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. www.paradisecityarts.com

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 www.pmacraftshow.org

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. www.paradisecityarts.com  The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is November 6-9. www.pmacraftshow.org

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 www.paradisecityarts.com The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is November 6-9 at the Convention Center www.pmacraftshow.org

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 http://www.berkshirecraftsfair.org 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 http://www.americancraftexpo.org  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.

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