Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NYC Mood Fabrics


For Christmas this year, my family went to NYC. My youngest daughter and I are big Project Runway fans and so MOOD was top on our list of places to go. As we walked through the garment district, my daughter was fascinated by all the wonderful fabrics full of sequins in the windows. I was busy reading the addresses looking for MOOD. It is more elusive than that, based in an older business building with a lobby and old elevators shuffled up and down by uniformed gentlemen. For those of you who don't know me, I am very easily entertained and find wonder in all kinds of inconsequential things that most don't notice, so riding in the elevator run by an operator was a fun little treat for me.
We arrived on the 3rd floor and not knowing what to expect, I was blown away. My husband who sat reluctantly through this past season with me so I wouldn't have to watch alone, commented that the show does not do the store justice and he is absolutely right. As a quilter, I am used to quilt shops with little bolts of fabric I can carry around with me...I was not physically in shape to do the same here. I arrived with a specific idea in mind of what I was looking for and that was helpful or I would have left empty-handed due to my indecisive nature.
My find was this beautiful lightweight knit that will eventually be an artistic jacket to be worn all winter and spring.

I didn't even look at all the trims and buttons that were available or I would have gone insane with envy. The wall in the background is just one of 5 or 6 walls of trims. The button boards in the foreground are again just a teeny tiny example of what is available. Being completely enmeshed in my own fabric search, I didn't realize (fortunately) until the end when getting fabric cut that there were other floors of fabrics. The above picture also shows a Project Runway board that has photos of some of the outfits along with fabric swatches...just in case you need to own the same fabric from a show fashion.All the fabrics are labeled and I will watch season 7 with a new eye. The staff was very very helpful and cheerful even.

Now I don't have a picture but the crazy little tidbit to this story is this: I had forgotten my camera the first go around and luckily our hotel was only 4 blocks away. My family was forced to go back, get the camera, and return to MOOD (where I refrained from more shopping) so I could have pictures. On our way back to the shop, my daughter and I spotted Nicolas Putvinski from season 6 leaving the block and he walked right past us but I was too chicken to call him out. He wasn't our favorite from this season due to his catty behavior. I hope he was edited badly and still wish him luck. It must be very difficult to work in those rushed conditions and the heavy competition of the NYC fashion industry.

In closing: Thank you MOOD and my family for indulging me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hand-Painted Traditions

Sugar Plum Ornament ©2008
3" sq on point to 4 1/2"
The history of Christmas ornaments dates back to the 1800's and although I do not collect them myself, I am constantly drawn to them and find them fascinating. First of all, they are miniature and most of them are shiny and that is a double threat for me. I think females in general have those same 2 downfalls (most I know anyway). All that needs to be thrown in is a hidden compartment or box and the urge to possess said item is overwhelming.
My mother collects ornaments as do many of my friends. My children are forever scarred that I didn't save every single handmade "what is it?" that came home with them to hang on my tree. Before I get "how could you?" responses, I have saved specific items that touched my heart but being military, it just isn't practical to save it all. As a child I grew up with a Christmas tree full of the multi colored lights and ornaments full of memories. I am a very sentimental person but I had always been completely and utterly in love with the department store trees that were themed with just white lights. After 6-7 years of doing what I had grown up with, I decided that I could have my own tree and changed it to white lights and big and small poinsettia ornaments in deep reds....just what I had always dreamed of.

2006 Christmas Tree with "Las Flores de Amigas" © 2005 in the background

Last year I decided that even if I didn't collect ornaments, I could make them. My first ornament was the Sugar Plum ornament shown above. It is still my favorite but running a close second is the holly ornament shown below.
Both are hand-painted and finished by free motion stitching leaves in metallic thread across the surface. I enjoy the look of a traditional binding with beaded hang and tassles. They are a labor of love for what they cost and they are beautiful to me.

Holly Ornament ©2008 3" sq on point at 4 1/2"

This year I added lighthouses to the ever growing list of available ornaments. I started with Cape Lookout, NC since this was the 150th anniversary of it's lighting. I have added Bodie Island, NC and Cape Hatteras, NC. All are lighthouses on the Historic Outer Banks of NC. They are hand-inked, free motion stitched, and beaded.
To read more about the local lighthouse see my previous post here.

Cape Hatteras Ornament © 2009 3"sq on point to 4 1/2"
I sell these through a local gallery and also online. Today is the last day for orders to be delivered by Christmas. If you are not a collector, I bet you know one. These are miniature and shiny...sorry no hidden compartments. Maybe that should be my next ornament:)
Have a wonderful holiday season to my followers and online friends.

Monday, November 30, 2009


"Last Autumn"
©2009 by Robin Koehler
Once upon a military- life time, I was afforded the opportunity to own my very own home. We had been nomads for 15 years and wanted to see what all this 'ownership' was about. Starting in NJ with 11 homes to look at, found on the internet, we headed west to St. Louis to house hunt. By the time we arrived, there were 6 houses left...definately a seller's market. We headed out to see the remaining 6: NO, no, eh, no, NO, I love it!! My husband was not as impressed but time was running short and with not too many other prospects, we put in a bid.
In 2003 we moved to Illinois into our very first home and I had a room all to myself for the very first time...no more dining room table. Everytime I was in that room it was like Christmas to me. My imagination really started to soar and skills became sharpened while learning about fabric companies and new techniques. After dreams in other states of starting my own greeting card company or mural design company ("Off The Wall", of which I still have the box of business cards for), I started NESTLINGS by Robin. I grew in leaps and bounds and loved every minute of it even though I had no idea of what I was doing.
The ownership lasted 4 years until we moved again but the dream of NESTLINGS lives on. As with anything, it has grown and changed and now includes art as well as quilt patterns. My art includes inspiration from that beautiful home I was once so fortunate to drive up to everyday and call mine.
Above is a Threadscape of the gorgeous sugar maple that adorned our front yard. Below is a Threadscape of the Mother's Day gift of a rose trellis and rose bush I was given one year by my family. These two lovelies have since sold and moved on to grace another's home but the memories warm my heart constantly. I will always be thankful for the opportunity to have had my own place to decorate and do as I wish along with rising up to my dreams with the love and support of my wonderful family.

"Mother's Roses"

©2009 by Robin Koehler

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Late Halloween Goo

First off---HELLO and THANK YOU to my new followers!! Welcome!

I don't normally talk about my personal life here but this is just too cool to pass up... My babies are the bestest babies ever! While I was out of town in October, they came home from college and decorated my house for Halloween as a late bday gift to me. The pumpkins were carved, quilts were hung, cake was made and in the fridge for me, favorite candy in the dish, and a gift certificate to Floyd's 1921 --one of my favorite restaurants.

As an added Halloween surprise, one of the pumpkins molded in the most spooky way I have ever seen....
I loved the way it ooozed out of the openings in the word "Boo". Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Las Flores de Amigas" New Role

This is my quilt, "Las Flores de Amigas", that has been juried into AQS Paducah and Mancuso Mid-Atlantic shows. This year I was approached to resize the block and have it used as a border block in my guild's 2010 raffle quilt. The raffle quilt committee was headed up by Patti Brown one of our local quilt shop owners and designer of the raffle quilt.
I believe it turned out beautifully and I just love it.

First,my normally 24" blocks were resized down to 15". Volunteers from the Crystal Coast Quilters Guild took the new templates and appliqued all 16 blocks. We then had another work day at the shop where the applique blocks were assembled with the 9 patches and setting triangles.

Patti had a photograph, donated by Eileen Williams, blown up for ease in cutting the various components of our scene. I spent an afternoon at the shop tracing and cutting along with Patti to recreate the photograph of
Cape Lookout Lighthouse for the center of the quilt.

This is the final quilt...STUNNING!
"Winter Light"
Queen size

Of course, it wouldn't be this amazing without the quilting talents of Laurie Mayo. Her long-arm creativity just makes the quilt. Now you have to go back through the photos:) Check out the metallic snowflakes in the sky and the feathering in the black background.

This quilt can be seen at The Quilted Butterfly, Morehead City, NC. where you can also purchase raffle tickets. You may also contact me at robin_koehler@hotmail.com for raffle tickets.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Houston Part 2

So, part of the fun of market is getting to meet people in person that you have met online. This is Cathy Winter who will be part of my foursome for the Dream Rocket project. I can't wait for our project to take off together :)

I had already met Ms. Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods but this trip I had the privilege of being her roommate as well: Sweet, considerate, talented and FUN! Thank you, Celine for wonderful memories. Make sure to take a look at her new book as well.

I am always amazed by the enormity of the room and how many people and businesses are here on the floor. This shot only covers maybe a third of who was there. It is invigorating and exhausting all at the same time. On my travels of the show floor I had the opportunity to meet Susan Knapp, Susan Brubaker-Knapp, and Sarah Ann Smith. It was great to meet you all. There really was a theme this year among friends: Suzn Quilts' new book, Celine's new book, along with Susan Brubaker-Knapp and Sarah Ann Smith releasing new books. All 4 women have great directions and offer something for everyone.

I found some lovely threads for a new pattern and show quilt that is being feverishly worked on right now. I used Weeks Dye Works beautiful variegated floss years ago when I cross stitched and now they have those same beautiful colors in quilting thread. I also spent 4 days across from Superior Threads since that is where Susan's booth was. It was like being on a diet and having your favorite food passed in front of your face 24/7...all the colors!!

Along my travels I talked with a fabric company and a book publisher...no guarantees but wonderful opportunities that I am very excited to work toward.

Last but not least is this beautiful quilt made by my good friend, Eileen Williams. "Taylor's Creek" was her first entry to Houston and the detail is stunning. It looked wonderful hanging with all the other terrific entries. Great job, Eileen!

Houston Part 1

Here I am at Market with my dear friend and designer extraordinaire, Susan Marth of Suzn Quilts. In case you were so busy that you missed her new book, here are some peeks at what is in the book. The whole booth displayed every big and little item that can be made for the best friends in our lives.

From small pillows to framed quilts to table covers and lap quilts...the book has it all plus recipes. The lap quilts use jelly rolls and the table covers use charm squares.
This picture shows off 2 new jacket patterns as well.

I loved that I was able to capture the booth from above...so cozy you could move right in. This book has something for everyone since we all have a mother, sister, or friend who is dear to us. Depending on how much time you have or how many gifts you need to make, you will find the perfect gift here.

I would also like to thank Susan for bringing me along for the second year in a row. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to be at market and I have learned so much being her assistant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yard Sale Treasure

When I was but a young bride with a new baby, my husband received orders to Guam. At the time I had no idea where or what Guam was but we entered into the adventure with wide eyes and open minds. While there I did a ton of growing up, had my first civilian job that started a trend in advertising, and had a second baby.
One of the things we learned about the South Pacific culture was one of their vices is called a Betel nut. It is a rather ordinary looking green nut found on certain palm trees that the locals wrap in a leaf with lime powder and chew as a stimulant. It does terrible things to their teeth and was deemed off limits to the military personnel.
I had forgotten all about them until recently at a local yard sale when I found this wonderful little box that just screamed out to have notions displayed in it. As I paid my $3, the owner proceeded to tell me what it was and I knew exactly what she was talking about. This is a Betel Nut Box to store the various components needed to chew Betel Nut.
I never tried it and never wanted to but I will most definately enjoy using this fantastic little box to put my own wonderful treasures (vices: thread, etc.) into.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cape Lookout Lighthouse 150th Anniversary

To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse in North Carolina, they will be holding a juried art and photography show. I decided to enter one of my Threadscapes and this time I changed it up a bit. Instead of using one of my photographs, I chose to try my hand at painting instead. The picture above shows the piece once it was painted and you can see the threads laying across it while I choose which threads will work the best.
Going back to painting has been on my list for awhile now and this seemed the perfect opportunity to do so. Once the paint was set (acrylic mixed with textile medium) and the threads were chosen, it was time to take it to the machine and do my magic. I am very pleased with how it turned out and hope that whoever is jurying the art show will feel the same. I will be thousands of feet in the air on my way to St. Louis while this is happening and so I won't have time to fret over it until later.
Some are surprised to find that I don't decorate with lighthouses since my husband is in the Coast Guard. I was in the CG at one time as well and that is how we met. So even though I do not decorate with them, I have a huge respect for the men who have served them for so long before automation....my father being one of them. Although he didn't get to serve in one of the traditional ones as he would have liked, he spent a total of 4 years on 2 separate lighthouse platforms out in the middle of the ocean before they were automated as well.
We are a Coast Guard family and so I painted this lighthouse and entered this show in honor of all the lighthouse keepers and their families.

If you are in the area, please go visit the show at the Core Sound Museum, Harker's Island, NC. It runs from Oct 10th- Nov 1st

Skinny Kitties by Pepper Cory

Meet the "Skinny Kitties"
Over the weekend I quilted this wonderfully whimsical sample showcasing Pepper Cory's new fabric line for Avlyn Fabrics.

I have long thought there weren't enough gray or brown fabrics around and now that problem has been solved. There are some fantastic accent fabrics in this collection. Be sure not to miss them at Market next week or ask your local quilt shop about ordering them for the shop. There is something for everyone in this line.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Online Studio Tour

WELCOME to the studio of NESTLINGS by Robin. I have been wanting to do this for quite some time and pairing up with the Quilting Arts community was just the push I needed....as well as some time to get it a bit neater.
For the past 6 years I have been extremely fortunate to have a dedicated space to work and it has allowed me to accomplish so much.
This is my stash of fabric....ok, only part of it:0 The rest is below in a giant pile on the floor and in another bookcase over with the supplies and some under a table-you get the idea, right? I love fabric and it keeps finding ways into little nooks and crannies of my studio, but it just brightens my day when I walk in and need to look for something.
This is my cutting station with my award winning 'Ladybug Invasion' hanging over it. There are 13 hand beaded, movable ladybugs on it that are just too much fun!
This is my sewing station complete with rainbows of thread and beads. Above the bead box is a wonderful painting by an artist friend, Jean Baardsen. It was gifted to me and I love the bright red flowers. Next to it is my little owl that I made when I was 9 or 10 years old. It was the first cross stitch project I ever did and proudly hung in my grandparent's house for 30 years before I received it back. Now it serves as a sweet reminder of how far I have come.

Here are my bookcases full of supplies: books, magazines, threads, paints, more beads, etc. I use UFOs to cover up some of the messy shelves and they inspire me.
For years I worked in the dining room and on the dining room table with the family shoved to one end for meals. I know there are still some of us that do that and it makes me even more appreciative of my space. Even so, don't ever let space or lack of squash the creative spirit within all of us.
I hope you enjoyed this small peek into my world and of the other artists on the list. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quilting Arts Online Open Studio Tours

This weekend spend a little time touring some of the studios of the Quilting Arts Community's very talented artists.
Every artist uses his/her studio in a different way and if you have been pondering ways to make your studio work for you, maybe the answer will pop out at you in this 'no cost' virtual tour. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unknown Sunflower block

This is an unknown sunflower block that is asking for help in being identified.
I met a very sweet woman who would like to finish a project that her, now deceased, sister started. This is a story that has played out numerous times in families all across the world and I am happy to be a small part of the process of completing this labor of love.
Sis was very organized as far as labeling all the bags with letters and numbers along with the size of the blocks contained within. The only thing missing is the actual pattern.
As far as we can tell, there are 12 flowers: 6 of the gold and rust and 6 of gold and black. We are guessing 12 since we found 12 completed blocks with a stem and 2 leaves. None of the sunflowers have been completed but a dedicated few were able to puzzle a block together to allow a plan to be put into action. I wrote some directions for her to follow as phase one but I am sure we all agree that knowing where you are going is extremely helpful.
Any help in locating a pattern would be most definately appreciated.
Thank you!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Beading 101

Saturday I taught a beading class at my local quilt shop. I wanted a project that was fun and small enough that it would get finished someday. The ornament is a great motivator and can definately be accomplished by Christmas. It started as a 3" square that I then stamped in setacolor paint with a holly stamp I made myself using fun foam and a wood base. Bead the holly following the outline, add your vines using DMC floss in a stem stitch, bind, and finish with a beaded hang and tassle. Voila, instant gift made with love.

The class seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and I had lots of yummy beaded show and tell for them to ooooh/aaaah over. I think we all know and agree that is the most important part!

Below is another example of how to dress up a simple block for yourself or a gift. A simple 9 patch with each square cut at 3" ends up at 8" square to fit into a purchased 8" square frame. I quilted it with an X design in each of the red squares and then beaded the white squares. Depending on how much beading you choose to do, you could reverse this and have 5 hearts.

Both of these ideas are simple, fun, relatively quick and allow you to take advantage of all the wonderful beads out there that are calorie-free candy!
Enjoy and happy beading.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sales and other thoughts...

So a bit more than a month has gone by with 6 small sales in all, along with an ornament and lots of notecards from the gallery....YIPPEE! The thread paintings are a favorite it seems and the pile of photos to choose from for my next project is piling up.
This was the first thread painting to sell after my "Midsummers Dream" piece."Still Beauty"
5" x 7" framed to 8" x 10"

I really do love this little piece...it is so relaxing to look at. Since I retire each photo as it is used, I have gone back to the Beaufort harbor looking for more wonderful shots but the harbor is now very crowded. The lesson is always have your camera because you never know when the perfect inspiration will come along.

It has been a long and busy, sad and invigorating month for my family. My baby girl went to college this year. My older daughter went back but into her own apartment this year opening up a whole new can of paranoid worries for her mother. We became official empty nesters on our 21st anniversary.

I held it together pretty well until we went out to dinner for our anniversary. With wine in hand, as my husband toasted us, I started crying. He asked for me not to since we were in the middle of a nice restaurant and thankfully it wasn't the ugly cry, but cry I did. Don't get me wrong, I am excited-just worried too and I miss my daily hugs. Of course they think I am nuts:) That is okay...it is part of my job.

With all this free time you would think I have been getting so much accomplished; but after spending 3 days cleaning the studio, I have been kind of floundering around. This week really feels like I am getting my groove back though and what better way than to write a post about what so many of us go through eventually.
You must move forward in life especially if you want your art to grow and evolve.

I will leave you with a photo of one of my ornaments that I sell. This is of the Cape Lookout lighthouse here in NC. Orders are always welcome and coming by October's end, I will also have Hatteras along with 4 other NC lighthouses.

Hand inked with beaded hang and accents.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blissful Validation!

I have been so busy the last week helping my daughter attend college orientation (college is 3+ hours away) that I haven't had a chance to shout from the 'internet' rooftops about my sale last week. On Mondays I work at a local gallery where some of my work hangs and last Monday a gentleman came in and just loved my "Midsummer's Dream" piece. It is one of my favorites and has received lots of admiration so I thanked him. As he wandered the gallery, he kept coming back to it and finally decided he had to have it:) I have sold work via commission before, mostly more traditional pieces, and never out of a gallery setting; so I don't know that there are words adequate enough to describe the pure exhiliration I felt as I bundled up my baby and sent it off to live with someone new. There is no better validation of what you do as an artist and the time and love you put into your work than to have someone come in and purchase your art with their hard-earned money. When your work hangs in a gallery next to so much beautiful work and yours is the one they choose, you can't help but feel Blissful Validation for all your long hours.
I did manage to keep my composure even though I was about to burst on the inside:)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Simple shapes lead to design wealth

Wow, where did the time go since my last post? Well, I know some of it was spent with the lovely group at the Durham Orange Quilt Guild. I was their June program and had so much fun sharing my design ideas with them.

One of my lectures is about using simple shapes that we all know and can draw (I promise) to design with. The above picture is of a gum tree. Once you learn to break it down into simple shapes, you can design your own art quilts. I think in the beginning we are all a bit intimidated about where to start and my lecture, "All Around Us: An Interactive Design Lecture", gives a full hour of 'jumping off' ideas.
What can you do with circles, rectangles, and triangles?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crystal Coast Quilt Show 2009

The quilt show was wonderful as usual. We had over 120 entries along with the Alzheimer's:Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit. I conducted a bead demo on Friday and Saturday with positive turn out and sign ups for a September class.

This is 'Swarley' (long story for a goofy name). 'Swarley' didn't make it to Paducah this year but was juried into the Mancuso Mid Atlantic show in February and won an Honorable Mention at the guild show in the group quilt category. It is all hand appliqued and then long arm quilted by my friend Beth Denmon, Illinois.
This is 'UP UP UP' and my entry for the guild challenge. Our challenge this year was to correspond with the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Innitiative in size only. Requirements were that the piece not be bigger than 9" x 12" to fit a priority envelope, monochromatic, and have a theme of Journey.
I chose a photograph of a balloon from a festival we used to attend every September in St. Louis. As I watched every year I imagined the journeys the participants would have along their path. It won 2nd place for 'Most Unusual Journey' and will eventually be donated to the Alzheimers Innitiative.
Last but not least is 'Wonder Under the Waves' by the Beachrageous group of Susan Hinzman, Lynn Strausbach, Mary Henris, Robin Koehler, and Eileen Williams-respectively.
It really is stunning hanging all together and everyone was impressed.

Hope you enjoyed the mini quilt show.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wonder Under the Waves

I belong to an art group named Artrageous and when we got too big, we splintered off into smaller groups. A few times a year the smaller groups reunite into our larger group for wonderful show and tells. My smaller group is named Beachrageous since we all live out near the beach.
The five of us came up with our own challenge:
Under the Sea theme
Must use a piece of the five exchange fabrics in the background
Must conform to the preset shape agreed upon
Any embellishments work
We display together but each own our own section
I will not be showing the final 5 together until after the quilt guild show that we are entered into is over (May 15th and 16th- Crystal Coast Convention Center, Morehead City, NC).
Once I got going, I had a really good time. The background is pieced 2" squares. The applique is fusible with all free motion quilting. Embellishments include 3d fan coral, beadwork, beaded fringe, shells, and shrink art fish and sea anemones.

This detail shot shows the fan coral and a few anemones. I have decided to recreate this piece to sell since this one is for exhibit only.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

5 Years

"Batik Blooms" detail shot.
Honorable Mention CCQG 2008

For those of you who read my post about the International Fiber Collaborative leaves, here is the update. The tree is up and looks amazing. There are pictures on that site of how they made the wire branches for assembly too.

I know we all hate paying taxes; but when I wrote the check this last quarter, I was pretty happy about it since it showed that I actually made some money this time. The amount coming in certainly softened the blow of having to pay some out. As long as the money keeps coming in I will proudly pay my taxes!

This next week I will celebrate the 5 year anniversary of NESTLINGS by Robin. I sent out promotional postcards for the first time offering 'no shipping' on wholesale orders of 12 or more patterns. If you are reading this and not a shop owner but would like to purchase retail from http://www.nestlingsbyrobin.com/ I will offer no shipping on retail orders of 2 or more patterns. Spread the word. Offer ends May 9th, 2009.
I feel very honored to have been able to do what I love for 5 yrs and to learn from so many talented and wonderful people along the way. You have each touched me in different ways and I thank you.