Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Haste makes waste

I am sure that this has happened to everyone at some point in time. Admit it. You are working so hard, trying to get the quilt done. And you just assume that you don't have to stop and think it through. Or maybe, if you are like me--you do think it through but not well enough.

Let me explain. Now as everyone knows by now, I am getting ready for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show November 6-9. This is a BIG deal. I haven't been in this show for years and I want to take advantage of it. So I am trying to get lots and lots of work ready. So much that it is hard sometimes to figure out what to do next. What will sell?

As an aside. Recently I had a wonderful woman in my studio. She had pre-researched and wanted a quilt of mine for a specific location. Got to love that. She thought she wanted one of my more "traditional" quilts. "Lone tree" perhaps.

lone tree--32x48"--quilt--Ann Brauer

"Night sky" was too big. Though of course I could make it smaller.

night sky--45x45 "--quilt--Ann Brauer

We went through the rack hunting for what might work. Some of the rivers quilts were the right size.

teal river--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer

Then she saw it. When I pulled it out and hung it up, she gasped. Audibly. "Colors of the sky" had found its home.

colors of the sky--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer

A quilt I hadn't looked at for a few months and yet I loved it's simplicity against the wall. Modern but still a quilt. What a great color study. And the size was perfect for its location.  I got to thinking, yes it would be great if I could have another quilt similar to this one. Not the same colors but what would the next one look like? 

I grabbed the colors. Quickly started to piece and quilt without studying images of the quilt that had just sold. I should know how to do this. The blue and the green came together so nicely. Happy colors. Peaceful colors. I thought I knew what would work for the central neutrals against the greens. Wouldn't it be fun to add just a bit of warmth? Just a hint of green? I struggled over these fabrics. After all, this was the key to the quilt wasn't it? I did lay them out and think about it before I sewed.

And even as I sewed. Then I pinned it to the design wall.  Have you ever had that moment of despair? When despite your hard work, there is something not right. Just look at it.

Sure it looks like a spring morning but that blue really looks out of place doesn't it? How could I be so stupid? Would it improve when I finished it. Would the black binding tie it together? I considered it. Just for a moment. NO!! I have my standards. Each quilt must work--or at least I must firmly believe that each quilt works when I finish it.

 I decided I had to learn from my mistake. What had I done wrong? Could I fix it? Time to sleep on that one. Then I decided to play. What if the problem was too much color in the central panel? What if I made that simpler? I pinned up a table runner I had made in light grey with dark green lines.

spring morning--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer

What a difference that made, didn't it?  So much calmer. Yes, that would work. I made the new central panel. Checked it out. Much better isn't it? These quilts are meant to have a simplicity about them.

spring morning--quilt--Ann Brauer

Now there are few things I hate more than taking out stitches. What a waste of time. I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that I took out the stitches, sewed it back together again this time using a black binding.

spring morning--quilt--Ann Brauer

And now I still have to square it off and put on the binding. And yes, I got even further behind. Or was I getting ahead again since I did have a quilt that I liked--that I can't wait to finish and show to you.

Does this ever happen to you? What are your solutions? And again I do hope to see at least some of you at the Philadelphia Show Or maybe at my studio.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

lone tree

I love this time of year. The light is so clear and golden as the sun sets. It makes the trees glow with color. Sure there is a bit of sorrow as the seasons progress into winter. Or maybe it is not sorrow but a lingering fear of the dark that we must go through until spring. But for now, it is time to seize the moment and enjoy the splendor.

Well, that is a bit of an over-written paragraph. I guess I really have been working hard. New studios do always take more energy than anticipated. Even though my new studio is absolutely fabulous. And I did book more craft shows than usual. After all, I got into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show for the first time in years.  Let me shout that one loud and clear.

I must take full advantage of this opportunity because it may be years before I get in again. What can I make? What do I need? What will sell? I must not over think it. That would be a waste of precious time and energy.  I must not get nervous. Just make what I want with just a bit of an eye toward selling the quilt.

I just sent two quilts off for a trial placement. Oh I do miss them already. Who knows if they will find their new homes. I don't want to make work just like them. I need something new and fresh. Something that makes me want to complete the quilts to see what they will look like.

early summer--45x45"--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak.
late summer--45x45"--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Then it dawns on me. A golden tree against the sky. Just one tree. Will it shine in the light? Tell a simple story? In colors so lush and rich I have to finish it. Rich blues and teals. Of course I start.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

Yes, that is undeniably lovely. I must continue.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

Will the teal on the bottom carry the blues? Should it be darker? I must continue sketching it out.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

Amazing how many blues I need. How few blues I have. Note to self-- I must make it to the fabric store sometime soon. For now I rummage through my fabric drawers finding snippets here. Little wedges there. This takes longer than anticipated.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

But still the gradual fading of the colors does make the teal stand out more, doesn't it? I must add the splash of yellow. How will that look? A couple more rows of blue. So much to do. How light will it get at the top? Then the sewing it together. So much slower than I think it should be as the quilt gradually discloses itself. That is for tomorrow. And tomorrow. You know that saying.

At least I have a start. And you--do you have a favorite tree in autumn? How do you start a quilt? Will I see some of you at the Philly Museum Show--November 6-9--at the Convention Center?  For more information:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The end and the means

OK world--did you hear me? I thought I explicitly promised myself that I would NOT do technical work again. No more traditional patterns. After all I make art quilts, right? And I am tired of sewing straight lines. Or rather since I have been sewing a lot of straight lines recently I am tired of following patterns where the work has to be exact.

Been there. Done that. Isn't it more fun to choose each fabric as I sew. Get into that groove. Isn't that what it is all about?

But what happens when I see in my mind's eye something new I just have to make? I try it--of course. And I like it. There is something with the regularity and the precision that I just have to go for even if it is the log cabin pattern and even if I do all the work free hand so it really is not that precise.

I mean look at that pattern. Simple. But such dimension. There is a space there. A story in its regularity.

black white and red runner--12x40 inches--Ann Brauer

Or here--such a feeling light and depth. The window promises something. Isn't that all I can ask for?

plum runner--12x40 inches--Ann Brauer

Or here.

visions of light--38x38 inches--Ann Brauer

I play some more on the design board. Pin it up. It doesn't have to be perfect. I just want to see it.

design board--Ann Brauer
Do I really want to go there? Isn't it going to drive me crazy? But wouldn't it be perfect as a table runner in a modern home? What about a headboard over the bed?

No time like the present. After all if you are super busy--why waste time wondering if you are going to make the quilt. Just do it.

I cut the fabric for the yellow centers. I think I prefer the brighter yellow. More like sunshine isn't it?

I plan the colors of the outside. The colors of autumn.

And start to sew.

Will it work? Is this a waste of time? Will it drive me crazy?  I haven't made enough to know for sure.

Making two does take almost twice as long. Like duh?

But I keep going. And going and going. Now at least it takes some of the form I want.

Finally I can play.  Interesting but too expected. This was not what I intended in the first place but I wanted to see it.

OK--more like it.
And now to sew on the binding, A quilt maker's work is never done, is it?

Not bad though. I think I can get it done before Paradise City this week-end. Was it worth it? Can I make more? Is it more or less technical than the flowing river runner next to it? But that is another story. Argh!!! For another day and another blog. Meanwhile I hope I will see some of you at Paradise City at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Northampton October 11-13. For more info or maybe the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show November 6-9 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

the quilts of Ann Brauer--YIKES it's October

Dear all,

Suddenly the days are getting shorter. The trees are starting to turn those wonderful shades of gold and yellow, rust and red. How much time do I spend gazing out the windows of my new studio. Yes, they are even more magnificent than ever. Looking at the colors move up the mountain. Gorgeous. Looking upriver at the promise of the river. Such lovely reflections of the Bridges on the water. Oh it is more glorious than I even remembered and so hard to capture in a snapshot.

And speaking of rivers, did you see my half page spread in Art New England this month? What an honor that was. Yes, this quilt is called "green river" one of the series of new pieces I did once I knew for sure I was moving back toy the new studio.

Meanwhile I am getting ready for some truly wonderful craft shows. This month I am doing the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton October 11-13 at the Tri County Fairgrounds. What a fun show this is. The food is absolutely wonderful--Thai and Indian, Chinese and Italian. There is live music. And of course there is the art--fine art and craft and items that are just for fun. I could spend hours exploring this entire show. I am Booth 914 in the Main Building. If you check out their web site, there are even discount tickets available.

Then on to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Show at the Philly Convention Center November 6-9. This is THE craft show and I can't tell you how excited I am to be doing this show this year after a hiatus of many years. So I am busy sewing as many new quilts as I possibly can and of course the more I sew the more I get inspired. Oh I wish there were more hours in the day. For more info

Meanwhile I hope to see some of you at the shows in the next couple of months. Of course I would love to show off my new studio if you get up to Shelburne Falls--although call first just to make sure I am there. And I do hope you get to enjoy some of the glories of this season.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I am curious--red

OK, let's face it. As my DH says, I always have a quilt to finish. Well, sometimes it is an eyeglass case or a placemat. Sometimes a potholder or a table runner. But always I have something to do. And I always have far more designs and colors that I want to play with than I possibly ever will have time to make.

So the question is how do I choose what to do next? After all, for every quilt I make there will be so many others that never get made. And if I commit to a large quilt, then I know how tired--physically and mentally--I will be each day when I come home from work. How will I find the energy to make the next one?

But if I just keep making the smaller items, then I won't have that big quilt I know I need for all the craft shows I have coming up this year. Paradise City and Philadelphia, CraftBoston and the ArtRider Morristown Show in December. Yikes. So I keep making the small items and think--do I want the blue quilt that will look like the sky? Or the green and purple quilt that will have such wonderful colors of autumn? I sketch them out. Even calculate the size of the rows.

Then one day I start. Almost without thinking. A geometric quilt in greys and blacks with just one red accent. Could the power of the quilt be derived just from the repetition of the design? So simple that it becomes complex.  A quilt about quilts. Where the sheer size of the quilt is part of its power.  I can visualize it--but only barely. That makes it interesting doesn't it?

I arrange all sorts of reds to create the central color.

red--quilt--Ann Brauer

And I sew. How wide--I am not sure. How much color change--I am not sure. There is that phrase from my days as a lawyer--don't ask questions you don't know the answer to.  I just keep going. And pin it up to the design wall.

red--quilt--Ann Brauer

I test a few different color ways just to make sure. The teal is just too bright. This was not what I had in mind but I wanted to double check it since I know that teal sells. Yes, there is a bit of method in my madness. I do have a new building to pay for after all. But it is wrong. Grey is what I want.

grey--quilt--Ann Brauer

Again I arrange the colors and sew. Hmmm. What do I think?

quilt--Ann Brauer 2014

Is it working? Is it too stark?  I add another row. As I tell a friend, I just have to keep going. If I stop it will be hard to get it done.

quilt--Ann Brauer 2014

But then I decide to play with the other side. After all, I don't want the red so far to the side of the quilt.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2014

Yes, that is adding to the power of the quilt. Not sure I want just those rows on that side but it does give me some place to go.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2014

I can think about it later. As I finish the last row of grey. Interesting. I won't even think about sewing this quilt together. How long that will take.  How I will have to break it up. Make some smaller items as I do the finish work. Instead I need to keep the momentum going. And of course there are so many more quilts I want to make. That will come to me as I ponder this piece.

And you--how do you decide which quilt to make? Do you ever just plunge in because you are curious? And will I see some of you at my new studio? Or maybe at one of the craft shows that I will be doing? Paradise City is October 11-13 in Northampton.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is November 6-9.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

one fine day

Yikes. It is September. Soon I have the Paradise City Arts Festival. Then the Philadelphia Museum Show in November. I need to get working. Not that I have been slacking off this summer--I haven't. Oh sure I have stopped to smell the roses on the Bridge of Flowers--literally and figuratively. I have even made a few vain attempts to attack the weeds in my garden. New studios do take time also. Those last minute tweaks and issues. Gazing at the view perhaps a little too long.

But now it is time to make quilts. Seriously.

I have the name. "One fine day". Isn't it a glorious name for a quilt? I even know the colors. Teal--the perfect color for such a fine day. Don't you love how that color is both sky and ocean? The colors of expanse and dreams. Why they make so few great fabrics in teal I will never understand but I get them when I can and hoard them. Search through my collection--are they disguising themselves in green or hiding with the blues? Maybe they even want to pretend to be grey. I scour my stash and start.

One fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer

This part is easy. Don't you love those little splashes of color?

one fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer
one fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer

I work so hard, I don't even remember to take images. Oh well. Now is the time I need the pictures anyway.  I pin a placeholder on the quilt. I want the "sun" at the horizon. But what color?

one fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer

Is this too small? Too red? Do the colors as well as possible?

I make an attempt. Yes, I have to cut and piece the whole thing out to get the final effect. That is why quilts take so long. Or at least one of the reasons.

one fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer

That is too strong, isn't it. Overpowers the quilt. The dreaminess I am searching for is not there. If at first....

I try another placeholder.

one fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer

It looks very different doesn't it? Almost cold. Not what I want. If at second....

I play with colors. Line them out on my table.

one fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer

Step back. Tweak them. Is it warm enough? I search again through my stash. Are those in-between golds and browns in short supply? How does this work? How wide do I want it? Again, sometimes I just have to sew.

one fine day--quilt--Ann Brauer

Not bad. Of course I may change my mind as I sew the quilt together. But at least this is a start. I am headed in the right direction I think.

Whew. That took a while. What do you think? And will I get to show you my new studio as the leaves change. I can't wait to see the view of the mountain. There is even an Art Walk this Saturday 4-7.  Or maybe you can make it to one of the shows. For more info on the Paradise City Arts Festival check out The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is November 6-9 at the Convention Center

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

the quilts of Ann Brauer--better late than never

Dear all,

OK--I am late.  August snuck up on me. July was just a blur as I settled into my new studio--oh so wonderful it is--and began making quilts for all the shows that I am doing. What fun I am having with the ten foot walls in my new space. Just look at the colors of "prairie sunset".  Doesn't it stretch forever? Don't you just love the polished cement floors? This quilt has about 3/4 mile of stitching in it--what was I thinking? No wonder this newsletter is late.

prairie sunset--about 94x108"--Ann Brauer 2014

Tomorrow--yikes--I am setting up for the Berkshire Craft Show at Monument Mountain HIgh School in Great Barrington, MA. This is a wonderful show--now in its 41st year. This year I was honored to actually serve on the jury for this show and what a great selection of work will be here. If you happen to be in the area, do check it out. It runs August 8-10. For more information And yes, prairie sunset will be in my booth.

Then there is the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, IL. What a show this is. There is so much amazing work here with some of the very best artists from across the country doing this show. I also spend as much time as possible absorbing all this work. Of course I will have new quilts for this show also.For more information  Discount tickets are even available until August 13.

Meanwhile August 16 and 17 is the tax free week-end in Massachusetts. So if you are thinking of a quilt, please feel free to pre-shop my web site.

I do hope to see some of you this month. If you are coming from a distance, I do suggest calling first since as you can tell, there are times I will not be in the studio.