Saturday, April 2, 2016

one fine day...take two

OK. I confess I have been so busy playing with my designs and techniques that I have rarely written a blog post for what seems like months. It feels like I have just rediscovered quilting although actually I am just working with concepts and colors that I already know and using them to make my quilts even more detailed.

First I had to become comfortable with the techniques and the effects I could achieve. There is after all a learning curve with anything new. Fabrics work differently. I can create circles.

abstractions on the night--quilt--40x40 inches--ann brauer 2016

And flames.

green flames--12x40"--quilt--ann brauer 2016

I can even almost paint with the fabric. Don't you love the reflections of the sun on the water in my quilt "ocean sunrise?" Yes, it was hard to do. Trust me.

ocean sunrise--40x58"--quilt--ann brauer
But now I must use these methods and create a coherent body of work. I have a solo show in July at the Shire City Sanctuary in Pittsfield, MA. Sure I could use the quilts I have already and I may well use "ocean sunrise". Indeed they are wonderful and lovely--each in their own right. But opportunities for solo shows don't just come along. I want to make the most of it and create a body of work that sings together. Maybe using "ocean sunrise" but I need more than just this one quilt. What else can I do? Quilts with a purpose and a connection.  Quilts where the sum is greater than the individual works.  Quilts that are more than showing I can create complex techniques and then master them. This should be fun.

But where to begin? The space is small but lovely with brick walls stretching up to the ceiling and great sight lines. I think of the image of this space frequently as I ponder what to make. I need a theme. A concept. Although I have been contemplating this show for some time, now I must buckle down and start working. More colors, more variations on the theme. But not so varied it seems disjointed. And of course I don't want to just repeat myself. Again--this should be fun.

Then as I am working on my web site I realize I should look at quilts that I have made in the past. This could be a great jumping off point. I had a purpose and reason for making the quilts when I created them. I can sort of preview the concept of a quilt before I begin sewing and then see where it takes me. And there are colors that I dream about but haven't worked with recently. This would be fun.

So I start. "One fine day" just jumps out at me. Well maybe not the grey at the bottom but I love the teal and gold.  I can figure out the bottom later. It should look great against the red brick, right?

one fine day--quilt--ann brauer--32x48"

So I start--not to duplicate this quilt but to try to capture a bit of its essence in a new piece, while including what I have learned from my new techniques. This could be fun.

one fine day--two--quilt--ann brauer

I will try to keep my loyal readers posted as I prepare for this show. We'll see if I can blog more frequently about working in a series. No, this will not be a series of blogs about technique. That is not my current interest. But I want to explore creating a group for the show. So we'll see.   At least that is my intention for now. Wish me luck.

And of course I welcome comments about getting ready for a solo show. Or working in series. And if you happen to be in Shelburne Falls, do drop by and see my progress. What will this quilt look like when I finish it?

Friday, February 5, 2016

the quilts of Ann Brauer--blue hearts for February edition

It hardly see like February at all here. We just missed the snow that hit the mid-Atlantic states (I literally saw one flurry and a dusting about two miles south of my studio) and now we are having mud season if you can believe it. I guess you just never know do you. Anyway it allows me time to work in the studio. I am almost done with my orders and have started working on new quilts for Baltimore. I do love it when I get to show my new quilts off to visitors.

Here are a couple of them hanging up in my studio. What do you think?

Ann Brauer--quilt studio--2016

And of course I am trying to make more table runners and glass cases in the colors that keep selling. Don't you just love this blue one? Doesn't it remind you of spring?

blue river--13x40"--Ann Brauer 2016

In my spare time I have been looking through my studio finding older quilts that could use a good home. Many of them are tagged with a postcard that lists their new price. I must say I was feeling generous to my customers when I marked some of them down. The next time you are in Shelburne Falls you might want to drop by and see what I have. Meanwhile my friends up at Salmon Falls Artisan Showroom are having a blue heart sale February 12-15 to celebrate the opening of the Blue Rock Restaurant in their new home just up the hill from my studio. I reduced the price of my work up there by 20% since I need to replenish my stock but do come down to my studio and twist my arm if there is something you want that is not already on sale.

detail--blue city--Ann Brauer--quilt

My booth number for the Baltimore show is 1201. For further information about that show or to pre-purchase tickets check out their website  The website for the Salmon Falls Artisan Gallery is  And of course you can always check out my work on my Etsy shop 

May the rest of your winter have just the right amount of snow and sunshine and may the crocuses appear early and bright.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

the frolic

I don't know if this ever happens to you, but sometimes I just need to get a quilt DONE. Not one of those long projects that I work on for days or even weeks but a little quilt to refresh my mind. An amuse bouche. Or maybe if I were British I might call a frolic.

In this case the perfect project was delivered to my in box. A customer who had bought a couple of my placemats on Etsy now wanted something to hang in their baby daughter's room. They seemed like sweet people, would give me free reign and it seemed like it would be fun to do. (Besides the annual sale at The Textile Company starts next Tuesday and it would be fun to have a bit of extra cash around--yes I am a bit of a fabric-aholic).

I had a couple of placemats around in the colors they wanted so I pinned them up loosely to my design board to give the couple a rough idea what I planned to make.

frolic--quilt--Ann Brauer

Perfect they said and I decided to start. This was not a project to spend a lot of time on. The budget was low. I knew that going in so I wanted to relax, have fun and finish it. Perhaps it could be a bit lighter. A hint of sunrise. I pulled out some fabrics and started sewing.

frolic--quilt--Ann Brauer

By putting the horizon line lower I knew I could create more interest. I figured I make the bottom be slightly more blue. Again a bit more interest.

frolic--quilt--Ann Brauer
The colors kept calling me. Yes, it was taking longer than I had anticipated. Partly because even though I was working with a familiar idea I did have to do more thinking than I do with placemats where I  organize the fabrics all and sew. There were more colors involved. I had to hunt for just the right color which does take time. Then I had to look at what I was doing to make sure I was still on track. Still the quilt kept calling me.

frolic--quilt--Ann Brauer
Until finally I could trim it off.

frolic--quilt--Ann Brauer
Doesn't that yellow add such an interesting spark?

Normally I like a black binding. It makes my work consistent and I think makes it look more finished. But this was for a young child. And the original placemats had a lavender background so I figured that was what was called for.

frolic--quilt--Ann Brauer
Not bad, is it? Should I make more. While I know I under-priced myself on this quilt, I could probably sell more if I made them.  If I made them in a series it would be quicker. Three hung together would look great. I could spend weeks doing this. Still the finish work took longer than I had hoped and I think I would want to quilt on top of the piece these days. That could not be made faster.  I have other orders to fill. Baltimore is very soon. And if I have any hope of having the dynamic and impressive booth I long for at that show, perhaps it is not the best use of my time. Sigh. Although a good concept to have in my back pocket when I need one. Or when a customer requests one. Thanks Etsy.

And you, do you ever make something just because? A small fun piece. What do you think?

Monday, January 4, 2016

the textile curator

I love it when people include my quilts in their blogs. Here is one with lots of wonderful images of my quilts and some great content. Hope you enjoy.

dreaming of rainbows--quilt--Ann Brauer--2014

Friday, January 1, 2016

finishing the quilt

It may be an apocryphal story but family legend has it that my grandmother would take her quilts to the local quilting bees--she had to. After all, her in-laws were there. Then when she came home she would take out their stitches because they were too big. In her world neatness did count.

Now I am not a fanatic about my work but still I think it deserves the respect of having the back look good even if you are the only person who will see it. This is the quilt "dawn" on my design board just waiting to get finished.

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

To begin I take two small blocks that are going to be joined.

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

I then put them right sides together, pin them and sew a seam. My machine is a 1965 Singer 281-3 which is beginning to get some wonderful signs of wear that adds character to it. (It actually survived when I lost my studio to Irene--pretty amazing isn't it? But I digress.)

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

I open up the seam just to make sure I caught everything. Then I add a strip of fabric binding which will cover the seam allowance on the back. Probably I could do this process in one step but it always feels more secure with a double seam. This is a place you can use what you have and create your own style.

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

I press the binding over the seam allowance and whip stitch it in place. Yes, this is not my favorite part of making the quilt. I want it done. But I turn on my favorite NPR station and hope that maybe Terry Gross has a great interview. What is Robin Young talking about today? You get the idea. Of course this is also a good time to dream of your next project.

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

I double check the front to make sure it is OK and repeat. And repeat and repeat.

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

Finally I sew the long rows together using the same technique. Note I have staggered the side where I press the bindings so it does not become too bulky.

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

There you have it. A neat finish on the back. A quilt that lies flat.

Here is the snapshot of the quilt "dawn" the perfect project to finish at the end of the year. I had forgotten how wonderful the colors look together. Now I am wondering if I should make one for the studio also. Hmmm.

dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015
 So I hope that answers your questions. And now I need to work on the next projects for this order.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

return to hidden lake

Hidden lake was a quilt I made a number of years ago. A really nice quilt with a great story. I was hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire one summer. The trees were green and lush. The trail delightful--just enough of a challenge to make it fun but not so hard that every step was a trial. We had a destination--a lake--and kept getting glimpses of it as we turned a corner or hit a high clearing. This quilt is about that experience.

Lovely isn't it?

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

The quilt is long since sold but I just got an order from a major health care facility in Minnesota to make one like it. It is one of those orders that while I may not like repeating the past it is such an honor that of course I will.  The quilt ordered is smaller which will require its own issues but first I constantly get requests for explanations on my basic technique of quilt as you go. So I decided to use this as an example as my holiday gift to you.

In this case, because it was an order, I created a sample card that needed to be approved before I began work. This is the cheat sheet.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Was I remembering the quilt in all its green glory? I am not sure. Do I have all the fabrics--nope. But what can I do. I go through my stash and pull out what I can find. Is it enough? I am not sure. Is it too dark--I am not sure. The quilt does start off dark green. I always tell myself to make what I know.

I cut fabric for one row of the quilt. If I cut too much, it becomes hard to find just the piece I need. If I cut not enough then I am constantly getting up and searching for more. This is my pile for now. The light was not good for photos but you get the idea. This helps me see what greens I have for the quilt.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

I then sew the first two pieces together. In this case I am starting at the bottom. I have a layer of cotton batting on top of the back of the quilt. I then spend time finding just the right fabric to add next. How bright should it be? I am not in the swing of things yet and the quilt as not absorbed my mind so it takes a while.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

I always estimate that I reject at least five fabrics before finding just the right one. When I do I lay it with the right side of the strip against the right side of the pieces I am working on.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Then I sew a seam.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

The stitches go through onto the back.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

I press it open and keep building.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Eventually I finish the block and pin it on the design board to begin the next one.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Are the colors right? Does this have the liveliness of the original? Sometimes it is much harder to make a piece that I have already made since I must absorb the quilt as it was taking into account the effect of photography and the different fabrics that I have now. I also have to listen to the desires of the client. Time will tell. In this case, I will keep building the quilt until I see the whole. This is where the fun begins. One block at a time.

And for those who ask, this is my most recent variation of a tutorial how I make my quilts. As you can see much of it is intuitive. It requires practice and looking at what you have made before to see where to go next. It also requires getting into the mindset of the quilt that you are making. What are you trying to say? Where do the fabrics lead you? How do they work as a whole? Sometimes the only way through is to start. How do you begin? What tips do you have?

Happy Holidays to you.