Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Isn't it time to "Journey to Merryville"?

Have you ever been to a gallery show which was so enchanting and rich that you just wanted to linger there forever? One of those shows that stays with you long after you have left and makes you want to return time and again just to see one more detail--one more angle. To make sure you can thoroughly absorb the layers and layers it has.

Well, let me suggest a show you will want to take your friends, your children, your grandchildren,  your friends grandchildren or basically anyone else to over and over again. It is "Journey to Merryville" by the artist Lilin Tseng now showing up at the Salmon Falls Artisans Showroom in Shelburne Falls through September 2.   Now in all fairness to my readers I must admit that I know Lilin--although only slightly. After all, she has long been known for her wonderful perfectly executed dolls.

But this is far more than a doll show. This is a place inhabited by 20 characters who each--regardless of who they are--enjoy every moment to the fullest while being totally themselves. And just to give you perspective--these characters are about 20 inches tall.

Anyhow there is Muffet. Haven't we all met her? Do note the detail on the finger nails. Don't you just love her ruffled collar?

She is indeed sitting on a Tuffet talking with--of course--her friend Puffet. Yes, I know her too. And you must see the complete assemblage to thoroughly understand how wonderful it is.

Behind them is Madam Moth--based in part of the opera Madam Butterfly. (Yes, you will want to read the entire story about this character. I won't spoil it for you.)

Again note the fingernails. And of course the oh so perfect moth.

There is Cat Woman.  Yes, she has a mechanical crank to turn her tail though of course one would never ever turn it in the gallery. How long did it take Lilin to perfect that!

This is the "fur". What attention to detail and complexity. This is painted wood. But try to imagine that process--so painstaking and exact.

And of course Bow Wow Wow. So himself. So full of attitude. His necklace is a beaded dog. His pants hang down--as in way down.  Probably banned in several communities. But he is so full of himself and his world. I believe she even made the sunglasses. Wow!

So have you noticed anything similar about these characters? Not just their attitude but all the faces are made from the same mold that of course Lilin sculpted and then molded in resin. Amazing isn't it?

One more I loved was Poppo. Yes, this is Pippi Longstockings grown up. Don't you just love her smile? I didn't snap a picture of her longstockings but of course they were hand knit just for her legs. Can you imagine attaching those buttons?

OK--I can't include them all. She even made a character which is a self portrait of herself. How lovely and revealing it is. And of course on the walls are paintings of the characters of Merryville to make the show even richer.  So do--if you are even thinking of making it to Shelburne Falls this summer visit this show. Indeed I suggest visiting it once--then taking the time to read the wonderful hand out that describes each of the characters--and then looking again. After all, don't you wanted to see the needle felted dog or the hat made from a tea strainer? Yes this show deserves a larger venue with a greater audience (hint to anyone out there looking for a great show). But this will be the best time to see this work in such an intimate setting. For more information on Lilin and much better images her web site is: http://merryvilleart.com/index.html

And of course if you are in Shelburne Falls, you can walk down the hill and over the Iron Bridge to visit me in my studio so long as I am not at a craft show. Gee, I bet you were wondering when I would get that in.

And you--have you seen the show? Were you as awed as I was? Any other hidden must see shows that you can recommend?

Monday, August 5, 2013

it takes a stash to make a quilt

Now one of those questions I get asked all the time is "How many fabrics are there in this quilt?" A great question but just counting the fabrics in the quilt would not give you the real answer. After all, for every fabric I choose to put into the quilt, there are also many more that I have just like Goldilocks rejected.

Let me explain. This time the order was for a quilt based on the design and colors of "autumn dawn". You may remember this quilt--wonderful rich colors of browns with a vibrant yellow dawn and the hints of purple floating above the field of green. And I did want to get this order done--the client wanted to attend the Berkshire Craft Show August 9-11 in Great Barrington, MA so I had to concentrate on it.

autumn dawn--45x64"--quilt--Ann Brauer

However, the quilt had to be smaller and it had to coordinate with the colors of the room. In particular purples were wrong and instead a hint of blue was called for. Just look at the colors of the pillow sham from the space. Lovely but a bit of a challenge, isn't it?

So I start piecing. When in doubt, my motto after all is make what I know.

Not bad. But what comes next? I pull out lots and lots of fabrics and sort through. Hunting for fabrics that have just the right amount of warmth but also reflect the colors of the sham.

Yes, this one was too purple. Too bright.

This one had great colors but it was just so busy I feared it would detract from the quilt.

This one is actually possible. Note that hint of red in the piece and just the right amount of blue. I'll set it aside and cut a couple of wedges.

Perfect, isn't this one? Not too bright but so many colors. Just the right amount of warmth.

And this blue--will it prove to be too purple. Only the actual quilt will tell. But I set it aside. Cut a bit of it--easier and faster than going back and finding the fabric at just the right moment.

And so it continues. Going through my stash of blues and reds, the stash of browns and yellows. Even the greys. Trying to find as many colors that just might work. Rejecting ten or twenty pieces before I find even one that just might work. Then finally I start piecing. Will the colors work? How will it look?

Not bad. Don't you love how once you get the pieces together they start to sing? So complex but also harmonious at the same time.

Then I sew it together. And give it the final once over. Sure the snapshot is not as well lit as it could be--it took forever to finish and the light was fading. But still I hope the customer will be pleased. And as for me--now I am thinking of more uses for these colors--what will the next quilt in this series look like?

Berkshire dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer

And you--do you find it takes a stash to make a quilt? How do you sort your fabric?  Can you ever have too much stash? What tricks can you offer? And if you are in the Berkshires maybe you will be able to make it to the show--for more info: www.berkshirecraftsfair.org

Friday, August 2, 2013

the quilts of Ann Brauer--groundbreaking edition

Dear all,

Oh how quickly this summer is flying by, isn't it? Sure the weather was first rainy, then oh so hot. Then a wee bit chilly. Too dry. And of course a few perfect days.  After all this is New England, right?

Meanwhile I am busily getting ready for not one but two craft shows this month. The first one is the Berkshire Crafts Show at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington, MA on August 9-11. This is such a fabulous small show put on by the teachers to raise money for programs at the school. Artists do come from across the North East and even further to participate in this show so if you are in the area, please do plan on dropping by and seeing what is available. I have so much new work for the show. For more information http://www.berkshirecraftsfair.org/

Late summer--quilts--Ann Brauer
Then later in the month is the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, IL August 23-25. This is one of the top shows in the country--I am always delighted when I get accepted as I love to browse the aisles and see what everyone has been doing. This year if you check out their web site you will see they have lots of special ticket prices--for instance a pre purchased pack of four tickets is only $40 if you buy before August 19. So make plans now. For further information http://americancraftexpo.org/

And for those who want to purchase from me but can't make it to the studio or one of these shows, I am experimenting with a small presence on Etsy including new pillows and purses so do check it out and let me know what you think. Of course I can special list any items that you want if you find that most convenient. Just let me know. http://www.etsy.com/shop/AnnBrauer
Pillows--Ann Brauer

And now for the BIG BIG news is that my request for a variance for my new studio did get approved--yeah!!! A few more hoops to jump through and then groundbreaking should be some time in August. To catch you up, my hope is to rebuild my studio (on a very firm foundation I might add) and add a second story to help finance this project. I am meeting with the architect again tonight but it sure is going to be a gorgeous building and I am so excited that I have to pinch myself to make sure it will really happen. Of course I will keep everyone posted about the progress--may even toss in a couple of surprise sales to celebrate so stay tuned. Doesn't the building look great?

Well I guess that is a lot of news for this month. I hope you all are having a great summer.

Thanks for reading.