Friday, May 30, 2014

the quilts of Ann Brauer--the good news, bad news move

Well I did it. Or at least the first half of it. Yes, I have moved my work out of 6 Bridge Street with the help of my DH and a couple of great friends. Yes, I will be sad to leave this space I called home for almost three years. And yes, it does look a bit empty and vacant. Oh well.

And we did manage to get my quilts into my new studio at 2 Conway Street. Yeah!!! But--for the bad news. Of course they are not finished at 2 Conway Street. Isn't that always the way it is with construction. I do confess that with my possessions coming in I have never seen so many trucks working there to get it done. Sigh. Yes, I feel a bit like one of those reality TV shows where they build a home in seven days. Workers all over the place. The anxiety of getting it complete. Except as I remind myself frequently, at my studio every one is working with all deliberate speed. The studio looks wonderful. Even the railings on the walk were hand built to just the right size and look spectacular. And the contractor, the crew and all of the subcontractors could not be nicer people to work around.

So I must be patient just a tad longer, I guess. I know I will be open for Riverfest which is the Saturday after tomorrow and should be ready for a few visitors by Monday. (My neighbor Lamson and Goodnow--the knife and kitchen supply store is having their annual tent sale then just in case you needed added incentive to come to the Falls. I even have another new neighbor--it is going to be a tea house/coffee house boutique just a couple houses down from me. Conway Street is hopping.)

And for those who want to see more, I have been going through my quilts as I pack and putting more of my old favorites on Clearance. That's what moving is all about, isn't it? So if you are interested--check my Etsy shop and keep checking back.  Once I get unpacked, I may find even more quilts that can be moved out.

rivers of autumn--quilt--45x45"--Ann Brauer

Finally I am hoping as I settle in to post more images of the space. If I can pull it together, the grand opening will be at the end of June. I will send out invites once I confirm it.

Well, enough for now. Do wish me well. I hope your spring is absolutely wonderful.

Ann Brauer
2 Conway Street
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

413 834-3576(cell)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

in the gloaming

Gloaming. What is not to love about that word. The time after the sun sets.  From the Old English--glow. So much less cliched than "twilight" these days. "Dusk" seems almost harsh. But there is a mystery about gloaming isn't there? Doesn't it just roll off your tongue?

My neighbor and I chat on the back porch. Ellie of the Bridge of Flowers Beauty Salon. I will miss her. And the wonderful ladies who visit every week. Such grace they show in the twilight of their years. The couple--been together for 73 years. Moved  across the country to be near their son. Now, they don't want to let each other out of their sight as they walk oh so slowly to the appointment. One on the arm of the son. One helped by Ellie. Each step deliberate and careful. Yet worth the effort. Bravely moving ever onward.

The others come too. Brought by daughters and sons. Home health care workers and grandchildren. Some walk by themselves. Always the anticipation. Meeting friends. Getting their hair just perfect for the holidays. Talking about the weather and family. A weekly ritual of faith and hope that this week will go well. I will miss watching them all. Such familiar faces. One step at a time but always moving forward.

Bridge Street has been kind to me. A home when I needed it most. A place to make quilts and continue. To get my feet back on the ground and figure out the next step.  Finally I know where my fabric is. Where I have stashed extra stock. I know the light. The parking lot. How to keep it cool in summer and warm in winter. I could have made quilts hear quite happily for years. Great neighbors. Foot traffic. Enough space.

But still as I stood at my counter cutting fabric I could see that empty hole where my studio had been. And I realized that there was a hole in my heart too. As a friend of mine said, I still had my best quilts ahead of me. That I had to take the risk and build the new studio. To trust the future.

I made one final quilt in the old studio. I named it "in the gloaming" to celebrate the move. The bittersweet feelings of change. Just finished it yesterday. Of course it took longer than expected. The light did not hold in the studio but still I took a snapshot. Maybe the sun will come out and I can get a better image today.

in the gloaming--quilt--Ann Brauer

Yes, finally. Today is moving day. I can't believe that I am actually saying that. It seems such a long process. So much to do. So much still unknown. How will I arrange the studio? How long will it take me to adapt to the new space? Are we ever ready for change? And yet, change will happen. One foot ahead of the other. Calmly. Surely. I can do this.

And hopefully tonight or tomorrow I can post images of the new studio. And the move.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

pacing myself

From my cutting table I can look across the river and see my new studio progressing. Who is working today? I check out the vehicles. Watch what is going in. Soon, I tell myself. Soon. I will be there.

This week-end my wonderful step-children came for a visit. Of course I had to take them over to see my studio. They are both so busy they had only seen pictures before. When we walk in, I have to pinch myself that this place will indeed be mine in a week or so. Will they finish it in time? What will they be doing while I am in? Can't worry though too much. It is fabulous. The floors are the most wonderful grey polished concrete. They shine in their glory. The windows are light and airy. The lines are amazing. Oh I can't wait to show you all.

My neighbors ask if I am packing just yet. I explain that my life involves constant packing. After all, every time I do a craft show I pack most of my quilts. My display. My clothes. Drive to the show. Set up the booth. Take down the booth. Drive home and set up the studio--hopefully--a few less quilts. This is a skill I have perfected over the years. Remember I managed to be open for business after Irene so quickly that many thought I had planned the move before Irene.  Need I remind you. I hadn't.

One thing I have learned is that if I start packing too soon--if I quit making the quilts that I need to have to sell--I get nervous and waste time. Part of my life involves me organizing my time efficiently. Yes, I know that sounds very business like and almost sterile, but I like to make quilts. Being efficient lets me make more of them.

Another thing I have learned is that I have to be in the groove so to speak to make the quilts I want to make. When I return from a show, I have to get back into the groove. It takes a while.

So instead of getting nervous, I decide I must make a new quilt. After making the teal placemats, I decide I must make a teal quilt. Not large but good sized. Light and airy. The colors of the ocean. A quilt that will look great in the new studio.

teal placemats--13x19"--Ann Brauer

I think of my quilt--cold ocean. But this time I want it warmer.

cold ocean--45x45"--Ann Brauer

I start. As always I tell myself--make what I know. The greys. The teal progression.

twilight--quilt--Ann Brauer

I do like the rich colors. Need to get some more when I find them. I feel like I am hunting for just the tiniest scraps to add to the piece. Yes, I think I will go to dark sooner rather than later.

twilight--quilt--Ann Brauer

I like the effect of the sky against the beach. I think I need to add a row at the top.  Don't put in the sand color. Hmmm. I think about it. What about blue? That might anchor it.  Create the power of the sky against the grey. Worth trying.

twilight--quilt--Ann Brauer

How will it look when sewn together? Does the blue distract? Only one good way to find out. As I hand sew, I try to plan the move more. How should I do it? What goes first? How do I keep my fabric in order so I can find it easily? Where will I put my design board? I try not to get nervous.

twilight--quilt--32x48"--Ann Brauer

Yes, that does tie it all together. Aren't the colors rich and lovely? Now to finish it off. Press it. Clean off the threads. Take a few pictures. Figure out what to do next.

What do you think? How do you plan a move?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

the new bench

Now I admit I am lucky. I could after all walk across the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls every day from my current studio to get my cup of coffee. Usually I don't though. After all, I am building a new studio (yes, moving day will be really soon!!!!) so I just use the Iron Bridge and maybe take a peek at the construction. I do have priorities after all.

However, I knew that my friend John Sendelbach of Metalstone Gallery had created and installed a new bench on the Bridge and I just had to see it. After all, I consider him to be one of the many brilliant artists and artisans in Shelburne Falls. I had followed the construction of this bench and just had to see it for myself.

All I can say is WOW. This bench is simple and wonderful in its simplicity. Look at the lines in the wood. The river is flowing around the rocks. Great isn't it?

Bench--Bridge of Flowers--Shelburne Falls--MetalStone Gallery

But then it is time to absorb the details. Aren't the stones embedded in the river brilliant?

Bridge of Flowers--bench--2014

Each stone is different and worth examining carefully.

Bridge of Flowers--bench--2014

How gracefully they move in the water--just like the rocks that create the Glacial Potholes.

Then there are the "feet" of the bench. Of course, more rocks.

Bridge of Flowers--bench--2014

But look more carefully and see how the arches reflect the arches in the Bridge of Flowers. Sweet detail, isn't it?

Of course you can observe even more--maybe even sit on the bench--when you visit the Bridge. The flowers are spectacular this year. More on that later if I get a chance.

Saturday is the annual plant sale to support the Bridge. Plants from the Bridge itself, supplies, tools and bedding plants. Always a must for any gardener--or anyone who just loves the Bridge.

Bridge of Flowers--plant sale--2014
Then of course you can stop by and visit me at 6 Bridge Street one more time. View the outside of my new studio across the river and then see what else John is working on at Metal Stone Gallery on State Street. For more information on the Bridge of Flowers:
For information on John Sendelbach:

If you still have time check out some of the other wonderful galleries and studios in town. How lucky we are to have such talented artists in town.

Monday, May 12, 2014

so close and yet....

I don't know about you--but sometimes I just wish there were some magic elves that would come and finish the quilt while I was asleep. There it sits on the design board. I know it is going to be glorious. And yet, there is so much work to do on it. I just want it DONE. Finished. I am ready for a new project.

Oh never let it be said that I am a patient person. Truth be told--I am not.

This was the case with the custom order I have been working on. You may remember. The custom order of the quilt--rainbow of dawn. Same colors. No green and little orange. Smaller. And more a horizontal quilt. Yes, it took me a while to get it to this point. I had a bit extra time and even started sewing it together. Doesn't it look so much more polished as a unit. And then it sat there.

rainbows of dawn--30x40"--quilt--Ann Brauer

Ugh. Well, there was nothing to do but work my way through this. It was a rainy day. The perfect day for such a project. So I pinned the next two blocks together.

rainbow of dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer
Sewed a preliminary seam.

rainbow of dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer

And then added the binding. I use strips of cotton fabric. Which I cut width of fabric. Although any thing you can needle easily will work.

rainbow of dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer
And press open. Then I check to make sure I have caught everything just right and whip stitch the binding in place. How nice it looks on the right side doesn't it?

rainbow of dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer

Sounds easy. Just repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

As an aside, I do get to play with colors and thoughts along the way. What would happen if I did not use the yellow, for instance. Something to ponder as I sew.

rainbow of dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer

Then I finish the bindings. Press again. Sign the quilt.  Sew on the Velcro. And finally hang it up.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? And truth be told, it is not hard. Just long. But one must keep going.

I guess that is part of life though, isn't it? Aren't there always some chores that just must be done in order to move on the next one?

rainbow of dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer

rainbow of dawn--quilt--Ann Brauer
Here's hoping the lovely customer likes the quilt half as much as I do. What do you think? How do you get through the more tedious tasks?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

that certain something

Now for those who follow my blog, I have been working on making a custom quilt for a wonderful collector of my art. It is a smaller version of rainbows of the dawn. Unfortunately for me, smaller does not always mean--easier. Because it is smaller, each wedge of fabric gains further importance.

Think of it. If one piece in a large quilt is not quite right--close but just a little off--it is not going to stand out. But if one piece of a small quilt is off, it will stand out.

This is especially true when I am adding those fabrics that add the "life" to the quilt. That certain je ne sais quoi. On a large quilt, I add lots of those fabrics and they fit in. But too many of them in a small quilt and they take over. Still I need some. After all I want the quilt to have a life. A bit of zing.

As always I tell myself to make what I know. So I add the purple at the bottom. Looks good doesn't it?

rainbow of dawn--Ann Brauer 2014
And the first row of magenta. Again it helps complete the quilt.

rainbow of dawn--Ann Brauer 2014
But look carefully. Because I did add a couple of prints to add sparkle. Can you tell?

rainbow of dawn--Ann Brauer 2014

Sure the colors are off in this image. But there is the pattern and the hint of yellows that help tie it together. And just a hint of blue "sky". Yes, the fabrics need to be used carefully.

Another row. And more hints. Not too much.

rainbow of dawn--Ann Brauer 2014

And so it continues. Do you see how the patterns add just that right amount of life to the quilt?

rainbow of dawn--Ann Brauer 2014

What do you think?  How do you add that zest to your work?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

starting the rainbow

Now I don't know about you, but I find it hard to make a quilt based on one I have previously made. Sure I have already done some thinking about the quilt so you might think it would just be a case of finding the fabrics I used the last time and just using them in the quilt. It should just go together quickly--almost like a kit--right?

Well, for me it isn't so simple. First each quilt I make takes on its own personality. I can't really describe it but I have to get into that zone. Let the quilt speak with me. Then of course I am using so many different fabrics that if I don't have just one fabric, I have to rethink every thing else. Of course.
Finally there is the internal pressure I feel to make it just right. After all, I want to give the customer the very best quilt I can. I do feel this obligation.

In this case the quilt is rainbows of the dawn which I made a year ago. You may remember it. The colors flow and roll in lovely blues and purples with just that tiny accent of yellow that holds it together.

rainbows of the dawn--45x45"--quilt--Ann Brauer

This quilt has a happy home. But it wouldn't have worked for the customer anyway. She needs a smaller quilt. More horizontal than square.  OK--I have to rethink that. It is also a quilt that I do not remember how I made. The colors just sort of flowed as I pieced it. And I am clueless as to how that happened. Ah, the magic of art.

This will be a challenge. But I know she wants the quilt. So I tell myself to start with the yellow. Shouldn't be that hard, right?  I cut out some of the yellows that I have and start sewing.

Not bad. But is it yellow enough?  A little too cool a color, maybe? Don't I need just a bit more warmth here? So I test some fabric.

Too red and busy isn't it? That will just dominate in a way that I don't have the space for. The yellow row will be just a hint in this smaller quilt. Each piece counts for so much more in a condensed quilt.

That works on that side doesn't it? Just a hint of warmth and pattern that cuts through the pale lemon yellow of the first wedges and highlights the greenish overtones of the swirling piece.

Yes, much more subtle isn't that? So I sew it together. And keep adding. One block at a time. Each one different but also based on the similar theme.

Yes, that will work. Enough bits of light to add sparkle. Enough warmth to help tie the quilt together. Time to start the next row. At least I have started. It does feel like such a long road ahead. But I tell myself--one block at a time. Here's hoping that it works.

How do you start? Do you find it hard to make a quilt based on another one.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

the quilts of Ann Brauer--finally May

Sure spring has been very slow to come around here. The days are often cold and chilly. Even the forsythia seem late. But still I feel like dancing in the street. I just confirmed with my contractor that I can indeed move into my new studio at the end of May. How wonderful is that? I can hardly wait. Already the walls have been painted their first couple of coats of paint. So nice and bright it is inside with high ceilings. The views  of Mount Massamet are of course amazing. And yes, I am looking forward to watching the river flow by again.  The upstairs apartment is spectacular. (Yes, it is available for rent in case you know anyone interested.)

But enough for now. I of course continue to work at 6 Bridge Street. This Saturday is the first of the Art Walks in Shelburne Falls. I will be open all day from 10 until 8 so if you are planning on coming to Shelburne Falls do drop by and say hi. I know I will find even more old favorites that I don't want to move to tempt you.

Meanwhile my views have inspired lots of new work. Recently I have redesigned my placemats to create the feeling of a river flowing across your table. What a simple graphic design and of course I am getting inspired to work in lots of new color combinations. Aren't these blue and golden brown placemats great?
placemats--blue and golden tan--13x19"--Ann Brauer 2014

And of course the blue and brown table runner that sort of matches. Yes, I intensely over quilted all the browns in these piece while letting the blue river flow freely.

blue river against brown--12x40"--Ann Brauer 2014
Of course I have also made it in wonderful blues:

blue river--12x40"--Ann Brauer 2014

And the grey and paprika. I just finished a purple and grey--spectacular. Now I am working on red and mauve. Oh I could continue but enough pictures for now. I am gradually posting them on my Etsy site. or if you need particular colors please just contact me.

Later this spring I will have the "opening" of my studio but if you are in Shelburne Falls, I will always make time to show you my work regardless of which studio I am in. Although do call first if you are coming from a distance just to make sure.

Enjoy spring.