Wednesday, September 29, 2010

my design board--making it work

Now don't get me wrong--I love my studio. Sure it's a little squat building slightly off the beaten path. I painted it pink so people could find me. But I do have the best view in town. I can watch the colors change on Massamont. I can admire the graceful arches of the Bridge of Flowers upstream. Isn't that gorgeous?

Inside though the ceilings are short--maybe seven feet tall.  It had been a video store. Before that a fire equipment supply warehouse. It began life as a garage.  But the space is much bigger than it looks. I have my sewing machine in the corner right by the windows--north by northeast light. Can an artist ask for better than that?

Positioned so I can see it from the sewing machine--and also the cutting table--I have my design board.

It was just an old office divider in a solid gold color that I picked it up at a tag sale for $2--couldn't beat the price. I worried that the gold color would be distracting but actually it is a nice contrast to whatever I am working on. The best thing about it is I can just pin the blocks up as I make them. If I want to rearrange them, I can easily move them. If I am thinking which fabric to use, I  drape it over the edge and step back. And it does help divide the space between the finished quilts and the one I am currently making. Such focus is useful.

Now recently I have been working on a big quilt--and by big I mean BIG. 105x105 inches. Much bigger than my design board. This is not the first time I have worked so large so of course I have a strategy. Actually my strategy changes a bit with the design of the quilt.  For this quilt, there is a central focus so I centered the quilt on the board and started working.

As the quilt got too big for the board I wrapped the pieces around to the back. It keeps everything in order. If I need to double check the work, I can easily move the blocks.

Since the colors are logical progressions I can keep in mind what I am doing. When I run out of room at the top I sew the rows together. This means I am not forced to do all the hand finish work at the end--there is only so much hand-sewing I can do in a day anway.  It is easy to take a row off and move the remaining blocks. This is the quilt after a couple of rows have been sewn together.

 This is fine for me--but it does sometimes confuse others. For instance in this case the customer was worried that the contrast between the two halves was too pronounced.  She wanted to make sure there was a lot of blue. After realizing that of course she could not understand my thought process, I showed her a picture of the first three rows pieced together.

Yes I had to put the quilt on the carpet to get a picture of it. But it did give her an idea of what was actually happening and she did think it was wonderful.

Is this ideal--probably not. But it works and I am familiar with it. It does make me want to finish the quilt so that I can finally see it as a whole. Frequently this happens first when I have its photograph taken.  And you--what do you use as a design board? What interesting adjustments have you made to your work space.

Friday, September 24, 2010

custom orders--another point of view

Oh yes. those custom orders.  You have to love them and fear them. How wonderful to know that someone trusts your artistic ability enough to hire you to fulfill their dreams.  What a weight that can be. When does my artistic inspiration come into play? When do I have to alter my vision because of the desires of the customer? What if the quilt doesn't want to resolve itself as the person desires?

Right now I am working on a large quilt for a wonderful, sophisticated couple. I do confess that I love this piece and I love the impetus this order has had to help me push the direction of the quilts although I do wonder when I will get it finished.

Isn't it going to be wonderful? Such discipline is required in getting these colors to flow in the right direction.

Making this quilt, I wonder if we as artists should spend more time thinking about a custom order from the perspective of the customer. Now normally if I see a piece of art that I love, I buy it. Rarely do I order a custom piece.

But a couple of years ago my DH was going to be celebrating an important birthday and I wanted to give him a very special present. My booth at a craft show was set up near Carol Boucher. Now for those who don't know Carol, she is a Vermont artist who does wonderful lyrical landscapes in oil pastels. Each painting seems to sing with joyous color--so alive and special. I confess I was spending the quiet times at the show reveling in her work. Check it out:'ll see exactly why I love it.  Indeed I considered buying my DH one of her existing paintings as a gift.

Then I noticed that she had painted lots of cute little red houses and I got to thinking. Now you must realize that my DH build our home from one of his uncle's old barns. He ferried the parts of the barn up hill and reassembled it.  There are wonderful angles.  A tall window in the living room. He is justifiably very proud of it. He has one particular spot on the meadow which is his favorite. As the seasons change, he takes photos of the house with the fresh snow, the autumn leaves, the new grass.

It dawned on me I should at least ask Carol if there would be any possibility I could order a custom painting of the house. I wasn't sure she would agree--would you like that pressure? Of course I told her it didn't have to be exact--I would trust her artistic insight and inspiration--I just wanted my DH to understand that it was indeed our house.To my delight she agreed to do the painting. I rounded up some of those photos my husband had taken and sent them off.

Now the other thing you must understand about Carol is that she is the consummate professional. Even though I told her that she could have full artistic license she took the mission of creating our house very seriously. She told me her schedule and when I could expect that she would begin working on the painting--just so I didn't worry. She knew when the birthday was.

When she began working she sent me a snapshot of the house half finished. What should the lights look like reflected on the snow?  I tried to tell her to use her discretion--that is why I wanted her to create this painting. But I did get up early one morning after my husband had left for work, turn on all the lights  and snap a picture of the house. She tweaked the painting a bit.

What about the bushes in front of the house? I again told her to use her discretion. My DH doesn't particularly care for the lilacs--but I love them. She felt a bit of bush would help frame the house. More questions. More e-mails back and forth as she tweaked the oil pastels. 

Finally it was done. She shipped it off in plenty of time. I confess I opened the package as soon as it came--it was even better than I had dared imagine. Then I had to wait for his birthday. I think that was the hardest part. I tormented my DH with hints--it was one-of-a-kind, it was special, my wonderful step-kids did not have to worry about duplicating it. I made my DH clear the space on the wall where it was to hang. The night before a gentle snow had fallen and my DH and I had walked to the spot on the hill where he takes his favorite photos and he snapped a portrait of the house. Oh was it hard to keep quiet.

I re-wrapped the package--she had double boxed it with lots of bubble wrap to protect it. I used heavy duty tape. My DH would have to work hard to see it. Of course he loved it. Of course he hung it in the special spot in the living room. My step-daughter--who used to work in New York galleries--arranged the lighting to make it perfect.

Isn't it wonderful? Didn't she make the house look absolutely magical nestled in the woods? Aren't the colors absolutely glorious? Of course it continues to hang in the honored place in our home.

For me I think I got my money's worth just by having the experience of ordering a custom work. Now it is probably easier to tweak an oil pastel than a quilt--at least one of my quilts. And I know that unlike Carol I am not well organized enough to say when I will be starting the piece. On the other hand I do ask customers to send me digital images of the space where the quilt will be hung. Paint chips and fabric samples are wonderful. What is special to them? What is the feeling that they want captured? I do frequently send them fabric samples so they can see if we are discussing the same burgundy or
mauve. My quilts arrive in time--but usually not ahead of time.

And you, have you ordered a custom work?  What tips do you have for custom pieces? How much input do you ask for? How much tweaking can you do? And--most importantly--for those who are interested, I just spoke with Carol who reassures me she is still doing custom pieces. Feel free to contact her  She is great.

A previous post on custom orders can be found at:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Art Quilt Collection

Wow--I just received my complimentary copy of The Art Quilt Collection: Designs and Inspiration from Around the World. What a lovely book. As Linda Seward notes in her introduction: "The excitement of looking at art quilts lies in their utter diversity..." The book itself includes work from some well known quilt makers in this country including Eileen Doughty, Joy Saville, Carol Taylor and Lisa Call among others.

However for me, I am most interested in the quilts of those I am less familiar with. For instance I love the quilt Tulips by Ineke Berlyn of the United Kingdom. In this quilt, the tulip petals are appliqued from many kinds of fabric--including candy wrappers-- to create a color study of fields of tulips stretching seemingly forever in The Netherlands. In Castle Wall by Trudy Kleinstein of Switzerland the artist uses thin strips of cotton to create the thick walls, tiny windows and stones of old ruined castles in her homeland. You can just feel the stories that must have occurred here.

Bongwefela by Sally Scott of South Africa is a word that means unity. This quilt uses great detail and modern interpretations of traditional designs to try to create her prayer for piece. From Australia, Pamela Fitzsimons created Skin/Eucalyptus a wonderful quilt that uses dyed fabric and the meditative process of hand stitching to create and abstract landscape that is at one minimalist but also dense with meaning. And I do love the experimental work of Chiaki Dosho of Japan. In Light & Dark II she uses old Japenese silk kimonos to create wonderful haunting color studies. You have to see them to understand the complexity.

Of course, I received my copy  because I am honored to have two quilts in this book. Both are studies of the broad horizons of the prairies where I grew up.  Dreams of the dawn tries to capture the rolling expanse of the sky encompassing the colors of the dawn.

Also included in this book is Prairie dawn--a quilt that tries to capture how big the sky is on the prairie.

What a thrill to see these quilts in such a lovely setting. As Linda Seward says in the introduction, this is a book that you will want to return to again and again. I know I will. The book itself is in hardcover and is nicely presented. Do check it out.

What do you think?  What an honor.

Monday, September 20, 2010

inspiration--the history of a quilt

What fun I had giving a presentation to the Mohawk Trail Quilt Guild at A Notion to Quilt in Shelburne the other night. What a great group of ladies--chatty as any quilt guild I have come across. There was Liz and Liz--but who is Liz 1 and who is Liz 2. Beyond me. I promised to keep them "under control". And the Sue's- how many were there really. I lost count. Becki had just won Homemaker of the Year at the County Fair--although she said it was only because Kathy had not entered. Congratulations all around.  There was news of the Shop Hop, blankets for Linus, pillowcase covers in many sizes and the heavy canvas--how could they use it?

Then time for my presentation. I always get a bit nervous doing these talks--no matter how friendly the group and how well I know my material. Probably it comes with the territory. This time I had decided to add a new section to my talk. As you may know, my method is as simple as can be--quilt-as-you-go--that should take me a few minutes to explain how to do it.  Being a local group, I assumed that some had heard me talk before. So I decided to add a new section on the inspiration and development of my design from quilt to quilt to quilt. I wanted to show them that one quilt can be inspiration for the next quilt. But where to start?

Of course I couldn't show all my quilts. That was what I was trying to get beyond. So I eliminated all the early log cabin quilts, the silk pieces that won all sorts of awards.  I had to start somewhere.  I had the quilt I was going to make in mind. It is an order for a wonderful, sophisticated couple. I figured that way the thought process would be fresh in my head.  So I decided to start with rivers of autumn--a quilt that will be in a show at the National Museum of Quilts in Paducah, KY--(just a bit of bragging there I confess).

Clearly a quilt based on the log cabin pattern straight furrows.  I do love the straight furrows setting from the log cabin quilt--so simple with so much possibility. This piece was a simple color statement--I told myself to start with what I know and work from there.  The trick was creating the color palette for the row that came next. Some warm and some cool but all with a certain zing to them. Some of the hardest color ways to determine were in the corners. Just that little bit of color to tie it all together. I like how the black defines the colors with the white sparkles providing life for the piece.

Then the quilt--hills and shadows. Yes, I have blogged about the process of making this quilt back in March and April. Oh I had many doubts about this piece. After spending all this time on it--would the colors hold together. Would there be the wonderful rolling look that I wanted? (If you want to read about my struggles start with this post and then move forward.)

I love this piece--though unfortunately the rolling effect is not as obvious as I would like unless you can see it from a distance. And of course the ladies of the quilt guild wanted to know what inspired my desire for the rolling effect. Actually this was a concept I had been thinking about for years. I love those landscape scenes that artists can paint. I have been sketching it roughly until I figured out how to do it.

 This is similar to ocean waves. Another favorite subject matter. I tried the quilt in blues and greens. Called it blue shadows. Sometimes my work progresses by making small changes. Sometimes I take large leaps at once. Stephen Gould claimed the same process happens with evolution. Sometimes it is the little adaptive changes and sometimes there is something totally new that works. I don't know if it's true--but I love the concept.

Not bad--but a bit choppy looking and maybe too quilt-y--if that is a word. By now I was in discussion with this wonderful couple. I knew they had very sophisticated tastes and this was also inspiring me.

What about a simple color progression without the crutch of the blacks and the sparkle of the white splashes. A much harder quilt to make since every piece is important to the whole. There is the light-dark progression as well as the yellow to purple-blue progression. Oh it takes forever.

But what a wonderful result. But for the couple I needed to simplify it further. Oh this is getting difficult--but I do love a challenge. This piece is called blue rainbow.

I explain the thought process and the struggles to the quilt guild. They follow along and seem to enjoy the process. How long the process seems to go--I much care is needed for every strip of fabric. But that is a discussion for another day.

Right now I am hoping that I could convey to my audience just a bit about how one quilt really does inspire the next one. I wanted them to see that colors and ideas can be shown in quilts. Maybe extend just a bit their perception of design as something they can do.

Will I do the presentation a bit differently the next time--of course. One good question they asked me was other quilt makers who inspire me. Now truth be told, while I do spend a lot of time looking at the quilts of others--and I do love lots of them--I also like to look at other art--painting, photography, ceramics. They can all give me ideas and design solutions. I need to show them a bit more how I sketch out work and then how the quilt takes hold. I can also show how I choose colors a bit more.

I know I get inspired by giving these presentations. I do hope the guild members got something from it also. And you--do you give talks about your work? How do you explain what inspires you? What do you want to hear when you attend a presentation?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

oh those custom orders

Recently I have been working on an order for a wonderful person whom I've never met. She saw one of my quilts--loved it--and feels it would be just perfect over her sofa. She even sent me a picture of the room and all of the other rooms in her house that relate to this quilt. To make the pressure on me even greater, she is a first grade teacher. Needless to say I want to make her a quilt that is just perfect for her space--first grade teachers do deserve a LOT of respect.

The quilt itself is to be based on red sky. A lovely quilt I made a year or two ago.

Great quilt. Only the quilt needs to be almost square to fit the space. And of course the colors need to be a bit different. The room is burgundy and a French blue--lots of oriental carpets. The sofa itself has a bit of green in it. I hang red sky up where I can look at it as I make this piece.

There is so much I have forgotten about it. How did I create the interest in the maroons in this piece--it is not one solid color but many. Look how loose and effortless the teals appear. Great balance in the quilt also. Just a hint of horizon to anchor the quilt. Well I must start sewing and see what happens.

I create the blocks and I worry. This quilt looks nothing like red sky.  Too harsh. The horizon is too emphasized. Is the red too intense? Have I totally lost the art of making this piece?

 I pin up the yellow sun just peaking above the horizon. This is more like it. What a difference two small pieces of fabric can make. What a relief that is.

Should I use this yellow instead. Hard to tell from the picture--one is slightly darker. Maybe I need to play with it some more. But moving in the right direction. And that bit of red sky like fabric at the top is making the quilt more interesting.

What a subtle difference it makes. I think I like the contrast in the first set better. Do you agree?
Is the blue too bright. Should I add a hint more teal? I pin up a slightly subdued fabric. Hmm.

 Amazing how it changes the effect. I must think some more. This quilt is showing promise. I do like it and will be proud to put my name on it. Not sure if it is right for the school teacher. Must sew it together. Tomorrow I will have a fresh look. I know I can sell it. Maybe I should remake the custom piece and just sell this quilt. Again I know I can look at it tomorrow.  I will sew it together and then look at it. Oh the pressure of a custom piece.  The responsibility. So much harder than just making a piece to sell. But I think I am figuring out the subtleties of this piece. The next one--if there is a next one--will be easier. Or maybe I can just remake the bottom row. Maybe that is the question.

Am I the only one who feels such weight? How do you cope? Are custom orders harder or is it just me?

Monday, September 13, 2010

the little red suitcase

My very first memory ever is of sitting at the top of the stairs of Aunt Rita's apartment--my little red suitcase was carefully packed--or at least as carefully as a two and a half year old could pack--and I knew exactly what I wanted--I wanted to go HOME. I was NOT home, Rita was NOT my mother, and I wanted to be home with my Mommy.

Now truth be told Aunt Rita--or Rita as I grew to call her--was a lovely caring person --my Mother's older sister and I was there because my sister was getting born. Indeed I did get to go home a few days later. I am sure I had a lovely time with Aunt Rita and I have no memory of meeting my sister. After that first memory, the memories all fade and blur.

I kept the little red suitcase. When my folks died, I moved it to Massachusetts. Tied up since the lock doesn't really work anymore. I forget how little it was. Pressed paper. Inside I believe there is a little mirror. Blue and white paper lines it. Look at that little plastic handle. I know it so well.

 Maybe it is because of this suitcase that I always associated the color red with my Aunt. Maybe it was the slight tint of red to her hair. Or maybe it was just her personality. She was the aunt I didn't know as well.  She had graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago and actually had promise as a painter. Apparently she was also a good singer. But she had her own life to deal with.

One early marriage that was never talked about. From my Mother's journal of the time, I learned that he was a charmer. Full of life and adventure. Once he took my aunt, mother and their younger sister on an airplane flight over Detroit--it only cost $1 per person. Later my aunt and her new husband were invited to tour Nazi Germany as part of a small business/goodwill tour. Writing about it even then, they raised questions about the government while they also had adventures climbing fences in farm fields. Newly-weds in love. (Oh where did I put my copy of that journal? I must find it.) One son. My oldest cousin. This was long before I was born. I never met that husband. He was never discussed. Indeed it wasn't until a few years ago that she told me the marriage ended in a divorce.

Later another husband. He came on the scene. Then he left. I had met him so I knew they got divorced. Again this was not done back in the fifties.

So my aunt lived what was almost thought of as an exotic life. For years she had a dress shop up in her town. I have vague memories of visiting it. She played golf--that also seemed exotic to a farm girl. She would show up at Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday parties. Her hair always beautifully done. I never heard her complain. In truth though I didn't know her well then. She was too busy as a single mother. Too busy supporting herself and her son. Remember this was the fifties and sixties. This was not done back then. 

I knew she wrote my Mother regularly. After the younger sister died, my Mother suggested that I begin writing her. This began a wonderful correspondence. If I wrote, she would write back. Asking me questions about my business. Telling me that her Father, my Grandfather loved to garden. He had grown up on a farm. She was always proud that I could actually support myself as an artist. She never doubted me. Those little pieces of information that add meaning and explanation to life. Little bits of advice about my life.

When my Mother passed, she was too old to come down to the services. Instead a cousin bought some red "roses" to represent her. Again that color red. At first I wondered about imitation flowers from WalMart--but I took them home. Put them in a vase in my kitchen. They watch over me still.

Last year she finally moved out of her apartment--the one with the big staircase. Yes, she knew that she could no longer live by herself. She knew her time had come--and yes, she did research her new home. She gave her beloved cat--Tammy--to a dear friend. Complained about the other ladies at the assisted living facility. I continued to write. Her last letter told me to have a "good summer".

Saturday she passed from this life. One of her dear friends had spent the last three days sleeping in her room so she would not leave alone. What a friend. What a knack for having friends.

There is so much to learn from her life. I have only scratched the surface. The ability to take what life gives you, to keep going. To make and keep good friends. This is not a death that was cruel--but a loss nonetheless.

When her apartment was broken up I was given a couple of paintings which I shall always treasure. Just look at these blue jays. Even they have those wonderful red berries.

Rest in peace Rita. You have been with me forever and still will be. And yes, I did also post about her and a quilt she had given me last March if you want to know more. Check it out.

And you--dear reader--do you have memories of aunts or dear friends? And the color red--what do you think?

Friday, September 10, 2010

yes, I am a fabricoholic

Yes, I confess that I am a bit of a fabricoholic. Now I do actually use the fabric that I purchase so maybe it is OK that I also really enjoy purchasing it. But when I can find a fabric store--I do have to "visit" it. Ahh--if only I could "visit" it and leave my check book in the car. Of course such is not the case.

Recently I was  down in Pennsylvania doing the Long's Park Art and Craft Show in Lancaster, PA. So after the show was over, I just HAD to go to the People's Place Quilt Museum in Intercourse, PA. Now for those who don't know, this area is the center of the Amish quilts in the area. Indeed you pass a lot of buggies on the street. Some of the young Amish men even use bicycles or those little push scooters--I am not sure what they are called--to get around.

Most of the quilts now are made for commercial sale. There is a definitely a "country" look to many of them.  But still I do have to check them out. Besides, I do have an excuse for stopping by. Walking up the stairs to the Museum Shop there is a familiar look to the landing. Hmm!!

Yes, that is my quilt in the picture as well. I chat with Carol Martin the wonderful manager of the Museum Shop. We compare notes about comments that customers make about my work. The questions are usually the same and our answers are just variations on the same theme. My favorite story is when I was doing a presentation to a local quilt guild. At the end of the talk I was taking questions. One woman raised her hand and explained that she had seen work very similar to mine down in Pennsylvania--was this the inspiration for my work? I told her it was my work. Carol and I both smiled at that story.

Indeed the Shop has a selection of my quilts for sale as well as some other pieces.

Look familiar? But then I must go into the Museum itself. There are some wonderful quilts there--some traditional and some more contemporary. Again there is a familiar look to the Museum.

This quilt is distant trees. Nice location, right? Isn't that ribbon quilt in the background fascinating? There are some wonderful tumbling blocks pieces also. Here is a contemporary piece that I like. I am not sure who made it but if you visit you can find out.

Another favorite is the display areas with the miniature quilts. For instance look at this tableau. To me who works in a larger format, I am constantly amazed by how tiny and perfect the little blocks are. Sweet isn't it?

But I cannot linger. I must go down stairs and shop until I drop. There is lots and lots of fabric here.
This is just part of the store.

I am here on a mission.  I pile up all that interest me. I grab what interests me--even get a few bargains--which I pull out and then take to the table for cutting. The ones on top are mine.

I know I need lots of teals, turquoise and sea greens for a quilt I am making. These are hard colors to find so I grab all that I see. Here is a selection.

Two big bags of fabric and I leave--my check book quite a bit lighter. My stash pile much much bigger. Now I can start the big quilt. What fun. It is probably good that I only visit once a year. Maybe there is such a thing as too much fabric. Not sure about that though.

And yes, I do make a quick trip to Zook's while I was in town. However, you should be proud of me--I did drive by several other fabric shops. Even I had reached my limit. And you--do you have a limit as to how much fabric you need? Do you have any favorite fabric shops to share?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

what is fiber?

Recently there was an interesting discussion as to what is fiber and in particular whether hand made paper was a fiber art in one of the textile groups I belong to.  This got me thinking about what is fiber art. There must be a way to define it other than--you will know it when you see it.

I checked on Wikipedia--this was their definition. "Fiber art is a style of fine art which uses textiles such as fabric, yarn, and natural and synthetic fibers. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labour involved as part of its significance." OK--maybe this would be a start but I wasn't sure this was sufficient.

I then went to the website for the American Craft Council--after all you apply by category. No help whatsoever there--they say the artist can self-select the category they want to be juried in.

Then I realized I should check the web site for Friends of Fiber Art International --who would better define fiber than the group formed specifically to promote fiber art-- and found that they define a fiber art as "one-of-a-kind works...usually constructed of flexible materials using textile techniques." This can include sculptural baskets, quilts and tapestries among others. An interesting method of defining the work. A good start. Time to put it to a practical test.

Since I am doing the Long's Park Show this week-end I could easily look at some examples myself. My first stop was the booth of my friends Jeanne Petrosky and Dennis Guzenski of JPDesign This husband and wife team is creating paper sculptures that focus on the layering of textures and colors. Isn't it wonderful?

To make this work they use pigmented cotton FIBER and apply it to aluminum mesh to create a sheet of paper. Then they embellish it with various glazes and plasters to create a layering of textures and colors. OK--I guess this work has to be considered fiber art isn't it?

Worth taking a closer look at--and when you do, Jeanne titles each piece individually. These titles are great. Yes, definitely fiber art.

OK--that was easy. Now on to my friend Amy Gillespie. Now I have known Amy for years--way back when she was doing production fiber work--clearly wonderful pieces that were very popular and that gave her a firm background in fiber. But her new pieces are quite different. Very sculptural and sophisticated.  Let me show you one of them.

Basically she is combining felt and wood to create abstract landscapes. As she said, you need to look at the work closely.

These are tiny rolled spheres of hand died felt. What labor and technique went into making each piece.
Here is a close-up of another piece:

Clearly felt is a fiber--after all felt is made by compressing fibers such as wool until they intertwine into a mat. That has to be a fiber technique. But as Amy pointed out, even her use of wood involves a fibrous material--since wood is a fiber. Interesting.

My next challenge involved the booth of David Bacharach. Yes, I wrote about his garden sculpture in a previous post on surviving in a challenging economy.  But he also uses woven metal to create wall pieces. By definition weaving is a fiber technique and the metal has to be flexible to intertwine. What do you think?

My final visit was to the booth of Ausrine Kerr-- I just wrote about her work in my blog post about circles--my view from the show. As you may remember, she does also make wearable fiber and she views these prints as fine art. Certainly I feel that the category should be determined by the artist.  However, they also seem to me to have a strong connection to fiber art.

These are portions of the piece Lithuanian Spring that I adore. In the first image you can see some of the dandelions and seeds that she silk-screened onto the fabric to represent the tenacity of the seeds. The second image is another part of the same close-up showing very clearly the use of the fabric to create a layered effect. Most of the work is an embossed print with painting.

By now my head is spinning--no pun intended. Fiber art is still art. But where do you draw the line? Is it just for the artist to determine? Why is there even a distinction? Do we need categories or is art just art no matter how it is made? What do you think?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

circles--my view from the show

One of the things I love to do most at a craft show is getting to know the work of my neighbors. While I spent most of my day at the Long's Park show discussing my work with customers--and even selling a few pieces--I did notice that this year those whose work was across from me were concentrating on circles--or maybe that is just what I noticed since I usually work in  horizons.

First was the potter Paul Jeselskis. What great colorful work. Oh there are several pieces that I want to take home with me. Isn't it wonderful. Simple but elegant circles. Probably what got me thinking about circles. Oh I hope I have a few more days like yesterday--there are a couple of pieces I long for. His web site is a work in progress but he can be reached using if you can't make it to the show.

Chuck Kaiser's work was supposed to be right next to me but there was a shrub in the way so instead I get to look at it across the aisle. From a distance I was a bit puzzled by his wonderful strong forms but up close this work is truly amazing. Contemporary American batik with incredible detail and colors. When I asked him about circles he explained that once he started to read Joseph Campbell, he fell in love with the completeness of the circle. Each piece is different and really strong. Unfortunately my camera captured a bit of the reflection from the picture glass--but the images do come through. Check out his website at

Directly across from me are the prints of Ausrine Kerr--a most interesting person who is originally from Lithuania. She also does leatherwork and makes wearable clothes although those are not at this show. Her prints to retain the textures of both of these medium. Again. My images are not good but if you are in the Lancaster area it is worth a visit to the show just to ask her about her images. Here are a couple of details from her work.

My favorite pieces are the ones she made for an exhibit at the Lithuanian Cultural Center. As she described them, each component of the piece has different symbolic meaning and textures representing the feelings of Lithuania. My images didn't work--maybe today I'll try taking some more. The work is incredible and worth close examination. Her web site includes her leather and fiber work but not the prints. Do check it out though.

And now I must go set up for another day. More thoughts about circles. Hopefully I won't have a chance to talk with my neighbors much but you can see if the show slows down I have lots to study and absorb.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the quilts of Ann Brauer--September Show

This is my monthly post on upcoming shows.

Just a brief note--despite the heat and lack of rain, the summer has absolutely sped by.My DH and I had a great time up in northern New Hampshire--hiked up a couple of wonderful mountains, kayaked on Umbagog--that place goes on forever--and found a few waterfalls. In between, I made some new quilts in the studio--it was air-conditioned when I needed it--and worked in my garden. Lots of peaches and tomatoes. The daylilies were spectacular.

Already a few trees have started to turn color around here--I think foliage season will be early because of the lack of rain.Today I am packing for my end of the summer craft fair at Long's Park in Lancaster, PA.  If you don't know, this is one of my favorite craft shows--well, actually it is both and art and craft show--that winds around a lovely pond. The exhibitors come from across the country bringing both wonderful high end work and plenty of smaller items for those who just want something. My booth will be in a different location this year--it's #173-174 down toward the exit. I hope many of you will find me there.

Of course you can also find my work at the Fuller Museum Craft Shop in Brockton, MA and the Blue Stone Gallery in Milford, PA. Later in the year my quilts will be in two shows--one at the OSilas Gallery in Bronxville, NY and also at the National Museum of Quilts in Paducah, KY--but more on those later. When I am not doing a show, my studio in Shelburne Falls is open. And I do continue to post regularly on blog-- and on Facebook-- Do check these sites out.

This piece is called autumn dawn--in honor of the change in the seasons.

What do you think? Do your colors change with the seasons?