Monday, October 27, 2014


I remember once years ago. I was at a craft show. The potter next to me was constantly talking to customers. "What was his secret?" I asked when he had a spare moment. Finding time was not an issue for me.

His answer was simple--"Don't say no right away. Listen to the suggestions of the customer. Draw them out. See if it is something you can do. Maybe you will learn something. Maybe you will get an order. At least you are talking with people."

Sure there are times that it doesn't work. There are items I know I don't want to make. Been there. Done that. Too much work for what I will get. Not my style.

But other times, it can lead me down a new path. Help me expand my quilts in new directions. Push me in ways I would not have thought possible. It happened recently at a show. A woman was looking for a head board for her bed. She wanted something long and horizontal and fell in love with this runner.

 geometric table runner--12x40"--Ann Brauer 

Of course the colors were wrong. She needed it longer. Six feet to be precise. And she needed it to match the colors in her room. I sent her a bunch of fabrics which she played with until midnight one day. Then she asked for more fabrics and played with those until she got just the colors she wanted for the central stripe. When I saw them, my eyebrows silently raised. But still I smiled.

Now this was also a design I continued to play with. I added colors and more dimension around the outside. But she had not seen those. The yellow with the shades of grey.

black, white and yellow table runner--12x40"--Ann Brauer
The plum and green.

plum and green table runner--12x40"--Ann Brauer

She had not seen these. Clearly she had a design in her mind. I must make her what she saw. What she imagines. It will be hanging over her bed after all.

I started sewing. How long and thin those first little bits of yellow were. How would they stand up to the design. Would they be lost in the black and white?

table runner--Ann Brauer--2014

Would the colors she had surrounding the yellow be too busy? These were not my choice but I could see how she wanted to encapsulate the yellow so I added them.

table runner--Ann Brauer--2014

Should the black and white be almost random as they were in the original or should I keep the colors constant? I thought about it. Decided that as in the original I would make them almost random although I would not break up the colors for the long rows.

The gist of this runner is patterns that resolve into a whole. There is an element of trust that the process in the end will work. And meanwhile there is lots and lots of sewing.

table runner--12x72 inches--Ann Brauer

On and on. And on.

table runner--Ann Brauer--2014
 Until finally the whole begins to emerge.

table runner--12x72"--Ann Brauer

Finally today I finish. Hmm. Interesting. There is a possibility that interests me. So simple and yet complex at the same time. The yellow really did work. The designs do peak through in the fabric.

table runner--12x72 inches--Ann Brauer
What a statement it makes. Now I can't wait to finish it.  What a great idea she had. How I want to make another just to have it. Play with the concept. Explore the possibilities.

Yes, I am glad I listened. Does this ever happen to you? Do you find it hard to listen? To decide if it is a project that interests you? What have you learned?

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