First Friday Studio Tour – Franki Kohler

This month we are visiting with Franki Kohler in Oakland, California.  Franki organized Postmark’d Art when the Art to Mail postcard group became too large to accept new members.  In addition, it was Franki’s belief that Postmark’d Art needed a public web presence in addition to our private Yahoo group that led to this site.

Do you call it a studio or sewing room?

I consider myself an artist and, as such, I do my work in a studio. Even Webster defines it as such:  studio, n., 1. the workroom or atelier of an artist.

When I began making quilts in 1982 I was using someone else’s pattern to sew a quilt for a bed. My space was a sewing room then. In 2004 I made a conscious turn to the Art side; since then I have worked in a studio.

What do you have in the room? machines, supplies, fabric, paints, etc. Anything that might surprise the rest of us?

A few years ago we did a major remodeling of our home. Before the redo, my studio was so cramped that I had to walk sideways to negotiate moving from one area to another. When we began our discussion of what we wanted to do in the house my husband immediately said I should take over the master bedroom as my studio. I was thrilled with his suggestion. Here’s a partial look at  the old studio. I couldn’t get out of my own way here!

I worked with our architect to design appropriate furniture for each of the work stations in my new studio. The cabinet-maker built the furniture to those specifications. I have a desk with file cabinets, computer, printer, scanner and radio/CD player. My work table surface is two architect table tops (the ones you see in the old studio above) mounted atop 2 matching storage cabinets. I also have a cutting table/storage unit, an armoire and 3 bookcases.

How is your studio organized?

Books, reference materials, art, antique irons, photos, ironing supplies and irons and some very small supplies — such as beads and canceled postage stamps — are stored on the bookshelves.

Fabric is organized by color in the armoire

except for scraps — they are organized by color in bags stuffed into plastic boxes in the cutting table storage area. Bolts, felting supplies and paints are organized in this storage area as well.

The bottom shelves slide out for easy access.

Thread is organized by color in the 8 drawers under the work table. The cool colors on one side

and the warm colors on the other side.

I love the greens!

Above my ironing board is Princess Bliss of the Land of 4″x6″. The quilt measures 4′ x 6′. The Princess is clothed in just her finest jewelry whereas I leave the jewels in their box and prefer jeans and a t-shirt for work mode. Her primary job is to keep me company while I work and supply plenty of inspiration via the fabric postcards she holds. This photo shows her with postcards I’ve made because she traveled with me to Asilomar Conference Center in June to display fabric postcards — but she usually has postcards I’ve received from fellow Postmark’d Art artists.

The desk naturally has all my administrative supplies and my Lava Lamp. I’ve been enjoying the plop–glump–swirl of this lamp since the 1960s. The cabinet to the left of my computer has 2 shelves which slide out for easy access to the printer and scanner. When I’m not working at the desk, the doors pull straight out and across the cabinet to hide equipment. The tall pointy-top cabinet to the left has double doors that open to a CD supply.

Do you have anything tucked away in any other parts of the house?

It’s important to me to have everything I need and use at my fingertips. The only thing not stored in my studio is the quilt frame I once used to hand quilt.

How much horizontal surface do you have and is it ever enough?

My work surface is 6′ x 6’3″ and it has 3 machines on it at all times: the Janome 6500 is recessed into the table; a Janome 11,000 sits opposite; a Janome felting machine 725 ‘floats’ between, ready for use at a moment’s notice. As long as I stay on top of things, a quick shift of equipment means I’m ready to start working.

The cutting table surface is 56″ x 25″. The height of the surface was based on the ideal height for me to cut while standing. The best feature about this surface is that it slides 18″ away from the wall so that when I am cutting something from a bolt, or trimming a large quilt, I have the elbow room to get the job done.

Do you straighten/organize as you go, putting each fabric away as you cut, or do you clean up after a project?

I confess to being rather compulsive. I also find it almost impossible to work in a cluttered space. So I do put things away as I finish needing or using them. I also clean my work space and  I do machine maintenance after each project — cleaning, oiling and replacing needles. I’m a firm believer in what I tell people in my workshops: Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.

How many projects do you work on at a time and how do you keep them organized?

I can work on a couple of projects at a time, but not much more than that. I use my design wall to store current projects I’m working on and a piece or two that I’m considering next. The design wall was created using 72″-wide felt and attaching Velcro to the top edge. It measures 7′ x 7′.

Anything more you want to add about your studio, please do.

Two of the things that I especially appreciate about my studio are the light and the electrical plugs. I have large windows on three of the four walls: at my desk, at the cutting table and directly opposite the large work table. If I need additional light, recessed lighting from the ceiling is focused on the various work stations in the room and I have an Ott light on the table. There are ample electrical plugs on the walls and two fixtures in the floor under the work table. The floor plugs mean that there are no cords in any walking spaces.

In addition to the Princess, I have two more studio buddies who hang out with me.

Taylor and Mendelssohn are safe and happy in their car seats while they keep a close eye on me.

I spend a lot of time in my studio and I enjoy every minute!

Thanks, Franki, for some great ideas, both for storage and postcard display.

Next month:  Sherry Boram

8 thoughts on “First Friday Studio Tour – Franki Kohler

  1. I could make myself quite at home in your studio, Franki! Love the light and your “helpers”!
    The photos didn’t show up yesterday, so I was glad to find them today…great shots of your space.

  2. love seeing your space. Am so jealous. Am now reduced to 11.5 x 11.5. I will end up with no room unless I get rid of some stuff.

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