Eucalyptus and Fig

I’ve just completed a piece that I’m quite happy with. This piece is a very satisfying combination of old, new and hand made: my old cyanotype print on silk of a eucalyptus branch and new cyanotype prints on hand-dyed cotton of young fig leaves; some of my hand-painted fabric and hand-made fabrics from Africa. I met Janet Rothermel last year in a class at Oregon College of Art and Craft. Janet is a local pastel artist focusing on landscapes — check out her work here. Janet has a thriving garden filled with endless possibilities for printing and she was gracious in sharing some young dried fig leaves with me. The small size and great detail of these leaves are very inspiring.

After the concept for this piece was formed, the fabric was pulled for audition. Click on an image for a larger view.

I don’t expect to use every fabric; I do want enough choices to put pieces on the design wall and see how they work together. Here I’ve begun to cut strips and place them in possible layouts.

Possibilities include the direction of the cyanotype prints.

This step takes patience but is well worth the experimentation. While I was still considering a variety of possibilities, I became eager to begin the thread painting process. So, off I went to the machine.

I truly enjoy each step in the creation process, but the thread-painting step is probably my favorite. A little side note about the print: The eucalyptus trees that were near my home in California are the variety with long, slim leaves and beautiful acorn-hard capsules. The print above was created using a variety I found just outside Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward. The leaves of this variety are shorter and wider, have a lighter grey-green color and, at the stage I took a branch, have clusters of tiny buds that will eventually open with white flowers. I enjoyed rethinking my process for defining the leaves and blossom buds. I began the process with a variegated green trilobal polyester thread. Next I went back with an olive-green polyester thread and finally I did some shading with a brown 50-weight cotton. Once the thread-painting was complete, I stitched together the fabric strips for the quilt top.

I spray-baste my quilt layers. Yes, sometimes I get a bit heavy handed with spray and that can lead to a sticky build up on the needle. It always cleans off easily and I move on. I am less annoyed by this than the process of removing pins or other stabilizers while I am quilting. I began by quilting the eucalyptus and the fig cyanotype prints using blue 100-weight silk thread. Next I marked the remainder of the quilt with guide lines.

See those vertical white lines? Those are my guides. I use just two marking pens. The pen on the top of this picture leaves white lines on dark fabric. These lines will disappear with heat from the iron when I block the quilt.

The blue pen creates blue lines on light fabric and is removed with water.  Now the quilting can continue.

When the quilting was done, I blocked the quilt, trimmed the sides and top and put it back on the design wall to determine how long I wanted the bottom panel.

I decided to trim 3 1/2 inches from the bottom. Next came binding and the hand work.

My studio assistant aka Cooper was more than happy to stay close while I was busy stitching Colonial knots in each of the bud areas. This art quilt measures 48″ x 19″.





French Knots and Finger Cots

I’ve completed the on-line course at Craftsy with Carol Waugh. I have thoroughly enjoyed working through her methods, constructing my own machine stitch reference and doing some needle work I haven’t done in many years — embroidery.

I used a fat quarter of fabric to create my surface design. There is extensive machine work in the form of couching, decorative stitching and quilting. When I completed that much, I cut the piece apart to create a notebook cover and (as always, click on an image for a larger view)

Franki Kohler,

Almost done with this notebook cover

some postcards.

Franki Kohler,

Almost done postcards

Then there is the hand embroidery. Carol took us through the techniques for stitching French Knots, running stitch and the lazy daisy stitch. That took me straight back to my childhood and learning those very stitches from my Grandmother. Whoosh! Nostalgia time.

Even though it’s been quite some time since I’ve done crewel embroidery, those stitches are still with me. I pulled Judith Baker Montano’s Elegant Stitches from my book shelf and looked through it. Her instructions are great and soon I was stitching a Squared Palestrina Knot — on the left, the ‘x’s’ with a knot in the middle– and combining buttonhole stitch with lazy daisy for a simple design.

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Most of the embroidery has been done with pearl cotton. Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting pearl cotton through fast2fuse and a layer of fabric stabilized with shirt tailor. After struggling to pull the thread through, I dove into my supply of tools and pulled out some finger cots. I rolled one onto my thumb and — ta da! — the needle comes right through — even with very bold French Knots. Grandma taught me to wrap the thread around the needle three times for a French Knot but Carol has no hard and fast rules. So I thought, let’s go for it and I was wrapping the thread 4 and 5 times. I’m happy with the bold look it gave  the daisy and solo French Knots on the left.

Bold French Knots

Bold French Knots

I’m not quite done. I have some beads that are screaming to be stitched on and then there will be a trip to my local bead shop to find just the right ones to add to the closure for the notebook cover. Stay tuned, I’ll share the final results.

Here is where this adventure began.

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!

IQA Part III – Quilts and Retail Therapy

Here are a final few quilts that stood out for me, starting with a hand quilted and embroidered Tree of Life by Betty Alderman.

Betty-Alderman-1This tribute to the military by veteran Catherine Zeleny was especially touching. The Veteran’s Home depicts the architecture of the building in Yountville, California,

Catherine-Zeleny-1and the machine embroidery lists US wars, actions, branches of service, as well as titles, terms and phrases familiar to military personnel. She also included the full text of the oath of enlistment.

Catherine-Zeleny-2My grandfather spent his final days at the VA hospital. He and my grandmother are buried nearby.

Susan Stewart’s Distraction makes nice use of a commercial embroidery design. In spite of the floral design, the gray lines make me think of a man’s handkerchief.

Susan Stewart, Distraction

I especially like the small touches of purple-red fabric which balance with the large embroidery opposite. Her machine quilting is elegant.

Susan-Stewart-2Speaking of hankies, I found some real treasures at Bonnie Lattig’s booth, BJ Designs.  Bonnie has been bringing clothing from vintage textiles, antique quilts and other textiles from Austin to this exhibit for 25 years. Click on an image for a larger view and more information about each hankie.

All the hankies are made of the finest linen and, with the exception of the California hankie, have hand-rolled edges.

The George R. Brown convention center has many places to relax and refresh but my favorite spot was the park across the street. This photo was taken from a balcony on the 2nd floor.

11-1-Houston-parkLast, but never least, I was thrilled to find Kunna Prints among the vendors this year. I B-lined to their booth the first day and nabbed 2 pair of their Mary Jane’s. Fishies!

10-31-Fish-molaand stripes. These are happy feet.

10-31-Line-molaThese shoes are very comfortable.

See more about IQA Houston here and here.

This is an Off the Wall Friday posting.

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.

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.

Grandma’s Legacy

I’ve been fortunate to receive a few pieces of my grandmother’s fine hand work. Not necessarily things I would make for myself, they are nonetheless, a treasured legacy from a woman who influenced me deeply. Hilda Elizabeth Packer Preston lived with my family for 10 years — my ages 3 – 13 — and it was at her knee that I gained a true appreciation for working with needle and thread. Her mantra was, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” I took out a lot of clumsy stitches along the way to gaining the skills that I use today.

Many of the things she left were stored carelessly and became water damaged. I received a few of these damaged pieces from my cousin. I have been working at conserving them one by one. Not one to store things simply for the sake of having them, I find ways to bring them to life and use. Here is an embroidery piece that I turned into a pillow.

And in my quilt Hellebore, Hellebore, Ginkgo, Daisy (My homage to John Singer Sargent) the daisy panel is more of Grandma’s hand work.

I recently pulled out this piece of her embroidery and put it on my design wall. It measures roughly 22″ x 20″. For now, I’m just enjoying having it with me while I work in my studio.

One day it will have a new purpose. I know Grandma would approve.