Monday, July 17, 2017

"it comes through me"

Recently I attended a business meeting at the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen, MA. One of those places I have driven by for many many years. Always meaning to stop but it is so close. So convenient. I never made the effort. Still I was curious. Finally I had the perfect excuse.

The place was even more fantastic and imaginative than I thought. So many great spaces with dragons and butterflies,

butterfly--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer
ladies waiting,

lady--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer
 dancing children

Dancing girl--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer

And the rocks.  So hard to capture on camera but they were the stars. Set around spaces for meditation and celebration. I wanted to just wander quietly and revisit them one at a time. Run my hands over them. Pause and commune with them. Then examine all the wonderful mementos that had been left by others. Absorb the space.

Memento--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer

It became even more special when the creator of this space explained his vision. How it kept growing. Each new addition flowing out of him. The rocks that positioned themselves just right to create the perfect feeling. One place where he said he could feel the push pull of two rocks interacting with each other.  The stories. Even the sorrow that inspired the initial vision and that grew as others added their stories and their sorrows and joy to the whole.

Isn't that in part what art is? Something that comes from beyond ourselves and can communicate to others. That taps into the universal and lets us all get a bit of a glimpse of the larger story that is beyond words.

And now that I have stopped by once, I know I must return and absorb it in my own way and with my own vision. Have you been to the Three Sisters Sanctuary? Do you have a space like this near you? Have you stopped and learned some of its mysteries and voices? Does the art come through you?  For more info on Three

Forest person--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer

Friday, July 14, 2017

it's always something

Just when I thought I had my Etsy shop organized and humming along getting ready for the holidays (yes, I do think ahead or at least I try to) Etsy comes along and makes a change. Instead of the five photos that I am accustomed to, I can now show my buyers TEN!!!!  I am sure they did it with the best of reasons. After all, the buyer can't really see the item except in the listing and so the buyer probably does want more information. At least that is their rationalization.

But TEN!!! images. What can I show? I have realized that I don't have any more of these wonderful green place mats. If I don't have them, it must be because they are popular so I make more. They are a wonderful color, aren't they?  Front. Back. Two placemats. Placemats with a plate. For me these are standard.

two green placemats--Ann Brauer 2017

I read the helpful tips. OK--maybe buyers want to see the inside of my studio. That works. I love my studio. I can also show them the outside. After all, it is a wonderful shade of green itself. That also works. Now if I had a nice table I could set it and show the mats in use but the truth is that I don't yet. So I read more suggestions. A work in progress. I do hand stitch the bindings. I can show that. Maybe next time I can show another detail of the construction. Who knows.

green placemats--Ann Brauer 2017

Customers do like to mix and match. That would be a nice image. Let them see what else they could order. Maybe I should do more of these pictures. That could be fun.

two green placemats--Ann Brauer 2017

But for now that will have to do. After all, I also need to make some more placemats. This time I think I will try burgundy. Another  color I don't have. They will look good with the green. I will have to see what other sellers are doing for images. More to think about. More to learn. It is after all, always something, isn't it? If you want to see my finished listing, it is here.

What images would you add? I do welcome suggestions.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

finishing the quilt

I don't know about you but sometimes I find it hard to finish a quilt, especially if it is a custom order which means I must send it off to its rightful home. After all, I have spent a lot of time working on the piece--I have to figure out how I am going to make it. What tweaks will make the quilt just right for its location. After all, the customer usually wants specific colors and sizes. They have honored me by wanting me to create their vision for their home. Think about it for a moment.

Sometimes as is the case with this quilt, the customer the customer liked the colors of an existing quilt but it was not the right size. Since I was going to be remaking the piece, they also wanted me to change the bottom of the quilt to incorporate a design element from another quilt of mine.

OK--I could do this. Of course this meant I had to think about just the right colors and proportion for the new size and design element. I wanted the quilt to sing and be more than the sum of its parts. And I did learn something when I made it. That is the fun of custom orders. They push me to see my work in just a slightly new direction. Now I want to make another in this series--different colors, different feeling. But a quilt that I am curious to see. I should start it as soon as I get to the studio today. That is the best way to get the quilt done.

another fine day--24x60"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

above the desert

I love this quilt. It is one of those series of quilts that I created to give a certain feeling that I could not put into words. I know there is a story here--although I am not sure what the story is. Maybe you can tell me....
above the desert--27x61"--annbrauer 2017--photo by John Polak

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I did it!!!!--day 36

What better way to celebrate 36 years supporting myself making quilts than to post 36 images of quilts I had made, I thought. Sure the number seemed large--would I have 36 things to say? Would I actually manage to post every day for 36 days? That is a commitment. While I had written a blog for a number of years, it had fallen by the wayside  as I created a new web site, worked on my Etsy shop and posted on social media. Still I liked the concept of writing about my quilts so I decided that it was worth a try.

The only way to do it was to start and then keep carrying on. I wasn't going to worry if people would read it. This was an exercise for myself. I could do it. Some days I confess I had little to say. A lovely picture, a few words. Other times the quilt had a story I wanted to tell. When I make a quilt, I tell myself to just keep going. If I can do just a bit of what I know every day then eventually the quilt will take on its own life and get done.

That was the story of these three pieces. It was an order that came on the phone. It seemed like it wouldn't be that difficult. Three quilts, each 32x72 inches. Each designed to look like marsh grasses with the light sparkling through them. I had made smaller variations on this theme and so I took the commission. My schedule was full and I couldn't start right away.

When I did begin, I realized these were going to take a lot longer than I had anticipated. Size does matter. I was working with one very large piece of fabric. The sheer volume of the piece meant that adding the fabric was more labor intensive. I had to remember what I had done previously since I couldn't see the whole as I worked. Still I kept going forward. Piece by piece. A bit every day.

Even getting one of the hangings done didn't feel like progress since there were three of them.  Still the only way out was through. Finally. Finally. They were finished. I could have their images taken and send them off.

Now the studio seems a bit empty. There are walls to fill. New quilts to make. And as to my blog posts, I do intend to keep creating them although not every day and not always about my quilts. The celebration itself will continue with cupcakes on Saturday July 8 from 2-6 during Second Saturday in Shelburne Falls. So mark your calendar. Stay tuned. Thank you for reading.

scenes from the marsh--96x72"--Ann Brauer 2016, 2017--images by John Polak

Monday, June 26, 2017

sometimes the name says it all--day 35

Maybe it is because Pluto is so far away it becomes a distant dream. Maybe it just seems lonely and mysterious at the edge of our solar system with its moon Charon. I liked it when the scientists were going to name one of the larger planetoids in the Kuiper Belt after a female goddess--I forget which one.

But really when they decided to demote Pluto to planetoid status--that was going to far. Now obviously I am not a scientist. Although I did listen to the lengthy explanations on Science Friday I still felt--even feel--they were wrong.

Hence this quilt.Which I finished just before we began receiving those wonderful images from the space with the red hills and the blue atmosphere that actually extends further than that of my planets.
For in my logic, "Pluto is a Planet." And right now this quilt is hanging up at the Salmon Falls Gallery which is fitting since that gallery carries many of the imaginary planets of Josh Simpson as well as many other amazing local artists.

pluto is a planet--40x40"--ann brauer 2015--photo by John Polak

Sunday, June 25, 2017

my mother's mother--day 34

When I think of my mother's mother, the word I would use is "nice". She had wonderful white hair. She did not live with us but would come and when she came to visit us she would sit on the porch and count the number of white cars that went by on the highway. She would bring my sister and I color by number sets with pencils and then sit at the dining room table and help us complete the images. After all she had attended the Art Institute of Chicago when it was a finishing school for young women.

When she left my sister and I would redo her coloring since it was always too light. We called her Grandmother.

And yes, she also made quilts. Not the intricate original quilts of my other grandmother but the carefully pieced quilts that women did back then just because it was the thing to do. The Grandmother's Flower Garden and Trip Around the World. The appliqued flowers. All in wonderful soft pastels.

She died when I was still in grade school. Only later did I learn that while she may not have been much of an artist, she was a sound business woman who guided my Grandfather's string of grocery stores through the Great Depression. When they finally closed, she then ran the Candy Stores which supported the family for many years after that.

I also learned that rather than dreading her regular visits to us on the farm, she looked forward to being in the country which was where she had been raised.

As an adult I wish I had gotten to know her a better. What was the price she paid for being both nice and a business woman back then? How did she balance every thing?

In many ways, this quilt--Summer Garden--which I made a number of years ago is a tribute to her and that generation. Its sister is actually in the collection of the American Museum of Art + Design in New York (although they don't usually show it)  and was part of the Six Continents of Quilts Show in 2001. How hard this quilt was to make--can you see the roots not only in Grandmother's Garden but also in the log cabin pattern. Each of the seams had to be tied off at both ends. I even used different colors of black fabric to give even more substance to the piece.  Of course each block was different. And yet the whole is certainly more than the sum of the parts, at least in my opinion.

summer garden--about 90x90 inches--Ann Brauer--2001--image by John Polak