. I came up through the hole in the bead, took a stitch to the right of the base, catching the top 2 layers of material and batting, coming up an equal distance to the other side of the base, then down through the hole to the back. Needle back up through the hole again, I created a double Colonial Knot (I stacked 2 Colonial Knot stitches on top of one another to create the depth I needed using a light-weight embroidery thread.) and tied it off on the back. I prefer the Colonial Knot to the French Knot because the Colonial Knot will stay upright and stationary wherever it is stitched — no falling over on its side like the French Knot. I first tried a single Colonial Knot but when I pulled the thread snug to the back of the quilt the knot slid through the hole — a double knot was necessary.

Hand of the Artist, detailThe leaf beads look as though they are wearing a necklace. Kind of charming. Most important, though, is that the stitches are intentional, serve their purpose and look good. Success!

This post is linked to Off the Wall Friday. Check out what other fiber artists are up to there.




Arts Guild of Sonoma 2014 Invitational

I’m the lucky recipient of an opportunity to hang a piece of my art work at the 2014 Arts Guild of Sonoma December Invitational! This will be the second year I’ve received such an invitation thanks to Carol Larson, my friend and member of the Guild. You can see a portion of last years’ exhibit here.

Sunflower Scrap I will be part of a Salon-style installation in the front gallery.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower Scrap I, 12" x 12", 2012, For SaleArts Guild of Sonoma

140 E. Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

Open Wed-Mon, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Artist Reception: Friday, December 5th, 6 – 8 p.m.

I hope to see you there!




1000 Quilt Inspirations Update

In early March I learned that my work will be a part of 1000 Quilt Inspirations, edited by Sandra Sider and published by Quatro Publishing Group USA.

1000 Quilt Inspirations, Book Cover The book is scheduled for release February 2015. Part of the publisher’s teaser reads:

As one of the core, traditional crafts, quilting is enjoyed by countless enthusiasts around the world – and its popularity is only growing. This collection of one thousand quilt details builds upon this interest, showcasing some of today’s most innovative and beautiful work.

I have no idea which work or works I submitted will appear in the book so I’ll be interested to receive a copy next year.

SAQA Auction 2014

Each year Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) holds an on-line auction as a fund-raiser. Members of SAQA donate a 12″ x 12″ art quilt for the auction and purchases help to increase the recognition of art quilts and the artists who make them while supporting SAQA’s exhibitions, publications, and education outreach. Thanks to donors and bidders in 2013, the Benefit Auction raised over $65,000!

This year I was the very lucky bidder on two quilts. I’m so excited to share them here.

Here is Sing Praise by Suzanne Kistler. Click on image for a larger view.

Sing Praise by Suzanne Kistler, 12" x 12"Be sure to click on the image for that larger view where you’ll be able to see the details! Frankly, the image on the auction page didn’t reveal the wonderful scattering of beads on this art quilt. What a nice surprise it was to see this piece up close!

Sing Praise, detail 2This art quilt has a machine-pieced background, hand appliqued/hand embroidered bird. The beak, feet, outline and contour of the wing are all hand embroidered. A very nice touch. It is machine quilted and hand beaded.

Sing Praise,detail 1The back was clearly thought out and coordinates nicely with the design on the front. Notice how the quilting of the bird pops out.

Sing Praise, backAnd the label makes it easy to get in touch with the artist — very appreciated.

Sing Praise, LabelAnd here is Simply, Simply by Heidi Zielinski.

Simplify, Simplify by Heidi ZielinskiHeidi used hand-dyed cotton fabrics, free-motion stitching and beading around the edges to create this mini masterpiece. The back coordinates nicely with the design of the art quilt.

Simplify, Simplify, backAnd, again, a clear label makes it easy to contact the artist.

Simplify,Simplify, labelI couldn’t be more pleased with these two art quilts. They are truly stunning and I feel so fortunate to have been able to purchase them.


Ginkgos in the Round Fini

I have made it a practice not to begin something new until I have completed the current project and most of the time I stick to that habit. I’m very glad that I broke from my routine and created Ginkgos in the Round.  It was a very satisfying project which I think could yield a fun series.

Ginkgos in the Round, 12" x 12", 2014, For SaleIt measures 12″ x 12″. I used a fat quarter of hand-dyed fabric and more than a full spool (164 yards to the spool) of 50-weight silk-finish cotton thread. And yes, I opened the spool for this project and had to go to the store to buy another spool to complete the thread painting.

A  detail

Ginkgos in the Round, detailYou can read about my shaky beginning here.

This posting is linked to Off the Wall Fridays.

Ginkgos in the Round

I’m in the midst of a couple large projects and seem to be moving slowly on them. In the course of working, though, ideas keep crowding my mind. I truly believe that the more one creates, the more ideas come to mind — sometimes, though, it’s a bit overwhelming. One of the ideas I was contemplating called very loudly to me so I decided to listen to myself and take a little detour.

I haven’t designed with ginkgo leaves in a while, but the images seem to float in my subconscious all the time. I was thinking about a class I took with Libby Lehman many years ago. One of her exercises was to sketch simple shapes on paper — rectangle, square, triangle, for instance — then create designs within the shapes. I thought it would be fun to use a circle and fill it with ginkgo leaves.

I chose a hand-dyed fabric and started drawing. The blue lines (a little difficult to see here) will disappear with a spritz of water when I’m done thread painting. I like the variation in colors of the fabric and decided to create a bold contrast with a 50-weight, solid gray-blue thread.

Ginkgos marked, thread selectedI cleaned and oiled my machine and replaced the needle. Yes,  I make a habit of doing this after 8 hours of stitching and/or at the start of a new project. After all, I expect my hard-working machine to be there for me and I feel that this is my way of meeting it half way. Next I did a test drive of the design on a fabric sandwich with the same weight fabric and batting I’m using for my project. And, boy, was I ever glad I had! I’ve been using 60- and 100-weight threads recently and the settings on my machine didn’t work for the 50-weight thread at all. Whew. Bullet dodged.

I stitched 2 leaves, tied them off and began on the third leaf. Almost immediately I felt a drag on the machine and was having difficulty moving the fabric sandwich. Naturally, I stopped to check the bobbin. Here’s what I found:

Stitched to the SliderAs my sister says, there are those who have and those who will. Clearly it was time that I stitched my Supreme Slider into a project. And now that the experience is behind me I view it as a simple reminder to pay attention. It is so easy to become focused on moving ahead and forget that what’s going on under the needle right now is worth your full attention.

With the Slider removed and the tiny leaf stitched, it’s time to get back into the rhythm of thread painting.

Slider removed, small leaf stitched

Black Oak II Done

Black Oak II, the companion piece to Black Oak which is in progress, is done. Click on the image for a larger view.

Black Oak III tend to quilt every inch of background on my art quilts, but for this 12″ x 12″ art quilt, that didn’t feel like the way to proceed. I kept hearing ‘simplicity’ in my head so that was the approach taken. I like the thread sketching on the appliqued leaves and the simplicity of repeating those shapes as the quilted background. I also enjoy the ‘surprise’ of finding the quilted leaves in the darker fabric shapes. And with less quilting, it’s easier to appreciate the subtle design created in the sunprinting process (the golden fabric is left from the sunprint images I did for Black Oak).

This was a very satisfying experience and has definitely informed how I will approach the larger companion piece.

This is being shared at Off the Wall Friday — click on over there and check out what’s happening.

Black Oak

I’m still working on my Native California plant series. I completed the top for Black Oak which will finish about 26″ x 60″. I really enjoyed putting this one together using some of my ‘radiator series’ fabric created in Lonni Rossi’s surface design class at Asilomar, some rust fabric experiments and some sun prints. Once I pulled out a stack of likely-suspect fabrics to use, things just seemed to jump together for me — or did they? I loved the fabrics but something was wrong. Here’s where I pick up the camera and start taking pictures. It’s amazing what one sees on the computer that one cannot see on the wall. Click on image for a larger view.

Black Oak rejectThe large piece of rusted fabric on the left jumped out way too much. And the background doesn’t show at all. I took everything down and went shopping for a new background fabric. When I had the new background up the answers became clear. Here’s the final top.

Black Oak finalI’m thinking about how to quilt this piece.

While thinking about the series in general — there will be a minimum 3-5 large pieces —  I decided to expand the series. I’ll be making a foot-square piece as a ‘partner’ to each of the larger pieces using this pillar format. I’ll be using the same fabrics in each pair of quilts but I’ll use different techniques in the smaller ones. I think that the two sizes hung together could be a very interesting exhibit and working out issues in the smaller piece can lead to decisions for the larger pieces.

I’ve constructed the top for the foot-square Black Oak II piece. I’m allowing myself to think about just one section at a time, quilt it, then move on to the next section. Some days I just can’t tackle deciding on the whole top at once. It’s surprising how this one decision has relaxed me, allowing me to focus and just have fun.

Black oak Foot SquareI should have this piece completed very soon so stay tuned.

I’ve promised myself to go back to finishing my Sunflower Scrap VI piece — not done, but not forgotten! — before I turn to quilting the large Black Oak piece.

This posting has been shared at Off the Wall Friday. Click on over and see what’s happening there.

Oakleaf Hydrangea II Accepted

I’m very pleased to share that Oakleaf Hydrangea II has been juried into the 4th Annual International Juried & Judged Show and La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, La Conner, WA. Click on image for larger view.

Oakleaf Hydrangea II, 28 1/4" x 26 1/4", 2013, For Sale

Oakleaf Hydrangea II, 28 1/4″ x 26 1/4″, 2013, For Sale

The exhibit will be on view

October 3-5, 2014
La Conner Maple Hall and the Civic Garden Club
703 South 2nd Street
La Conner, Washington
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Museum is housed in the historic Gaches Mansion, a well-loved and preserved local treasure. Just seeing the mansion is quite a treat! But an international Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival held in it? Do I hear “road trip?”

Broken Ginkgos II Accepted for Pip Squeak

I’m very excited that Broken Ginkgos II has been accepted for the 12th annual international juried art show at Northbrook Public Library.

Broken Ginkgos II, 12"x12", 2012, For Sale

Broken Ginkgos II, 12″x12″, 2012, For Sale

This year’s theme, Pip Squeak, focuses on small works of art — not to exceed 12″ in any direction for 2D works and 9″ for 3D works. The Call states, in part

Pip Squeak is all about big vision in a small package. Big ideas do not always have to be big in stature and this show hopes to prove just that. Art will be judged on the merit of the art and the judge’s evaluation of the artist’s execution. Art can be in any media.

Awards include one purchase prize, 2nd place, 3rd place and Viewer’s Choice.

The exhibit will be

November 14 – December 19, 2014

Northbrook Public Library

1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062

Opening Reception:  November 14, 7:00 p.m.

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy the exhibit.

Quilting Sunflower Scrap VI

There have been unforeseen interruptions that kept me away from quilting this large piece. I last shared progress on it here.

Sometimes a long period away from a particular work can mean that new layers of inspiration have the time to fully develop. In fact, I’ve made a change to the original plan by adding 3 large full sunflowers and 2 large partial sunflowers quilted in navy blue. Click on the image for a larger view.

Back to quiltingI think these larger flowers add a great deal to the design. The background quilting is shaping up nicely.

detailI particularly like the overall peach glow that the thread is adding to this piece. That layer of color allows the large quilted leaves to be center stage.

So, it’s back to quilting!

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Friday. Go on over and take a peek at what these talented people are up to.

Fiber577 and Angelwood Gallery

Two of my pieces have been accepted for two exhibits beginning in June. The first is Fiber577 at the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg, Ohio. This juried and judged exhibit will feature over 75 pieces of fiber art. Cynthia Lockhart will select recipients of the Best in Show, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Awards. I just received images of the postcard and poster for advertising the exhibit. It’s always a pleasant surprise to find that your work is used for getting the word out. They’ve used a detail image of Sunflower Scrap II. Click on images for a larger view.

Fiber577-poster2014And here’s an image of the whole piece.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower Scrap II, 12" x 12", 2012, For SaleSelected works from Fiber577 will be hung at the Angelwood Gallery in Grand Rapids, Ohio, June 19 – July 31. See complete details for these two exhibits in the column to the right, under ‘Exhibitions of my work.’ The second piece in these two exhibits is Woodwardia Wonder.

Franki Kohler, Woodwardia Wonder, 60" x 24", 2013, For SaleI won’t be going to either of these exhibits. If you are in the area and stop by, I hope you’ll get in touch to let me know what you thought of the exhibit(s) and the venue(s). Perrysburg and Grand Rapids are within a few miles of each other so if you miss the weekend in Perrysburg you could easily catch the exhibit at Angelwood Gallery.

Collecting Art

Next to making art, collecting art is something I do as often as my budget will allow. My collection is modest and well-loved. And I don’t have everything hung on walls all the time. I enjoy moving art into new locations, tucking a few away to find a new home in the future. Rotating art in my house usually coincides with fresh paint and moving furniture into new locations (my favorite way to transform my surroundings with minimal expense).

Accent walls in the entry, living and dining rooms were just given a coat of Tangerine Fizz and presented a great opportunity to look at my collection with a fresh eye.

Here is a new gallery wall of 9 foot-square art quilts I have collected. Click on image for a larger view.

Collection 1The artists who created these pieces are (top row, L – R) Karen Schulz, S.P.P. 10, 2012, Janice McKeehan, Elemental Surprise, 2011, Kathie Briggs, (middle row, L – R) Lisa Flowers Ross, Starry Forest, 2012, Nneka Kusema Gamble, Dove’s Paradise, 2012, Meta Heemskerk, From Rembrandt to Mondrian, 2013, (bottom row, L – R) Linda Cline, Succulent VI, 2009, Jeanne Marklin, Spring Moons, 2012, Leslie Carabas, 3M, 2009.

In addition to fiber art, these two watercolor paintings by Rita Sklar adorn our living room. Left: Brown Pelican is part of Rita’s Endangered Species series. Right: Pelicans in Flight, a Giclee print.

Collection 2My husband and I are birders and were delighted to discover Rita’s work in a local coffee shop. We have gifted each other with several of her works in the last decade.

I hope you also noticed the diminutive works on the mantel. Those are fabric postcards made by artist members of Postmark’d Art, a group that I have moderated since its formation in 2004. These particular postcards were inspired by van Gogh paintings. They deserve a closer look. Here is Sarah Ann Smith‘s take on Willows at Sunset

Sara Ann Smith, Willows at Sunset

and Debra Svedberg‘s homage to Les Alyscamps. Click on image for a larger view.

Debra Svedberg, Les Alyscamps 1888

Six postcards are propped up on a small easel and I rotate them often. You can see all of this incredible collection here and here.

When I moved 3M by Leslie Carabas to the living room I hung Breezy by Patricia Porter in its place.

Collection 3Leslie’s framed fabric postcard works very nicely with Pat’s colorful foot-square piece.

I’m done painting for now and thoroughly enjoying the new look in many rooms.



Progress on Sunflower VI

Progress, though slow, is being made. I decided to add a few large motifs in the background fill quilting. Here is the top portion of the quilt where I’ve added a leaf and berry spray (click on the image for a larger view):

Sunflower VI progressI have a variety of designs and design sizes with the dominant navy quilting and I want to create a similar variety with the background fill quilting. I think it’s just plain more interesting. I’ve added leaf and berry spray designs to the bottom portion of the quilt as well. The question I’m debating now is whether to add some sunflowers as part of the background quilting. I have 11 sunflowers in navy; the centers of those will be beaded. It might be interesting to have 2 peach-color sunflowers — without beaded centers — as part of the background quilting. They could add more interest without taking away from the featured sunflowers in navy. Decisions. . . decisions.

Once I make this decision I’ll be able to move forward with the quilting. Stay tuned.

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays. Go check out some very interesting things that were happening this week.

Back to the Sunflower

It’s not usual for me to step away from a large project the way I have with the sunflower scrap piece, but I certainly did. Time to refocus and move this project forward.  Progress may continue in a slow manner, however, because I do have several small projects that are time sensitive and need to be completed soon. But for now, here is where I am on beginning the quilting that will fill the background on Sunflower Scrap VI.

Franki Kohler,

Beginning progress

I am quilting with a 60-weight cotton that coordinates with the peach fabric surrounding the sunflower fabric scraps. I’m pleased with the effect this contrast is having — standing several feet away, you cannot make out the detail of the quilting design but the thread imbues a kind of ‘glow’ to the fabric. As the quilting moves away from the flowers and vines I will switch to a light blue thread of the same weight.

Time to get back at it. You can see the beginnings of this project here.

This posting has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays.


1000 Quilt Inspirations

I’ll be at least one in a thousand — that’s the news from Quarry Books, the publisher releasing 1000 Quilt Inspirations, a new book to be released in the near future.  Dr. Sandra Sider, a New York quilt artist and independent curator, will be selecting the winning designs.

The Call for Entries states, in part, that Quarry Books is looking for

innovative interpretations of old favorites as well as original blocks and art quilts designed by you that explore the possibilities of modular design.

I submitted eleven art quilts and I have no idea which one(s) have been selected for the book. They promise more news about the project in April.

Even better news: the deadline for entering this Call for Entries has been extended to March 31, 2014. See the official Call with all the details you need here.

Getting It Right

Not always an easy thing, this ‘getting it right.’ Sometimes it takes days, weeks, even years. I’m just speaking for myself, of course, though the thought of such masters as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, van Gogh — and more — leap to mind when it comes to revisiting earlier works for a bit of tweaking. Some of those masters went back to pieces many times and never were completely satisfied with the results. My resurrection story has a happy ending.

Three years ago this month I completed Orange, a challenge two friends and I decided upon.

Franki Kohler, OrangeAside from the word ‘orange’, the only other stipulation for the art quilt was the size. From the start, I conceived this piece as having a large tree with three persimmons — a sort of banner — at the top. Unfortunately, I added the 6-inch banner on top of a piece that was already the stipulated overall size! So, this piece has been fraught with problems from the start. I didn’t like the proportion of the completed piece. Even more to the point:  I was not happy with the execution of the persimmons. But, after all, it was done. And on time. And it hung in an exhibit before the fabric had cooled from being stitched. Done and hung, now there’s a nice phrase for you.

When it came home from the exhibit it was rolled up and stored away. Every time I’ve come across it since, I’ve been annoyed with it.

This week I decided to revisit Orange to see if I couldn’t salvage it. The answer came to me very much like having a V-8 moment — you know, that big self-inflicted smack to the forehead. What if I removed the persimmons?

Franki Kohler, Orange revisitedIt wasn’t the huge time invested initially anticipated. Just a couple more inches and the edge will be lifted and I can cut off the persimmons. The binding is stitched back on and I have a new art quilt — Orange Redux.

Franki Kohler, Orange Redux, 31 1/2" x 20", 2014, For SaleI’ve always liked this tree. I think it stands alone quite nicely and I’ll be happy to bring it out of hiding.

Another Notebook

My calendar said “Continue Sunflower piece” but my time was used for unexpected things — what most of us call “Life.” When I walked back into the studio I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to produce quality thread work.

Fortunately, I had supplies for a notebook cover nearby and a very serious urge to complete something. I pulled out a few sun prints and got to work. This notebook cover sports a sunprint of a tomato plant and some hand dyed fabric produced in my only class on the subject (Hand dyeing fabric is one thing I’ll leave others to do.).

Franki Kohler, Notebook 2And here’s the back:

Franki Kohler, Notebook backKeep a couple of those catalogs with gorgeous photographs — they can be just what you’re looking for. I used two pages from a needlepoint catalog to cover the inside covers of the notebook. This is a standard 9 3/4″ x 7 1/2″ composition notebook that I got at my local office supply store.

Franki Kohler, Notebook inside I think this would make a nice notebook to record the 2014 gardening season. What does your garden notebook for this year look like?