Wordless Wednesday

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Mendelssohn, 8 weeks old

3-Year Anniversary

Today is the 3-year anniversary of my first blog posting. Keeping a commitment to this blog — really a form of journaling — is part of my sincere wish to be a person who lives in the moment.  Being mindful of what is happening  — the big events as well as the tiny ones — on a minute-by-minute basis, brings a lot of joy. When I am truly living that way, I see so much more.  What some think of as serendipity I think of as being open to seeing possibility and opportunity.

Today is also the 14th birthday of one of my best friends, Mendelssohn. Click on image for larger view.

Happy Birthday MendelssohnHis hearing and sight are not as keen as they once were, but he still brings joy and comfort each day. And inspiration! Did I forget inspiration? See for yourself here.

Today I am wishing for the kind of mindful living that will allow me to recognize the grace I receive in my life.

Holidays and Hats

Why is it that many of us feel compelled to put hats on our pets during the holidays? A mystery, really.

Franki Kohler, Taylor says "A hat, really?"Here’s what Taylor really thinks:

So there!Make no mistake about it — Mendelssohn would rather have a nap than a hat.

Franki Kohler, Mendelssohn preferrs a napThey are both happy Christmas is over! Now, do I still have the black hats and silver noise makers?

IQA: Old, New and Wanna-be Friends

Thousands gathered in Houston for the 39th annual IQA Festival, most with the goal of seeing all 1300+ quilts, 1000+ vendors and taking in as many of the 380 classes as is practical.

My goal was quilts first, selected vendors (I always have a short list) second, then 2 lectures. It’s always fun to find friends and share their excitement of work hung in the exhibit.

Jeanne Marklin wasn’t there but I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Traditions

Jeanne Marklin, Traditionsand a detail

Jeanne Marklin, detailand Going in Circles.

Jeanne Marklin, Going in CirclesIt was fun to catch a few minutes with Sarah Ann Smith. She was teaching and trying to see the exhibit — not an easy task! Here she is with Listen to the Song in the Night, her entry for An Exquisite Moment.

Sarah Ann Smith, Listen to the Song in the NightI was fortunate to meet and enjoy the company of two art quilters from the Northwest. Here is Sherri Culver’s much-deserved 3rd place winner, Emmy Tovo:

Sherri Culver, Emmy Tovoand Emily Stevens’ entry for West Coast Wonders, Into the Woods:

Emily Stevens, Into the WoodsThen there are those artists who I wanna be friends with, like Ruth Powers. I’ve seen her work for several years, in many venues. Her work is always worth lingering over. I found myself in front of In the Bleak Midwinter many times.

Ruth Powers, In the Bleak MidwinterAnother very moving piece I went back to again and again was A Leap to Freedom by Esther de Visser of the Netherlands.

Esther de Visser, A Leap to FreedomAnd a detail

Esther de Visser, detailStaying in the Netherlands, here is Deanna Shafer’s tribute to van Gogh:

Deanna Shafer, Vincent: Haunted GeniusA detail of Vincent: Haunted Genius:

Deanna Shafer, detailI stopped by to visit Mendelssohn, of course.

Franki Kohler, Mugging with MendelssohnI’ve come to think of him as Ambassador Mendelssohn since he’ll be on the road for the coming year. You can read more about that here.

And you can see installment number one about Houston here. More quilts and retail therapy are up next. I hope you’ll join me.

Keep Calm and Carry On

I recently experienced another birthday and received a card which now holds a front-and-center place in my studio. The front of the card has a birthday cake at the top (replacing the Queen’s crown) followed by KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON in white lettering on red background. The greeting: “Relax. Make a wish! It’s just another birthday.” (See Persimmon Press and type in “Keep Calm”) I chortle every time I see the card.

The former WWII admonishment is often easier said than done. For instance, I’m off today to attend IQA’s annual Festival in Houston. I’ll be seeing many friends that I only see in Houston because we live many states apart. And I’ll be taking in the special exhibit Festival Awareness Project 2013: It’s Raining Cats and Dogs which features my art quilt Mendelssohn. How can one keep calm? Then there are hundreds of inspirational quilts, the vendors (once again I’ll be looking for beads and antique hankies), special functions for IQA and SAQA members and, in the course of all this, the new friends that I’ll make! How can one keep calm? It seems impossible.

I’ll simply have to do my best. I will share the fun right here next week.

Meanwhile, carve a pumpkin, celebrate the harvest of the season and don’t forget to change your clocks on Sunday.

Pumpkin word cloud


Mendelssohn Goes to IQF

I’m thrilled to share the news that Mendelssohn has been selected for inclusion in the special exhibit Festival Awareness Project 2013: It’s Raining Cats and Dogs which opens October 31 in Houston and will be on view through November 3.

Franki Kohler, Mendelssohn, 36" x 48", 2010, Not For Sale

This is the second year of a three-year IQF project intended to throw the spot light on the plight of homeless cats and dogs. Last year a hand full of art quilts depicting animals was hung in Houston and fabric postcards were sold to raise money for local animal shelters. This year’s exhibit of 30 art quilts will travel through 2014 to various IQF-sponsored shows.

I’ll miss having this quilt in my home but the cause is worthy and I’m excited to help bring awareness to it. And, after all, the real Mendelssohn will be here to keep me company. He’s 13 now!

If you’d like to learn about the inspiration for and construction of this art quilt, click here.

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.

Portraiture of the Boys

My friend Win Dell’Ario — award-winning interior designer in Half Moon Bay — recently thanked a client for their business by presenting them with painted portraits of their two dogs. The portraits completed the newly redone mud room with such pizazz! I have been wanting to immortalize by boys for some time and I was so taken by the portraits that I asked Win to share her connection with me.

I immediately contacted Lynn Culp at and we began the process of selecting just the right photos of Mendelssohn (12 years) and Taylor (7 years) — aka The Boys — my Bichon Frise buds. After just a couple rounds of review we decided upon this image of Mendelssohn

and this one of Taylor.

The portraits arrived in the mail this week. They are 10″ x 10″, oil on canvass. Here’s Mendelssohn

and Taylor.

The portraits will hang in my mud room and give it serious pizazz. I’m thrilled with how Lynn captured my favorite studio buddies. She was a pleasure to work with and I’ll treasure this art for many years to come.

Mendelssohn – Creating an Art Quilt

People often ask how long it takes me to create an art quilt.  That is a very difficult question to answer: Each quilt has a unique inspiration and execution time. Some small pieces have taken a few hours or days. Others have been in the making for much longer. Mendelssohn is an example of the later timing.

In March 2009 I took Ruth McDowell’s  class “Designing From Nature” hosted by Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA.  Ruth teaches her method for creating a unique pattern from a photograph or drawing.  I needed this skill in order to make a quilt from a treasured photograph I had of my then 8-week old puppy, Mendelssohn (b. June 15, 2000).  My sister Christy took this photograph in August 2000.  The moment I saw it I knew I wanted to turn it into a quilt.

It took me the full 5 days with Ruth to complete the pattern.  When I got home I put it up on my design wall and admired it.  Then it was rolled up and set aside so that I could complete other work.

I unrolled the pattern March 18, 2010 (Yes, a year later, I know.  The truth is I was intimidated by the pattern and the process.  I hadn’t done this kind of work before and I had to muster courage.) and started working.  The first step was to create the freezer paper pattern that would be cut up and fused to the fabric.  Then — choose the fabric.  This process took a while.  I needed a lot of just-the-right whites.  I thought I would find everything I needed in my stash, but not so.  Shopping was in order.  I went to several stores, then I shopped several friends’ stashes.   By late May, I was finally getting somewhere…

This was a complicated pattern!  The solid yellow lines on the paper pattern indicate the sections.  The dashed lines are sections of pattern pieces that must be stitched together before they can be joined to the pieces next to them; solid pencil lines are individual pattern pieces.  Each freezer paper pattern piece was fused to fabric, then stitched to an adjoining pattern piece.  The freezer paper allows for stability of the fabric and very accurate piecing.  Quite an ingenious method actually.  There were 5 sections to create, then the sections were pieced together.  It was slow work.  I completed the 3rd section on June 3:

Five days later I had the fourth section in hand:

At this point, I remember thinking that I was having more of a success than a failure with this process.  I could actually imagine completing the quilt.  A big “Whew!” moment was savored.  I pressed on, now with a smile.

Almost there June 24:

The quilt top is completed June 28, 2010.

The celebration time was short. I wanted to enter “Mendelssohn” for an October exhibition in Mill Valley. I had to press on to quilt, bind and get it photographed. Once marked, the quilting was rather straightforward. I used metallic thread to bring out his eyes. Quilting was completed in August 2010. Having a goal with a firm deadline is always a good thing.

I am very pleased with this quilt. And “Mendelssohn” was featured in Art Quilts, A Group Show, juried by Jane Przybysz (then the Director of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles) at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts the month of October.

So, from inspiration to completed art quilt a full ten years flew by. Thank goodness all my art quilt don’t take this long!

A Little 4th on the 5th

I start most days walking with the boys, Mendelssohn and Taylor, aka Bichon Frise dogs, but don’t tell them that.  July 4th was no exception.  In fact, a walk on a holiday morning is an especially good thing.  It gives me a chance to catch my breath before the preparations for the day begin in earnest.  So…did someone says “Walkies?”

Notice the snappy scarf on Taylor.  They were groomed Friday and came home with those scarves. They were struttin’ their stuff!

After the wide shifts from heat to rain this week, we were grateful for mild tempeartures all day.  It was a perfect day for appreciating ones freedom and remembering those who ensure that freedom.  The backyard chickens seemed extra perky…

and my radicchio-cabbage slaw with blueberries was almost patriotic.