Sunday, July 28, 2013

the lessons of blue breakfast

OK--why do I write about daylilies so much? After all I am a quiltmaker. That is my life. My profession. Dare I say it--my obsession.

And yet there is so much to learn by looking at life from other angles. Take the daylily "blueberry breakfast." What a gorgeous flower.  First blooming in my garden this year. Just look at all the wonderful tones and depth. The little  ruffles at the edge. The green eye. Oh I love it.

Blueberry breakfast--daylily--Ann Brauer

Now you must understand that blue is a color that daylilies do not come in. Sure there are technical reasons--don't ask me to explain.  Way above my pay grade. But of course that makes the color sought after. You know how that goes--if you can't have it, you want it.

Anyhow I digress. Yes, "blueberry breakfast" was blooming in my garden. And I loved it. And as a belated birthday gift, my DH took me to Tranquil Lake Nursery in Rehobeth.Here is their web site. What more could I ask for? Acres and acres of daylilies.  So hard to capture the intense color and the feeling of being surrounded by such color. Peak season.

Tranquil Lake--daylily--Ann Brauer

I was surrounded by color. 

Tranquil Lake--daylily--Ann Brauer

Unbelievable rows and rows of color that I could walk through and absorb. Try to decide which ones just had to make it back to my garden. You see that was part of the birthday gift. How lucky could I get? And then I saw what might be a Must Have. That amazing dance of blue against the yellow.

Blueberry Breakfast at Tranquil Lake--daylily--Ann Brauer
Blueberry Breakfast--daylily--Ann Brauer

Until I looked more closely and realized that was "blueberry breakfast" grown up so that instead of just one plant, there was the intensity of tens and tens of it. The sky dancing at my feet.  And of course I realized that is also the power of a quilt. That intensity of repetition so that yes--one fabric--one design is lovely and to be admired. But then there is the power of fabrics dancing together.  The intensity that you get only by a whole and the contrast with the yellow flowers--if you know what I mean. (See you knew I would talk about quilts eventually, didn't you?)

And isn't that also part of marketing. One potholder or quilt is fine but isn't there something about selection or choice that adds to the process. So of course I did have to choose just a few more daylilies. Could I resist "swirling water?" Won't that look swell in a clump?

Swirling water--daylily--Ann Brauer

"Outrageous" needed to come home with me. I couldn't capture the drama of that plant but trust me--I can't wait.

Outrageous--daylily--Ann Brauer
 A bit of pre-shopping for next time. "Opera Elegance" looks interesting. Hmm.

Opera Elegance--daylily--Ann Brauer

And "Lake Norman Spider". That could be fun, right?

Lake Norman Spider--daylily--Ann Brauer

Yes, I loved "red suspenders". Out of my price range for now. But worth noting just the same.

red suspenders--daylily--Ann Brauer

Then it was time to head home. Plant the ones I got. Aabachee and Shaker Dance. Goodbye Columbus--a late gold that was not yet blooming. I must extend the season. And "Asiatic Pheasant." Oh this will be fun--something to look forward to next year. And I must give "blueberry breakfast" more space. See if I can get it to grow into a clump that seems to dance with the sky.

And you--where do you go for color and inspiration? What are your favorite daylilies?  Your favorite nurseries? Olallie's, Stone Meadow, Longlesson. So many to choose from. Or is another flower your fave--iris, peonies, zinnias. It is hard to go wrong, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays--colors of the ocean

Now for those of you who also follow me on Facebook, I did spend last week-end at the ocean. The wedding of a favorite niece and her husband.  The Cape to be precise. How glorious it was. I hadn't been there in years. Still much of it looked as I remembered. Sure our brakes failed on the Southeast Expressway--scary. Though it was not my car and nor my brakes.  I was not driving. They got fixed.   The power went off just as they were ready to lower the car down from the lift. But all of this is another story.

We got there in time. The couple glowed.  My brother-in-law looked happy and proud. I knew my sister-in-law would have approved.  And I got time by the ocean.  Time to absorb the colors. Not the ones that immediately come to my mind. The rich blues and teals. The vibrant greens. No, these were the subtler colors of the clouds and the sand. Light dancing in its own muted form. And yes, perhaps--well I should say probably--a quilt or two.

But first I must share these colors with you--and perhaps in sharing--learn even more. (And you thought I did these posts for you. Nope, I do them for myself.)

OK--this is supposed to be wordless. Or almost wordless.

So here is the ocean. Those horizons. Wonderful and haunting. Yes, just the hint of rain.

 Deep--almost sultry colors of mystery and promise.

Accented of course by the greens. Life itself. On the shore. There should be a poem here. So classic and pure.

I had forgotten the browns and tans of the sand. Again seemingly endless. Forever. The same but always varied. Don't you love the ripples left by the tide departing?


The random bits of weed and shells. Arranged with such lack of care until it is hard to crop because that inserts the person into the scene. Is this right or does it spoil it? Hard to say.

The bright sea tomato. An accent. A jewel. Just waiting to be discovered.

And the waves. The story that is there. Force against force. Constant. Eternal. Sometimes so subtle the sky reflects in the waves. Notice the colors. Oh yes, a quilt.

Sometimes with rocks. Another story. Another time.

And then there is a swimmer. Yes, this is a story. Words can be added. A feeling of endless and longing. A power and a statement.

And alas time to leave. So soon and yet so long. Such a feeling inside of completion and mystery. And for you. And the ocean. What is it? What is the meaning?

And how do you incorporate it into your art and your being?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays--the fungi edition

OK--I confess. I was walking up to the garden to weed--not necessarily my favorite thing to do--but sometimes all too necessary, when I noticed the mushrooms growing on the tree stump. Now I have no idea what they are. The tree stump has been there for years--probably a pine tree though I am not sure by now. And the mushrooms--or maybe they are some other fungi appear regularly. I always look forward to seeing them. So ornate they look like a wild tropical flower. A story for a children's book. Every year I stop. Every year the shapes are so different. Bowls or vases. Flowers.

Aren't they wonderful? Like the skirts of a can-can dancer flaring up with the swirls and kicks. Or maybe a daffodil from some other world?

Then I look and see another mushrooms. What strange little markings on its top. What are they? Does it even matter? Hmmm.

On the garden path I notice more mushrooms that look a daisy made of wood. So much detail in each one.  A happy form of anemone?

OK--this is getting fun. So much for the weeding. That can happen tomorrow--right? A darling little mushroom in the grass--so dainty I almost miss it.

The pleats on this one--modern and perfect. Yes, this one would almost make a nice white on white quilt, wouldn't it? (You see I never go very long without thinking about quilts do I?)

I see one so dainty and poised it seems to stretch forever.

What fun this was. Could I find one more before I headed to the studio? I walked in the woods. Yes, where I remembered them. The haunting white of the Indian pipe. At least that is what I call it.

I always hope to find them at least once a year. And then it was time to head down the hill. But what a nice morning it was. Certainly I don't know anything about mushrooms or any other fungi--and would never ever dream of eating them unless I had a well-qualified guide--but there is something about just searching for the different shapes and sizes of these mushrooms that made the morning so magical and complete. Have you ever done this?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

stretching myself with spiders--wordless Wednesdays

OK--I confess that when I first saw them I went ho-hum. I mean why would anyone want a flower that doesn't fill the space. That isn't big, lush and round. Isn't that how flowers should be, I thought. But still these are just daylilies and so I got a few. Maybe if I studied them and learned to see them a bit more I would start to appreciate them.

Now there is an actual definition as to what a "spider" daylily is--something to do with the ratio of width of the sepal to its length.  And there are all of these wonderful terms to describe the particular twist and turns of these flowers. Yes, I should learn them. And probably I will. Sometime.

But for me daylilies are  fun. Nothing relaxes me as much as being in my garden--seeing what is new. Admiring what is there. Wondering what is to come.  Although I confess that I use my process of learning about daylilies to also try to understand how others learn about fine craft and in particular quilts. How does one look and appreciate what is there? What are the questions? And what questions come after the answers? Do you do this?  But enough--time for some pictures. Didn't I promise that this post would be "wordless"?

One of my first spider daylilies. Nutmeg elf.  The flower is so small--about 3". So cute, isn't it? A clump blooms so full of yellow it always brings a smile to my face.

nutmeg elf--daylily--Ann Brauer

And  "cat's cradle." Maybe about 8 inches across. Yes, I got it for the name. Blooms a bit lower to the ground than I might like--or maybe it is the location in which I have it.

cat's cradle--daylily--Ann Brauer
This is "easy Ned." Presumable named after Ned Roberts who was one of the first hybridizers of spider daylilies. I love that green in the center, don't you?

easy Ned--daylily--Ann Brauer

And this one is "revolute". As you can see, now they are getting to be fun. Yes, I should do more research on it.

revolute--daylily--Ann Brauer
"Down south". A daylily of substance I got up at Olallies. Look at the little ruffles on the edges of the petals and the unusual shapes. Isn't that cool? And yes, that is tradescenta in the background. Love the contrast in color.

down south--daylily--Ann Brauer

And now a couple from Dan Bachman who has a garden Valley of the Daylilies in Ohio. Yes, I confess that visiting this garden is on my "bucket list" but luckily for me they also have a web site. And he does have the best names for  his flowers. This is "shouting the blues".

shouting the blues--daylily--Ann Brauer

And "cheetah wheelies." Oh it is hard to take a picture of this one. But so much fun.

cheetah wheelies--daylily--Ann Brauer
And yes, spiders are not all yellows. There are reds and purples and whites that I really want. But enough for now. Oh so much to do. So many questions. So much to absorb in such a short time. Does this ever happen to you? What interests you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

floating above the garden--wordless Wednesdays

There is something magical about Japanese iris or ensata. So exuberant, extravagant in their many details. Each so unique they seem to float above the garden. Sure they are a bit fussy--they like to be moved every few years. Love their fertilizer and water. And their flowers don't last nearly long enough--especially with all the rain we have been having.  But while they are in bloom, I just enjoy and soak in their colors and details.

So without further ado:

pink dimity--ensata--Ann Brauer

chigokegu--ensata--Ann Brauer

immaculate white--ensata--Ann Brauer

nikko--ensata--Ann Brauer
sorcerer's triumph--ensata--Ann Brauer
storm at sea--ensata--Ann Brauer
prairie twilight--ensata--Ann Brauer

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

in the beginning

I remember a conversation with an older woman a few years ago. "What was life like," I asked. "Do you now know who you are and what you are doing?" I continue.

The answer was short and sweet and stuck with me.

"The questions have changed but they are still needing to be answered," she replied.

How true I thought.

Yes, I recently celebrated my 32nd year in business as a quiltmaker. Time for a bit of nostalgia. So, for those who are curious, here are a few of my early quilts. Yes, you can see the log cabin influence. They were all quilt as you go onto a muslin backing. The blocks sewn together and then a polyester batting. The quilts were then tied. These were meant to be used on beds. I do hope you enjoy. If you want to see more, I have a book with some early images that I will bring to my studio in Shelburne Falls and I will try to post occasionally for my loyal readers. These photographs were by Tommy Elder. I hope you enjoy.

The first is a simple log cabin but the colors are changing both on the top layer and the bottom lighter colors. Each block was made knowing exactly where it went on the quilt.

log cabin quilt--early--Ann Brauer

Another basic log cabin with a slightly more complex pattern. Again notice the color changes. These quilts with a couple more variations got me into every single craft show I applied to. If only life were that easy now...sigh!!!

two diamonds--quilt--Ann Brauer
Of course soon I had said everything I had to say using variations on this theme so I had to change the size of the blocks to add further interest. Yes the size of the lighter strips were narrower than the darker strips.

straight furrows--quilt--Ann Brauer
And sometimes I had to just let myself play. This was a quilt that I had lots of fun with but never really figured out all of its secrets. I owned this piece for some period of time until finally it sold in San Francisco.

river--quilt--Ann Brauer

And yet there was something about this quilt that continued to haunt me. Here is a close-up of my quilt--rivers of autumn. Do you see the similarities?

rivers of autumn--detail--quilt--Ann Brauer

So what do you think? How has your work changed? What questions remain the same? Do you study older works or tend to put them aside for a while and let the work take hold?

Monday, July 1, 2013

the quilts of Ann Brauer--32 years and counting

OK let me get the weather out of the way first--more rain and thunderstorms here. If I could I would love to share it with my many friends out west  but alas.... Sigh!!! Anyhow the flowers in the garden are thriving, the weeds are doing quite well too and in Shelburne Falls I have never seen the Bridge of Flowers more beautiful. I have been on a roll in the studio making new quilts--it is so much fun when ideas just come to me and I can't wait until I get to show them to you.

I did calculate that as of today I will have been supporting myself (well, it does depend on your definition of how much money one needs to survive) for the last 32 years. Pretty amazing isn't it? Maybe I will have a treat at McCusker's this morning to celebrate.

I don't have any shows planned this month but there will be another ArtWalk in Shelburne Falls on Saturday July 13 and my studio will be open until 8pm that night. I do hope those in the area will drop by and explore the many wonderful art and craft studios in town. The studio will be closed the following week-end so I can attend a family function--congrats Dove and Philippe--but otherwise I should be working to prepare for the Berkshire Craft Show and the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, IL next month though do call first if you are coming from a distance.

And now for the Quilt of the Month. Well actually two long hangings.

The first is the study in neutrals. It is about 12 x 60" and does indeed have the interesting crooks in it that would either make a statement hanging (there is a sleeve for hanging) or could be a fantastic table runner. And the second is a study in blue. It is about 11x55" and has Velcro for hanging. It too has a slight slant that should not be noticeable as a table runner or can get attached to a wall so that  it hangs fairly straight. Each is $300 plus applicable taxes and shipping and are sold on a first come first served basis--please do specify which one you want.
blue wall hanging--Ann Brauer

neutral wall hanging--Ann Brauer

I hope you get just the right amount of rain and sun this summer and do look forward to seeing many of you in the studio or at craft shows later in the summer.

Ann Brauer
6 Bridge Street
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
413 625-8605