Featured Artist: Franki Kohler

Franki Kohler is the founder, organizer and fearless leader of Postmark’d Art which began in 2004. She is also the author of the book Fast, Fun and Easy Fabric Postcards (C&T Publishing, 2006). She lives in Oakland, CA.

Note: Hover cursor over images for more information; click on an image for a larger view.

Tell me a little about yourself.

When I was young, my grandmother lived with my family. She was always making her mark. Whether she was tatting an edge for a handkerchief, finishing a pillow case with a fine crochet lace or embroidering a design for a pillow, she was creating a legacy of fine hand work that her children and grandchildren would cherish. Her mantra was, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Naturally, she shared her skills with me and I acquired a true appreciation for working with needle and thread.

Here is grandma on her wedding day. You can barely see the rose at the neckline of her dress. I’ve ‘rescued’ a bit of her broderie perse work — another rose.

Grandmother's Roses by Franki Kohler

My introduction to quilting was serendipitous. I attended a fund-raiser for a historic house in a nearby city during December 1981. Each room in the house had been decorated by a different designer. One of the bedrooms was decorated lavishly with quilts. They were on the bed, the wall, hanging over a screen, stacked in baskets — I was dazzled. I had been wanting to learn how to quilt for some years so I took this as a sign that it was time to jump in. The designer’s business card indicated that she owned a quilt shop nearby. Kismet! I took my first quilting class in early 1982. My instructor, Diana McClun (who later closed her shop to found Empty Spools Seminars), was such an inspiration that even though I was working full-time then, I completed two quilts in that year. The second quilt was a Christmas sampler. Diana thought it was good enough to be a part of an exhibit she curated in 1983 titled American Christmas Quilts at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. How encouraging was that?

Why did you organize Postmark’d Art?

I was interested in learning about the new techniques and products that were on the quilting market but I knew that experimenting with the bed-quilt format wasn’t going to be practical.  I was searching for a small format for experimentation, a format that required a minimum of time and material investment to teach me the new skills I wanted to learn. Now I could not only learn by making postcards, I could also learn by receiving them and seeing the work of other artists.

Tomato by Sue Reno

Linda Rogers

 When did you start making postcards?

My postcard adventures began when a friend handed me the summer 2004 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. That issue contained an article about a group of artists who were making and exchanging fabric postcards. They called themselves Art2Mail. This was my “Eureka!” moment.

I couldn’t get to my computer fast enough to learn more. Art2Mail didn’t have an opening with their group at that time but they had enough interest from readers of the article that they spun off a group of new traders. I was asked to be the moderator for the new group. We called ourselves Postmark’d Art. I still smile when I remember Laurie Walton’s suggestion for the name: She said that in her part of the country (Maine) R’s and E’s are optional.

Hibiscus by Karen Musgrave

 How do you display your postcards?

I have groups of postcards on small display stands throughout my house. I like to rotate the cards. I also have a quilt that I made for displaying postcards. This is Princess Bliss of the Land of 4 x 6. She holds 70 postcards altogether and she hangs out with me in my studio.

What have been some of your favorite themes?

We always have a “No Theme” group for trading and for many years that’s the group I traded with.

Recently I joined the “van Gogh” trade group and I was so happy I did! The treasures I got in the mail will be cherished for years to come. Here are a couple of them:

Meta created a thermofax screen using a Dutch postage stamp and words that she associates with van Gogh.

Tell me about your other interests.

I am an avid gardener, enjoy studying piano and traveling with my husband, David. I also relish daily walks with my boys, Taylor and Mendelssohn.

“Putting Pieces Together” by Suzanna Bond


Suzanna Bond had an opportunity this past fall to make a small piece for a local cafe. The cafe is run by volunteers who are members of her church and all proceeds go to compassion projects locally and globally.  The design for Putting Pieces Together was inspired by a photograph Suzanna took in a sewing workshop which was part of the business skills department of Missions of Hope International in Nairobi, Kenya.

“I start out by tracing the photo with pencil. The photocopied enlargement of the pencil sketch creates a nice character to the lines and helps me loosen up a bit. Working from a sketch helps me to get away from a mere reproduction of a photo to something that takes on a life of it’s own. I make pattern pieces with tracing paper and cut them from the right side of pre-fused fabric, fusing onto the batting. Taking a class with Patty Hawkins got me jump started on these techniques. The facial features were machine quilted over a light pencil sketch. A small piece that was really a joy to make,” shared Suzanna.


Typography: Ransom Note

Typography (the style and appearance of printed matter) has always held a fascination for me as I know it does for many artists so when it was selected as one of the themes for our sixteenth exchange, I was thrilled. It is amazing how many countless ways a letter can be designed — add artist elements and you can truly have a work of art. I kept thinking of different ways I could play with typography in an interesting and fun way within the 4″ x 6″ format. Since I love to write, words kept popping into my mind until finally the idea of doing a ransom note created from cut up letters from magazines popped into my head. You would have thought this would be an easy task. Alas, it took nearly six hours and many magazines for me to complete my ransom note. I was happy. Next step was to scan it, reverse the image and use TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) to create the five postcards I needed for the trade. I decided to use a tone-on-tone white fabric to give them a little more interest. I am looking forward to the chocolate!

Featured Artist- Maureen Egan

Maureen Egan lives in Westfield, Massachusetts, with her husband, Glen Ebisch.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I enjoy fashion sewing, machine embroidery, making quilts and wearable art, knitting, silk painting, and of course, creating fiber postcards. I also enjoy teaching occasional classes in local quilt shops, and I have published numerous articles in FiberArts, Designs in Machine Embroidery, and The Quilter magazines.

Why did you join Postmark’d Art?

I joined Postmark’d Art at the encouragement of Franki Kohler. I had learned about and been a member of Art2Mail a few years earlier when researching an article for FiberArts magazine. I quickly discovered the fun and creativity of postcard exchanges. It never fails to brighten my day when the mail contains a fabric postcard!

When did you start making postcards?

I made and mailed my first fabric postcard in 2007. “Fiber Art in the Mail” (2006), the article I wrote for FiberArts magazine, is viewable on the Interweave Press website. Although, regrettably, the magazine ceased publication in 2011, an archive of selected FiberArts articles is maintained.  I feel honored that my article is among them, in the Genres and Markets category. I also published a how-to article on using embroidery software to create machine embroidered postcards (“Say It With Thread”, Designs in Machine Embroidery, Jan/Feb, 2007).

How do you display your postcards?

I keep a selection of postcards in photo frames, as a sort of  “ongoing exhibit” and change them periodically.

What have been some of your favorite themes?

It’s very hard for me to choose favorites, because each theme has offered its own creative opportunities, and I have enjoyed them all. In “Doors” and “Photo to Fabric,” I experimented with photo editing software, and for “Fruits,” I made original artwork on my iPod Touch. I combined fabric painting and machine embroidery for “Flowers,” had fun with fusible appliqué for “Picasso,” and brought watercolor and silk painting to “Paul Klee.” I digitized my own machine embroidery designs for “Sight” and “Fish.” Each and every theme has been a delight to try.

Tell me about your other interests.

Although I very much enjoy working in small scale to make fabric postcards, my interests extend to many other media and sizes of projects, too. I like working large scale, too, as in my “Millennium Triptych” of three 2,000-piece quilts.  Fashion sewing was my earliest fabric interest, and I still like to make clothing. The “little black dress” is a recent project. Painting on silk is a very rewarding medium for making scarves or creating small works for framing. “Sunset on Cape Cod” translates a vacation photograph into fabric for the very first fiber art postcard I ever mailed. I sent it to my husband, who keeps it in a little frame on his desk to this day.

You can usually find me in Massachusetts, my home state. It was not the most accommodating shape to incorporate in a postcard, but I had fun with it nevertheless! Of course including our islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. I live right near the tiny “notch” that reaches down into Connecticut.

Featured Artist- Sarah Ann Smith

Sarah Ann Smith lives in Hope, Maine (approximately two hours north of Portland and four hours south of the nearest point in Canada).  Hope (population 1313)  is just eight miles inland from her “metropolis” of Camden (population of about 5600 in winters, lots more in summer).

In 1997, she shares that she, her husband, son and “son-under-construction” left the rat race.  She and her husband had been U.S. Foreign Service Officers; he retired and she resigned to be a mom.  They moved to San Juan Island, Washington, and built what they thought would be their “forever” retirement home.  The school (only one on the island) wasn’t quite cutting it for their older son, so they decided to move.  Happily, they ended up in Camden, Maine, then 18 months ago moved to more land and a one-level (for senior years) house in Hope.   “Since I wasn’t born in Maine, I can’t really say I’m a Mainer, but I should be!  My birthplace was an accident of geography, and I am finally home where I belong:  in MAINE!”

Tell me a little about yourself.

Perpetually crazed I think!  I always want to do way more than there are hours in the day/lifetime.  I love art and color and cloth and have since I discovered sewing while aged in single digits.  Nearly 50 years later, things “cloth” are still my passion!

After living and traveling abroad for most of my life, at age 40, I resigned from the Foreign Service and am quite content to enjoy this beautiful country–perhaps with forays abroad every few years if I can afford it.  My past life influences my work and world view, but I am really inspired by the world around me and my friends and family.

As a kid, I always admired the kids who were good at art, and never thought I could do that.  However, I’ve learned that you can learn, and that you just need to practice. Do it, do it again, and keep doing it and eventually you get better.  Every quilt, every postcard, every sketch or doodle helps me improve.  I figure if I haven’t learned something from every piece I make, I’m not trying hard enough!  And I love it. I love the process of creation and love to share that with my students, friends, and folks in this group!

Why did you join Postmark’d Art?

I love the serendipity and joy of a card in my mailbox!

When did you start making postcards?

I don’t remember!  A decade or so ago maybe?  Maybe a bit longer?  They were an offshoot of the Artist Trading Card swaps that were so popular a while back.

How do you display your postcards?

On a cast-off thread spool rack in my studio, in a basket, and sometimes just propped against the salt shaker on the dining table!

What have been some of your favorite themes?

Alphabet, various artists, Fruit and Circles.

Tell me about your other interests.

Reading.  My family.  My critters (four cats and a pug, who appears to shed more than four cats combined!).  My quilty friends!  Exercise sometimes;  I NEED to do it, but don’t like it as much as I should!    I taught myself drawing (sort of) about 9 years ago, and have recently begun working on sketching more and using watercolors as a way to brainstorm ideas for quilts. I love photography, but haven’t had time to indulge that art form too much lately, but if I ever get to travel again, “have camera, USB cable and laptop, will travel!”

Featured Artist- Dian Stanley

Dian Stanley is a charter member of Postmark’d Art. She lives in Overland Park (a suburb of Kansas City), Kansas with her husband and a year old puppy. She has sewn most of her life.

Tell me a little about yourself. 

We moved to Kansas City from a Chicago suburb about 20 years ago.  I have been sewing most of my life starting with Barbie Doll clothes.  I love fiber of all kinds.  I am also a weaver with a floor loom in my living room so I have a yarn stash as well as a fabric stash.  My quilting is strictly of the art quilt variety.  I don’t enjoy the exactness or the handwork of traditional quilting although I find myself something of a perfectionist.  I do take advantage of all the new technology including machine embroidery and computer manipulation of images.

Why did you join Postmark’d Art? When did you start making postcards?

I saw an article on postcards in Quilting Arts Magazine.  At the end of the article, it said if you wanted to join send an email.  I did and before I knew it I had a message from Franki Kohler.  I joined for the first trade.  I thought postcards were the coolest things I had ever seen.  I had never made a postcard until that very first round.

How do you display your postcards?

I’m sorry to say I don’t display my cards.  I store them in boxes.  I teach an occasional class in postcards so they are ready to go on a moments notice.

What have you been some of your favorite themes?

I am always in favor of the “No Theme” groups.  I’m a last-minute kind of person and that really helps me.  I can expand on something I’m doing at the time or do something that has been spinning in my head for the months since the start of the trade.  However,  I enjoyed “Home” (I did the yellow brick road to my house with a Google Earth map) and the nature themes. I actually went on to create larger art quits from “Angel,” “Bird Song” and “Shoes.”

Tell me about your other interests.

I am a weaver although it has taken a back seat to my sewing lately.  I work part time for Indygo Junction, an independent pattern company, designing patterns and making samples.  I am a member of Eclectics Gallery in Kansas City where I show a variety of my work.  I am a charter member of Fractured Fabrics Society, an art quilt group.  We usually have 1-2 shows per year in the Kansas City area.  Machine embroidery is really habit forming for me.  I have more designs than I could stitch in many life times.  It’s kind of like a stash.  My other stash is beads–all shapes and sizes, but my favorites are size 11 seed beads that I use in bead embroidery.

Featured Artist- Lynn Chinnis

Lynn Chinnis is a charter member of Postmark’d Art. She lives in Warrenton, Virginia, with her husband Jim. They have one daughter, Sarah, who lives with her husband and daughter in Cary, North Carolina. Lynn began in quilting making traditional quilts.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I made my first quilt in 1975 for my daughter’s first “big girl” bed out of scraps from her clothes:  polyester, cotton, whatever I had—a lot of kettle cloth. It was 6-inch squares and tied with yarn.  Since the “batting” was an old army blanket, it pretty much had to be tied.  Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to the fiber content of the yarn, which curled up into little balls the first time the quilt was washed.  Over the years it has been washed quite a bit, so they have become very tiny little nubs.  The quilt is affectionately (or not so) known as the “sandbag” quilt and my daughter still uses it.  Family members who like sleeping under something heavy love it, the down comforter set not so much.

After that, I didn’t make another quilt until about 1992 when a friend of mine talked me into a quilting class at a local store.  By that time we were using rotary cutters and rulers rather than scissors and cardboard templates, and quilting became a lot more fun.

When did you join Postmark’d Art?

I joined in 2004 when the group first started.  I had gotten bored with traditional quilting and wanted to try something different.  Somehow I found the QuiltArt mailing list and was amazed at what people were doing.  It seemed a lot more interesting than my traditional quilts. I finally got brave enough to try a QuiltArt Deck of Cards swap.  I really enjoyed experimenting with different techniques in a small format and wanted to try postcards.  At that time Art2Mail was closed to new members, but they had created a waiting list for a new group.  A short time later that there were enough of us on the list and Franki Kohler  agreed to take charge of the new group.  I remember we had discussions about what we’d call ourselves, but can’t recall any of the other choices.

Since then I have joined a couple of other postcard groups.  They are all run a bit differently and have different “personalities.”  Time pressures have caused me to give up the other groups, but I will stick with Postmark’d Art.  I am trying, however, to limit my number of themes I sign up for each trading period.

When did you start making postcards?

I hadn’t made any until the Postmark’d Art group started.  A friend had joined another postcard group, and I had seen a couple of hers.  I remember searching the web for what to use in the middle and tips for finishing the edges. The Deck of Cards swap used regular playing cards for the base and we mailed them all in a package to the coordinator who parceled them back out, so I had no experience with making something that would actually go through the mail.

How do you display your postcards?

I have them in two large baskets in my living room. I periodically give the baskets a “stir” so that different cards will be visible on top.  I’m about ready to buy a third basket.  People are always interested in seeing the cards.  I finished my Round 14 cards at my guild retreat in April, and people were always stopping by the table to see what I was working on.  My husband always enjoys the ones I receive, but he does ask what’s going to happen when I run out of places to put the baskets.

What have been some of your favorite themes?

Wow, there have been so many good ones.  It’s always fun to see the suggestions we come up with at the beginning of each round.  In some cases I wonder what on earth someone would do with that theme, and then when I see the albums I wish I had signed up for it.  Some I’ve liked because I’ve especially enjoyed working on them, or my cards have come out really well, and others because the cards I’ve received had been especially great.  I have done Circles at least twice.  There is something very Zen-like in cutting circles of various sizes and colors, and maybe a few lines, and just playing with the arrangements.  I liked both the Fire and Water elements themes because I had gotten a needle felting machine and could play with that.  The Song Titles theme was fun because there were so many different songs, including my 40’s standard “Autumn Leaves” which some folks had never heard of.  Guess I was showing my age with that one.  I enjoyed the Photo to Fabric group in the last round.  I used a small part of a beach scene that I have been meaning to make into a wall hanging someday.  Playing with that in postcard size gave me some ideas about composition for a larger piece.

Tell me about your other interests.

I do a lot of reading.  I knit quite a bit and always have at least two projects going.  I also enjoy gardening.  Both of us dislike lawns, so most of our backyard is a garden.  I try for the cottage garden look, but sometimes it just seems messy, especially when it’s as dry as it has been this summer.  The birds enjoy it though, and we have become quite interested in bird and butterfly watching.   We love to travel and especially like poking around on back roads and in small towns.  I try to remember to always have my camera with me to record ideas for more quilts.

Postmark’d Art Members Support Studio Art Quilt Associates (Three will be at Houston’s International Quilt Festival)

SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) holds an online auction of donated 12″ x 12″ art quilts each year. Last year’s auction had 309 artworks donated and they raised $52,925 for the organization.

In 2012, 394 artists donated art quilts.  Most will be sold through SAQA’s online auction.  A special group of 106 quilts will be sold in the SAQA booth at International Quilt Festival – Houston (October 31- November 4) and three were donated by Postmark’d Art members:  Franki Kohler, Suzanne Kistler and Sarah Ann Smith. In addition, Postmark’d Art members VIvian Helena Aumond-Capone’s and Sara Kelly’s quilts will be available during SAQA’s online auction. Bravo to all! The online auction will begin on Monday, September 10th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time and conclude on Sunday, September 30 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern.