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?

Olive Hyde Gallery Exhibit

Seven of my pieces have been accepted for the 46th Annual Textile Exhibition at the Olive Hyde Gallery in Fremont, California. I’ve had my work at this gallery in the past, but not with so few artists — six artists have work in this exhibit.

My five Sunflower Scrap pieces, Woodwardia Wonder and Oakleaf Hydrangea II will be there.

OakleafHydrangea-II_FullHere are the particulars:

46th Annual Textile Exhibition

March 28 – April 27, 2014

Olive Hyde Gallery

123 Washington Blvd., Fremont, CA

Opening Artist Reception: Friday, March 28, 7 – 9 p.m.

Cyanotype Experiment

Blue Prints on Fabric, my source for fabrics treated for creating prints, has a new product. Hand-dyed cotton fabrics — available in medium pink, turquoise blue, bright orange, chartreuse green and medium yellow — are then treated with cyanotype solution. These fabrics provide a new twist on the classic blue and white of the historical cyanotype printing process.

I recently received a yard of medium yellow fabric, tore off a piece about the size of a fat quarter and printed using California Poppies.

Franki Kohler, Experiment with cyanotypeThe area protected from u.v. light remains the color of the dyed cotton while the area not protected obtains a unique color as the cyanotype chemistry turns blue but also reacts with the base dye color. From this photograph it may be difficult to discern the subtle change in the background color from strictly blue to the blue-green I see in my studio. Evidence of that is revealed on portions of the stems where the stems were not making complete contact with the fabric.

In the past I have used primarily flat plant segments such as leaves or dried flowers to create prints. Using these flat sources has meant that complete contact with the fabric was much easier to achieve. I’m not entirely unhappy with the varied level of contact from these fresh-cut California poppies though. In fact, I rather like the variety of color that this print created.

A word of caution about using fresh specimens: Pinning the fleshy specimen to the fabric means you pierce the skin and release some of the fluid from the plant. Notice the far left flower stem and little ‘blob’ 3 inches below the bloom. That is where the pin released liquid from the stem and the chemical began to run. I was lucky to have only one such blob. If there had been many such leaks I probably wouldn’t consider using this print. However, with one small one like this I am comfortable considering it for a future project.

Large Quilting Designs

The first stage of quilting on Sunflower Scrap VI is done. Here the fabric is still moist from the spritz I gave it to eliminate the blue marking pen guidelines. The moisture makes the fabric appear to be slightly darker than it actually is.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower Scrap VI Initial quiltingI will let the quilt dry on my design wall. If any of the blue marking lines reappear — they may just do that in areas where I marked a bit heavily or changed the design — I’ll just spritz and let dry until they stop appearing.

Stitching the large, sweeping vine and leaf designs was quite a challenge. I had to stop, shift fabric and restart quite often to move the design across the top. Doing that and keeping the lines smooth was not always successful so I did my share of taking the quilting out. Let’s face it, there is simply no wiggle room when using a navy-blue thread on light-blue fabric. So, in spite of the light amount of design that appears here, the stitching took 2 days to complete.

The next step will be to block the piece. The eleven sunflowers are stitched twice to make them more bold that the leaves and vines. That extra stitching has created a bit of puckering. Though it isn’t dramatic, I don’t want to run into any pucker problems when I begin the next phase of quilting. Blocking at this stage will ensure that I can focus on the quilting design and not how to ease in bulges.

I’m happy with where I am on this project. I limber up the peach-colored thread next! Stay tuned.

Sunflower Scrap VI Progress

Once I’ve made design decisions and have the large elements marked, I have a sense of accomplishment. Of course, there is accomplishment in getting that far, but actually the work has just begun. So here I am making some progress on quilting the sunflowers and vines.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower Scrap VI Progress

When the large designs have been quilted, I will change to a peach-colored thread to quilt around those shapes. That quilting will all be done without any marking ahead. I especially like that kind of quilting because I’m free to change directions, shapes and sizes as I stitch. I can focus on what is happening in the moment and simply enjoy the process. I should be at that stage later today.

Sunflowers Under Construction

I so thoroughly enjoyed the series of foot-square sunflower quilts begun in 2012 that you can imagine my delight in learning that the common sunflower is native to California. I’ve launched into a new piece featuring the sunflower but this one will be much larger — I’m envisioning at least 5′ x 2′. I enjoy working in this vertical configuration and this size will allow me more experimentation with design and quilting flourish.

I’ve chosen a lovely blue batik as background with a peach batik to back the sunflower scraps. The application of fabrics is done by hand applique. Even though batik fabrics are more difficult to needle, I like this aesthetic better than the machine option.

Franki Kohler, Sunflower

I tried piecing on the first sunflower scrap piece and just didn’t like the interruption of the seam lines. With hand applique I have an uninterrupted background that will allow my quilting design to flow more easily.

After fusing freezer-wrap paper to the back of the scrap areas, I’m using a blue water-soluble pen to mark the large quilting designs that will be stitched in navy-blue thread. I’ve been using freezer wrap for so many years and in so many ways that I cannot imagine life without it! It’s simply the perfect tool to stabilize this large area while I mark it. Only these large designs will be marked. When I’m done quilting these designs, the top will be stabilized and I can relax into free-motion quilting smaller designs that will fill the entire top. There will be thread color changes and beads. Stay tuned!

See the rest of the foot-square sunflower scrap pieces — all part of my Native California Plant series — here, here, here and here.

Nature’s Fractal Added to Del Thomas Collection

I’m thrilled to announce that Nature’s Fractal has become part of the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection (TCQC).

Nature's Fractal, 39" x 32 1/4", 2009, Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection

Del Thomas has collected over 250 art quilts since 1985. In addition to enjoying them in her home, she shares curated groups of her collection and promotes the art quilt through exhibits. It’s wonderful to know that my work will be cared for and act as ambassador for promoting the art I enjoy making.

And speaking of exhibits, Nature’s Fractal will be one of 48 quilts from the TCQC collection on exhibit at the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange from July 3 through September 28.

Read about why Del collects art quilts and her most recent exhibit at the Visions Art Museum here.

Consilience of Art & Science Reception

I attended the opening reception for the Consilience of Art & Science exhibit at the Pence Gallery in Davis on Friday, January 10. Davis is home to a large University of CA campus and a thriving art community, so openings during Art Walk are vibrant and fun.

This exhibit is a partnership between the gallery and the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. The jurors are both artists: Chris Daubert is a sculptor/installation artist and Professor of Art at Sacramento City College; Anna Davidson teaches at UC Davis in the Art/Science Fusion Program and is a PhD candidate in Plant Science. Both were on hand to share their thoughts about the pieces selected for the exhibit.

Franki Kohler, Pence Gallery openingAll mediums were accepted for this art exhibit. The large installation below presents the text of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species printed by hand on what appeared to be hand-made paper, although I found it hard to confirm the actual words.

Franki Kohler, Pence Gallery 2

This is a single sheet of folded paper.

Franki Kohler, Pence Gallery, folded paperMy piece, Woodwardia Wonder, is the only piece constructed of fabric in the exhibit. A nice surprise! The Woodwardia fern is one example of the quasi-self-similar fractal as defined by mathematicians. Leaves repeat – though not exactly – in ever-smaller forms.

Franki Kohler, Pence Gallery, Woodwardia WonderThis piece is part of a series which focuses on native California plants.

The exhibit will be up through February 28, 2014. Additional exhibits at the gallery include Judy Neal: Rhythm of Color, through January 26, and Mad Housewife, paintings of Leslie DePratt through February 16. See more details in the right column or through link for Pence Gallery above.