Friday, December 27, 2013

the light returns

Maybe it is because I always leave work at the same time most days but suddenly it is still almost light when I reach my car. Yes, there is only a difference of seven or eight minutes. And snow on the ground does help. But the seasons are changing. The light is clarifying. For those who don't know, the afternoon sun does start setting later long before the days get noticeably longer. Something about our orbit around the sun. I don't really care about the reason though, I just know I love having the afternoons lengthen.

And what that means for me is that Baltimore is less than two months away. You know--the Baltimore Fine Craft Show February 21-23 at the Convention Center. Yikes, it is early this year.  It is time to switch from holiday orders. That daily requirement of making my most popular items--the blue placemats. The potholders. The eyeglass cases that I know will sell. Time to start making new quilts. The ones that push me and my limits. That will hopefully stand out against the 600 other exhibitors in Baltimore. For more information:

Yet for me there is just this bit of fear and hesitation. What if I am no longer creative? Sure, I can make a tea cozy and plan five more tea cozies. That is easy. But what if I just can't create anything new and exciting and beautiful.

Now I know that if I get going the quilts will come. So I tell myself not to think too much. To just start. Make a quilt that I haven't been thinking about that much. What about the next in the desert sun series? Love those colors.

desert sun--32x48"--Ann Brauer

Start with the grey. I know that. See if that gives me the momentum. Sometimes that first block is the hardest, isn't it?

So lonely it looks by itself. Is it too blue? Too green? Do the greys work together?  I must finish that row.

Then make the green. No, I am not going to study the quilt to get the green "right". I want this quilt to have its own personality. Let the quilt choose its destiny.

Doesn't that look wonderful and fresh? Which I confess is just how I feel right now. So eager to go to work and just see what happens. Last night I even envisioned another quilt. One not even based on quilts I have previously done. Maybe I can get in the groove again. Hmm. Wonder what will happen? Does this ever happen to you? How do you get going again?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

the custom placemats

Okay--I support myself making quilts. Hence I do take custom orders. Pretty cut and dried isn't it? Just make what the customer wants and know that it is sold. What more could I ask for? And some orders are like that--ten gold placemats. A lot of sewing but basically I know what they will look like. Sure there are some artistic considerations. After all, there is always at least one fabric that I don't have which means that I have to rethink the entire color palette. One fabric does change that much. Always. But still it is just a matter of getting them done.

But then there are the other orders. The ones that I am curious about. Can I really make it? What will it look like? You know, the order that is actually something I have been thinking about. However, I will get paid to play.

So of course I had to say yes when the customer asked me if I could make 4 placemats just like this  runner with the very skinny strips. 

table runner--blues and purples--12x40"--Ann Brauer

Yes, the colors are wonderful, aren't they? But was it doable? Would I drive myself crazy in the process? Well, there was only one way to find out. Of course I said yes.

I started sewing. Oh these seams are long.  I had to select the magenta fabrics again. As I said, if I am out of one fabric I have to rethink them all. And the placemats are just slightly wider than the runner. It is the little things that matter.

So I keep sewing. Is there too much magenta?

Does the black contain it? I sew and sew. Stop and find more of the blue and purple fabrics and keep sewing. At least I know what I will make at the studio the next day. Gradually though it takes hold. Unfortunately I forget and don't snap images of the process. Just want to get it done. Thank goodness the new motor is faster.

Finally I finish.  Can't wait to see what they will actually look like.

Placemats--Ann Brauer

Cut them to size.  Hand sew the bindings. Finish them. And think.

Are they glorious? Yes. Don't they almost glow with the colors?

Is the back fantastic? You betcha.

Placemats--back--Ann Brauer

Did it take too long for a regular item? Alas. Yes. For now. Maybe there is a way to make it a bit faster. I am not sure.

But would I--could I--do it again if asked. Ayup!!! After all there are so many possibilities. So many colors that I want to work again. Now to see if I can get an order or two to play with this idea. Maybe in this color way--wouldn't that be great?

Or maybe this one?

Do you ever take a custom order just to see what will happen? How does it work out? Any tips?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

the quilts of Ann Brauer--winter light

Dear all,

Can you believe how dark it now is in the afternoon? It is definitely getting to be that time to hunker down by the fire (or in my case the sewing machine--and I do love the new motor by the way) and wait for the sun to return. Now certainly there are wonders to be seen in the night sky--Orion is rising higher and higher in the sky. The Milky Way flows across the sky. Sadly the Comet Ison flew too close to the sun. Although coming home from a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner after just learning the news, I did see a wonderful shooting star streak across the horizon and the Pleideas were high in the sky. Yes, I made this quilt--moon rising--in anticipation of the season.
moon rising--32x48"--quilt--Ann Brauer
Enough already. I am busy getting ready for CraftBoston this week-end. Always I look forward to this show--there is so much delightful work that I often find just that little something for my wonderful step children or even myself. This year it is at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston and promises to be larger than ever. For hours and more information do check out their web site: I am Booth 505.

Maybe it is the season, but I got inspired to make a few tea cozies this year so I could linger by the fire sipping my cup of... Of course they will be at my studio where I am working most days--unless I am at CraftBoston or the weather threatens. For those who can't make it to Shelburne Falls, I have listed several of them on my Etsy site or contact me for specific colors and designs. And do let me know what you think of them.

tea cozies--quilt--Ann Brauer

Well enough for now. I do hope I will get to see several of you either at CraftBoston or in Shelburne Falls. For the rest, have a great holiday season. Enjoy the return of the sun--it will happen soon. And do look at the night sky every once in a while.