Tuesday, December 22, 2015

return to hidden lake

Hidden lake was a quilt I made a number of years ago. A really nice quilt with a great story. I was hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire one summer. The trees were green and lush. The trail delightful--just enough of a challenge to make it fun but not so hard that every step was a trial. We had a destination--a lake--and kept getting glimpses of it as we turned a corner or hit a high clearing. This quilt is about that experience.

Lovely isn't it?

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

The quilt is long since sold but I just got an order from a major health care facility in Minnesota to make one like it. It is one of those orders that while I may not like repeating the past it is such an honor that of course I will.  The quilt ordered is smaller which will require its own issues but first I constantly get requests for explanations on my basic technique of quilt as you go. So I decided to use this as an example as my holiday gift to you.

In this case, because it was an order, I created a sample card that needed to be approved before I began work. This is the cheat sheet.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Was I remembering the quilt in all its green glory? I am not sure. Do I have all the fabrics--nope. But what can I do. I go through my stash and pull out what I can find. Is it enough? I am not sure. Is it too dark--I am not sure. The quilt does start off dark green. I always tell myself to make what I know.

I cut fabric for one row of the quilt. If I cut too much, it becomes hard to find just the piece I need. If I cut not enough then I am constantly getting up and searching for more. This is my pile for now. The light was not good for photos but you get the idea. This helps me see what greens I have for the quilt.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

I then sew the first two pieces together. In this case I am starting at the bottom. I have a layer of cotton batting on top of the back of the quilt. I then spend time finding just the right fabric to add next. How bright should it be? I am not in the swing of things yet and the quilt as not absorbed my mind so it takes a while.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

I always estimate that I reject at least five fabrics before finding just the right one. When I do I lay it with the right side of the strip against the right side of the pieces I am working on.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Then I sew a seam.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

The stitches go through onto the back.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

I press it open and keep building.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Eventually I finish the block and pin it on the design board to begin the next one.

hidden lake--quilt--Ann Brauer

Are the colors right? Does this have the liveliness of the original? Sometimes it is much harder to make a piece that I have already made since I must absorb the quilt as it was taking into account the effect of photography and the different fabrics that I have now. I also have to listen to the desires of the client. Time will tell. In this case, I will keep building the quilt until I see the whole. This is where the fun begins. One block at a time.

And for those who ask, this is my most recent variation of a tutorial how I make my quilts. As you can see much of it is intuitive. It requires practice and looking at what you have made before to see where to go next. It also requires getting into the mindset of the quilt that you are making. What are you trying to say? Where do the fabrics lead you? How do they work as a whole? Sometimes the only way through is to start. How do you begin? What tips do you have?

Happy Holidays to you.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--almost solstice

Yes--I am late. As usual. I have been working hard at the studio. As usual. Trying to finish a few more orders that I promised and then get a start on the new year and the work I need for the Baltimore Craft Show in February. However, as tonight's supper is cooking in the slow cooker (homemade spaghetti sauce--yum) I am sneaking a few minutes to write a quick update. For those who don't know up here the afternoons will start very slowly to get longer. Yeah!!! The solstice itself is later in the month but by some bend in the orbit, afternoons lengthen before the solstice and mornings shorten until early January. Don't ask me to explain but this is a detail of my quilt "sunrise" to celebrate.

detail--sunrise--quilt--Ann Brauer 2015

I will be doing the Holiday Morristown Show in Morristown NJ December 11-13. This is such a fun show. There is work for any last minute stocking stuffers and also some absolutely fabulous artists who will be there. And if you print out this coupon and fill it out you can get Complimentary Admission. You do need one form per person.


And I am the cover girl and featured artist for the Winter 2016 edition of Art Quilting Studio. This is actually a wonderful magazine that I had not known about previously. There are lots of amazing artists and great articles inside. I can't wait to read it cover to cover.

Finally I am continuing to list items on my Etsy shop. In particular after lots of people requested it, I have begun making a few smart phone cases. They are 3.75 by 6.75 inches exterior dimensions and should work for most phones and also large wrap around sunglasses. Do measure to make sure the size works for you.
smart phone case--quilt--Ann Brauer

Of course I will be in the studio most days except when I am doing the Morristown Show so do drop by if you are in town or e-mail me first if you are coming from out of town.

Here's hoping you all have a great holiday season enjoying the return of light, friendship, peace and others.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

new quilts to brighten a winter day

OK--it is grey and raining here. I keep telling myself that at least I do not have to shovel and we probably do need the rain but I miss the bright sunny days we had been having so I decided to show off some of my latest quilts. I just got the images back from my wonderful photographer John Polak.

This quilt I call "pluto is a planet." I made it this past summer as NASA was beginning to release some of the images of Pluto. Call me old fashioned but I do believe that they were wrong to declare that Pluto is a planetoid or whatever they are calling it. Oh well.

pluto is a planet--40x40 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

"Sunrise" is a hard quilt to display in my booth or even in my studio but I love the shape and colors and think it would be perfect over a sofa or bed. It was a challenge to keep the lines straight and the the two sides balanced but alive with differences.

sunrise--30x80 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

"Distant fire" reaches up to the sky. It was fun to make three panels which had to be similar but different and then see the effect of joining them together. I love this quilt and vertical quilts are actually easier to display in my booth.

distant fire--80x37.5 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

I will be bringing them to the Holiday Morristown Show next week-end in Morristown, NJ as well as lots of smaller items. This is the show where you need to download and fill out one pass for each person and you can get complimentary admission. Some great work--some fun crafts--and plenty of items to have on hand as stocking stuffers, hostess gifts or just because. Here is the link to get your pass:


And of course I am slowly getting the new work listed on my Etsy shop as well as filling the holes as work sells.

Here's hoping the sun is shining where you are.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I'm a cover girl

I'm a cover girl and the featured artist in the lates tissue of Art Quilting Studio. What more do I need to say?

I will have copies of the magazine available at my studio in Shelburne Falls, MA and will be open on Friday November 27 for Moonlight Magic--the village's annual celebration of the holiday season with candelaria on the sidewalk, a parade past my studio, performers throughout the town and the annual cookie sale for the Shelburne Falls Womens Club. Yum.

If you can't make it there, you can check out my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer
To celebrate Black Friday, Moonlight Magic, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday use the Coupon Code MOONLIGHT15 for 20% off through November 30. It will also work in my studio although it does not apply to previous purchases, custom orders and work that is being reserved.

I will also be showing at the Holiday Craft Show in Morristown, NJ on December 11-13. If you follow this link and fill out the coupon you can get COMPLIMENTARY ADMISSION to the show--be sure and print out and submit one form for each person coming.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--November edition

Dear all,

All I can say is wow. We are having the most glorious autumn I can remember. After a couple of killing frosts and even a report of S*** in October, the weather has turned beautifully mild and sunny. Every day I try to do finish a few more chores in the garden before heading to my studio to finish orders and create a few more items for my studio. Of course, even there I spend a lot of time gazing at the colors on Mount Massamet and the reflections on the Deerfield River knowing that soon it will indeed change.

Meanwhile there is so much going on. I am getting ready for the Paradise City Arts Festival November 20-22 at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, MA. I can't say enough good things about this show--there is so much fun work from stocking stuffers to major wall art and sculpture here--as well as live music, good food and even plenty of free parking. To find out more about this show and to get $2 off your admission ticket please check out their web site: www.paradisecityarts.com The wonderful show promoters have been using an image of my quilt "red sun" for some of their promotions.
red sun--quilt--40x40 inches--Ann Brauer

Then the next Friday--which conveniently is the day after Thanksgiving--Moonlight Magic returns to Shelburne Falls. What a great family event this is--there are candelaria on the sidewalks, cookies baked by the Women's Club at the Information Center, the stores are open late and there is even a parade with Santa through the center of the village. I do hope at least some of you will drop by and say hi. I plan to be celebrating the publication of my new quilts in the Winter Edition of Art Quilting Magazine due out on December 1, 2015. I can't wait to see the article and all the images of my work in this publication.

You can also see one of my quilts in the exhibit  at the Fuller Museum of Craft in Brockton, MA. Finally I will be doing the Holiday Morristown Show in Morristown, NJ in December. Let me know if you would like to receive a postcard for one free admission to this show.

Whew. That was a lot of news, wasn't it?

Of course you can always find many of my quilts and accessories on my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer or feel free to contact me directly.

May your autumn be filled with plenty of sunshine and warmth with just the hint of the colder days and longer nights to follow.

Thanks so much for reading.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--September Song

Dear all,

It is hard to imagine that summer is winding down already. My garden is overflowing with tomatoes, peaches and basil--I have been eating very well recently thank you. My fall bearing raspberries provide the most delightful snack every day when I try to figure out what is for supper. Yum. I even managed to see the VanGogh exhibit at the Clark Museum in Williamstown--what a treat that was.

Meanwhile most days I have been working hard at the studio. There is just so much to do and so many quilts I want to make. This Saturday September 12 is an ArtWalk in Shelburne Falls--I will be open at least until 7 that day so if you are in town, I hope you will walk down, check out the leaves that are just starting to change and drop into my studio to see my new work. I am trying to finish my quilt "sunrise" for the American Craft Exposition. Doesn't it look like the sun coming up over Lake Michigan?

sunrise--Ann Brauer--work in progress

This year  the show has new dates and a new location. It will be September 25-27 at The Chicago Botanical Gardens in Glencoe, IL just north of Evanston. I am certainly looking forward to the chance to see some of the gardens and setting up in a new venue. For those of you who are planning on attending if you are not a member of the gardens, it is recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance to save on parking. There will also be shuttles from the Metra train station in Glencoe if that works better for you. To pre purchase tickets:

Because the ACE Show is so late this year, I decided to work in my studio on Columbus Day week-end. If you are coming out to Western Massachusetts for fall foliage, I hope you will plan on visiting Shelburne Falls--the Bridge of Flowers should be gorgeous, the leaves should be full of color and you can see some of my recent quilts. After all what could be more lovely than New England in the fall. Yes, I need to get more images taken by my photographer--so many things to do.

autumn splendor--40x40 inches--Ann Brauer

I will write more next month about future shows in the upcoming months and also the feature story about my new work that should be published in the winter edition of a quilt magazine. Meanwhile, I do hope you enjoy the change in the seasons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

road trip--encampment

A hot hazy day in western Massachusetts. Thunderstorms in the forecast. Summer in the Berkshires. Tuesday. My free day.

The previous days I had had several great conversations. What inspires you? How do you get ideas? What do you look at from the corner of your being--not to copy but to observe and learn. These conversations with other artists at the Berkshire Craft Show are part of what makes doing shows so inspiring for me. The conversations had continued at the studio--a young artist who is trying to create her own style of art quilts. A phone interview I had for a feature article (more on that at a later date.) The writer had studied my quilts and asked probing questions.

Time for a road trip to MASS MoCA in North Adams. Now MASS MoCA is a true national treasure. So much art in a reused industrial complex. There is always something new and exciting to see. I go there as often as I can--frequently in winter. But there were new exhibits. Buildings that are not open then. Enough to see that we could wander and gaze until we had had enough.

I loved the photographs of Clifford Ross and especially digital video where he deconstructed the images into colors that danced through space in ways that a quilt maker could only dream about. The blue color washes of Liz Deschenes intrigued me in their simple complexity. Jim Shaw's cartoonish renditions of contemporary American politics were interesting but did not grab me.

So I was not sure what to expect when I entered Francesco Clemente's Encampment exhibit. At first you just see six colorful tents camped out in the large room that you can walk through. I started quickly just scanning the paintings done in collaboration with craftspeople of Rajastan, Do you see all the sketches on the surface. This could be studied for a long time.

Then I started looking more closely at the designs--such wonderful graphics, so many great colors--and I got caught up in seeing more and more possibilities and wonder within the tents.

Wouldn't those be great designs for my new circle quilts. Well not just like that but as a sketch--a starting point?

Don't you just love the colors?

And consider the possibilities here. Yes, this is all painted on canvas with the depth only from the perspective used.

And another wonderful design. What fun that would be to sketch out. Maybe it could be used for another project I am working on. Hmmm.

And even more of a challenge. Great concept though isn't it?

And of course there is this amazing beehive design. All I can say is wow.

And of course the wonderful use of greys and dark browns here. So archetypal. Not a "design" that I would use but so powerful in its own right.

Well I could go one. So many more wonderful paintings up stairs. Such great colors. And I still haven't shown you all of MASS MoCA. Maybe I need to go back myself and study these more. I want to.

Have you seen this show? Are you planning a road trip? What inspires you? How do you look at things differently? The website for the Museum is www.massmoca.org And don't forget--my studio in Shelburne Falls is about 20 miles away--just saying.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--July 18 ArtWalk

Dear all,

It seems amazing that it is summer already. First it was hot and dry in May. Yes, I had to figure out which precious new plants would get the water from the shower as I tried to keep them all going. Then June brought rain and lots of it. The weeds are doing very well in my garden as the straw mulch I applied in May had lots of grass seeds. Oh well, it is always something.

Meanwhile I am enjoying my new studio even more than I thought I would. It is hard to believe that I have now been in it for more than a year. And today actually began my 34th year of supporting myself making quilts. How time flies.

My new studio continues to inspire me to more and more quilts based on my flames and circles theme. Indeed I often have problems trying to figure out which one to make next. I have decided to treat myself by displaying most of the new pieces in my studio in a mini-show I am calling Circle and Flames during the Shelburne Falls Art Walk this July 18. I am quite curious to see what the grouping will look like and I can't wait to get your comments either. Indeed, having my gallery walls covered with my new quilts is a secret dream of mine I have had for several years--here's hoping it works.
If you happen to be in the Village then I hope you will drop by and say hi. The Walk runs between 4 and 8 pm and most other galleries in town will also be open. The Bridge of Flowers is  absolutely spectacular this year.

green circle--40x40 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer

Of course if you are in town some other day, I should be open--although do call or e-mail first if you are coming from a distance. I am usually closed on Tuesdays.

three flames--each 12 x 60 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer

If you are in town some other day, I will probably be there working on more quilts (although you might want to call if coming from a distance).  August 12-14 I will be doing the Berkshire Craft Show at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington. This show always has some wonderful work. For more information: http://berkshirecraftsfair.org/  The American Craft Exposition in Evanston this year will be in September in Glencoe--but more of that later.

Of course you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see more of my latest creations. And I continue to post on Etsy for those who live at a distance.

Have a great summer. I hope to see some of you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

construction zone

I don't know if this ever happens to you, but sometimes I just get in the mood to work with a certain color and then I have to figure out what to do with it. This time it is black and white with just a bit of red.

First, for those who follow me on Facebook, I have almost finished this red moon quilt. Don't you love the simplicity of the halo and the soft drama of the red?

moon quilt--quilt--Ann Brauer--40x40 inches

Then I decided to work on a couple black and white flames. Again a simple statement. But then how to put them together.

quilt--Ann Brauer--wip

Is this too busy? Does the red detract from the simplicity? Yes, it needs one more and I haven't quilted it yet but I did want to see what happens?

quilt--wip--ann brauer

Should they be hung slightly apart? Does this make it easier to examine each one? Interesting question.

What if I hang them like this? Another coastal scene. I do find it an interesting arrangement, don't you?

quilt--wip--ann brauer

Of course I could create just one long wall hanging. Maybe a table runner. Or over the sofa.

quilt--ann brauer--wip
And of course I could include the moon quilt. What fun this would be? Very different. For a large wall or a corporate office.

quilt--wip--ann brauer
And finally this interesting arrangement. The moon stretching beyond into space. Almost a feeling of motion here isn't there? But is the yellow distracting? I know I need a third but should I remake the other flames also?

quilt--ann brauer--wip

It would make a great statement on the back wall of my booth. Maybe in a formal office setting. And of course the quilts could be sold separately--yes, I am always thinking about that bottom line--if you know what I mean. Oh I wish I had time to make all of them. It is hard to decide isn't it? What would you choose? Do you ever play like this with your designs?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--I'm on a roll

I know I haven't been writing for a while. What can I say? Well, actually I have a good excuse and it is not just that I need to spend time in my garden. You see, I have been on a roll. Now let me explain. Finally I got inspired as in really inspired.  Now inspiration as many of you may know can be a very delicate and tender process. You just can't tell when it is going to strike or how long it is going to last or even where it is going to take you.  Certainly I didn't want to jinx it by talking about it too early or even thinking about it too much. Instead at least for me it is a question of making one quilt and then making the next one with all deliberate speed and letting the process pull me forward.

This time I am (knock on wood) lucky. As of June 1 I will have been in my new studio a year and I am loving it. Just imagining how the new work will look in such a great space is inspiration in itself.  Right now I also have time to create. My next craft show is not until the Berkshire Craft Show in August at Monument Mountain HIgh School in Great Barrington. The Evanston Show will be in September in a new location--I keep planning how the new quilts will look in that space.

Consider this one I call "blue sun". Yes it is framed. I still need to attach wire for hanging it but doesn't it look smart on the dolly. It is all pieced and quilted, and then I quilted on top of it to give it even more substance and texture.

blue sun--quilt--40x40 inches--Ann Brauer

Then there is the companion quilt which is not quite done--red sun. Won't the two look fabulous together?
red sun--quilt--40x40 inches--Ann Brauer

And of course the flame series. Are they table runners? Wall hangings? They can be used either separately or maybe a pairing go up the stair case.

three flames--each 12 x 60"--quilt--Ann Brauer

When I need a break from such concentration, I still make my smaller items. The eyeglass cases, the placemats, pillows. Some of my older quilts have put on sale. Shelburne Falls is beautiful right now with new flowers on the Bridge every day. There are some wonderful  new shops--a great little Mexican restaurant near where my studio in exile was, the cream puff bakery and of course the kitchen store just down stream from me has its bargains. Riverfest is June 6--always a family day.

Most of the summer I will be in my studio working on these new quilts. When you are in town, I hope you will stop by to admire the view from my walkway and give me your impressions of my work. Of course do call first if you are coming from a distance. If Shelburne Falls is not in your plans, you can check out my latest work on Facebook  and I do have many of these quilts listed on my Etsy shop. http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer

Have a great late spring. I look forward to seeing some of you either in person or on line.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I got it!!!

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me "How long does it take to make a quilt?" I could probably retire. A good question. A fair question. But one that is so impossible to answer. For instance, there is a quilt I have been dreaming about for years. Maybe even decades. I will sketch it out during quiet times at craft shows. Play with the design in those early morning hours as I gradually awaken. Visit art museums and ponder how can I make it.

Now I know there are many methods of making quilts by now and some of them would allow me to create the design. However, with no offense to those who use these methods so successfully, they are not my methods. I don't fuse. I don't reverse applique. I don't paper piece. All of these methods would work--and there are many other methods that might also work. But they are not MY method.

So I continued to ponder and dream until finally it hit me. Yes, this just might work. I knew the colors. The concept. I could see a couple of tricks that might help. It has been a long cold spring. Shelburne Falls has been quiet. I might as well try.

quilt--Ann Brauer 2015

Nice colors. Although this is taking forever.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

Yes, this is finicky.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015
Is it even going to work? Should I continue or put it in the UFO pile? I sleep on it.

quilt--2015--Ann Brauer

It only works from a distance.  I peer in through my window. Yes, my neighbors shake their heads and wonder.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

How many breaks can I take? When will I finish?

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

Still so much to do. So many questions to answer. Can I keep the colors the same on the bottom? It was the end of the day and I was impatient--probably not my best idea. Sigh.

quilt--Ann Brauer--2015

So much more to do. So many more questions to answer. So many problems to solve. But the reward was showing the image to my DH and having him say "Wow". 

What do you think? How do you begin a new project? How long does it take? And what is next?

Monday, April 6, 2015

the quilts of Ann Brauer--finally April

Finally spring is coming. The snow is actually melting. The maple sugar taps are in place and The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls is open--and even has a few crocii in bloom. (Don't you just love that word even if spell-check doesn't?) After this winter I can hardly wait--although they say a long cold spring will help the maple sugar producers which of course is great.

I am spending my first spring in my new studio and it is so wonderful. The building is high enough I can catch glimpses of the last little ice chunks float down the river. There is a pair of ducks that swim around--I must get a bird book and figure out what kind they are. And yes, I am actually getting work done also.

I am absolutely loving my new flame series with its intense curves and dramatic colors. Each quilt just leads me on to the next one. Of course there is "summer skies". Bright and cheerful. Great colors aren't they?

summer skies--38x42"--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak
But what if I work in the more complex colors? Maybe add some intense quilting after I piece it. The substance is amazing. This one I call "stormy coast". This is just a snapshot--too new to have been to my photographer yet.

stormy coast--42 x 38"--Ann Brauer
detail of stormy coast--Ann Brauer

Every day when I work on them I come home exhausted.  There are some long hangings perfect for a table runner or staircase. A few shorter quilts for that special place. The sewing is intense and slow as I try to get the swirls and colors just right with lots of motion.  I so love the feeling when I get inspired with so many possibilities. It makes going to work fun.

I will be showing these quilts at a brand new craft show The Art of American Craft Museum Series April 24, 25 and 26 at the XL Center in Hartford, CT. There are lots of amazing artist there--just check out the list to see for yourself. The show is a benefit for the Costume & Textile Society of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.  Yes, this should have some amazing work here. For more information  www.AmericanFineCraftShow.com

When I am not doing this show I am usually working in my studio although do call first if you are coming from a distance. Yes, Lamson and Goodnow's shop (the kitchen store)  remains open just down stream from me and the Salmon Falls Artisan Showroom is now open most days. And I am trying to list more items on my Etsy shop for those who can't make it to Shelburne Falls. I have lots of eyeglass cases and table runners there as well as the wall hangings. In my "spare" time I am trying to find some old favorites to put on clearance. For more info: http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer

Enough for now. I hope your spring brings lots of flowers and sunshine. I look forward to seeing some of you in person or through the internet.

Thanks for reading.