Sunday, October 7, 2018

the power of making

Outside the October sky hangs glum and grey against the colors just starting to change. Inside the news goes on endlessly as those in suits and ties talk "sincerely" of pain and then use disinformation in their quest for power.  Tempers mount. A friend is almost in tears. We all know the feeling of resignation that the want us to have.

Shelburne Falls--October 2018--Ann Brauer

Of course I turn to my beloved fabrics and sewing machine in my search for solace and purpose. After the last show there is so much I need to do. Orders to fill. I am sold out of phone cases. Yikes. I know I need more eye glass cases and place mats. A few table runners in popular colors. Of course more potholders. Time to get busy. High class worries. I have three more craft shows and one sale ahead of me, after all. So much to do. So little time.

But though I turn to classical music or silence, the clouds still hang. I like working with colors and fabrics and feel so fortunate that I can do so, but I know I need more. Then I remember--did I ever forget--that in making wall art--getting lost in that world--I can regain my sense of purpose and energy. Don't we all need art now more than ever? Maybe I can capture the colors of the trees in autumn. So I start sewing.

As usual, the questions--what comes next? Shall I take the obvious way? What about the bottom? Will green tie it together? Such questions. And yet, there is an answer and the drive to add the fabric, one piece at a time. This is why I make quilts. And why I must make another and another.

color of autumn--quilt--Ann Brauer 2018

And you--what is the power of art in your life? How do you cope with the external world and maintain your own sense of self?  Do your quilts ever just fall into place?  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

sometimes it is the small decisions

Finally the quilt is pieced. Whew!!!  But still I must quilt it. Which means I must choose which color thread to use. It should be easy, right? Well, not always. Now I like to use the same color throughout. I find that this gives a cohesion to the piece that I want. But this is where the issues begin. Sometimes I like adding just the bit of yellow or gold to brighten the piece but I am not sure it is the right decision for this quilt which has so much dark in it.

process--quilt--ann brauer--2018

Instead I test colors. For me the easiest way is to hold up the spools of thread and imagine what the color will look like against the quilt. I love the thought of this magenta. After all the quilt is shades of plum and purple. Lavender and mauve. And this would accentuate all those wonderful rich hues.

process--ann brauer--quilt 2018

Then I realize that the bottom of the quilt is teal. The magenta will stand out significantly against the teal. Mmmm. Maybe this is not the right color after all.

process--ann brauer--quilt--2018

I try again with this bright rose. Again it has the warmth I am seeking but still it may be too bright for the mystery of this quilt.

process--quilt--ann brauer 2018

As they say. Third time is the charm. What about the brick red. Not the color I had been initially imagining but it does add just a bit of the warmth and it won't stand out quite as strongly with the teal.
process--quilt--ann brauer 2018
Not too bright against the teal either is it?

process--quilt--ann brauer 2018

Yes, this will work. And so I begin. Simple rows of stitches done free hand using my 1965 Singer 281-3. A machine I love so much I design my quilts around it.

process--quilt--ann brauer 2018
But a seemingly endless process. I just sit there and sew and sew and sew.  When will I finish? I can get a bit of coffee or maybe some water when I reach a set goal. When I need to change bobbins I can check my e-mail. Oh the games I play to get it done. It goes on and one and on. Like my father, the farmer, when he plowed fields. Up one side and down the next yet gradually there is progress and this is after all part of the process.

How do you do it? What keeps you going during those endless rows? And how do you choose the color of thread to use?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

seam by seam

I must admit there are times when making a quilt seems endless--and more than a bit scary. After all, I have spent so many days with it and while I may have a vision of the look I want in the end, I can never be sure it is going to work the way I want it to. Instead all I can do is keep sewing. Keep hoping. Look at my design board frequently. And test different fabric colors until it seems right.

It seems so simple at first. The little pieces fall into place. Of course there is the question as to how quickly I want the color transition to go. Was I a bit impatient?

process--ann brauer 2018

But I know I need to anchor the bottom of this quilt with a ridge line. Maybe it is the soil. Maybe the deep dark mountains. You decide. But doesn't it look different with the colors there.

process--ann brauer 2018
And now I can echo the dark of the mountains with the dark in the sky. Again I test colors.

process--ann brauer 2018
And start to add even more fabrics. I love the hint of rose. The warmth of the rusts. Gradually it is taking shape.
process--ann brauer 2018
Still there is a long way to go. I have the wonderful light on the top. The feeling of the endless sky looking up. Now to work on the bottom. More piecing and fretting. Is a quilter ever done?

process--ann brauer 2018

How do you work? How much to you start with a vision? Do you ever feel that the quilt will not get done?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

explorations--do I have enough fabric?

Some of us are very lucky. My favorite fabric store--The Textile Company in Greenfield, Massachusetts--is still in business. Indeed it has been selling fabric for three generations in an old baby carriage factory. (The wooden floors are themselves worth the trip.) Of course I have a secret fantasy--what if I could just set up my sewing machine and cut bits of fabric as I need it to get just the right color combinations.

Of course I know that is totally impractical. Can you imagine running up and down the aisles comparing fabrics just to get that one snippet? There actually is a phenomena of too much fabric. Seriously. Even for me. It can take too long to sort and compare. Sure I could purchase lots of fat quarters but my theory is that if I like the fabric enough to use it I want to learn to know it. What are its interesting undertones and stories? How does it work when cut into strips? What are the hints of stories within it? How can I combine the different fabrics to make a quilt that represents my artistic vision.

So I purchase my fabric a yard at a time. Then when I am working on a new quilt I often sketch out the colors by sorting through and creating the sweep of color that I think might work.

explorations--quilt--ann brauer 2018
Plum is such a complex color. Red and blue, purple with a touch of grey and brown. The manufacturers never make a lot of it in any given year. Instead I know I will be searching for snippets of fabric. Plunging deep into my fabric drawers for just the right color. Still this arrangement gives me a start. A reference point.

I begin cutting. I always tell myself to start with what I know. Just like with the fabric selection, I could cut too much fabric and spend too much time searching through the pile to find what I want and test it as I sew. So I make a small pile of wedges.

explorations--quilt--ann brauer 2018

And start to stitch each to the quilt. One strip at a time. Stopping frequently to ponder what comes next.
explorations--quilt--ann brauer--2018
How do you start a quilt? Do you ever have too much fabric? Have you ever worked with the color plum? And do you know any great fabric stores?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

explorations--I begin

It did sound like an interesting show to enter. About twenty quilt makers were selected to each create a quilt that was 30 x 50 inches and highlight a particular process. So I entered and was among the chosen.  Of course my technique is quilt as you go--can you imagine my being selected for any other method? That was the easy part.

Unfortunately though I had to make the quilt. The first step of deciding what to make is often the hardest. What would illustrate the method, look artistic and fit the size requirements? My mind was alive with ideas. But....

I kept sketching. Would it look good at 30x50 inches? Oh why had they not chosen 32x48 inches which I find a much more satisfying size?  Or given us the option of making a horizontal quilt--again a size that can look great over the sofa or bed?  But this was taking up valuable mental energy.

I had to start. Many were already finished with their quilts. I couldn't let them down. I got gentle reminders. from the volunteer working on the project. She was so kind and patient.  Still I fretted.  Why did I agree to do this? I don't even like the focus on process?  Shouldn't it be on the artistic expression instead? Isn't process just the tool to say what you want to say? I could delay forever but I had promised. I was just procrastinating. I needed to make a quilt I could be proud of. Then it dawned on me.  My quilt "mountain sun" was 30 x 70 inches and I liked it. If it could work at that size, then surely it could work at 30 x 50 inches.

mountain sun--30x70 inches--ann brauer--2018--image by John Polak

Now of course I didn't want to make a quilt just like this. That would be no fun. But I had customers through who had wondered about the quilt in plum--or maybe burgundy. That would be a fun challenge. I was curious to see what would happen.  Wouldn't I love to develop that colorway and then maybe make a couple of longer quilts for my booth. I feel such a need to go large these days. But more on that later.

Time to start. I press the back fabric. Amazing how wrinkled it gets on the bolt.

explorations--pressing the fabric--ann brauer 2018
Then I baste the batting onto the back. After all this is quilt as you go so the batting is included in the sandwich.

explorations--basting the batting to the fabric--ann brauer 2018
That always feel like a major step. I am committed. How do you decide what quilt to make? How do you begin? How do you show process? How much do you think process is relevant?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

mountain sun

Ta da. The quilt is done and sold. It was one of those orders I had been fretting about over the winter. At 30 inches wide by 70 inches long it was a strange shape meant to go in the staircase. You know that long blank wall that you see as you walk down the stairs.

I wanted it to tell a simple story with the sun rising at the bottom. A color study that was also of a time and place. One of the challenges was to use the measurements to add to the story. Shouldn't the sky be dominant? Rising far above the mountains. And yet it shouldn't be just a color--with that size I wanted there to be a continuing interest and development. Again there needed to be a complexity to the colors.

Of course the only way to get the quilt done was to begin. I always tell myself to start with what I know and trust that the quilt will develop as I grow into it. But what a bulk of fabric this was to work with. Still I knew the sun and started.

mountain sun--detail--2018
What colors should I put in. After all, these would determine the colors throughout the quilt. How quickly should I have the colors progress through the palest tans and greys into colors with more substance and texture. How hard it was to be patient.

Still I kept sewing. The only way to get the quilt done was to move forward and trust that it would come together.

mountain sun--detail--ann brauer

Was the quilt getting too busy? As I worked I knew I wanted it to have those splashes of color and light. But still it was important to maintain the calming feeling that I knew the customer wanted. Still all I could do is keep moving forward. Notice how I added a bit of the horizon to give me some guidance as I kept piecing.

Finally though it was done. Don't you love the complexities of the colors?

mountain sun--30x70"--quilt--ann brauer 2018--image by John Polak
Don't the hints of blue sparkle against the tan while the colors move from light to dark and then back to light again seeming to echo the horizon and meadow. At least that is my thought.

And here is a detail. I love how the gently radiates its light against the grey of the mountains.

detail--Mountain Sun--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

I hung it in the studio so I could study it a bit.

mountain sun in studio--quilts--ann brauer 2018
And sure enough a couple dropped by to consider fiber art for their home. Maybe if I made another one in plum to coordinate....  Wouldn't that be lovely. Now that order has not come through yet but it does lead me to think. First though I do have a few other quilts I must complete. Isn't that how it works. One quilt inspires so many more. The only question is what to make next. I guess that's high class worries.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

tales of sunrise--the courage of designing

Have you noticed that sometimes quilts just have a mind of their own? This time it was a quilt I was making to test colors for a custom order. I knew what the customer wanted. I knew where it was going to hang but I wasn't sure about how could I get them to work just right. After all, these customers seem like really special people and I wanted to do my best.

The quilt was to be based loosely on "gentle morning" but with a golden sun and slightly warmer colors that are more alive. The bottom perhaps a glowing tan to echo the sky.

gentle morning--40x40 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer 2017--image by John Polak
Sometimes the best thing to do is just start. I knew I could make a wonderful happy quilt for them but I wanted to learn about the colors and the design.

tales of sunrise--work in progress--ann brauer 2018

tales of sunrise--work in progress--ann brauer 201

tales of sunrise--work in progress--ann brauer 2018
Yes, I am loving this quilt. I have learned so much. Which colors work. How to get a wonderful progression. I can't wait to start on the next one with a slightly larger sun. This quilt though deserves to be finished.

I keep coming back to my recent quilt "view from my window."

view from my window--99x99 inches--ann brauer 2018

This requires so much nerve and steadiness. I don't think about it but just cut slowly and steadily. Courage yes. But design takes courage, doesn't it? Then I sewed it back together. I still have to add the bindings which will finish it off and give the quilt a nice polished look. Don't you love how it tells a story. Don't you love the dreaminess of the golden tans at the bottom. Then I get to start on the next one with the larger sun and slower progression of the colors.

view of sunrise--30x55 inches--work in progress--ann brauer 2018
What do you think? Do you ever have to cut apart a quilt to get the right detail?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

half way there!!!

Today's entry in my Count Down to Spring is my quilt Color on the Mountain. I made it several years ago as part of my landscape series. Then it ended up in a gallery hiding a fuse box. I still love it but it is not in the style that I am currently making so I decided it was time to reduce the price from $875 to $675.

Don't you love the colors? There is a hint of the sun rising or setting at the horizon.

color on the mountain--32x48 inches--Ann Brauer 2012

At 32 x 48 inches this quilt will work in many locations.

color on the mountain--detail--Ann Brauer 2012

 Of course it is signed.

color on the mountain--detail--ann brauer 2012
To find out more, check out my Etsy shop HERE.

Friday, March 9, 2018

nor'easter--take two

OK--I confess. I missed a day of posting. What can I say. There was a nor'easter. The world was beautiful and white but it did not feel like spring would show up. So I didn't post.

Oh well. Today I am thinking of warm blue skies and summer. Those are the colors of this pillow. Wouldn't it make a delightful splash of color for your sofa. While pillows look fabulous in my studio, they don't always fit in my van. Therefore I tend to have them for a while.

blue pillow--16x16"--quilt--Ann Brauer

I have reduced the price of this pillow from $110 to $75. To learn more about it, please check out my Etsy shop. The link is HERE. I actually have two of them if you want a matched set just e-mail me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

only 13 more days--tra la

OK--only 13 more days until spring. Repeat after me. Thirteen more days. Yes, I am trying to ignore the snow falling around me. We could get 18 inches!!! Maybe we should be celebrating this snow. Thinking of winters past where it snowed into April or even May. After all it will help preserve water for the summer. There are no mosquitoes. I can't weed the garden. And it is beautiful.

Regardless it is time for the Count Down to Spring quilt. This is the other river quilt that I have left. Don't you love the colors in this one? Wouldn't it look great in a country home--maybe with lots of wood and views to the forest outside. Just saying.

autumn river--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2018
The river flows through the center of the quilt with the green outlining it. Have you ever seen rivers in dry areas? This is actually what happens with the water creating a wonderful respite from the drier land.

autumn river--detail--ann brauer 2014
The browns are a wonderful rich color in long even rows.

autumn river--detail--ann brauer 2014
Of course it is signed. Hanging is simple since I have attached looped tape on the top and bottom. I provide the customer with the matching hooked tape and thin strips of faux wood that can be attached to your wall.

autumn river--detail--quilt--ann brauer 2014
I do like the simple colors in this quilt. However, I have had it for several years and it needs a new home. So I have reduced the price in my Count Down to Spring sale from $675 to $375. You can see more about the quilt on my Etsy shop HERE.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Yes--we get another Nor'Easter--Day 14

Only 14 days to spring. I guess the weather wants to get all the snow in now while it can. At least that is my theory. Why not?

Meanwhile my next quilt is one I love. Perhaps it is a bit more intellectual than some of the others. I think of it as a quilt about quilts. Indeed I carefully created the colors in the blocks by choosing the fabrics to make coordinate but stand out. Just look carefully at all the different prints I used. Don't you love how the blocks stand out against the black bindings.

One of the hardest blocks was the grey with the pink. I tried to make it different from the "solid" grey block but also co-ordinating with it. There are by the way more than 40 strips of fabric in each block. It took forever to sew this quilt.

pink butterflies--detail--quilt--Ann Brauer
I also love how the bright spring green in the detail below echoes the darker green while adding its own life. The various whites in my opinion calm this quilt and let the other colors stand out.

pink butterflies--detail--quilt--Ann Brauer
Of course I signed the quilt. Don't you love its name--pink butterflies. I hand finished the bindings and added looped tape on top and bottom for hanging.

pink butterflies--detail--quilt--Ann Brauer

I see this quilt in a modern room maybe with a simple sofa and coordinating pillows. Or it could be stunning with a changing display of flowers. Have fun deciding.

Because I have had this quilt for a couple of years I decided to include it in my Count Down to Spring collection. Therefore, I have reduced the price from $800 to $575 at least temporarily. To see more info you can check it out on my Etsy shop here.

Monday, March 5, 2018

between the storms--day 16

Don't you love how--if you commit to a goal--and tell others you are going to do it, you actually get it done. Now posting clearance items for 20 days is a lot of work. I have to go through the work I have and find the quilts that have been here too long. Then I have to admit they need a new home even if I don't get the price that I feel they deserve.

Still the word "clearance" does have the word "clear" in it and there is something liberating about creating new space in the studio.

This is the case with my quilt "river of gentle autumn." I made a number of quilts in this series when I was building the new studio. The object was to create works that would sell to help me pay for the building and I made a number of them. What wonderful studies in color and place they were.

Now I only have two of them left. This one I call "river of gentle autumn." Don't you love the peaceful colors? At 38x38 inches it occupies space while fitting in many locations. This is one of the last I made of this series and also one of the last quilts I made that relied on quilt as you go to provide the texture and substance. Therefore I have reduced the price from $675 to $375.

river of gentle autumn--38x38"--quilt--ann brauer 2015
Don't you love the subtle contrast between the free flowing river and the geometry of the banks of the river?

detail--river of gentle autumn--quilt--ann brauer 2015
Of course it is signed.

detail--river of gentle autumn--quilt--ann brauer 2015
To see more images of this quilt, please check out my Etsy shop here.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

field of purple--17 more days

Today. Cloudy. Windy. Cold. Just a hint of snow with another Nor'Easter in the forecast. More dreaming of spring. Crocuses. Lilacs.

I love the simple long lines of this runner which I named "field of purple".  At 13x40 inches it will make a lovely statement on any table or bureau. I did attach looped tape on the top and bottom if you want to hang it vertically. Of course it is signed.

For some reason, I still own this quilt. I had listed it at $195 but for this special I am reducing the price to $125.

field of purple--13x40"--Ann Brauer 2014
 Aren't the colors wonderful?

field of purple--detail--13x40"--Ann Brauer 2014
If you want to see more images, it is listed here on my Etsy shop. Thanks.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

and now the sun is shining--only 18 days

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday it snowed, sleeted. The wind blew. And I decided to stay at home rather than drive through the slush. So I didn't get a chance to get a new image until this morning. However, aren't these placemats perfect? The hint of warm sunshine against the grey of March. Wouldn't they make a great wedding gift? Or maybe you want to spiff up your own kitchen.

two quilted placemats--copyright Ann Brauer
At 13x19 inches I find them just the right size for most place settings.

Two quilted placemats--copyright Ann Brauer
And because of the polyester batting, they can be washed gently and dried at a cool temperature.

Two quilted placemats--copyright Ann Brauer
But I have had them for a while and they don't match most of the mats I am currently making. So I decided to reduce the price from $80 for a set of two to $45 for this particular group. Of course I won't tell if you don't. To see more images, they are listed on my Etsy shop here.

Friday, March 2, 2018

only 19 more days--nor'easter riley

As the snow swirls around my window (doesn't that sound dramatic--or is it just cliched) there are believe it or not only 19 more days until the Vernal Equinox. And today's entry into the spring cleaning is my wonderful quilt "study in stripes".

Don't you love the geometry of this quilt? Aren't the colors perfect for spring? Yes, it is based on the traditional log cabin pattern although I have played with the design. I made it by piecing and quilting the many strips of cotton fabric going through the cotton batting onto the back. Yes, I had to tie off threads at every seam. Argh!!!

study in stripes--detail--ann brauer

At 12 x 48 inches wouldn't this be a dramatic table runner for the spring? Wouldn't this look great in either a modern home or a country cottage.

study in stripes--quilt--12x48"--ann brauer 2013
Of course you could also hang it as an accent piece in that nook that needs a bit of color and design. I have attached looped tape on the top and bottom  and provide you with the matching hooked tape and faux wood to attach to the wall.

study in stripes--detail--ann brauer 2013

For some reason, this quilt needs a good home so I have decided to reduce it from $400 to $225--at least until spring comes. Of course I signed it. The quilt is listed here on my Etsy shop. If you want to hang it horizontally let me know and I can attach the looped tape for an additional $20 fee.

study in stripes--detail--ann brauer