T is for Toile

Postmark’d Art is wrapping up a trade inspired by the alphabet.  It has taken us four rounds of trading to get through the alphabet — and what fun it has been!

For this round I selected the letter T. Along with a love of gardening, I thoroughly enjoy spotting birds in the backyard. We have feeders, nesting boxes and water features in our yard to attract them. And I have a collection of embroidery bird designs created in the toile manner. I knew you’d follow all this. Keeping toile fabrics used for home decorating in mind, I decided to stay simple and graphic with my design. I used seven different bird designs and the word toile. Hover your cursor over the image for more information. Click on an image for a larger view.


Rnd16-Toile-Nuthatch Rnd16-Toile-Downy-Woodpecker Rnd16-Toile-Chickadee Rnd16-Toile-BluebirdRnd16-Toile-CardinalRnd16-Toile-Scarlet-Tanager
Here is the fabric I used for the address side:


I had the letter N for inspiration in the last round.


See what I did for the first two rounds of alphabet trading here and here.

Goodies From Houston Deux

I couldn’t wait to share these! Here are more handkerchiefs I found in Houston. This one is cotton, measures 11 3/4″ square and is in pristine condition.


Another cotton one in the same colors — this one measures 15″ square. There is a bit of staining, but I don’t mind that. The edge is hand rolled. I love the secondary design in white: at the border it is a mirror image of the bells on the edge; in the middle the design is the branches and leaves that the bells ‘hang’ from.


This one is pure silk with a label carefully stitched on the back which says: Pure Silk, Registered Pattern, Japan. It measures 16 3/4″ x 17″. It also has a hand-rolled edge.




When the clerk found this one in my stack she stopped, held it high and called to the owner, “It’s leaving!” The owner came over and looked at my stack of hankies. She was clearly sorry to see this one go. When she saw the first two hankies above she said, “I see it’s going to a good home. Enjoy it dear.” And I will.

Goodies From Houston

Distracted by fast-moving life events, I am just now getting around to integrating the few treasures I purchased in Houston at the Quilt Festival. For years I have prowled antique shops, thrift stores and kept my eye peeled at venues like Houston where antique dealers appear. One of the dealers had a sizeable stash of exquisite handkerchiefs and I brought a few home with me.

This beauty is 14 1/2″ square — a great size for those days when allergies are acting up!


Printed mid-20th century, this type of handkerchief is popular among collectors. The designer’s name — Pat Prichard — is printed on the lower left-hand corner.


I thoroughly enjoy the overall design depicting 18th century dining ware but I’m even more drawn to the familiar saying in the top right corner:


Thinking this sounded like a quote of Ben Franklin, I searched for the details on this statement. And I’m glad I did. (Get the full story here.) This is actually a proverb that predates Franklin by quite a while. It refers back to mediaeval falconry where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was a valuable asset and certainly worth more than two in the bush (the prey). The first citation of the expression in print in its currently used form is found in John Ray’s A Hand-book of Proverbs, 1670, in which he lists it as: A [also ‘one’] bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The English borrowed the idea as a pub name in the Middle Ages and many pubs with that name survive today.


Americans liked the proverb so well they named a town in Pennsylvania for it. You can learn a lot from a hanky! You can see my interpretation of the saying here.

My grandmother spent many hours tatting, so I am always drawn to hankies with tatting edges. Here is an 11 1/2″ square beauty with a single design on the edge.


And here is another hanky the same size but with a more elaborate tatting design:


I found a few other hankies that I’ll share in the future.

Unconditional Love

Can anyone have too much? I think not! Mendelssohn has once again inspired a design in fabric — this time for the postcard trade I’m doing with the Typography theme group of Postmark’d Art. (I shared two of the postcards I’ve already received from this trade here.)

Here is Mendelssohn digitized — that’s software speak for turning a graphic line — in this case, using a photograph image — into a line of stitching.


Using my digitizer software, I designed the lettering then combined the 2 designs into one on my embroidery machine. Pretty nifty stuff really. August 20, 2000 is the date that he came to live with us.

I looked through my stash of fabric to find something appropriate for the address side of the postcard. I don’t think it gets any better than this!

12-21 Address Fabric

Here is the postcard finished:


A simple line of stitching at the very edge of the postcard is the perfect thing to hold the edge and not distract from the design. The edges were then painted to hide the white fast2fuse filling and create a smooth edge in case the postcard is subjected to machine franking at the post office. (The post office charges 20 cents extra to mail them due to ‘special handling.’ Most often, though, they are put through the same machine as any paper postcard.)

And the address side — here I have blocked out the recipient’s information:

Franki Kohler, Typography, address side

The same photograph inspired the creation of a quilt. You can read about that here.

More From IQF Houston

There were so many incredible quilts at the Houston show! Here are a few more that I especially enjoyed.

Suspicion by Tanya Brown is a diminutive quilt of 11 inches square. Tanya used Tsukineko ink, watercolor and free-motion quilting on cotton fabric for this original design.

Poly Dressler Bech said she played with solar printing techniques and effects to create this quilt.

All My Roads Lead Back to You by Alice Beasley is just plain arresting. The quilt was inspired by a photo of her mother taken ca. 1914. Here she sits on her Papa’s knee, feet dangling off the edge of the quilt.

Downtown by Marion Coleman features a full-sized dress, hat, gloves

and hankie. Photographs remind us of how one dressed to go shopping downtown during the 1940 to 1960 time period.

Susan Carlson used Pippen, her mixed breed dog, as inspiration for this collaged quilt. Susan says that Pippen is satisfied to be “Dixie Dingo, the wild dog of the Americas. She reminds us to be happy with who and where we are.”


Cat Larrea’s My Inner Raven was a real treat. I’m afraid this photo only hints at its splendor.

I’ll share a few more incredible quilts next week. Meanwhile, I’m already making plans to be in Houston for the 2013 show. If you’d like to see earlier quilts I shared, click here.

International Quilt Festival Houston

I’m still a’flutter from my trip to IQF in Houston. Jenny Lyon was my travel partner and we were a perfect combo — she is high energy and kept me on my toes. She started posting about the show before we left Houston. You can see what she had to say about it here.

When was the last time you saw a quilted Yurt? Well here’s the one I saw in Houston.

Inside the Yurt there was a comfortable chair next to the table with lamp completing the cozy ambiance of this fabric art structure. It is no surprise that this incredible structure was juried into the Tactile Architecture exhibit. I think special thanks are due to Norma Klimpke, Board President of the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts for the heroic effort it took to transport it to Houston and to Karey Bresenhan, Founder and Director Emeritus of International Quilt Festival, who made sure it had just the right spot at the exhibit. And, in her own words, here is Linzi Upton’s story behind the Yurt.

The Yurt from the back.

I was a bit dazed after seeing this installation but there was so much more to see. I have long admired Sue Reno‘s artistry and she had two pieces on view. Here is Watt & Shand #9, also part of the Tactile Architecture exhibit:

Sue used Thermofax and digital printing methods alongside traditional patchwork to record the transformation of a historic building in Lancaster, PA. Her art always begs you to come closer and I’m never disappointed.

Columbine is Sue’s entry for In Full Bloom, a juried exhibit celebrating the tradition of floral quiltmaking in memory of Helen Pearce O’Bryant.

Those are cyanotype prints on silk using flowers from Sue’s garden. Every inch of the quilt is heavily stitched. Her work is beautiful and always lays flat.

Columbine was perfectly hung with Noriko Endo’s Cherry Blossoms #8.

Heather Lair‘s Silk Road Treasures was part of the special exhibit O Canada. I loved the colors and the mix of a very modern look with a serene landscape.

A detail.

There were several opportunities to come away with small textile art treasures. I was the lucky bidder on three creations. Frieda Anderson’s Pulpit Ferns was part of the silent auction which benefited IQA.

Lisa Flowers Ross donated Starry Forest for the SAQA auction. Lisa hand dyed her fabrics and used fused applique, hand embroidery and machine quilting to finish this little stunner.

Karen Schulz donated S.P.P. 10 for the SAQA auction. She used hand-dyed fabric to machine piece and quilt this treasure.

I’ll share more of what I saw next time.

Seadragon Up

When we hosted Senol Sak this summer he gifted us with some of his art. I was happy to have oil pastels on hand so that he could create this in my studio. Read about his process here. It has finally been framed and has a home in our guest bathroom.

The simple brushed silver frame contains him without distracting the eye. I think he makes a nice splash with his color and watchful eye.

See more of Senol’s art here.

Zentangle Class

I took a beginning class with Grace Mendez on the art of zentangle. Zentangle is an easy-to-learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. The tools we used to create the drawings include a pencil, a smudging stick, Sakura micron pen 01, and paper tiles which are mould-made, acid-free, 100% cotton, heavy-weight  print-making paper with a vellum surface. The paper is die cut and has a deckle edge. The kit came in a canvas bag so I’m ready to travel with tangles!

Here is the first tile with four designs.

The second tile.

I took this class thinking that it could open my mind to new designs that I could use for quilting. The class was fun and relaxing and I can definitely see the possibilities for translating this into needle and thread work.

Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas are the founders of this registered teaching method for designing one stroke at a time. Learn more about them and their designs here.

SAQA Auction

The annual SAQA on-line auction sold 267 art quilts, raising $54,200 for the organization. If you would like to see all the quilts that were available click here.

Different View III by Mayann Weinberg came home to me yesterday.

I am completely charmed by it. I love the way the muted colors swirl into one another and the care she took to create the detailed thread and bead work. This photograph doesn’t reveal the wonderful surprise I found when I unwrapped it. From the back you can see that four of the circles are cut away so that you actually see through the center portion of the bead and thread work.

And those four cut-away circles are surrounded by beads that are 3-D, actually lifting from the surface of the quilt. You can see the small knots at the end of each row — versus the three circles that have beads securely stitched to the surface.

I feel so lucky to have this wonder piece of art.

Sunflower Scrap III Done

The third one of the Sunflower Scrap series was completed last weekend and hung on Monday in my solo show.

This 12″ x 12″ size is simply wonderful for experimentation. There may be a few more of these in my future.

See the first two of this series here and here.

Forget Me Not Progress

Keeping the nose to the needle is yielding good progress. Here’s a peek at how it’s shaping up.

My friend Sherry Boram said she liked this collaboration. I had not thought of this quilt in quite that way, but she is absolutely right — it’s great to be working with Grandma again.

I’m on track to make the deadline.

Forget Me Not

Goals are good — deadlines can be overwhelming. That’s life. I have a solo exhibit opening October 1st and I set myself the goal of having a significant number of new works completed. It’s crunch time and I have two pieces yet to finish.

I’ve shared some of my grandmother’s fine hand work before and even incorporated her Forget Me Not piece into a quilt top earlier this year (see the top here). This quilt is all about Grandma’s embroidery for me. The viewer will naturally see it first so the goal is to use quilting to enhance the embroidery in a way that truly showcases it, not the quilting stitches.

There are three steps and two design ideas for the quilting. The first two steps of the quilting are outline: one line right at the edge of the embroidery (the so-called ‘in-the-ditch’ style) and then an echo line of that stitching.

Using a silk thread the color of the background fabric, I have stitched so close to the edge of the embroidery that you cannot see it here. That stitching made the embroidered motif absolutely pop — and that ‘pop’ factor will only continue if I achieve my goal. The stitching you see easily is the echo line. Echo quilting is not something I’ve done very much of so it was quite unnerving.

The embroidery section of the quilt measures 20″ x 20 1/2″ and the quilting just this far has been a days’ work — 6 hours. It was tedious but worth it.

Stay tuned for developments.

Studio Tour

When I grow to love someone’s art, I become curious about their inspiration, habits, equipment and their studio. I cannot tell you how moved I was to be standing in the actual apartment where Beethoven lived — several times during the span of 1804-1815 — in Vienna. Heap upon that the fact that his pen and ink well, death mask and a significant portrait of him — one I’ve seen many times in the literature — was there

and (be still my heart!) one of the fortepianos he owned, this one built by Johann Andreas Streicher.

Can we talk about coveting equipment?  In this room, with this incredible instrument, Beethoven composed Symphonies #4, #5 and #6, Leonore Overture #3, his only opera, Fidelio, Piano Concerto #4 and much more! Recalling that experience still brings goosebumps to my skin and a lump in my throat.

I recently shared a guided tour of my studio with Postmark’d Art. If you’d like to take a peek, click on over here. To set the record straight, I am not comparing myself to Beethoven, just citing him as one of my personal examples.

Which artist do you admire? Wouldn’t you like to see his/her studio?

163 Steps to Wow

In the tourism trade my back yard is known as a Destination. Folks save their money and time away from work to visit the beautiful Bay Area of California. I work at not forgetting just how lucky I am to be here. One of the things I like to do is explore like a tourist. Yep, grab the map, a camera, some good walking shoes and GO.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently had an article about staircases worth seeking out that spurred just such action.  Destination: the 16th Avenue steps in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. There are actually quite a few staircases you can climb on 16th Avenue — the one to seek out is at the intersection of 16th & Moraga.

The weather during the summer can be cool and overcast, even foggy. But those conditions cannot dampen the incredible beauty of what awaits. Here are 163 steps that say, “Wow!” from below and above.

This plaque says it all. Can you imagine the fun this committed group of 300+ neighbors had banding together to create such a gift?

Each step reveals a new wonder, a new creature or flower.  I stopped along the climb to snap the segments of stairs. Here is the first set.

And up through the swirling waters

and schools of fish

and starfish, sea turtles, shells and more!

Here flowers begin to intersect with the sea.

And up. . .

and up some more. . .

Not there yet. . .

and the scene moves above the sea and land to the sky

and up we continue. Here van Gogh shows his influence.

And on we go to the final section of stairs.

At the top we turn to look toward Ocean Beach. The fog hides the sand, but it is a spectacular view anyway.

Only by completing the entire climb can you appreciate the rich beauty of each section of the staircase. It was completely dazzling.

What beauty can you find in your neighborhood?

Charming Pots

Last year when I planted the succulent wall with Barb there were a few cuttings left over. I knew immediately that I would plant them in the three completely charming pots that my friend Dale gifted me with several years earlier. Here they are today.

I’ve searched my blog for the posting about the succulent wall and there isn’t one. I was inspired to do it before I was blogging. So, let me digress to fill in the background.

In March of 2011 I attended the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. It’s always fun to see what the new trends are and it’s always inspiring. Upon entering, the first exhibit I saw made my jaw drop. This dovecote by Succulent Gardens of Castroville, CA, is a five-sided structure with four sides planted in succulents designed to tell you about its contents — doves. The fifth side is a screen door which allows you a view of the birds.

After leaving the garden show I was determined to create a small succulent wall of my own and I started planning. I purchased the three frames (20″ square panels with slanted planting niches) and about 2/3 of the cuttings needed from Succulent Gardens; the remaining cuttings came from my small patch of succulents. Here are the cuttings, ready to plant, and the plan in early April 2011.

Here’s Barb, gardener extraordinaire, the cuttings and Taylor, acting as afternoon shift supervisor.

One of the three panels we planted.

The panels remained horizontal with light watering until the roots were secure. In August they were secured to one end of a raised vegetable bed.

And here’s the wall August 31, 2012.

Now you’re up to date.

Back to the O’Hanlon Exhibit

Fellow artist and on-line friend Sharon Benton has temporarily moved from the Seattle area to San Jose for a few months and we are getting to know each other in person — so fun! Sharon was a charter member of Postmark’d Art so we have been chatting on-line and swapping art since 2004. Last week we finally met in person at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and took in the Second International TECHstyle Art Biennial (ITAB). Photography is not permitted so you’ll just have to make the trip. The exhibit will be up through October 14, 2012, so you still have time to see this worthwhile exhibit.

Sharon drove up to Oakland yesterday and we went to the Bay Area Women Artists exhibit at the O’Hanlon Gallery in Mill Valley. I was there earlier this month and shared some of the art with you then, but I was happy for an excuse for a second visit. This time I took a few images of pieces that I particularly liked. Here is Barbara Crow’s acrylic Skara Brae.

Sharon and I agreed that we could each welcome Christine Boone’s Lines #1 into our home. The energy and light of this mixed media work really drew us in and made us want to linger.

Mitsuko Baum created an utterly charming fold-up map of Paris based on a trip taken there in 2002.

And here is the box that Paris is kept safe in.

I shared a full view of Marie Bergstedt‘s Summer here but you couldn’t really appreciate her fully. Here’s a close up of Summer’s face.

Marie stitched layer upon layer of buttons to create depth, contour and color. We couldn’t resist learning about the base that she used.

Here’s Sharon standing with Marie’s salty character Mikey of Mallory.

Susan Press had a unique way of reminiscing with her mixed media piece called Slices of the Past.

Black and white photographs have been sliced apart to create the skirt of this doll which is suspended by thread from the top of a simple glass enclosure.

This exhibit closes August 29, 2012 — today! — so time is running out.


I’m working on a written tour of my studio that Postmark’d Art will publish next month as part of it’s First Friday series.  Check out Suzanna Bond’s tour for a taste of what this series is about.

In preparation I snapped quite a few photos of my work digs. This one prompted a recent question:

How can I have this many beads — notice that you can see less than half of each drawer! — and still not have the ones I needed for my last project?! It’s one of life’s deep mysteries. I’m off to buy more beads.

Sunflower Scrap Done!

I purchased the only tube of blue beads that were the right shade and size. I hesitated with the purchase knowing that if I ran out of beads before I was done I was sunk. I decided to risk it.

The beads are on

and here is what I have left in the tube.

Lucky me! You can read about the whole process of creating this quilt here and here.