Monday, February 26, 2018

thinking big

Sometimes a new year forces me to take stock and reconsider the quilts I am making. Now of course I love the intricate piecing with the suns and moons, the mountains and sky. The soothing landscapes with complex colors and patterned fabrics that tell countless stories. Oh I do enjoy all the possibilities that these present.

Quilts--Ann Brauer--2017

And yet I wanted more. I missed the scale of my large quilts. The ones that would take over a space and make a statement of strength and power. How big could I go? I was glad to take a break from large quilts--they take over the studio and most importantly my mental energy--but there is a power there that I wanted to rediscover if I dared.

Well, there was only one way to find out. Start. So one morning at the beginning of January--or maybe it was the end of December--the days do become a blur--I did a couple of experiments. After all a new quilt would have to include all the knowledge and skill I have gained with the smaller curved pieces.  Then without too much thought I made the first sample blocks and pinned them to the design board.

View from my window--work in progress--Ann Brauer--2018

That didn't seem like a lot although maybe it gives you an idea of the scale and size. One of the samples is on the bottom left.

View from my window--work in progress--Ann Brauer 2018

I had to keep moving forward. This took forever. Or should I say forever! But I knew that I wanted the color progression on the bottom to highlight the over all design. Keeping track of designs that will come is one of the hardest parts about going big--especially when it will be weeks before I see the whole. I need to keep faith in my work and my vision even though others told me to make more potholders and placemats for the Baltimore Show.

View from my window--work in progress--Ann Brauer--2018

Still it gradually progressed. Of course I had to test my methods to make sure that my idea would work. Was I really crazy. What would the finished quilt look like? Those are my first tests of joining the blocks on the bottom left.

View from my window--work in progress--Ann Brauer 2018
Slowly I join the rows. Yes, I am making this quilt one block at a time. After piecing I quilt the blocks individually and join them together. I know there will be so much hand sewing so I try to break it up a bit.

View from my window--work in progress--Ann Brauer 2018

And also test colors for the bottom of the quilt. I have an idea. But will it work. Again I pin fabric to the design board to contemplate as I sew. It is hard to see the progress isn't it? Days of work and I have added one row. What was I thinking?

View from my window--work in progress--Ann Brauer 2018

Slowly though the quilt grows. As you can tell it is taking over the design board. If you note, I did finish the top row and joined it together since I know that when I finally sew the long rows together the quilt will be BIG and hard to maneuver.

Then comes the time of silence. The quilt is simply too big for the design board. Pins will not hold it up and so I have to rely on memory and faith. This part is so hard. After the weeks of work and struggle I just have to trust that my concept for the art is good. The colors will work. The blocks will add to the quilt and the statement. Day after day I go into the studio and do the hand sewing until I have to find a different task. Now is the time for potholders and placemats. Something simple I can finish when I can't face another long seam. (Did I forget to mention that I hand finish all the bindings. Well of course I hope you realize.)

Then finally. I can't wait any longer. Sure I have some threads to clean. Perfection is there but it can wait. I haven't named it yet although I know it's name. I simply must hang it up and learn from it. I need to absorb this quilt and wish I had time to make another one. Later as they say. 'Tomorrow is another day."

View from my window--95x95"--Ann Brauer--2018
And yes, each block is quilted individually. I didn't want the quilting to lessen the impact of the black outlines. This is  among other things a quilt about quilting.

view from my window--detail--Ann Brauer 2018

And for those of you who have made it to the end and are wondering, the name of the quilt is "view from my window." It is about 95x95". I can't wait until I have my wonderful photographer take even better images of it. But in the meanwhile, please let me know what you think. Thanks.