Monday, November 28, 2011

the quilts of Ann Brauer--cyber Monday edition

Dear all,

Wow--is time flying even though the weather is trying to hold onto the lovely warmth of late autumn. This morning the sky was full of those wonderful peaches and brilliant reds of the dawn. Then the clouds came, and a gentle wind from the south. the temperature was up to 56 at 8 am. Yes, I just had to go for a walk in the woods. Indeed, it was all I could do to turn around and come home. But I must get to the studio. After all, I do have not one but two craft shows left this season.

First is the Washington Craft Show at the DC Convention Center, December 2-4. It is such an honor to be in this show--there are 190 of the very best fine craft artists in country in one location. Each booth is full of breathtaking, exquisite work. I do hope you will check it out for yourself--more information can be found at Then the next week-end is CraftBoston at the Cycloramo. If you have never been to the Cycloramo, you are in for a treat. The building is a circular extravaganza with wonderful architectural details. Inside the show is so colorful and alive. I do hope you will check it out if you are in the area.

In between and after I return I will be working in my new studio. What a delightful time this is to step backward into the charm of Shelburne Falls. The colored lights on the Bridge of Flowers reflect onto the river. The light poles are wound with wreaths. I even saw a lighted tree floating on the river. Personally I find the charm of the village matches the feeling of hope and light that we all need this time of year.

Meanwhile I have decided to post the quilt of the month early this year. I actually do love this quilt--the colors are bright and rich. The size--40 x 56 inches would look great hanging over a sofa, buffet table or even a bed. Indeed it was hard to convince myself that this should be the quilt of the month. However, neither my new studio nor my booth have a lot of wall space and so I don't usually get a chance to show it. The colors are brighter than my snapshot of it--I can try to send you a better image if you would like. Anyhow, this quilt began at $1100 but until December 10 or until it is sold, the quilt will be $800 plus shipping and applicable taxes. As usual, this quilt it one of a kind and will be available on a first come/first serve basis.

For those hunting for smaller items, I do have a few posted on my website--HERE Many other colors are available--please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. Alas, I did not get a chance to set up a shop within my website just yet. Maybe next year...

Thanks again and have a great holiday season.

Friday, November 25, 2011

don't stop thinking about tomorrow

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my abstract landscapes "painted" with wedges of fabric. The freedom of the piecing. The controlled exuberance of the colors. The endless quests for the horizons. But--and this is the big but in this post--on my drive OUT to Evanston last August I spent some of my time as I drove past endless cornfields thinking about the new quilts I wanted to make with the very thin strips of fabric. The ones that would have even more of the pop of the sun in capturing the sky. You must remember this quilt.

The power of the thin pieces in the sun. The sophistication and intensity of that square of purples and lavenders and magentas.

The same power of detail in the eyeglass cases.

 I wanted to make whole quilts based on these colors. This effect. Can you imagine that? Indeed I had experimented last winter with a larger piece based on this concept. Days of working on a concept. Teaching myself how to do this.

Of course--sigh--as my loyal readers know--on the drive BACK from Evanston I had other things to think about. So I did what I had to do. Got the studio more or less in order. Made the eyeglass cases that I know will sell. And practiced working in the new space making quilts that had a bit of familiarity to them. Meanwhile thinking of the samples I had made that floated downstream because of Irene.

Still though--in the brief lulls, the early morning hours of the Paradise City Arts Festival last week-end I realized that I wanted to move forward. Indeed I needed to push myself more. After all, I hadn't gone through all of the hard work and emotion of re-establishing my studio just to make eyeglass cases. No matter how lovely they are. Besides I had sold my quilt mist on the ocean.

So I decided I just had to start a new quilt with the thin strips. Now I hope I will get it done before the Washington Craft Show next week-end. But even if I don't, there will be CraftBoston or the Baltimore Craft Show in February. Certainly I can show it in my new studio. Besides, I want to see what it looks like.

How tiny it looks at first. How long it takes to do the piecing. Is this the best use of my time, I worry again?  After all, I do need money to buy more fabric. I do have orders to fill. Isn't this the time to make those eyeglass cases and potholders? Now is the season to sell, after all. In January shoppers hibernate and I do need money to pay rent these days.

Still I persevere. I think of my father-in-law--now confined to a wheel chair and requiring constant assistance--he still dreams of cross-country skiing this winter. Sailing on the open ocean. Thinking about tomorrow. And yes, that song runs through my mind as I start piecing this new quilt. How slowly it grows. Each strip an effort to figure out which fabric works. How tiny the quilt looks. Fragile and tentative right now.

The new quilt may not be as large as I want--this time. I will have to juggle the smaller items with the new quilt. But it feels right and I can't wait to see what it will look like. After all, this is who I am and what I do. And I need to think about tomorrow. So I admire the progress and keep cutting and sewing.

And you--do you think about tomorrow? How do you do it? How do you balance the dreams, the vision with the reality of day to day life? And will you be in Shelburne Falls for Moonlight Magic this year? Will you get to see the new quilt? What do you think?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a brief history of a quilt

Sometimes it is the little things that matter most in making a quilt. A few weeks ago I had in my mind's eye a quilt similar to gentle dawn. But with more of a horizon. And the sun--I wanted the sun to have just risen with the reds and oranges, the yellows and pinks streaking across the sky. A joyful dawn.

 Now those who follow my work know that I have a constant fascination with the sky, the horizon, the promise of the dawn. Just look at prairie dawn. A quilt from a few years ago.

Or prairie sky. Another piece from a couple years ago.
I wanted it similar. After all, I am still getting used to my new studio. One day at a time. One step at a time. But still I wanted to use the knowledge that I have gained since making these pieces. What can I now add? How can I say more? Some days as it is I feel like I am just treading water. It is not that I am not trying--there are so many quilts that I see just beyond my grasp. But there is only so much I can do. Besides, I love these colors and these quilts. I love working with the rich blues and purples of the sky. The reds of the sun. So why not?

Of course I begin by piecing what I know. The gradually changing colors of blues and lavenders. Pinks and yellows. How happy and cheerful on my design board. Pin up a piece of red to see what it will look like.

Not bad. But it lacks the zing of the color changes I want to add. Let's see what happens.

OK--still seems a bit stilted though, doesn't it?  Shouldn't I use more oranges?  Magentas? Where is the pop? Let me play with the colors. Cut lots of strips of fabric. Lay them out on the table.

 Better. But should I take even more risks?

Yes, that marble looking fabric does help--doesn't it? Not sure who donated it to me--but thank you so much. Amazing how much one fabric can add to the quilt. I play a bit more and piece. How does it look?

Not bad--but could it be even better. Step up the yellow a bit more.  Take more risks. I take out a few rows. Try again. Gotta love my seam ripper.

 Yes, isn't this what I want? Doesn't it sing? It always feels like such a risk to begin sewing it together.

 But yes, I like that effect. Enough yellows and golds to make it pop. Not so bright it feels garish. Now, I can't wait to show it at the Washington Craft Show December 2-4--check it out at

 What do you think?  How much do your quilts change as you play with them? How do you move forward?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

what is the deal with horizons?

Recently I have been thinking a lot about horizons--you know--that division between the earth and the sky. That line that stretches across the fields. Offering that promise of something. Is it the promise or the journey? After all, the more you walk to the horizon, the further it recedes.

Am I longing for the views from my late great studio? The expanse of sky and the distant everchanging mountain. The new studio offers instead hints of the clouds in the west rolling in and the endless promise of the trains carrying such power and industry. Amazing the difference a block or two can make, isn't it?

Or is it the order I have? The one for the quilt where they don't want that distinct line of the sky. A gentle horizon. Dreamy and subtle. More teal than this piece. But a good start.

Not sure why but I do have horizons on the mind. Interesting word. I check the etymology--of course it is from the Greek, via Latin and then French. Actually it is an abbreviation for the boundless circle of the open ocean.  After all, the Greeks did know their geometry. If you were in a boat on the ocean and looked all around, from above this would form a circle. Think about it. Chaucer was apparently the first recorded usage in English. The question was whether the "h" should be used though apparently it was not pronounced at the time.  The French don't use "h" very frequently.
You can read more about it here.

I had a class from the Academy in Charlemont visit my studio this week. What fun. Great smart kids asking a lot of good questions. Things that I don't normally think about. One of my favorite was whether my landscapes are inspired by a specific scene. No, I said they are a feeling. A sense of time and place that I am trying to achieve. Each quilt leads me to the next. It is a journey--almost like a horizon. The more I work, the more ideas I get. Searching for something I can never attain. But isn't the process in the searching? Isn't that what life is?

And so I start another quilt. Another experiment in horizons. This will be similar but different. I do have more teals. It will be dreamy. Just look at these colors. The first block says a lot. Sets the tone for the quilt.

I want to feel the ocean. The movement of the waves. Then the whole row. Is this right? Or too stark?
I put just a strip of yellow there--can you see it? Yes, this looks better doesn't it? Sometimes it is the little things that matter.

So I keep piecing. Slowly. Adding the colors. More teal. More dreamy colors. I must be patient.

And the sun. I want a red sun hanging just risen. Floating above the sky. That will come later though. After I finish piecing the quilt. And already I think of the next piece. How to give the effect of the open ocean. Turning. The full circle. I do love it when one quilt inspires the next and the next.

And you--do you think of horizons? Is it the journey or the place? And what inspires you to make the next piece? What do you think?

Monday, November 7, 2011

the colors of november

Ah November. The maples and birch have lost their leaves. The sky is now a wistful shade of blue. The bright flowers of summer are gone. The light is at that great angle where everything is more pronounced. And--yes--the October snow has melted--but that is another story. Instead  it is the time to watch, to wait, to observe the splendors of this season.

In the distance, Massamont is soft in shades of brown and gold protecting the village of Shelburne Falls that I love so dearly. While the Bridge of Flowers is officially closed for the season, on bright sunny days  it is still open. A good time to stroll, to look at the wonderful complex colors of November. So brilliant and subtle. So unexpected. Just look at these leaves--so many colors of red.

The many browns of the hydrangea. Yes, this is how it looks--so many shapes and textures.

 The surprise purples and mauves.

Tiny purple berries. Each so precious. Like gems.

The shapes. The movements of the yuccas and kale.

 Oh there is so much more I could capture. So much more to observe. The carefully selected stones. The bending shapes of the vines. Berries against the blue of the river.

But instead I must head to my new studio. Use my inspiration to choose fabrics for a new quilt. After all, soon the light will be even darker. It will be the time of fire and light and the crisp night stars. Although maybe tomorrow again I will walk across the Bridge again. I mean shouldn't one enjoy these colors while we still have them?

What do you think? Do the colors of November inspire you? What have you seen?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

the quilts of Ann Brauer--Snowvember edition

Wow--it is November 1 already. That is 11/1/11 if you write the abbreviation. How quickly time is flying. Yes, we did get 24 inches of that white stuff during the Snowtember storm although luckily it is melting and we did not lose power. About time Shelburne Falls caught a break if you know what I mean.

Thanks to everyone who has been so generous. I have been busy working in the studio most days trying to get ready for the Holiday season. Gradually I am beginning to fill my studio with new quilts, table runners, eyeglass cases and potholders for the holiday season--can you believe that it is almost upon us? This Saturday November 5 I will be participating for the first time in the Shelburne Falls Gallery walk--Art under the Stars which runs from 5 until 8 pm. Please--if you are in town, drop by and see my new space. I usually do not like to stay open late so would welcome encouragement to be there.

I will also be doing the Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough, MA on November 18-20. I do love this show--there is always something new and absolutely wonderful to admire. The music is good and the atmosphere is so much fun. For more information and discounted tickets check out their web site  In December I will be doing the Washington Craft Show Dec 2-4 and CraftBoston at the Cyclorama on Dec 8-10.  What was I thinking? More on these shows in my post next month.

Meanwhile Shelburne Falls is basically up and running. Several more businesses have re-opened. Most roads including Route 2 coming from the East are open and from Williamstown and the West the route is only slightly longer and even lovelier. I will be there most days--although call first as I do still have errands to run.

And now for the news you have been waiting for so patiently--the Quilt of the Month is back!!!! After all, this is November and this is the perfect quilt for this month. November oak. I love the colors of the piece--the greys and mauves of the fields after most of the leaves have gone against the rusts and browns of the oak trees. The quilt is about 45 x 45 inches and began life at $1200. It has Velcro stitched on the back for hanging. I am offering for $700 plus shipping and applicable taxes. As usual this is a first come first served offer which will automatically end on November 10 so if you want it do send me an e-mail.  For those seeking gift items, I will post images of potholders and eyeglass cases on my web site in the next couple of days in case you want to order a few--just contact me.

Have a great month. Thanks again.

Ann Brauer
6 Bridge Street
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

413 625-8605