Monday, July 21, 2014

the mission

The mission--which I chose to accept--is to create a special quilt for the office of a client of mine. They loved this quilt--rivers of green. Just the right size and shape. Just the right amount of motion. But are the colors ones that work for them? Is it too "cold" for their space?

river of green--36x36"--Ann Brauer 2014

After all, it is a quilt that will be in the office of the administrator. She will be looking at it every day. The clients will be coming in and associating this quilt with the office. It must be just right. They send me the colors of the office and a link to their web site. So helpful. This is a custom order so I should get a feeling for the space.

I suggest that since they use the concept of an olive branch in their work, maybe the quilt should reflect an olive branch. Great idea. But they can't quite visualize it. Can I send some colors? Sure.

What is the color of a black olive? Look at it. Sort of a combination of reds and purples, browns. How to add just the right amount of sparkle to the olive? There wasn't a good fabric I could find that was just "olive". I add snippets of fabrics to give them an idea.

Ann Brauer

Then I start to worry. (I do that a lot with a custom order anyway.) Are these the right colors? Even if they are--will the customer be able to visualize that this will really result in an "olive" river?

Well, there is only one good way to test it. So I decide to start.

Ann Brauer

 Is this too busy? How do the colors work? Again I know the quilt will change as it grows.

Ann Brauer
 Yes, I do like how the colors are beginning to flow.

Is blue the right color to surround the quilt? Again I am not sure. There is blue in the office. Well, I might as well make it. This quilt is not for them anyway. But for me. Certainly these are colors that will sell. And I do need lots of quilts. Next month I am doing the Berkshire Craft Show at Monument Mountain High School August 8-10 and then the American Craft Exposition in Evanston August 22-24. Yes, I will be busy.

Ann Brauer


And now I wonder. What if I used a lighter tan to surround the quilt? How would that look? Or maybe switched up the colors all together. So many possibilities. What if the olive were more purple and the outside more beige? How would that look? Don't you love how one quilt can inspire others? Does this happen to you? And what will the clients think?

For those in the area, do check out the Berkshire Craft Show--now in its 41st year. http://www.berkshirecraftsfair.org  and the American Craft Exposition at http://www.americancraftexpo.org. Hope to see some of you there.


Monday, July 7, 2014

the wind up

OK-- by now--as you just might already know--I moved into a new studio. Yeah!!! Friends told me my work looks absolutely fabulous. Never have they seen it look so good.

September fields--quilt--Ann Brauer--2014

And sure enough, within days, my big quilt--September fields--is headed for its new home. Yeah!!! Again.

But that means that I need to make another new quilt. After all, I am doing the Berkshire Craft Show August 8-10 in Great Barrington, MA. Should I cheer again? And then The American Craft Exposition in Evanston Augut 22-24. Yikes, what was I thinking.

Well, there is no time to think. I have to start--NOW. But what to make. Truth be told, I am not always feeling creative. Especially not when I am building a new studio. (Not that that is something I do often--but lots of my energy goes to deciding what color the door should be, what about the color of the tile in the rental unit upstairs. And how can I promote the new studio?) You get the gist.

But I can't hold a pity party. I must dig deep and think quickly. I know I want the quilt to have lots of color in it. I do after all have a black and grey quilt--winter light--which is fabulous. So I want something different and joyous.

winter light--99x99"--Ann Brauer--2013--quilt

I look around me. This is a quilt I made as a test for a large quilt that never happened. Yes, I love the sweep of the colors. So rich and wonderful.


quilt by Ann Brauer



But is it too "country"? Too much design in the fabric? I wonder.

Maybe it would look more "modern" if I had thin stripes running through it.  Yes, these quilts have names and better pictures. But this is how I was thinking. Put them up in the studio. Stand back. Think and ponder.

quilt by Ann Brauer

I love the sweep of the colors. But while the white looks fantastic in this smaller quilt, would it be too busy in a large quilt?  I try to visualize it.

Maybe dark would look better? More like September fields. Hmmm.

quilt by Ann Brauer


Well, it is time to make what I know. I can't fret about the new quilt too long. Fretting after all takes up time and energy. So I start. One long thin strip of yellow.


quilt by Ann Brauer

Now it looks like I am getting somewhere, doesn't it?

I organize and play with the next row. Arrange and re-arrange the colors. How quickly do I want the progression to happen? What will it look like when the quilt is done. After all, this quilt will be BIG.

quilt by Ann Brauer



Time to start. These seams are long.

quilt by Ann Brauer

Nice colors though aren't they? Now it seems like I am getting some place. If only I can continue. One row at a time. 

And you--how do you start a big quilt? Do you find the wind up to be the hardest part? Do you just jump in? Do you go back to what you have made before to find inspiration? Is this a trick for keeping your style consistent?

And most importantly, how will I get it done before those two craft shows?  Will it take on a life of its own? Can I just keep going?

For more information about the Berkshire Craft Show at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington now in its 41st year.   www.berkshirecraftsfair.or
And the American Craft Exposition at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. www.americancraftexpo.org

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

the quilts of Ann Brauer--Grand Opening Party June 28



You all are invited to a party June 28 at my new studio. There were so many people I needed to thank for making it happen. So many people I wanted to see. In the darkest hours after Irene, the thought of the opening party brought tears to my eyes. Now I don't recommend becoming a poster child for CERF+ which I am--not worth it. Although I do thank them for the help. And yes, I made that quilt AFTER Irene.

As well as the West County Relief Fund, the many friends who helped in so many different ways--the woman who spent the day before starting the new dream job she had worked so many years to get. My friends the craftspeople who helped just before a major craft show.  I told them they didn't have to but they returned just after the show and spent more time putting up my window film. Scott and Kate. Scott and Kate. The quilt makers who sent me precious contributions of fabric that I so desperately needed. The two great fabric stores in my area. Awesome. My amazing DH. Over and over. Those who helped me set up the temporary studio. So many hours these people gave me when I needed it most. I appreciate each and every thing you did.

Yes, it is time for a party.  I am in my new studio!! Of course, when I have had to choose between making quilts or promoting the party--well, sometimes the party won out and sometimes the quilts won out. That is what the new studio is made for after all. The light is absolutely fantastic. Thank you George Dole, Jr for listening to what I wanted and making it so much more what I wanted. The construction in awesome. Thanks Dole Brothers and the entire crew with a big shout out to George Dole himself who kept all the pieces going. What a great job you have done. Wait until you see the polished floor. I love it.


I confess I spend more time than I should just admiring the detail of the wood work. The mitered joints are beautiful. Thanks Scott. The finish is so smooth and shiny. Thanks Mike. And Spike. I love my polished floor. It is so substantial.

And of course those who did all the construction work. How many hours and days and weeks they spent digging the foundation--thanks Bucky and crew. Pouring the concrete. Raising the structure.



They had a cat walk to get the roof trusses installed--I didn't get much work done that day.

The many sub--contractors. Tim and Jim. Dale. The railing is great. The floor polisher who worked until midnight one day to get it done. My neighbors who let them use their space. Chris and Josh and Mike. My neighbors at my temporary space--Ellie, Kelly, Tiffany, Bob. My friends who encouraged me to go through with this process and gave me guidance to get it done. And of course, again my DH who put up with me in the stresses of construction.


OK. I could go on.

Instead it is time to party. The Grand Opening Party is June 28 from 4-7 and you are invited. Of course you are invited to the studio when I am open. I love to show it off. July 4 is the annual parade in town. Fire engines and old cars. Rescue vehicles and bicycles. It should go right past my studio. I can't wait. There is always the beauty of the Bridge of Flowers and the many great shops in Shelburne Falls. Then August will bring the Berkshire Craft Fair and the American Craft Exposition in Evanstion.  And for those who can't make it, I do have an Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer  Or you can just follow me on the Internet. That is OK too.

And to everyone. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.



Ann Brauer
2 Conway Street
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

Monday, June 23, 2014

rolling hills--my view

Yesterday as I was sitting on my walkway doing some hand sewing, a passerby noted:
"It looks like you are where you want to be." How true that is.

The views from my new studio are so much more spectacular than I had remembered.
The mountain stands there benevolent and green protecting the river.

View from my Studio in Shelburne Falls, MA--Ann Brauer--2014



Upstream, the river winds into the green. And behind my sewing machine the windows promise more green and the chirping of birds. I spend far too much time just looking and absorbing my surroundings.

And of course I must make quilts.

I create a pile of fabric.






And start sewing.







I must capture this green. The gentle hills. The water flowing. The look.  The mood.





This quilt just comes together like it was made to happen.


No need to write much about it. The quilt speaks for itself, doesn't it?


rolling hills--summer days--Ann Brauer--12x39"--2014



detail of rolling hills--Ann Brauer 2014




And soon, the view will change. The clouds and mist will shroud the mountain. And probably I will need to make another quilt to commemorate the scene.

View from my studio--Shelburne Falls, MA--Ann Brauer



Yes the Grand Opening is this Saturday June 28 from 4-7 but I am open most days except Tuesday. I hope to see some of you there so you too can check out the view. See my new work. Celebrate. And for those who can't make it, there is my Good Night Irene sale on Etsy. http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

everything in its place--well almost

Now in my ideal world, my new studio was going to be done. I dreamed of taking my work--one small van load at a time across the bridge and putting it just where I wanted it with next to no disruption in my sewing. How sweet that would be, wouldn't it?

Of course that did not happen. The studio needed painting and electricity, the mini-splits were still on the floor. The windows needed to be finished. Oh so much to do. But they did have an area cleared for me and new tenants were moving into my former space. So--with the help of my wonderful DH and two great friends--thanks Scott and Kate--everything was in boxes and bags. Wrapped to protect it. And stashed.

Doesn't this look like fun?








Now luckily this is a space that is at once familiar and new. It was designed with windows for the sewing machine. I knew where it was going. The counter beside it. The ironing board in its place. And I am used to setting up my display area. After all, every time I do a craft show I pack my possessions in my van, load in the display and the work and in a day or so make it home. This was just a craft show on steriods.


First things first. Get a couple LARGE storage cabinets. One for craft shows. One for supplies. The more I could store, the less I would have to search through. Order out of chaos. And yes, they do double duty as design boards. Can you ever have too many?

studio--Ann Brauer

Then as they worked, I could work. If I can't set up my studio, I can make potholders. Do what I know as I search for the tools. Not bad huh?

potholders--Ann Brauer

Finally the workers left--at least most of them. Time to uncover the floor. Doesn't it look magnificent?

studio--Ann Brauer

 
studio--Ann Brauer

What goes where? There is a bit of order already. Get the quilts out. Sure, those Abstracta will be replaced at some point. For now though, it is time to get the studio set up. See what goes where.

studio--Ann Brauer

Move the display furniture into place. At least sort of. Do what I know.

My amazing DH made me even more design boards. I really don't think you can have too many, can you? These are just foam board covered with flannel sheets. Look great, don't they? Yes, I created an island with my plastic containers for fabric. Maybe not the most elegant but I have them. I know where the fabric is. Maybe later I can upgrade. Looks good, doesn't it?

studio--Ann Brauer

I put my foam mats down in the work area. I had purchased those to cover an ugly rug in the temporary space. I think in the back of my head I always planned to move, don't you? Yes, I want to do an Ikea-hack for my ironing board. Get a bureau with storage and put the ironing board on top of it. Why waste that space? Soon, Ann. Soon.

While my DH is there, we hang the big quilt. Again, I knew where it was going. At least more or less. The studio was designed for the big quilts on this wall after all.

studio--Ann Brauer

Fill in the holes. Tidy up a bit. This is not a permanent display. The quilts are supposed to find new homes. It will always be a place in motion. And that is how I want it.

quilts--Ann Brauer 2014

Tuck things in place. I just had to get this new sewing box. It was in such good shape.  Not sure where it goes just yet. Not sure how to use it. For now it can hold some potholders. That can change.

studio--Ann Brauer

studio--Ann Brauer

studio--Ann Brauer

And get the front entrance looking better. Luckily I have this great counter.  I bought it for the former studio. Looks good, doesn't it? You can see glimpses of the sewing machine with the windows. The light is absolutely fantastic. Better than I could have imagined.

studio--Ann Brauer

Then move my display rack to an angle so those coming in can immediately see color. Again, there may be better places for this. More to do. But for now I can live with it. Think about it as I sew.

studio--Ann Brauer

And now to figure out how to get my customers to find me. Always something, isn't there? They still need to do a bit of work on the building. Patience Ann. But I am open. Each day I hang another quilt. Make another tweak.

rainbows of the dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer--2014


So how do you set up a space? What do you think?










Sunday, June 1, 2014

show and tell--May 31

Wow--yesterday I got to work in the new studio. Doing some organizing. Putting the sewing machine in place. Finding the iron. I got a couple of big cabinets--perfect for stashing lots of "stash". Pun intended.

It was Saturday. The workers--who are all actually very kind and skilled people--and so nice--had other plans. And although it is fascinating watching them methodically put the finishing touches on my studio, for a few hours finally it was mine and I got to absorb being there.

Let me tell you--the space is absolutely amazing. I kept having to pinch myself that this really and truly is mine. Sure I have a lot of work to do but I did just sit on the walk way for half an hour finishing a placemat and watching the world go by. Gorgeous views. I even sat at the sewing machine and started a potholder.

Isn't it time for a bit of show and tell? Yes, I still have a lot of work to do.


And more work facing my work area.





But I did clear out the back area so they can install the track lights on Tuesday.




And another view of this space. One of my favorites.




The brown cardboard is just to protect the floor during construction. Amazingly strong paper with fiber running through it. I can't wait until the floor reappears. Grey polished concrete.


And as seen from my work area with just a bit of the storage cabinets to the right. I am trying not to think about all I have to do. Oh well. Salt de-icer on top. Why not?



 And the storage cabinets. Luckily my wonderful DH got them in place.




And of course, the view from my sewing machine. The reason--or at least one of the reasons--for this project.


Well, I'll try to post more pictures soon. Hope you enjoyed this sneak preview. If you happen to be in the area and see that I am there without too many workers, do feel free to drop by and say hi for a moment.