Artist Profile: Carol Kohn

A colorful sampling of Kohn’s handcrafted winter scarves.

Carol Kohn wants her handwoven accessories to make a statement. After all, her philosophy regarding her vibrant handbags and scarves is “don’t worship them or keep them hidden in a drawer waiting for a special occasion. Today you are here. And you are living that special occasion.” Employing bold colors and unique designs, Kohn ensures that her functional garments and accessories make every day a celebration.

A mostly self-taught textile artist, Kohn began practicing needlework and knitting as a childhood hobby. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, then spent most of her first career in the communications end of technology at various companies in the Philadelphia region. She decided to leave the corporate world and focus solely on creating after being introduced to the loom at a Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers open house in 2003. With the launch of Kohn Designs (www.kohndesigns.com), her line of individually handwoven garments, in 2005, the two-time NICHE Award finalist has transformed what was once just a hobby into her second full-time career.

Kohn begins her process by letting the textiles speak to her. “When I’m starting a new project, I let the fabric tell me what it wants to be. I create for me and only for me, but I never force it. I like to let the magic emerge,” she explains.

Using a Harrisville jack loom, she develops a concept and goes on from there. Her creations include an array of wearable and household objects, including scarves, handbags, pillows, blankets, wall quilts and throws. Using mainly eco-friendly materials, Kohn’s distinctive blend of colors makes the richly textured fabric radiate energy and sophistication.

As for the future, she says to expect different kinds of accessories and housewares in a variety of mediums, from sewn bed linens and recycled and upcycled garments to jewelry made from reclaimed paper. Her Royersford, Pa.-based company continues to expand and grow, with Kohn at the helm. As she says, in art and in life, “there is no limit.”