Friday, April 27, 2012

the poster--thoughts on branding

Now those who know my studio know that I had to put up reflective film on the lovely south facing windows to protect the quilts. Made it much nicer inside but harder for the casual tourists to come and see my quilts.

Life in Shelburne Falls changed and suddenly I was not selling enough to pay rent out of the studio--that is always my goal, you see.  But as the saying goes--I don't get mad, I take action. I want enough people to visit that I make money but let's face it, I don't need everyone to come in.

A poster or two in the window.  A friend had suggested that. Who cares if that fades? New posters can always be made and give me a fresh look. For publicity I always use a quilt that I still own. Why not try to sell it.  Maybe my quilt--into the mist. Love the quilt--great colors. Uniquely mine. A newer style.

Yes, that could be my "brand" for this summer. Spiff it up. Don't need to show the entire quilt--that is a bit dull. A little identification. Not bad, is it?

Get four printed cheaply. After all, I do want to make a statement. Then cut a hole in the film and hang two facing the sidewalk. Yes, that looks good doesn't it? Sophisticated. Intriguing. A statement. You can see how reflective the film is, can't you?

Inside, two more posters to make the space look cozy. You'll have to come visit to see those. Now to work on the display in the peek hole. Always something isn't it? What do you think? Will it work?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Sometimes I just have to take a break. Enjoy an appetizer--an amuse-bouche as they are sometimes called. That is why I make potholders. It let's me play with fabric.

Now I am lucky enough to have many great friends, including this wonderful couple who live part time within walking distance of my house. The type of people who spent hours helping me when my studio floated and then dropped by the house with "meals on wheels" just when I had no food in the house and no energy to cook even if I could scrounge up something. We should all have friends like this, shouldn't we?

As happenstance would have it their daughter is expecting her first child soon. The daughter is a really nice person herself (and makes the best deviled eggs I have ever had.) So why not make a little quilt for this new child. After all I had some  fabric in absolutely lovely colors. And I wanted to have fun. See what would happen if I used long strips of the fabric to just show it off.

I wanted it to look random. Thought it would be easy. Why do I always forget how hard it is to "do random." Quilts just don't happen--at least mine don't. Yes, it is all made using quilt as you go--although I did use a polyester batting this time to make sure it could be washed. And yes, the seams are hopefully a bit straighter than this snapshot but that wasn't really the point of the quilt.

What do you think? Aren't some of the fabrics wonderful?  Do you ever do this? And I have a new niece--born about a month ago. Should I make one for her too? Or maybe another design? Is this how other quiltmakers have fun?

Monday, April 16, 2012

the end is near

For a while I sit in the back room of my studio soaking up the quiet. I don't even turn on the radio so I can hear the birds chirp. Time to collect my thoughts. It has--after all--been one of those weeks if you know what I mean.  I have been working non-stop on the new quilt. A row or two sewn together, added to the quilt each day. I try not to think about the progress. Or lack thereof. I am ready to have it done but glad I have a project. Something to do.

I even remade one of the rows. The  thought there was too much orange so I added more lavender. Not how I wanted to spend my time but I want them to absolutely LOVE the quilt. After all they will be living with it for years.

Now I notice that I only have three more rows to sew together and add to the quilt. Even get one of them pieced into a row yesterday.  Two more rows.  First pin a row onto the quilt.

Sew them together. It is so big that even with my Industrial Machine I have to use care.

Cover the seam with a binding and press.

 Whip stitch the binding down. It is "only" nine feet of hand sewing after all.

And repeat. And repeat. Then the binding and the Velcro on top. Clean up the quilt.  You know how that goes. It is like that hike which is just a bit too long. Isn't the last half mile the hardest? At least it is for me. I can feel the cold drink of water as I collapse on the ground but I am not there yet. I know I won't finish it today. Certainly not tomorrow. That is my day off though I may do just a bit to keep moving forward. Maybe Wednesday but I won't count on that. Thinking Thursday. Then there will be such a feeling of relief. I know I won't want to move. Maybe make some potholders. Clean the studio. Dare I weed the garden?

But that is in the future. Today I will sew a couple more rows together. Keep going forward and try not to think about the end.

Does this happen to you? Do you think about the end and find the last rows the hardest? Or does it just sneak up on you?

Can't think of all the other projects that beckon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

the great slog forward

rainbows of summer--99x99 inches--copyright Ann Brauer

A quote from the artist Chuck Close has been going through my mind recently:

        I always thought that inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to  work.

How true that is, isn't it? Much of being an artist is just doing the work. And let me remind you that not all of this work is "fun". Now don't get me wrong. I love to work with fabric. I love to sew. I know how lucky I am that this is what I get to do for a living.

But some of the work just takes time and patience. For instance the quilt I am working on now--a variation of rainbows of summer--is as I have said before BIG. I mean really BIG. Seven feet by nine feet big. Each day I go into the studio with a set task. One more row to piece. Start sewing the rows together. I can't even think about how long it will take. Instead of worrying about the end, I am thankful that I know what I will be doing each day and so I just do it.


And you--do you find that sometimes art is just showing up? Just doing it? Do you ever get discouraged how long a piece takes? How do you get it finished?

Monday, April 9, 2012

white is for angels

Did you hear the little bell late last week? Another angel received her wings. Of that I am sure.

Clearly even in life she was an angel. The only woman I knew who could look radiant and fresh in a white linen jacket all day. She knew that to make the best pasta you just had to start with the coldest tap water you could draw from the faucet. The mother to my DH when his own mother died at far too young an age.

Words escape me. What a loss. What a gift she was. My heart is with all her loved ones.

Friday, April 6, 2012

green, it's green I say

Oh the color green. How much it surrounds us--how important it is to us. How hard it is to work with. There are so many greens. The olive greens and drab greens. The mint greens of spring and the dark greens of spruces in winter. The bright chartreuse greens of new growth. Such a natural color but so hard to find. So many greens clash with each other. Strange isn't it--since they don't clash in nature? We want our grass green but our rooms are usually celery at best.

But I digress. After all as you may remember I am trying to make a wall hanging based on rainbows of summer. The first time I made this quilt,  I thought the greens should progress from lights to darks just like the reds did. Oh so discouraging when I realized that this was wrong. Wrong. An entire row of blocks that had to be tossed. Ugh!!!  It needed to be a color way progressing in rows not a constant sweep of color. I did not forget this.

A good start but that still did not make it easier. After all, I still needed to get the colors right. Did not want to have to toss another row, if you know what I mean. The bright greens and the yellows. The hints of teal and blue. What is the flow of the colors? What is the feel of the palette? I study the original quilt and pull out the fabrics that I have. Make a test block.

I try to imagine a whole row of this. But it doesn't seem bright enough. The color changes too harsh and dark. I look through my stash again and still don't have the right colors. Instead I tell myself to make what I know. The changes in the pinks and sherberts. The tangerines and roses. How does this affect the greens?

 Still wrong, isn't it? Too dark and yellow.

Time to head off to A Notion to Quilt--you remember that wonderful fabric store on Route 2 in Shelburne only a few miles from my studio. You can check out their website here: They will have some wild bright greens--that I know. I grab what may work. Lots of bright colors. Some interesting designs. Yes, this may work.

A few more test blocks to make sure I understand the palette. It is never as easy as it looks in a blog, is it? Then I piece the row. Doesn't it look better?

Oh so much more to piece. I try not to think about it. But at least it is a start. Nice to have that resolved. And you--how do you work with greens? Are they also a hard color for you? Have you ever made a green quilt?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

that first small step

OK--I have made as many potholders as I can. Finished almost every order that I have. Did a test piece for a custom hanging. Even cleaned the studio. But now--let's face it--I have to start the BIG quilt. I just must start it. Now, it is not that I don't want to make the quilt--I do. It will be lovely. Happy joyous colors. I mean, isn't rainbows of summer such a wonderful piece? An iconic one for me, right?

rainbows of summer--99 x 99"--copyright Ann Brauer

And I do like the customers--really nice couple. Patient with me too. No, it is just that the new quilt is BIG--I mean really B--I--G. Seven feet by 9 feet. Too big for my design wall.  I know it will take forever. I will come to wonder if I will ever finish it. Do you know the feeling?

But there is no choice. Start I must. So I sew that first small block. OK--it feels good to take that first step, doesn't it?

 Don't they look lonely up there together? Yes, I must start to clear the design board. Make room for the quilt.

Now that feels like I am getting somewhere. I do love that very long row of yellow.  See how I had to overlap the blocks to get them to fit.


Only eleven more rows to piece. Then sew the blocks together. But who's counting? I know what I will be doing at the studio for the next few weeks. Feels good to start though, doesn't it? Does this ever happen to you? Do you fear the big projects? How do you persuade yourself to start a quilt?

Monday, April 2, 2012

the quilts of Ann Brauer--April Fools Day edition

Wow is time flying by. In March we had unseasonably warm weather. Now it is cooler and sometimes even spitting snow. As they say, if you don't like the weather in New England wait a minute. This summer promises to be busy time for me--I know I will be doing the Guilford Craft Show in Connecticut in July.  Hopefully a couple of other shows also. I  just saw the proofs for one article I have coming out this summer--don't worry I will give the details as the publication date approaches. And I am  working on another one for September. What fun.

Meanwhile I am trying to spend regular hours in the studio finishing orders and creating new quilts. Of course do call first if you are coming from out of state.  And yes, the Bridge of Flowers is open and already lovely. A new vintage clothing store has opened next door to me. Shelburne Falls is full of life.

And now for the quilt of the month. I decided reluctantly to choose "light on the ocean". I love this piece--wonderful blues with a very simple design. It is a bit smaller than I now make--40 x 56" I believe and thus it is harder to display either in my booth or at the studio. Of course there is Velcro for hanging it on the back. The quilt is priced at $1100 but for the next ten days--or until it is sold--it can be purchased for $800 plus any tax and shipping. Good luck. The quilt has been SOLD!!!

light on the ocean--40 x 56"--quilt--copyright Ann Brauer

And now for those whose budgets are more like mine. In making designs for my pillows I did create several that are different from the designs I have settled on.  My pillows are a plumb 14 x 14" filled with a pillow form. The back is a solid color and there is a zipper for cleaning. They all have the thin piecing and wonderful texture that I am currently exploring. Normally my pillows go for $110 but these three pillows are being offered for $60 each plus shipping and applicable tax. Again the offer is only for the next ten days or until they are sold. Please specify which pillow you want.

The plum and green pillow--SOLD!!

Pillow--quilted--Ann Brauer

The rust and turquoise pillow. SOLD!!!

Pillow--quilted--Ann Brauer

The blue and yellow pillow. SOLD!!!

Pillow--quilted--Ann Brauer

Thanks so much. I do look forward to seeing many of you this spring and summer.