Friday, August 31, 2012

what a difference a row makes

Recently I have been working on a quilt based on prairie sky for a lovely woman who lives near my studio. Now, I don't know if you remember this quilt. It celebrates the broad expanse of the sky just at the moment of dawn. Lots of lovely blues with just the anticipation of color in the sky. Don't you love it?

Of course for this quilt, the customer needs it to be vertical. And she prefers yellows and oranges to  pinks and purples. OK--that is doable. That is what makes it a challenge. Even fun to work on, right?

So I start sewing. The quilt almost seems to take over. I love when that happens. And then I stop. Is the quilt too busy? Are the colors too light and bright? Is there just the hint of dawn? Yes, one of the challenges is that I have less horizontal space to use for this quilt.

Will the vertical space--the darker blues that I will place at the top anchor and define the dawn? I am not sure. And I put the quilt in the ponder mode. Certainly you must know that method. Where I stand and look at the quilt as I work on other projects, hoping that a fresh take will let me see what needs to happen. What if??? Let me try this. It is not that I am ignoring the quilt. Just that I am thinking about it. Almost letting the quilt and I come to some sort of understanding of the direction it must go.

Finally I start sewing again. After all, the customer has reminded me--ever so sweetly--that she does have an empty space on her wall. Will this be the answer? A few darker blue blocks. Let's see. Maybe this row will start to define the sky. What do you think? Then there will be two more rows of blues--ever darker and more night like.

Do you ever work like that? Do you ever have a quilt that has to just sit there for a while as you reach some conclusion? Is this part of the process?

Monday, August 20, 2012

going for it--the new backdrop

OK--I admit that I do love displaying my work against my black backdrop. The colors pop. The black hides the flaws in the booth.  I have all the parts. And--perhaps most importantly--I am used to it.

However, when a crafts woman whose marketing advice I really respect took the time to suggest that I really should have lighter colored walls, I listened. After all most people don't have black walls in their homes. Good point. Indeed last year on my drive TO the Evanston Craft Show I included changing the color of my backdrop as part of my plans for the future. Alas on the drive BACK from Evanston I had other things on my mind.  How quickly priorities can change.

Still when at a recent fair a couple considered purchasing rainbows of summer but could not imagine what it would look like in their home I thought about it again.

And after I moved to 6 Bridge Street I realized that my quilts look great on the off-white walls of my new studio, don't it?

So I decided to go for it. After thinking about it, I ordered new curtains in an off white.  Will this be too light? It sure will be different won't it?

I knew I didn't want to hang the curtains with the same draped effect as before. After all I want them to look like walls, not curtains. I did a bit of research and found a method using Velcro.

I have sewed Velcro sleeves to slip over the poles on the top. That should work.

I took out one of the curtains and tried to figure out their system. Hmmm. Not sure how it all works. What about the sides? The corners? I look at my booth at the Berkshire Craft Show and try to imagine how the system will work. OK--I can fake it here. Put Velcro sleeves on the bottom. Take lots of pins. Self-adhesive Velcro.

I still am taking the black rug. One thing at a time. And I still have black covers for the display units. So much to do. So little time.

How lazy I feel for not wanting to set up the booth as a test before the Evanston Show this year. But the booth has stayed in my van. What have I forgotten? How will it all look? Will I regret this decision? What do you think?  Wish me luck. And if you are in the Chicago area, do check out the show.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

so many colors

Let's face it. There are so many colors I want to play with. But as always, time is short.

How do I decide what  to make before the Evanston Craft Show? That wonderful show at Northwestern University. Do check it out here. After all, I leave on Tuesday. And I still have to work on my display. Pack. Sleep. And hopefully spend time with my DH and the little Tonks cat.

Placemats have been selling recently. A nice gift. A less expensive example of my work. I know I need more. But what colors? I ask and listen. "What colors are you looking for?"

"My kitchen is...."  "Red." "Burnt orange." "Black and white with accents of red" OK that one is a no-brainer.

"Do you have any more of this blue grey?" If you had four...."

 "I'll take these. "Can you make more of these?" Yes, this color is perfect.

Royal blue always sells. I can count on that.

But what else? Maybe a rust? I just sold a pair of apple greens? Oh so many colors. So little time. How does a quilt maker decide? How do you decide?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

how small can I go?

Now normally, when I do a craft show, I get a space that is 10x10 feet. Not too big when you think about it--a mere 100 square feet. But it is square. And usually a standard size that is often the most affordable of the options. Plus if I get a booth that is larger it never looks full of shoppers and lets face it, shoppers beget shoppers. So I make do. The booth seems small at first, then large as I erect it, then small as I hang the quilts but I know the booth and I make do.

But not at the Berkshire Craft Fair. No, this show--now in its 39th year--is set in a public high school--the gymnasium, the auditorium, strange nooks and crannies. Indeed it is run by the teachers of that school to provide money for those additional things that no public school--not even one in a relatively well-to-do district can purchase without some spare cash. These teachers are dedicated--after all, this is summer. School is on vacation. And the students who help as part of their public service requirement are also dedicated. So glad to help me load my work in. Stopping by my booth often to see if there is anything else I need. I do like to be appreciated.

But the problem is that since the fair is in a public high school, the booths are small. Nominally 6 x 10 feet. And let me tell you how hard it is to set up in a different space. Especially such a small space. Especially since my quilts are--shall we say--large.

With the help of the students I did load in my booth and work this morning. This will be my home for the next three days. At least during the day time. The other good aspect of this show is that I can drive home every night. Sweet, huh?

Now my booth is composed of steel pipes--five foot steep pipes to be precise. So I know that my booth will actually only be 5 x 10. Ouch that reduction also hurts. But I set up the booth. Do you see the basketball hoop above it?  Adds atmosphere doesn't it? Luckily I was one of the first ones there so I could store my quilts in the aisle.

Then I start to hang my quilts. This one is spring garden. Somewhat different from the quilts I have been making recently but it just came back from a gallery and will be perfect for a smaller booth I hope. Indeed it is from the same series my quilt summer which is in the collection of the American Museum of Art + Design. What fun I am having revisiting an old friend. Seeing fabrics I had long since forgotten. And design aspects that I am no longer exploring.


Fun, isn't it? Yes, I should work on the lights a bit though they look more extreme in this image than in real life. Time to finish adding work to the booth. Not everything I have. There is really not enough room, to put it mildly. But luckily the customers at this show are well-informed and patient so I know I can find quilts that will work for them.

Not bad for 5 x 10. A little tweaking. Can you see how I tucked in the drapes just a bit more?

Still need to do a bit more neatenng I think. Tomorrow. I will get there just a bit early and tuck in those hang tags. Straighten just a tad more. Probably should have brought a rug. Oh well. They are supposed to look at the quilts not the floor.

And the other booths. Oh there is some very interesting work there. Some of my very favorite craftspeople. And new bird houses that are so very cute I know I must spend more time looking at them.

The show runs Friday through Sunday 10-5. For more information check out their web site: What do you think? Will I see you there? Have you ever had to make do with a smaller than usual space?

Friday, August 3, 2012

the quilts of Ann Brauer--hazy, humid August

Dear all,

Yes, it is August. Hazy, hot and humid. My daylilies are starting to wind down. My tomatoes are ripening. And I do have the cutest little pumpkins.  What fun to watch them grow. I do hope the turkeys don't get them this year.

This month promises to be quite busy for me. Right now I am in the studio working on  a lovely order for a quilt based on "prairie sky". What fun it is working with such wonderful blues again.

Next week-end is the Berkshire Craft Show at Monument Mountain High School. I love this show. It is put on by the teachers at this public high school to raise money for programs within the school. The show has  a great reputation among crafts people. There are lots of new and newer exhibitors including the enameled bowls by my friend Elissa Ehlin , the baskets of JoAnne Russo with her clever use of buttons and zippers and the sterling silver jewelry of Monique Rancourt based on rubber cords. Stunning. I will show some of my new pieces as well as several more trademark works. For more information do check out their web site: I do hope to see many of you there.

Then I will be doing the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, IL August  24-26. This is another wonderful show with more absolutely amazing work. I can't wait to show some of my new long wall hangings. For more information do check out their web site: They even have advance purchase tickets available for you.

Finally this Saturday August 4 is the ArtWalk in Shelburne Falls. Many galleries and specialty stores will be open until at least seven that night. Rather than have a quilt of the month this month I decided to have a few in store specials just for this event. For instance my quilt "november oak" which normally sells for $1200 will be $600 during this event. Of course if you want to pre-order just contact me in advance. Who knows what other specials I will have during this event. Do stop by and check them out.

Of course I will be in the studio when I am not at shows so I do hope to see many of you there. If you are coming from a distance you might want to contact me first.