Friday, June 16, 2017

from little mug rugs-day 24

Once, many years ago I won a couple of very nice grants.  A regional grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and I was runner-up for a Massachusetts Artist Grant. It was about the same time I made quilts that got into Quilt National. I was "hot". The sky seemed to be the limit. Of course I shouldn't be taking up my time making any of the smaller items--the potholders and placemats, the table runners and mug rugs that would sell at almost any craft show I did and keep me going.

There were certainly arguments to support that point of view and maybe if I had gone to Art School I could have developed a career teaching. Or maybe I could have pushed the quilts until I  sold them at a high enough price to not need the smaller items. I don't know. Could have? Should have? I knew though that I did not enjoy sitting at a craft show as the masses walked right past my booth realizing that even if they loved my work, today was not the day to purchase a more expensive quilt. I am not always a patient person.

But I also realized that there was nothing in my booth that I could afford. So I returned to making potholders and placemats. It wasn't my main business but of course if I was going to make them, they had to be well made and distinctive since they were part of my reputation. They had to be fun for the customers and for me. It was a balancing act to not get too many orders that I didn't time to make the larger more intricate quilts that I wanted to make.

For me it worked. At the studio I even sold small bookmarks and mug rugs. And in a round-about way, one of those mug rugs resulted in the order for all 12 quilts for the Federal District Court House in Springfield, MA. You just never know.

Quilts--Federal District Court House, Springfield, MA--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Quilts--Federal District Court House, Springfield, MA--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Do I still have those internal debates? You bet. When I get into that creative flow, when I get inspired and I just don't have time to make all the quilts I can envision, it is hard to finish an order for potholders. But then I get tired and need a break. Or the quilts are being a bit ornery and there is nothing like the quick satisfaction of a set of potholders that are DONE and will create a bit of joy in someone's life.


  1. I think sometimes it is great to have a creative spirt that drives you to make great work and sometimes you need mindless to just make it though the day... tried and true. I also know that sometimes it is wonderful to get a piece of an artist that you can afford and sometimes that is all you can afford. Sometimes the small leads to the big. A good friend of mine told me that everthing you create does not have to be epic. That was very freeing for me. And it is ok to feel that way! Enjoy the epic and enjoy the mindless... it works for me and maybe you too!

    1. Thanks Jo. I am glad I am not the only person feeling this way.

  2. I can't afford your quilts but I bought a table runner from you some years ago and I see it every day and it still makes me happy. So thank you for including small things!

  3. So glad you are enjoying your runner. That is why I make them.