Sunday, December 21, 2014

the turning of the season

Today is the Winter Solstice. Already the afternoons have added a couple of minutes--how nice. And soon--well in January, the mornings too will add minutes. Don't ask me to explain--I can understand it when I read about it--but not well enough to write about it.

For many there is a tenseness and anxiety of this season. The pressures of doing the right thing. The hussle and bussle of the shopping malls. I am so lucky. I will get to spend precious time with my DH and wonderful step-children. What fun it will be to spend time catching up on their lives.  Prepare a lovely meal for them. I know it will be lovely.

This is also the time of finishing orders and getting ready for Baltimore in February. Almost a spring show. I decide I must make my quilt "river of green." Although I have made it once, it is needed for the Baltimore Show and the perfect quilt to get me in the mood to be inspired again after spending the last month making the small accessories that sell this time of year.

I pull out the image of this quilt and study it. Yes, I have many of the same fabrics though I will never be able to recreate the curves and swirls of the fabric. This quilt has such a spontaneity when I made it and I must recapture this feeling. How hard it is to have planned spontaneity.

I made it last year as I prepared for Baltimore. New and fresh. The curves of the river anticipating the river that I would soon gaze upon when I moved into my new studio.

river of green--38x38"--Ann Brauer

Part of a series of new work I made last year for Baltimore. "Rainbow in the mist"--a finalist for the Niche Awards.

Rainbow in the mist--38x38"--Ann Brauer

"Dreaming the rainbow"--it sold even before the show. I was on a roll last year, wasn't I? Also a Niche Finalist.

Dreaming the rainbow--99x99 inches--Ann Brauer

What can I do this year? How can I top these quilts? Not something to overthink, I tell myself. One step at a time. Just do it. Make the quilt--green river. I cut out the greens and take a deep breath.

Green river--Ann Brauer

This is the key to the quilt.

Green river--Ann Brauer

The teals are a bit easier. Sure, I don't have all the fabrics but I can tell the essence of this quilt is the rich brightness of the fabrics. The blue must shine through.

Green river--Ann Brauer

Yes, there are the curves--although different than before.

Green river--Ann Brauer
I then check out the greys. Some the same and some different. I count and recount. Check. Not that it has to be matchy-matchy. But I do want it close. I pin it up and look. Yes, this is similar.

Green river--Ann Brauer
Now to sew it together and then to create new quilts that will grab the attention of the Baltimore customers and push me in a new direction. I sketch an idea. Wonder how it will look in the booth. Think I may try it soon. Hmmm. This could work. I imagine it in my booth. Does it meet my requirements--new, dynamic, a challenge. Fun.

How do you get started on a new project? Do you look forward to the start of the New Year? Is Winter Solstice for you the turning of the season? Will I see you at the Baltimore Show? The Paradise City Marlborough Show, the Hartford CT Show? But more of these later.

Friday, November 28, 2014

the quilts of Ann Brauer--I ate too much turkey edition

Hope you had a great Turkey Day. We went on a wonderful hike with my amazing step-children, then ate far more Turkey than we should have (as well as of course the relish, the veggies, the stuffing and the pie--well actually we saved the pie for later--amazing as that sounds.) So much news this month, I will try to be brief. I just got my copy of Lovely Landscape Quilts by Cathy Geier. What a great job she did. Lots of lovely pictures and instructions for how to make some of them if you are hunting for a gift for the quilt maker in your life, you might want to check it out.  And yes there are a number of quilts of mine included in the introduction.

rainbows of autumn--45x45"--Ann Brauer

Today Friday is  the annual Moonlight Magic in downtown Shelburne Falls. This is such a great family event. There are street vendors, gorgeous candelabra, music, even a cookie sale.  I can't wait to see how lovely everything looks from my new/old view with the fresh coating of new snow we got yesterday. My studio will be open until at least 8. I do hope to see some of you there if only to see the new building. And yes, I am having a 20% off sale Friday through Sunday just because.

night sky--45x45"--Ann Brauer

Then it is on the CraftBoston next week-end for me. This show has now conveniently moved to the Hynes Auditorium and promises to have some absolutely wonderful finds--including Crafts for Under $100.   I have attached a discount coupon with more particulars and a coupon for $3 off your admission. Of course you must bring it for the savings.

Want more--the week-end after is the Morristown Holiday Show in Morristown, NJ. I've never done this show before but here there are some wonderful Treasures in an easy to get to location. To get Free Admission you do need to have a coupon for each person. Print it out and fill in the info for your admission.

Can't make it to any of these events--I am having a 20% off sale on my Etsy shop through Sunday November 30. The address of my shop is and the Code is MOONLIGHT2014 Of course the 20% off only applies to orders purchased during this time and does not apply to custom orders or previous purchases. I do keep trying to add items to the shop but if you don't see it, drop me a line and I will tell you if I still have it.

Then I have orders to finish and I must start getting ready for the Baltimore Show in February.  It is a good thing I love what I do, isn't it?

Hope you have a great holiday and a wonderful start of winter with just enough snow and cold. And remember starting in mid-December the afternoons do slowly get longer.

Friday, October 31, 2014

the Quilts of Ann Brauer--BOO!!! Cider Days, ArtWalk and Philly

Dear all,

Wow, today is Halloween already. October just flew by didn't it? Some absolutely gorgeous days. The foliage here was wonderful. The views from my studio still are lovely.  I have been so very busy getting ready for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show November 6-9. It is hard to believe that it is finally almost here. My studio is  so full of the new quilts I made for Philly, it will be hard to choose which ones to bring and which ones to hang in my booth.

"Night sky" is definitely going.

night sky--45x45"--quilt--Ann Brauer

I love "modern red".
modern red--92x108"--quilt--Ann Brauer

But doesn't "colors of summer" also deserve its day in the sunshine, so to speak?
colors of summer--40x55"--quilt--Ann Brauer

And of course my new table runners--or are they wall hangings?
long table runner--12x72"--quilt--Ann Brauer

Well I guess that is what they call, high class worries, isn't it?

But before I leave this week-end in West County is the 20th annual Cider Days. And tomorrow is an Art Walk in Shelburne Falls I will be open Saturday until at least 7 and Sunday until 5 so drop by and say hi. Wish me safe travels and tell me which quilts I should definitely bring to Philly.

Later in the month I will be working in the studio getting ready for Moonlight Magic, CraftBoston and the Artrider Morristown Holiday Show but more of those later. I do hope I will see some of you there. Meanwhile do enjoy the beauties of late autumn and the hauntingly rich colors of the oak leaves. For those who want more information on the Philly show I am Booth 315.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

new quilt images

I just got some new images of my quilts. Thanks so much John Polak for doing such a great job. How lucky I am to have such a great photographer.

misty fields--about 108x94 inches--quilt by Ann Brauer 2014

detail of misty fields--quilt--Ann Brauer

Yes, this quilt has almost 3/4 mile of stitching but who's counting?

modern red--about 96x108 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer

detail--modern red--quilt--Ann Brauer

Don't you love all the dimensions in this quilt?

night sky--45x45 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer
Of course some people see fireflies here instead of stars. Do note how the size of the stars change as they fall to earth.

visions--38x38 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer

Such interesting dimensions and feelings of space here, aren't there?

I do hope to see some of you at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show November 6-9. For more info:

Monday, October 27, 2014


I remember once years ago. I was at a craft show. The potter next to me was constantly talking to customers. "What was his secret?" I asked when he had a spare moment. Finding time was not an issue for me.

His answer was simple--"Don't say no right away. Listen to the suggestions of the customer. Draw them out. See if it is something you can do. Maybe you will learn something. Maybe you will get an order. At least you are talking with people."

Sure there are times that it doesn't work. There are items I know I don't want to make. Been there. Done that. Too much work for what I will get. Not my style.

But other times, it can lead me down a new path. Help me expand my quilts in new directions. Push me in ways I would not have thought possible. It happened recently at a show. A woman was looking for a head board for her bed. She wanted something long and horizontal and fell in love with this runner.

 geometric table runner--12x40"--Ann Brauer 

Of course the colors were wrong. She needed it longer. Six feet to be precise. And she needed it to match the colors in her room. I sent her a bunch of fabrics which she played with until midnight one day. Then she asked for more fabrics and played with those until she got just the colors she wanted for the central stripe. When I saw them, my eyebrows silently raised. But still I smiled.

Now this was also a design I continued to play with. I added colors and more dimension around the outside. But she had not seen those. The yellow with the shades of grey.

black, white and yellow table runner--12x40"--Ann Brauer
The plum and green.

plum and green table runner--12x40"--Ann Brauer

She had not seen these. Clearly she had a design in her mind. I must make her what she saw. What she imagines. It will be hanging over her bed after all.

I started sewing. How long and thin those first little bits of yellow were. How would they stand up to the design. Would they be lost in the black and white?

table runner--Ann Brauer--2014

Would the colors she had surrounding the yellow be too busy? These were not my choice but I could see how she wanted to encapsulate the yellow so I added them.

table runner--Ann Brauer--2014

Should the black and white be almost random as they were in the original or should I keep the colors constant? I thought about it. Decided that as in the original I would make them almost random although I would not break up the colors for the long rows.

The gist of this runner is patterns that resolve into a whole. There is an element of trust that the process in the end will work. And meanwhile there is lots and lots of sewing.

table runner--12x72 inches--Ann Brauer

On and on. And on.

table runner--Ann Brauer--2014
 Until finally the whole begins to emerge.

table runner--12x72"--Ann Brauer

Finally today I finish. Hmm. Interesting. There is a possibility that interests me. So simple and yet complex at the same time. The yellow really did work. The designs do peak through in the fabric.

table runner--12x72 inches--Ann Brauer
What a statement it makes. Now I can't wait to finish it.  What a great idea she had. How I want to make another just to have it. Play with the concept. Explore the possibilities.

Yes, I am glad I listened. Does this ever happen to you? Do you find it hard to listen? To decide if it is a project that interests you? What have you learned?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Haste makes waste

I am sure that this has happened to everyone at some point in time. Admit it. You are working so hard, trying to get the quilt done. And you just assume that you don't have to stop and think it through. Or maybe, if you are like me--you do think it through but not well enough.

Let me explain. Now as everyone knows by now, I am getting ready for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show November 6-9. This is a BIG deal. I haven't been in this show for years and I want to take advantage of it. So I am trying to get lots and lots of work ready. So much that it is hard sometimes to figure out what to do next. What will sell?

As an aside. Recently I had a wonderful woman in my studio. She had pre-researched and wanted a quilt of mine for a specific location. Got to love that. She thought she wanted one of my more "traditional" quilts. "Lone tree" perhaps.

lone tree--32x48"--quilt--Ann Brauer

"Night sky" was too big. Though of course I could make it smaller.

night sky--45x45 "--quilt--Ann Brauer

We went through the rack hunting for what might work. Some of the rivers quilts were the right size.

teal river--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer

Then she saw it. When I pulled it out and hung it up, she gasped. Audibly. "Colors of the sky" had found its home.

colors of the sky--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer

A quilt I hadn't looked at for a few months and yet I loved it's simplicity against the wall. Modern but still a quilt. What a great color study. And the size was perfect for its location.  I got to thinking, yes it would be great if I could have another quilt similar to this one. Not the same colors but what would the next one look like? 

I grabbed the colors. Quickly started to piece and quilt without studying images of the quilt that had just sold. I should know how to do this. The blue and the green came together so nicely. Happy colors. Peaceful colors. I thought I knew what would work for the central neutrals against the greens. Wouldn't it be fun to add just a bit of warmth? Just a hint of green? I struggled over these fabrics. After all, this was the key to the quilt wasn't it? I did lay them out and think about it before I sewed.

And even as I sewed. Then I pinned it to the design wall.  Have you ever had that moment of despair? When despite your hard work, there is something not right. Just look at it.

Sure it looks like a spring morning but that blue really looks out of place doesn't it? How could I be so stupid? Would it improve when I finished it. Would the black binding tie it together? I considered it. Just for a moment. NO!! I have my standards. Each quilt must work--or at least I must firmly believe that each quilt works when I finish it.

 I decided I had to learn from my mistake. What had I done wrong? Could I fix it? Time to sleep on that one. Then I decided to play. What if the problem was too much color in the central panel? What if I made that simpler? I pinned up a table runner I had made in light grey with dark green lines.

spring morning--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer

What a difference that made, didn't it?  So much calmer. Yes, that would work. I made the new central panel. Checked it out. Much better isn't it? These quilts are meant to have a simplicity about them.

spring morning--quilt--Ann Brauer

Now there are few things I hate more than taking out stitches. What a waste of time. I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that I took out the stitches, sewed it back together again this time using a black binding.

spring morning--quilt--Ann Brauer

And now I still have to square it off and put on the binding. And yes, I got even further behind. Or was I getting ahead again since I did have a quilt that I liked--that I can't wait to finish and show to you.

Does this ever happen to you? What are your solutions? And again I do hope to see at least some of you at the Philadelphia Show Or maybe at my studio.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

lone tree

I love this time of year. The light is so clear and golden as the sun sets. It makes the trees glow with color. Sure there is a bit of sorrow as the seasons progress into winter. Or maybe it is not sorrow but a lingering fear of the dark that we must go through until spring. But for now, it is time to seize the moment and enjoy the splendor.

Well, that is a bit of an over-written paragraph. I guess I really have been working hard. New studios do always take more energy than anticipated. Even though my new studio is absolutely fabulous. And I did book more craft shows than usual. After all, I got into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show for the first time in years.  Let me shout that one loud and clear.

I must take full advantage of this opportunity because it may be years before I get in again. What can I make? What do I need? What will sell? I must not over think it. That would be a waste of precious time and energy.  I must not get nervous. Just make what I want with just a bit of an eye toward selling the quilt.

I just sent two quilts off for a trial placement. Oh I do miss them already. Who knows if they will find their new homes. I don't want to make work just like them. I need something new and fresh. Something that makes me want to complete the quilts to see what they will look like.

early summer--45x45"--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak.
late summer--45x45"--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Then it dawns on me. A golden tree against the sky. Just one tree. Will it shine in the light? Tell a simple story? In colors so lush and rich I have to finish it. Rich blues and teals. Of course I start.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

Yes, that is undeniably lovely. I must continue.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

Will the teal on the bottom carry the blues? Should it be darker? I must continue sketching it out.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

Amazing how many blues I need. How few blues I have. Note to self-- I must make it to the fabric store sometime soon. For now I rummage through my fabric drawers finding snippets here. Little wedges there. This takes longer than anticipated.

lone tree--quilt--Ann Brauer

But still the gradual fading of the colors does make the teal stand out more, doesn't it? I must add the splash of yellow. How will that look? A couple more rows of blue. So much to do. How light will it get at the top? Then the sewing it together. So much slower than I think it should be as the quilt gradually discloses itself. That is for tomorrow. And tomorrow. You know that saying.

At least I have a start. And you--do you have a favorite tree in autumn? How do you start a quilt? Will I see some of you at the Philly Museum Show--November 6-9--at the Convention Center?  For more information:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The end and the means

OK world--did you hear me? I thought I explicitly promised myself that I would NOT do technical work again. No more traditional patterns. After all I make art quilts, right? And I am tired of sewing straight lines. Or rather since I have been sewing a lot of straight lines recently I am tired of following patterns where the work has to be exact.

Been there. Done that. Isn't it more fun to choose each fabric as I sew. Get into that groove. Isn't that what it is all about?

But what happens when I see in my mind's eye something new I just have to make? I try it--of course. And I like it. There is something with the regularity and the precision that I just have to go for even if it is the log cabin pattern and even if I do all the work free hand so it really is not that precise.

I mean look at that pattern. Simple. But such dimension. There is a space there. A story in its regularity.

black white and red runner--12x40 inches--Ann Brauer

Or here--such a feeling light and depth. The window promises something. Isn't that all I can ask for?

plum runner--12x40 inches--Ann Brauer

Or here.

visions of light--38x38 inches--Ann Brauer

I play some more on the design board. Pin it up. It doesn't have to be perfect. I just want to see it.

design board--Ann Brauer
Do I really want to go there? Isn't it going to drive me crazy? But wouldn't it be perfect as a table runner in a modern home? What about a headboard over the bed?

No time like the present. After all if you are super busy--why waste time wondering if you are going to make the quilt. Just do it.

I cut the fabric for the yellow centers. I think I prefer the brighter yellow. More like sunshine isn't it?

I plan the colors of the outside. The colors of autumn.

And start to sew.

Will it work? Is this a waste of time? Will it drive me crazy?  I haven't made enough to know for sure.

Making two does take almost twice as long. Like duh?

But I keep going. And going and going. Now at least it takes some of the form I want.

Finally I can play.  Interesting but too expected. This was not what I intended in the first place but I wanted to see it.

OK--more like it.
And now to sew on the binding, A quilt maker's work is never done, is it?

Not bad though. I think I can get it done before Paradise City this week-end. Was it worth it? Can I make more? Is it more or less technical than the flowing river runner next to it? But that is another story. Argh!!! For another day and another blog. Meanwhile I hope I will see some of you at Paradise City at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Northampton October 11-13. For more info or maybe the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show November 6-9 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.