Hills and Praries

Ann Brauer finds inspiration in the land
When I was born, my grandmother made for me a postage stamp quilt out of feed sack cloth. I slept under it for years always finding different colors and patterns that she used to create the overall design. This led me to a lifelong love of color and fabric. Indeed as a teenager, the best way for my mother to spend time with me was to take me to the many different fabric stores within an hour's drive in rural Illinois. I made lots of clothes and even costumes for high school musicals. However, the quilts of my grandmother were so meticulous that I never thought I could make one myself. When I went to college I quit sewing although I did frequent the numerous fabric stores in Boston where I then lived. Eventually I had a roommate who made quilts and I realized that if I made one, I could buy fabric. 
 
Soon I ran out of friends to give them to and I started to sell them. At the same time I felt I had to decide whether as an adult I wanted to live in the city or the country. I found a small cabin in the woods and decided to see if I could support myself making and selling quilts. This was about the time the current art quilt movement was starting. I taught myself to make quilts focusing on the variations of the log cabin pattern. Of course I had to start creating variations of this geometric pattern. I began selling these quilts at some of the fine craft shows in the area. 
 
Over the course of many years my work changes sometimes in small steps and sometimes in large leaps. Always I tried to keep the work identifiable as mine but I was also influenced by the materials available to me and the forces fo the market.  Constantly I was experimenting with new ideas and concepts. Many of my quilts were abstract variations of the landscapes of the prairies where I grew up, the hills of western Massachusetts where I now live, dreams of the Southwest and memories of the ocean. During this time I had moved into an old garage in Shelburne Falls, MA—the local tourist town with views of the Deerfield River and the near by mountains.
 
Unfortunately in 2011, my beloved studio floated down the river as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. After giving myself a year to decide, I realized that I did have more quilts that I wanted to make and rebuilt my studio. My new building is spectacular with 10 foot ceilings, even better views of the river and wonderful north and east light. This new building inspired me to create even more abstract and painterly while still working with the commercially available cotton fabrics that intrigue me. Like my grandmother I use the designs within the fabric to add additional stories. Some fabrics are used only once. I cut the fabric in wedges and carefully select them one at a time to add the right color and feeling to the quilts. In addition I began adding machine quilting to add even more substance and texture. I do all the work myself on my 1965 Singer Industrial Sewing Machine that only goes straight. Of course I hand finish the bindings. The designs are all original although I do work in series.
 
I continue to show my work at select craft shows. In addition I sell work out of my studio, maintain an Etsy shop and work with designers, decorators and galleries. I do custom work within my general style and on occasion enter juried shows.
 
To learn more visit www.annbrauer.com.
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