White on White III

Inspiration comes from the darndest places. My friend Jenny Lyon pays attention to paper products and that’s where I found the design used here. Who knew that a box of tissues could fire the imagination?

Franki Kohler, White on White 3Even simplified, this design has plenty of detail. I tried new lighting to take this photograph and had some success, but not complete. After many attempts, I put this piece on the floor and had better results. The small white floral design on the fabric shows best at the right edge where the fabric extends beyond the fast2fuse. Metallic-wrapped white thread was used to stitch the floral design. The seed beads in the center of the flowers are #8 pearl finish; outer seed beads are #11 in pearl, clear, white and amber. It measures 5″ x 7″ now and will be trimmed to 4″ x 6″ when I’m ready to attach the address on the opposite side. As with the other postcards in this series, the edge finish will be determined when they are trimmed to size.

This series has been great fun! A 4th design is well on its way. See the first two here and here.

La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum

I had the opportunity to be at the La Conner Museum the day before the closing of Best of the Festival, the exhibit which featured my art quilt Nature’s Fractal. The museum occupies the historic Gaches Mansion which has been lovingly restored and maintained and is quite a treat to walk through. Sybil, the well-informed volunteer staff member on duty, contributed significantly to an enjoyable experience of the museum. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed of this exhibit with the one exception, my work, seen here:

Franki Kohler, Nature's Fractal at La Conner MuseumIn addition to the Best exhibit, the Abstracted exhibition featured work by Fibre Art Network of Western Canada which intrigued me. Pairs of fiber artists interpreted their subject – one in a representational fiber art piece and one in an abstract/non-representational fiber art piece. Photographs without flash were allowed for this exhibit. Here are a few of the works that grabbed my attention, starting with Barcelona Fruit Stand. The representational piece is by Judy Leslie, the abstract is by Robin Fischer.

Barcelona Fruit Stand, Judy Leslie and Robin FischerI thoroughly enjoyed the playful quilting and extravagant embellishments of Robin’s work.

Barcelona Fruit Stand, Robin Fischer, detailIchthyic Biosphere was thought-provoking with Save Our Oceans — Save Our Planet by Judith Parson and Dead Oceans — Dead Planet by Kathleen Buckoski.

Ichthyic Biosphere, Judith Parson and Kathleen BuckoskiBoth pieces of Milkweed were executed by Mariann Parsons because her artist partner was unable to complete her piece. I couldn’t decide which one I liked most!

Mariann Parsons, Milkweed, both piecesFifties Flair by Valerie Wilson and Brandy Maslowski was a very fun spin in the time machine!

Fifties Flair, Valerie Wilson and Brandy MaslowskiThis museum was well worth the visit. I’ll be watching for future exhibits.

Oakleaf Hydrangea II Fini

Deadlines can be a good thing. I’m not keen on short-term deadlines or a constant stream of deadlines, but an occasional deadline can spur completion of a project which might otherwise remain on the design wall for a very long time. It is easy for me — one who loves every step in the process of creating an art quilt — to dither and question and let the possibilities stall moving forward.

The quilt top was completed May 17 (see my posting here) and the final stitches were done September 17. While not lightening speed, this is a fair clip for me. And here it is:

Franki Kohler, Oakleaf Hydrangea II, 28 1/4" x 26 1/4", 2013The rich reds (Ghana wax batik) and the gold/copper paint have me thinking of autumn in the garden. The painted linen top is the grass rustling in the breeze. The tomato slices are outline and echo quilted with Superior #100 Kimono silk thread. Stitching all the detail is worth the effort to have the image pop. I couldn’t resist adding a few seeds here and there. I considered a green glass bead but the glitz they would have introduced would have taken away from the big story here, the oakleaf hydrangea. A more discreet seed was necessary.

Franki Kohler, Oakleaf Hydrangea II, detail 2With the tomato slices on the left and bottom, a repeat of the flowing grasses down the right side seemed a natural.

Franki Kohler, Oakleaf Hydrangea II, detailI felt no need to create another design layer on the gold/copper-painted fabric or the silk screened silk. It seems to me that they tell their story just fine.

See the progression of Oakleaf Hydrangea II here and here.

Now it’s time to meet that entry deadline.

Recovered and Recycled

The chair is back with its new seat cover. I am very pleased with how the light-colored fabric brightens the room. This nubby cotton fabric was used to create a window seat cushion in the bedroom.

Franki Kohler, New Chair coverAnd here is the former seat cover recycled into a pillow. There’s nothing like wool needlepoint work to last a lifetime!

Franki Kohler, Recycled Chair coverThis is my contribution to Off the Wall Friday.

Back to Quilting

While all the sketching has been going on I’ve had an in-progress quilt on my design wall. Very often my projects sit on the wall while I decide on how to proceed with the next step. In this case, the next step was how to quilt the piece. Finally! Inspiration bubbled up to the top.

Franki Kohler, Back to QuiltingThe trunk and leaves have been quilted in a simple outline style. Now I’ve marked the quilt top with a 4-inch grid using a water-soluble pen. I’ve quilted the first diagonal row with a pale wheat colored 100 wt. silk thread. Alternate rows will be quilted with a dark brown 100 wt. silk thread.

Franki Kohler, detailA closer look shows where I’m headed with this: The lighter thread melts into the fabric and from even a short distance becomes a light texture in the background. I hope the dark brown silk will look like a shadow. It’s subtle and that’s what I want.

Another Drawing

I worked parts of several days this week on a page intended to introduce me to collage. Yesterday I was so unhappy with what I had that I tossed it out. I may or may not go back to that lesson and see what I can do with it.

Meanwhile, I sketched and painted another page. There is always something sketch-worthy in the yard and we found a small pine branch on the ground during a walk which supplied great fun. It was interesting to note how gray the wood is, except on the tiny outer branches where they are very pale brown.

07-25 More-drawings

The hosta, even fading and brown on the ends, was a very fun plant to sketch and paint. I achieved the layers of green by letting each color dry and then going back to apply the next color. The particular variety here has the yummy creamy-color edges.

The Gaillardia is a new plant in my garden this year. It is so cheerful! The leaves are so svelte and graceful. I sketched a top view of the Gaillardia with the stabilo pencil. I really like using it. Once the sketch was complete I used a watercolor brush with clear water to ‘shade’ the sketch.

And I could barely believe my eyes when I looked at the new pine cone developing and realized how purple it is. This class continues to be a great lesson in looking closely at things and drawing what is there, not what I think is there.

More to come.

This is shared as an Off The Wall Friday posting. I love being inspired by what other artists are doing!

Sketch/Watercolor with Jane

I completely enjoyed the class I took with Jane LaFazio in early 2012 — Sketching & Watercolor, Journal Style — and regret that I haven’t made use of my new skills beyond the class. So I decided to get back into a class with Jane and take it to a new level. I’ve never done much in a mixed media style so her class Sketching and Watercolor in a Mixed Media Journal was the answer.

The class is online — so handy for getting things done on your schedule, not the instructor’s. And Jane is a fabulous teacher! She’s so thorough with explanations, illustrations and feedback that even I can make progress.

Lesson 1: Something from Nature. We were instructed to select something relatively complex and interesting to us. We’ll be sketching different parts and different views to fill a page. We’re then encouraged to create some stylized images based on the realistic ones we’ve already done.

Franki Kohler, Something from Nature

I’ve already learned a lot. For instance, the first thing I sketched was the ‘April in Paris’ sweet pea at the top of the page. I love the plant, but as a subject for this class it was a bad choice. By the time I had the sketch done — really just a couple minute’s time — the buds were sagging. I didn’t notice that at first, so erased and sketched again. Jane is steadfast about sketching from life, not photographs. When I reviewed the adjustments again I realized that the buds were in yet another spot — that’s when I realized what was happening. With that, I moved on to the watercolor stage.

Then I went out and found 2 other items that would work for the lesson. I really like the Red Bud with its striking colors, large leaves and the seed pods. I’ve probably attempted too much in this first sketch and will need to go back to selecting smaller portions of the Red Bud for additional work from new angles.

Jane liked the style and tone of my page — she’s always so positive! But I needed to go back and get more pigment in the paint for those green leaves. I also took a close look at one of the pods and added it to the page. It was interesting to see how much yellow-green there was on a pod that initially read as red violet.

Franki Kohler, Lesson 1 page done

I also have a nice piece of eucalyptus that I’m eager to sketch and watercolor.

Circle design — deconstructed

One of the tricky things about stitching multiple designs when one has to rehoop is alignment. I tried that with the square design and was unhappy with the results. So I decided to think outside the square and do some deconstruction of the design.

Franki Kohler, Cirlce design

I think this has real possibility.

Santa Fe is Serious About Art

Yes, indeed, there is gallery after gallery on Canyon Road, but there is art and inspiration that everyone can enjoy on just about every street you drive or walk down. Here are some final shots I found inspiring.

Meet “MAThilda,” the first Art-o-mat installed in  New Mexico. You can find it ‘. . .one block south of Santa Fe’s historic Plaza, across from La Fonda Hotel. Put in $5.00, pull the knob, and ker-plunk. . . You’re an Art Collector!’ What a great color and a great use for an old cigarette machine.

Franki Kohler, Art-o-matAcross from the Post Office this bull’s head is put into action with the wind.

Franki Kohler, Nodding Bull 2

Franki Kohler, Nodding Bull 1

Local stones create a fence.

Franki Kohler, Fence of stone

Branches create a fence.


A few final doors I couldn’t resist, like this substantial, secure example which welcomes you with a string of local chilis called a ristra.


This gate isn’t keeping anyone out. It’s just here to enjoy!


I didn’t see very many red doors. The follow-through on the color scheme was very fun.


I love the door-within-a-door or gate.


No explanation needed here. . .


or here.


I loved the way this entry begged you to come on in.04-30-Door-7

This last one looks rather plain


until you get up close to see the charming hardware.


From beginning to end, Santa Fe was a real treat. You can read about some of the other things I did while there here and here.


Appreciating architectural details in Santa Fe can become a full-time occupation. My eye is always drawn to doors. The first two are on the front of the same house.

Franki Kohler, Door 1

Franki Kohler, Door 2

This wall and door provide privacy. When the greenery fills out in a few weeks the house will be completely obscured under its shade. I find the sunflower on blue tile very charming. There is a door knocker mid second row. I wonder if it really alerts the household.

Franki Kohler, Door 4

Complete blue.

Franki Kohler, Door 3

More blue — less security.

Franki Kohler, Door 6

Nothing seems quite straight here. But the combination, including the crooked mail boxes, is so charming.

Franki Kohler, Door 5

At first glance, this design may seem haphazard but I think it was carefully thought out. I particularly like the use of simple natural elements to create texture and privacy.

Reorganizing the Stash

Last week I did some printing and painting with my friend Denise. When I saw her fabric stash it was like a slap on the side of the head. Today I’ve begun the reorganization of my stash . . . top shelf done!

Franki Kohler, What a difference!

As I’m going through the stacks I’m weeding out the fabrics I won’t be using anymore and I’ve begun selecting fabrics for the next project. Based on the results with shelf one and the condition of shelf two, it’s clear how much easier the selection process will be in the future. Thank you Denise!

How do you organize your supplies?

Put Your Best Foot Forward Open!

The first Nor CA/Nor NV regional exhibit featuring art quilts of SAQA artists opened earlier this week. Creative Framing & Gallery is hosting this exciting event. See more details about the artist receptions and location under “Exhibitions of My Work” to the right.

Read the nice article that Sumiko Saulson published in the San Francisco Examiner Art Scene this week.

44 art quilts — 26 artists! Two of mine were juried in:

Franki Kohler, Broken Ginkgos II, 12" x 12", 2012, For Sale

Franki Kohler, Broken Ginkgos III, 12" x 12", 2012, For Sale

I hope you’ll stop by to see the exhibit. This post is now linked to Off The Wall Friday.

San Francisco Garden and Flower Show

When I attended the 2011 SF Garden and Flower Show I fell in love with the dovecote that Succulent Gardens had on display. I was inspired to plant a few panels of succulents for myself. You can read about that trip and the subsequent planting here.

I attended the annual event yesterday and was in complete awe of what Robin Stockwell, owner of Succulent Gardens, and his crew have created for this year’s show.

Franki Kohler, Succulent Globe3

The Globe: Succulent Gardens Make the World Go Around is now in the Guinness World Records book.  Robin designed the project and had the frame fabricated for it. The globe came in 8 sections which took the crew 200 hours and 30,000 cuttings to plant. The sections were then trucked to the exhibit hall and assembled on the floor. The globe spins slowly so you can stand in one place with your jaw dropped and watch the world go by. Here’s a close-up with the continent of South America coming into view.

Franki Kohler, Succulent GlobeAnother close up.

Franki Kohler, Succulent Globe2

Read about the entire process here. Thank goodness I just planted another 3 panels of succulents that will be installed this week and this project is not something I would aspire to do!

Wearin’ the Green

My Sunday morning ritual finds me at the local farmer’s market. I do my part to give my greens to those who grow the greens I eat. It only seems right. Today there were bonuses everywhere I looked. For instance, this pup wearin’ the green


A stroll through the stands reveals that just about everyone and everything was prepared for the day.









On the way back to the car, oops — a defiant one.


It is a beautiful day to be out, no matter what color you wear. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Put Your Best Foot Forward – A must-see exhibit!

Put Your Best Foot Forward will open April 1 featuring foot-square works from 26 artists of the Northern CA-Northern NV Region of SAQA. This is not just ‘another exhibit’ my friends. This is the first exhibit for the SAQA region I have been a member of since 2005!  And it will feature some of the best art this region has to offer in an 12″-square format. I’m quite excited to see the 44 works that will be on display from April 1 – May 30 at Creative Framing & Gallery in Oakland.

Here are a few of the art quilts that you will have to see in person to fully appreciate:


Escence by Leslie Carabas


Global Warming by Lin Schiffner

Miller_Denise_Study in BlueSmStudy in Blue by Denise Oyama Miller

Opening Reception:  April 13, 6 – 9 p.m.

Closing Reception:    May 25, 6 – 9 p.m.

Mark your calendar now so you don’t miss seeing this wonderful exhibit.

SAQA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications.

Surface Design on Textiles with Lonni

I’ve just returned from Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove where I took a class with Lonni Rossi through Empty Spools Seminars. Lonni has been designing fabric collections (5 or more a year) for Andover Fabrics for 12 years and she shared her techniques for creating designs on textiles using Setacolor paints, silk screens, stencils and a variety of hand-made and found objects.

I have been using Setacolor transparent paints by pēbēo for many years to create my sun prints. Lonni introduced me to the opaque and metallic paints as well as thickener and discharge paste. Setacolor paints are water based, non-toxic and clean up easily with water. They are permanently set with a hot iron.

Lonni and the 22 students there brought a variety of tools which we shared with each other freely. I couldn’t resist using Anne’s rope stamp. She made this by securing the rope to a piece of wood with double-stick tape and painting the entire surface with house paint.


Here is the discharge paste stamped onto some hand-dyed fabric.


When the fabric is dry, the paste completely disappears. Then it is ironed with a hot iron. At home I soaked the fabric in a vinegar-water solution for 15 minutes, then washed it in the washing machine. And here is the final fabric.


I didn’t get a picture of this piece during the ironing step but here is one of Anne ironing her fabric — the design appears as if by magic!


This piece became the first in what is now called my radiator series. I screened the background dots and stamped with Anne’s rope stamp, then I placed it on a working radiator. Not only did the fabric dry quickly but I got a stunning striped fabric in both directions! The deep blue vertical lines are a result of direct contact with the hot radiator tops; the three softer horizontal lines of color are a result of the color in the middle of the fabric moving to create the darker vertical lines.


I liked the effect so much that I created several half-yard pieces of fabric using the same drying method.


My friend Suzanna was creating a staggering amount of fabric for a project she’ll be working on very soon.


She brought some wonderful stamps and other tools. I borrowed her rubber band-wrapped rolling-pin to transform a lovely green linen:


I used copper-colored transparent paint to stamp the entire surface. To achieve a lighter shade of the transparent paint, simply thin with water. To use the thinned paint for stamping, add thickener. After drying I used opaque green, then blue paint to create larger striped areas.

One of our learning exercises involved painting a half-yard of fabric, tearing it in half and painting a ‘wash’ over one piece. The wash is made by diluting transparent paint 50/50 with water. Here is Nancy’s stunning tree fabric:


And here are Denise and Nancy sharing a laugh.


A trip to Pacific Grove always includes a visit to see what new things Pat Riley has. Here I am with Pat and my sister, Christy. I’m wearing a jean jacket I bought several years ago — it still looks brand new.


Next up:  News about exciting improvements being made at Asilomar Conference Center!

Wordless Wednesday


Sunset Over San Francisco