Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I got it!!!

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me "How long does it take to make a quilt?" I could probably retire. A good question. A fair question. But one that is so impossible to answer. For instance, there is a quilt I have been dreaming about for years. Maybe even decades. I will sketch it out during quiet times at craft shows. Play with the design in those early morning hours as I gradually awaken. Visit art museums and ponder how can I make it.

Now I know there are many methods of making quilts by now and some of them would allow me to create the design. However, with no offense to those who use these methods so successfully, they are not my methods. I don't fuse. I don't reverse applique. I don't paper piece. All of these methods would work--and there are many other methods that might also work. But they are not MY method.

So I continued to ponder and dream until finally it hit me. Yes, this just might work. I knew the colors. The concept. I could see a couple of tricks that might help. It has been a long cold spring. Shelburne Falls has been quiet. I might as well try.

quilt--Ann Brauer 2015

Nice colors. Although this is taking forever.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

Yes, this is finicky.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015
Is it even going to work? Should I continue or put it in the UFO pile? I sleep on it.

quilt--2015--Ann Brauer

It only works from a distance.  I peer in through my window. Yes, my neighbors shake their heads and wonder.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

How many breaks can I take? When will I finish?

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

Still so much to do. So many questions to answer. Can I keep the colors the same on the bottom? It was the end of the day and I was impatient--probably not my best idea. Sigh.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

So much more to do. So many more questions to answer. So many problems to solve. But the reward was showing the image to my DH and having him say "Wow". 

What do you think? How do you begin a new project? How long does it take? And what is next?

Monday, April 6, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--finally April

Finally spring is coming. The snow is actually melting. The maple sugar taps are in place and The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls is open--and even has a few crocii in bloom. (Don't you just love that word even if spell-check doesn't?) After this winter I can hardly wait--although they say a long cold spring will help the maple sugar producers which of course is great.

I am spending my first spring in my new studio and it is so wonderful. The building is high enough I can catch glimpses of the last little ice chunks float down the river. There is a pair of ducks that swim around--I must get a bird book and figure out what kind they are. And yes, I am actually getting work done also.

I am absolutely loving my new flame series with its intense curves and dramatic colors. Each quilt just leads me on to the next one. Of course there is "summer skies". Bright and cheerful. Great colors aren't they?

summer skies--38x42"--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak
But what if I work in the more complex colors? Maybe add some intense quilting after I piece it. The substance is amazing. This one I call "stormy coast". This is just a snapshot--too new to have been to my photographer yet.

stormy coast--42 x 38"--Ann Brauer
detail of stormy coast--Ann Brauer

Every day when I work on them I come home exhausted.  There are some long hangings perfect for a table runner or staircase. A few shorter quilts for that special place. The sewing is intense and slow as I try to get the swirls and colors just right with lots of motion.  I so love the feeling when I get inspired with so many possibilities. It makes going to work fun.

I will be showing these quilts at a brand new craft show The Art of American Craft Museum Series April 24, 25 and 26 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. There are lots of amazing artist there--just check out the list to see for yourself. The show is a benefit for the Costume & Textile Society of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.  Yes, this should have some amazing work here. For more information  www.AmericanFineCraftShow.com

When I am not doing this show I am usually working in my studio although do call first if you are coming from a distance. Yes, Lamson and Goodnow's shop (the kitchen store)  remains open just down stream from me and the Salmon Falls Artisan Showroom is now open most days. And I am trying to list more items on my Etsy shop for those who can't make it to Shelburne Falls. I have lots of eyeglass cases and table runners there as well as the wall hangings. In my "spare" time I am trying to find some old favorites to put on clearance. For more info: http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer

Enough for now. I hope your spring brings lots of flowers and sunshine. I look forward to seeing some of you in person or through the internet.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Make Room video

I just received a link to the video that the American Craft Council did of the Make Room exhibit at the Baltimore Craft Show. Yes, that is my quilt--river of green--included in the Water section. I do hope you enjoy.


river of green--38x38"--Ann Brauer 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

it is what it is..

Ah Baltimore. The grand behometh of shows. The show where dreams come and go. The place of so much hope and anticipation for here is the possibility of magic. Some shows have been for me amazing. The year the couple could not decide which quilt to purchase and bought both. That was sweet. The year I couldn't wrap orders fast enough--I thought I might sell out. That was sweet. The year I received one of their awards--they only give out a few each year. Oh, that was indeed sweet.

Of course I forget the year of the blizzard. The city was almost shut down. An interesting adventure. Or the year I was tucked off in never never land. A break even year. The year of the first Gulf War. Sure people came and numbly walked the aisles. Not a year to remember though--the customers just wanted to forget the War.

As I get ready every winter, I try not to remember the more painful years. After all, this is my chance to get inspired. To make a statement. To see how my work measures up to the best of the best (and all the rest.) Don't you just love that rhyme?

I envision my booth. Plan it in my mind's eye again and again. What pieces do I need to make a statement--as strong as the other booths around me. I dream of the public being amazed by my work--why shouldn't they be? But even if they are not, I know this is just the start of the year. There is so much to learn--so much tweaking to do. So many questions to ask. This is not about me but about them. I am asking them to spend their money. To live with my work in their home. It is a privilege to respond to their questions. To listen. I am humble by the experience.

I love how light and airy my booth looks. The new flame series seeming to stretch toward the sky. I love the colors. The dance of the the flames. Doesn't it look good?

Baltimore booth--Ann Brauer

Well perhaps not as good as it looks in the studio. The studio is gorgeous and complete. The walls are real and clean. I do not need to have all the soft walls and light stands. I don't need to push everything together. There is a place at the studio and everything is in its space. That was the first warning.

The second was the little mumblings I heard in the distance. The ones where people whispered--this is work that is in transition--as though this was a bad thing. Maybe it was. Now I did want to show even more flames but there were just too many snow storms. Too many distractions. That I will give myself a pass on--I tried. I aim to stretch my work every year. That I think is a plus. I don't want my work to be static. I will give myself a pass there also. Although I could have presented the whole better. I push my work and sometimes it takes a while for me to find the whole amid the possible. Yes, I could have done better in retrospect--why do I always have more to learn? Sigh.

The third was not me. A snow storm. On Saturday. Normally the best day of the show. And Sunday was just Sunday. Those who had to see everything. I give myself a pass here--the weather is out of my control.

Still there was something to learn. Something I can do better for my next show. Paradise City Marlborough in March. My customers told me repeatedly that they wanted quilts that were five feet long instead of 80 inches. Eighty inches is too long for all but the largest tables. While I love the larger hangings, most walls are only 8 feet tall and so there is not enough room to hang a quilt that is 80 inches long.

That is a good idea.  So I start my first wall hanging. Grey just like the one that I sold but not quite as long. This one will have gentler colors just because.  I can make a couple for Paradise.

Flame wall hanging--Ann Brauer

I start with the colors and outline. Add more colors. I want it to work either as a table runner or a wall hanging. Practice is always fun.

Grey flame--Ann Brauer

And keep adding, one row at a time, the colors slightly different from the one I sold but such a good color. I need to make a couple more so I can make them in the colors people want. Enough so I can make custom orders in the color people need for their home. Yes, I wanted to make more anyway.

As for the booth--yes, I want to improve the booth but first I want to make more wall hangings. See what will happen. After all the best way to not have my work look transitional is to make more pieces so customers can feel reassured I can make a quilt just for them.

And you, do you find you learn something new every time you do a show or finish a new piece of art? What are your lessons? How do you make new work but still stay consistent with the market?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--it's sNOwing again

Dear all,

Yikes. It is almost time for the Baltimore Fine Craft Show. February 20-22 at the Baltimore Convention Center. I am Booth 1207.

I have been working so hard getting ready. I got inspired to make a new series. Are they flames? Spires of hope? Rivers. I am not sure. I just know that I love them. This is a snapshot of the largest of the quilts. Don't you love how the colors just dance together? The quilt itself is about nine feet long.

quilt--Ann Brauer

Then there is this more controlled quilt--I am not sure if that is the right word--rhubarb fire.
rhubarb fire--40x40"--quilt--Ann Brauer
And the long blue flame. Not the best of my images but it is 80 inches long and can also be hung vertically. Wouldn't it look great over a bed?

quilt--Ann Brauer--13x80"

Well, there are several more quilts in this series. I am taking them all down to my photographer this Tuesday--weather permitting--and will have them at my Booth in Baltimore. Speaking of Baltimore, if you go to their web site you can pre-purchase tickets at a slight savings.  Friday evening between 5 and 8 tickets are only $5 for those who want to just a hint of the show. And while you are there, do check out the Made Room installations. My quilt --river of green--will be prominently displayed there. For those who want a blast from the past, the CERF+ Booth will have some images of my destroyed studio. They were so helpful after Tropical Storm Irene. For more information on the Baltimore Show:

river of green--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer

Meanwhile, if you can't make it to the show, I have been posting more quilts and other items on my Etsy site. http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer  In March I will be at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough, Massachusetts March 20-22. Do check their web site for discount tickets and more information. http://www.paradisecityarts.com

Well, enough for now. I hope you all manage to stay dry and safe. I will put the images of my new quilts on my web site as soon as I get them back.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The fire within

Finally I have a chance to do a bit of new work for Baltimore. For those who have been following my work, this year I do have a quilt--river of green--in one of the special displays in the show. Yes, it even made the magazine. How sweet is that?

river of green--38x38"--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

So I wanted to make a few more quilts based on this flowing river. Of course I needed a large quilt. This one is tall--about 9 feet tall to be precise.

blue fire--Ann Brauer 2015

blue fire--Ann Brauer 2015

Then a bit of repetition. Aren't they wonderful?

purple fire--quilt--Ann Brauer

More games.  This one can go either vertically or horizontally.
long hanging--13x80"--Ann Brauer

Or horizontally.

long hanging--13x80"--Ann Brauer

But do I have to limit myself to these colors? Instead I decide I must try red with a hint of chartreuse. I start.
red fire--quilt--Ann Brauer

Don't you love that initial curve? What will happen?

red fire--quilt--Ann Brauer

It grows.

red fire--quilt--Ann Brauer

And grows.

red fire--quilt--Ann Brauer

Now what shall I do? Don't you just love how this quilt gives me inspiration for so many other possibilities? Oh I have so many quilts to make. So little time. Baltimore is February 20-22. I am Booth 1207. For more information, do check out their web site
http://shows.craftcouncil.org/baltimore where you can purchase discounted tickets.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

the turning of the season

Today is the Winter Solstice. Already the afternoons have added a couple of minutes--how nice. And soon--well in January, the mornings too will add minutes. Don't ask me to explain--I can understand it when I read about it--but not well enough to write about it.

For many there is a tenseness and anxiety of this season. The pressures of doing the right thing. The hussle and bussle of the shopping malls. I am so lucky. I will get to spend precious time with my DH and wonderful step-children. What fun it will be to spend time catching up on their lives.  Prepare a lovely meal for them. I know it will be lovely.

This is also the time of finishing orders and getting ready for Baltimore in February. Almost a spring show. I decide I must make my quilt "river of green." Although I have made it once, it is needed for the Baltimore Show and the perfect quilt to get me in the mood to be inspired again after spending the last month making the small accessories that sell this time of year.

I pull out the image of this quilt and study it. Yes, I have many of the same fabrics though I will never be able to recreate the curves and swirls of the fabric. This quilt has such a spontaneity when I made it and I must recapture this feeling. How hard it is to have planned spontaneity.

I made it last year as I prepared for Baltimore. New and fresh. The curves of the river anticipating the river that I would soon gaze upon when I moved into my new studio.

river of green--38x38"--Ann Brauer

Part of a series of new work I made last year for Baltimore. "Rainbow in the mist"--a finalist for the Niche Awards.

Rainbow in the mist--38x38"--Ann Brauer

"Dreaming the rainbow"--it sold even before the show. I was on a roll last year, wasn't I? Also a Niche Finalist.

Dreaming the rainbow--99x99 inches--Ann Brauer

What can I do this year? How can I top these quilts? Not something to overthink, I tell myself. One step at a time. Just do it. Make the quilt--green river. I cut out the greens and take a deep breath.

Green river--Ann Brauer

This is the key to the quilt.

Green river--Ann Brauer

The teals are a bit easier. Sure, I don't have all the fabrics but I can tell the essence of this quilt is the rich brightness of the fabrics. The blue must shine through.

Green river--Ann Brauer

Yes, there are the curves--although different than before.

Green river--Ann Brauer
I then check out the greys. Some the same and some different. I count and recount. Check. Not that it has to be matchy-matchy. But I do want it close. I pin it up and look. Yes, this is similar.

Green river--Ann Brauer
Now to sew it together and then to create new quilts that will grab the attention of the Baltimore customers and push me in a new direction. I sketch an idea. Wonder how it will look in the booth. Think I may try it soon. Hmmm. This could work. I imagine it in my booth. Does it meet my requirements--new, dynamic, a challenge. Fun.

How do you get started on a new project? Do you look forward to the start of the New Year? Is Winter Solstice for you the turning of the season? Will I see you at the Baltimore Show? The Paradise City Marlborough Show, the Hartford CT Show? But more of these later.