Friday, March 29, 2013

keeping up

Yes  I know. It has been a while since my last blog post. Now it is not that I haven't tried. I have even written several great posts in that lovely time of 5 am when I am almost awake but not really. Amazing how inspiration can strike then, isn't it?

But in the light of day--do they get written? No.

Now it is not that I am lazy. Puleeaze. But just busy. After all, I have done two great craft shows with one more planned for next month. Yes, that is a lot of work. Not that I am complaining mind you. I do like to meet people. Try to see how others react to my latest quilts. What questions do they have? What are they looking for? How can I help them? Then there are the family issues. And yes, I have been experimenting with a new site on social media. If you want check me out on Houzz. Do check me out if you wish here.  But I digress.

Still I am glad to be back working in the studio getting ready for my last show of the spring--CraftBoston Spring April 19-21 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. Definitely a show worth going to if you are in the Boston area. Here is more info: And yes, I do need to make more quilts.

I decided to work on another variation of my quilt three as almost a warm-up quilt.  Getting back into the swing of things so to speak. You may remember it. Three separate color ways that could be hung either this way

Or this way.

Which do you prefer?  I loved the optical illusion it created. The edges really are straight but it looks like it curves, doesn't it?  Now I had started the quilt last winter. Made the first section and then it sat there. Too many other things to do. This week though it seemed just the quilt to finish. So I made the teal section and then decided that I should use green and not grey. After all, I did not want to duplicate myself. So I searched all over the studio for the right greens. This quilt is very soft and many green fabrics are either very bright or very yellow and I wanted a moss green. More like this. Hard to find but I did it.

And pinned it up to the quilt. Doesn't look great does it? Have I lost my touch?

But what if? Am I missing the obvious answer? Yes, this small changes does pull it together, doesn't it? Whew. I think this is it. Amazing how a small change makes such a big difference.

As for keeping up, well I know that I can't do everything. I mean not only do I have quilts to make, but I also have e-mails to send to answer questions from customers. Samples of fabric to send. Even a studio to clean for the spring. But I guess that having too much to do is better than a clean house, isn't it? For me, I try to do one thing every morning. Check it off the list. Then work on the next quilt.

How do you prioritize? Any good strategies you have learned?

Monday, March 18, 2013

seeing red--the power of leaning in

Sometimes it takes me a long time to meditate on a quilt that I know I want to make. What will inspire me? How will I resolve it? Often it is nature. The promise of sunrise. The longing of a far horizon. Red clouds against the blue sky. The darkness of night. Meanwhile the quilt lingers in the reaches of my mind. Getting rolled around until something just clicks.

Now I knew I wanted another red quilt. One to replace my quilt--colors of my garden. This quilt was based on the brilliant reds of my daylily garden a few summers ago. Such a feeling of joy in this quilt. Such exuberance and power. But how to do it? I didn't just want to remake this quilt--been there. Done that. And so the quilt just lay in the far corners of my thoughts. Always something I was going to do but not a quilt that I just had to make.

colors of my garden--quilt by Ann Brauer

That is until a few days ago. Now you probably are aware of the recently released book--Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg. The gist is that women still have to work hard to be taken seriously in the business world. Discouraging that it is still true. But not something I really wanted to deal with--again. After all many of my friends are successful business woman in charge of themselves and their worlds. Well respected by those who knew them. Been there. Done that. I just want to make quilts.

Then...just the slightest event occurred. Not worth going into the details. Let's just say that some man decided to insert himself as an authority figure during a professional presentation I was in charge of where I did not need or request the help and I knew the area far better than he did. Maybe he had just attended one too many marketing workshops and figured this was how he could get more business for himself.  Was I being too sensitive? Yet I kept asking myself if he would have done it if the presenter had been a male? Would he have at least asked for permission? Of course if he had any actual knowledge of the topic and was contributing to the topic it would have been different. I am after all always eager to learn something new. This time though he really did not have any experience and seemed to be assuming that I needed help I did not ask for and had even previously rejected. Oh I was seeing red. Get it?

Sure I questioned him at the time. I couldn't let it pass. Showed him at least a bit of the expertise I had in the field although I am not convinced it registered. Then I realized that I just could use this anger I was feeling to make a quilt. After all, that is what I do, isn't it?  Why not? I wanted to make it anyhow. And for me quilts are an expression of myself.

Headlong I started piecing. Make what I know. Take advantage of this situation. Sew Ann. Sew.

Add a few more blocks. Help define the quilt.

But what next? This time I knew the feeling but not how to resolve this quilt. After all I do want a lovely quilt. One that conveys an emotion to others--not just a private quilt.  I was not piecing just for the sake of sewing. I did not need an angry quilt. That was not my intend. I just wanted a quilt that conveyed a statement of being and power that quilts can convey. The next morning I woke up. What would happen if...

Yes, I love the contrast. This is going someplace. I sew as quickly as I can. The quilt just pulls me forward.

I keep pinning and trying. Sewing and thinking. Always with this need to make a statement--a quilt of power and light. Takes over its space. A quilt that "Leans In".

Yes, this will work. Not sure if I can finish it before the Paradise City Arts Festival this week-end but I sure do love it, don't you?

Does this ever happen to you? And have you read Lean In--what do you think? I downloaded it on my iPad and have just started it. All I can say right now is that I do feel more incentive to make quilts that make strong statements of being.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

too big to fail

Those who have been following my blog know that I have been piecing my new quilt. Sewing until my back aches. My hands are tired. And even my sewing machine is saying--or would be if sewing machines could speak--"Enough already Ann. Take a break. Do something else."

Still I am lucky. Unlike many quilts, this one just seems to be falling into place as though it knows what it is meant to look like. That is until I get to the top of the quilt. Now I have hanging where I can see it as I sew my quilt--october snow. I love this piece. The intense colors contrasted against the black and white stripes. I feel it is taking quilts to a new place. Both modern and traditional, isn't it? What a statement.

Now I know I can just have the top fade into lighter blues--but isn't that too obvious? Too much like a quilt that others might make. Too safe, if you know what I mean. So I decide I want to take a risk. See what happens if the blue is confined and defined at the top. I wait a day or two. Lie awake in the morning trying to picture in my mind what it will look like.

And then decide to go for it. Now sometimes when I try--the risk is just time. I can take out a row or two of stitches and return to Plan A. Or maybe move on to Plan C or D or--well, you get the idea.

But this quilt is so big I can't really see the whole thing on my design wall. Sure I take pictures all the time. Step back and ponder. Realize that I could if I really had to remake a couple of rows.

But I think it will work. I want to see this quilt as I imagine it. So instead I keep sewing the rows together. Keep moving forward knowing that it will look different when the whole thing is finished. Yes, I take the image and then flip it in the camera to get an idea what it will look like although the rows are not sewn together yet.

Yes, it is scary. Am I wasting my time? How many comments am I going to get at the Paradise City Arts Festival wondering why I added the black and white stripes? Is this a good thing? Is it stretching the quilt? Or am I making the wrong decision? What do you think? Does this ever happen to you?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

the first seam

OK--I love my new big quilt--winter light. You may remember it. I hung it in the center back of my booth at the Baltimore Show. And even almost sold it a couple times. But I know I will be more likely to sell it if I have another big quilt like it also. After all, customers like to feel that what I am making is not a fluke. They want choices.

winter light--99x99"--quilt by Ann Brauer

Besides I have agreed to do an ad promoting my quilts as part of the Paradise City Arts Festival.  My quilt prairie sky may be included in this ad. Love this quilt also but I don't own it and I don't want to make another one just like it. Yes, this show is coming soon. March 22-24 to be precise at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, MA. This show just exudes spring and I want a quilt that reflects the mood of the show. For more info: Note they do offer coupons for discounted admission on their website--worth a visit just for that.

prairie sky--96x120"--quilt by Ann Brauer

So I have been thinking of starting a new quilt. And thinking and thinking. I pinned this sample small quilt I had made onto my design board so I could study it. And think and think. Should it go this way?

quilt--Ann Brauer

Or that?

quilt--Ann Brauer

Does it matter?

How can I make this quilt big? I want it to be distinctive and original. Not just taking this quilt and using larger strips. Wouldn't that look too easy? Too much like a quilt that anyone could make? Where or what would be that special something? And did I really and truly want to spend my time making a big quilt? Shouldn't I make more placemats and potholders which I know will sell?

How much time could I spend just thinking? It was haunting me. So I decided to start. Make what I know. Isn't there some old Chinese saying that the largest quilt begins with the smallest seams? Well, maybe it doesn't go quite like that but still I had to start. No excuses.

Time to take the plunge. Add the first strips.

And a few more.

Sure looks tiny doesn't it? What comes next? I test some fabrics. One seam at a time. I try to visualize it. Hope I can get it done in time. Please no more snow storms.

Yes, this is a quilt to be continued. Will I get it done? How will it grow? I have ideas in my mind if only they work. I love it when I can just let the quilt take on its own life. Do you ever do this? How do you begin a quilt?

Friday, March 1, 2013

the quilts of Ann Brauer--the lion and the lamb

OK--I presume you know the saying. If March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb. Or vice versa. But the question I have is whether it is a lion or a lamb this year. This morning I have seen the sunrise and blue sky. But--and this is the big but--my driveway is covered with 3 inches of slush. And the road up to my driveway has the same slush and the tire tracks of the cars that tried to make it up. So what--you might say. But my driveway is 1/4 mile long and the road is an additional 1/4 mile. And it is all UP hill. Steep. I know because I hiked up last night and will hike down tomorrow to get my van. So you see the basic conundrum don't you? Lion or lamb?  Or am I just spoiled?

Anyhow, the Baltimore Craft Show has come and gone and it was so encouraging. Now I am getting ready for the Paradise City Arts Festival March 22-24 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, MA. This is a show I absolutely love to do. There is always such wonderful work there. Both craft and art that I have never seen before as well as so many favorites from previous years. The music is fun. The parking is free. There is even a lovely place to sit and take a break. For further information go to I am Booth 138 and do hope to see some of you there.

And in the meantime I am also busy preparing for the workshop I will be giving for the Shelburne Falls Business Association on Friday March 14 from 8:30 to 9:30 on using Pinterest to brand your business. What fun I am having organizing my thoughts and researching the topic. Teaching is certainly the best way to learn a topic. For further info on this workshop contact the SFABA at And to check out my Pinterest site:

Now for the Quilt of the Month. For all of my new followers, each month I try to select one quilt that I offer as a special for ten days--or until it is sold. If it does not sell, it returns to the original price. So for the next 10 days the quilt will be "july". This quilt was just returned to me from a gallery. It is one of my original quilts that create abstract landscapes using wedges. The quilt which normally sells for $750 will be offered for sale for $450 plus shipping and any applicable taxes. It is about 32x48" and yes, it is bright. It can be hung either vertically or horizontally. So please if you are interested, let me know.

So I hope your March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lamb. And do wish me luck that sometime soon this slush melts. And I will be working in the studio most days unless I am at a show so do come by and visit if you are in town. The sap is running.