Maples Done

The work in progress I shared here is now complete. It measures 12″ x 12″. Click on image for a larger view.

I quilted the bottom section using the marks left by the twine used to wrap the fabric bundles during the printing process. They made for a simple, effective design. Then I fussed and dithered about how to quilt the silk screened piece on the right side. Ultimately I decided that simplicity was in order. I had enough quilting design in the other two sections and the silk screened design was quite enough for the right side. So, simple lines is what I did. A detail:

I couldn’t resist adding the beads. And, interestingly enough, this work is created entirely with silk fabrics. The botanical print fabrics are silk noil, the screen printed fabric is a very light-weight silk and the binding is a raw silk. Each has its own signature look and texture. I am very pleased with the way they play off one another while creating harmony.

On to the next! I have a lovely sumac print that is waiting for me. What do you have waiting for you that has your creative juices running?

Notebook Cover and Postcards Embellished

I headed for Blue Door Beads — I just love the name and, yes, they have a blue door — this morning to find something special for the closure on the notebook cover just completed. I think I found just the right thing (click on image for larger view):

Notebook front

Notebook front

I had fun choosing the fabric for inside flaps

Notebook open

Notebook open

and the photo image on the inside cover of the notebook is from an old issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.

Notebook back

Full notebook cover

Here are 3 of the postcards that are embellished and ready to address and finish edges.

While I was completing the above project I decided to make use of a Mola that my sister gave me recently. (If you aren’t familiar with the origins of the Mola, be sure to visit the link above!) This one is particularly lovely and deserves to be useful.

Mola Notebook cover

Mola Notebook cover

Mola Notebook cover 2

Full Mola Notebook cover

I think Christy will be pleased that this lovely Mola is not going to languish in my stash.

To see the Genesis of all this, click here.

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays.

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.

Distracted by a Notebook

Taking classes is a good thing. The object of the class is of interest and one always learns something new, no matter how packed your tool kit is when you enter.

I took a class earlier this week whose focus was using an embroidery machine. The project for the class was a notebook cover. I quickly realized I had a personalized notebook cover made by Sue Andrus that I brought to class — it was a gift from a friend and I had not used it because it was just ‘too beautiful.’ (Small aside here: Sue is a member of Postmark’d Art so I know her fine work — I have some of her beautiful fabric postcards.) I wasn’t entirely sold on the construction techniques used for the class project so I decided to use Sue’s notebook cover as a guide for constructing my own.

I pulled out upholstery scraps, buttons, beads, leather, several Oliver Twist collections, pellon and Wonder Under and got to work. And here it is

Franki Kohler, Notebook The inside of the front and back covers were just too boring. I pulled out a needlepoint catalog I had saved in my paper supplies and found just the right images.

Franki Kohler, Notebook insideThough I didn’t use embroidery or construct the project as instructed, I’m very happy with this notebook cover. I think I’ll have to stitch out a few of my embroidery designs and incorporate them in another cover or two.

This posting has been share with Off the Wall Fridays. Check out what other creative people are doing there!

White on White 4

This is the final design I’ve created for the White-on-White trade with Postmark’d Art. For this design I pulled out my needle-felting machine. I felted the roving directly onto fast2fuse: the first layer of roving is a very light cream-colored wool; the second layer is a scrumptious Angora roving. The Angora is very white and ever-so soft — it was a real pleasure to work with.

Franki Kohler, White on White 4I drew a leaf design on the top and proceeded to embroider by hand with a very narrow white ribbon. Unfortunately, getting the needle through the fast2fuse and 2 layers of roving proved to be just too difficult. A change of strategy was necessary. I drew the leaf design on the reverse side, filled a bobbin with Ricky Tim’s Razzle Dazzle™ and popped a 90/14 topstitch needle in my machine. It worked like a charm. I haven’t done any felting or bobbin work in quite a while so this was a treat.

The design needed a little something else. Beads to the rescue! I have just a bit more beading to do on several other postcards, then I’ll be ready to trim and finish them all. Voilá! The end is in sight. Stay tuned.

See the first 3 designs in this mini series here, here and here.

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.

Progress on Oakleaf Hydrangea II

I’ve completed the quilting on the center portion of this piece and have begun quilting the border. As often happens to me, I have a plan when I start but as I work, more ideas come to mind. I have learned to listen to the conversation that begins between myself and the work. I’m always happier with the final piece when I do.

Franki Kohler, Oakleaf Hydrangea II in progressIn the center I have used Superior Thread’s 100-weight Kimono silk to outline, echo and meander quilt. The crisp lines of outline and echo make the printed leaves and flowers pop while the small meander completely flattens the background. At a distance, the meander acts as supporting cast to the featured images by becoming a simple texture and allowing the leaves and flowers to take center stage. I used 40-weight trilobal polyester by Superior to stitch over the veins of the leaves — something new for me. I normally thread paint the printed images before adding batting and backing and quilt around the shapes. I like the bolder definition this thread weight gives the veins while also pulling some of the lime green color into the center of the quilt. See how these leaves looked before quilting here.

Beginning the border, I have used more Kimono silk thread to outline and echo quilt the organic shape that says ‘tomato’. My thought as I began quilting this portion was to fill the rest of the space with small pebbles. But as I worked I began to think more about what you would see when a tomato has been sliced. In addition to the lovely juice on the plate, seeds would be revealed. So I am seriously considering using a few beads rather than more thread.

Franki Kohler, detail, optionOptions! Stay tuned.

See how this project has progressed here and here.

No One Likes Rejection

but let’s face it, it’s part of life. I do my best to feel the sting of it and then let it go.

I received a bit of that sting yesterday when I learned that Woodwardia Wonder was rejected for an upcoming exhibit. I have been working on this piece since last December and I haven’t been able to share it here — one of the rules was that the work submitted for entry could not be published in any way before learning about acceptance or rejection for the exhibit. Now I can share it.

This quilt started with one of my favorite things to do — a sun print. Here it is, Setacolor Pernod yellow paint applied and fern frond firmly pinned in place.

Franki Kohler, Sun print in progress

Detail: that’s rice and rock salt scattered over the paint. Applique pins secure the tips of each leaf.

Franki Kohler, sun print detail

When dry, the fern, rice and salt are removed and the fabric is pressed with a hot iron. Now for the thread painting. I use a medium-weight tear-away stabilizer and copper-colored cotton thread to define the leaf clearly.

Franki Kohler, Threadpainting complete mid January

By mid-March I had completed the quilting. Here is the piece being blocked.

Franki Kohler, Quilted, now blocking

And then there are those beds to consider. Some pieces just yell “BEADS!” at me during the quilting process. I have to listen to that.

Franki Kohler, considering beads

I bound and beaded it, then put the final touch on — metallic cooper paint defines the stem. The piece was completed and photographed by the end of March.

Franki Kohler, Woodwardia Wonder, 60" x 24", 2013, For Sale

Franki Kohler, Woodwardia Wonder, Detail

I’ll let you know the first time it has a public showing. Until then, I have another art quilt almost done.

Beads — so many choices

I have been invited by Dinner at Eight Artists to submit work for a juried invitational exhibit which will premiere August 1-4, 2013 at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California. Though I’ve been working on it since December, I haven’t been able to share it here because one of the stipulations of the invitation is that the piece has not been published (in any way) before acceptance/rejection notices have been sent out April 26th.

The invitation asks for a translation of the theme, An Exquisite Moment. The size is stipulated at 60″H x 24″W — a format I love working in.

I blocked and bound the piece a few days ago. Now it is screaming for some embellishment. Naturally I have turned to my collection of beads. I have several groups of beads that I purchased in Houston last October. I’ll be experimenting with these to see if they will work.


As I ponder these beads and their placement I’m also considering paint. Yes, I think there will be paint.

You have no idea how hard it has been not to share this! Whether my piece is accepted or rejected, I’ll share it here after April 26. Until then . . . I’m back to work.


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.

Starry Night Done

I swung into action last week working on my project for a Postmark’d Art trade and posted about it here.  The process for me is always one of adding, viewing on the wall, and adding.  It began to look more painterly to me here.

One of the lovely things about felting on the black batting is that it’s easy to steam with the iron and have it come back to almost 100% full size. I steamed from the wrong side to avoid melting the tulle on the front. I’m getting closer to being satisfied with it here.

Beads were in order, then I trimmed and cut the final piece into nine 4″ x 6″ pieces.

And here they are ready to mail.

I used clear MonoPoly filament on the edges because I didn’t want to disturb the design by creating a formal border. I think it’s appropriate that one of these postcards will be headed for the Netherlands. I hope all of my trading friends will enjoy their piece of this larger work.

This is not the first van Gogh project that I’ve done. When I bought my felting machine in July 2008 I was eager to get acquainted with it. I dove straight into creating a swirling sun in the van Gogh style.

As you can see, this was a much larger project creating 21 postcards.  I placed snips of cotton fabric onto white felt, covered it with tulle and needled it. I have traded and sold all but one — the very center.

More Needlefelting

Yum! I am loving the hand of these needlefelted pieces. Here is the second half of the crewel-embroidered snippet I found. The cording on the edge was tied around a Christmas gift last year. It’s so fun to repurpose things that come into my life — especially in unexpected ways.

And here is the first of two postcards using wool roving. That is variegated silk ribbon embroidered.

I must acknowledge a strong influence from Beki Ries-Montgomery, a Oregon artist I trade fabric postcards with through Postmark’d Art — just one of many artists that have taught me so much.


I’ve turned half of the crewel-embroidered fabric I needlefelted into a postcard. The fabric included a metallic thread stitched around much of the individual motifs, however, after needlefelting the metallic thread was cut too much to leave hanging here and there. So I removed the tidbits of broken threads and added my own bling with some beads. It still looks rich and exotic.

I am beading the second piece of this fabric now and I’m thoroughly enjoying the hand work. Even with the felting treatment, the pile on this fabric is deep enough to bury the beads into it, making handling a very pleasant thing. And what fun it is to use the felting machine again! I will get it humming again soon.

Precious Metals

I couldn’t resist using the three metals — copper, silver and gold — that I just used for postcards in my next small quilt. I’ve just finished the quilting and I have it prepared to block. Since it’s just 14 inches square right now, it shouldn’t take long to dry.

I’ve already decided that it needs beads. Lots of them. This quilt will be 12″ x 12″ finished.