Sycamores and aspens are taking root in Chris Wolf Edmonds' rural Lawrence studio.
Their fabric trunks and branches bend in layers over the railing of the staircase, and their leaves, stamped on cotton blocks, create the spectrum of fall colors.
Edmonds, a textile artist and quilter, is busy finishing up the works she will show in her "Portraits of Trees" exhibit at the Lawrence Arts Center. The show six large quilts and several smaller pieces marks her first show at the center since 1981.
"My quilts keep evolving. I'm doing more of the small pieces because it's easier to find space for them in homes and galleries," she said. "But they are all in response to nature and what I see around me. They are my response to the beauty I see in the world."
Edmonds was taught how to stitch and fit patterns by her mother and grandmother, who were sewing hobbyists. Chris Wolf Edmonds graduated from Kansas University in 1965 with a degree in speech and hearing therapy. While at KU, she also became interested in printmaking and screenprinting.
"But I also did quilts," she said.
She started out making traditional quilts for family members' beds, but soon realized she wanted to create her own designs. Before long, her interests in quilts and art began to merge.
She moved on to appliquicture quilts, the quality of which landed her commissions with Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Quilter's Newsletter Magazine and The Franklin Mint. The Lawrence Arts Commission commissioned "Prairie Pioneer," which hangs in city hall.
"In the 1980s, I started dyeing and painting fabric, and doing geometric and more abstract designs and more pieced work," she said.
In 1990, she completed 17 of these quilts for US Sprint to hang in its corporate offices.
Over the years, her work has won numerous awards and it has appeared in more than 300 articles, books and magazines, such as Smithsonian and American Craft.
Her quilts have been included in about 200 shows in United States, France, Japan and Germany. Her quilt, "Cherokee Trail of Tears," was chosen as one of the century's 100 best quilts by members of national quilters' associations.
Most recently, Edmonds is using metallic paints and woodblock prints to create quilts about trees and the changing seasons. She also makes and illustrates books, including a series of nature books that have text for both adults and children.
While the books are fun to do, Edmonds has no intention of giving up her Bernina sewing machine for a watercolor brush.
"I don't see myself getting away from quilts because they are so comfortable for me."