This is a long post – with lots of dolls in it. All the dolls below are in the shop right now.
The details make me happy. The tiny details. Stitching the feathers and flourishes to his hat and the medals to his coat. I’ve been looking forward to those tiny medals since starting him. They are pretty much why I made him.
A note on his fancy hat – I’ve just learned it’s a Bicorne – that is what the Napoleon-ish hats are called. Now you know – in case it comes up. Let’s talk about the coat. It has a real working, very tiny, button and button hole. It is my first. It might be my last. But I do love it. I am turning him into a sewing pattern and the coat will be included – it’s very easy to make.
And I sure do love a front bustle. It looks so pretty on the hem and reveals a scandalous amount of leg.
I wonder what they talk about……. Lots of progress was made this week on the rag doll pattern. I’m planning on including a basic body, a clever and easy hair method and options for stockings, underthings and a skirt and, of course, the nude option.
Speaking of nude, I made Nora a frothy negligee – so when she wanders the moors in the mist she is not quite so entirely naked.
And finally dear mrs. spots. With lots of details, all her necessities. You can find more about how to make her wardrobe here.
The five day – doll every day challenge: I was great at starting them. Less great at finishing them.
They still aren’t done. I made the executive decision to go with “substantially, but not quite finished”.
Here is who turned up – the first was nora who you met last week. She didn’t get any happier but she did get more naked. I decided to give her all the lady details. She is a little smaller than the original immodest dolls and I also made a lot of progress toward turning her into a pattern.
A steady hearted Colonel. I like his turned out toes and expression – and I found a new way to make hair easily. I think I’d like him to be a sewing pattern too – what do you think?
Next – a lady with fancy stockings. Same pattern as nude nora. She and the Colonel both have expressive feet. I try to give everybody expressive feet.
And the last two were a mr. socks and a mrs. spots (find the sewing pattern here). I never get tired of making the mischievous little cats.
It was a good exercise for me in a couple of ways. My brain got moving again – I generated lots of ideas and found some energy. I made things I might not have otherwise – things I like. And containing projects in a day made me see more clearly how long things really take and how consistently I underestimate that. Still. The week ended up with too many things crammed into it- next time I do this I’ll clear some days completely.
I’ll put all the dolls above and a couple others in the shop next week. You can sign up here if you’d like an email when they are available.
PS – there are a few new paintings in the shop:
Sketchbook is having a little summer vacation while I work in some larger experiments – back in a couple weeks.
(some of the little paintings below are available here)
For the next few days anyway.
Doldrums. Who ever invented the word deserves a prize. It sounds like what it is, what it feels like: a warm inertia, an unpleasant stillness, listlessness. Apparently I am not a summer person – productivity wise anyway – I always find myself here mid July-ish.
Or maybe it’s coincidental. The mid summer almost always finds me working on larger – longer term projects – christmas – workshops for the fall etc. Projects that it can be hard to feel progress on.
And sometimes the stagnated feeling means I need a break. Not this time though – this is a restless stuckness. So I am busting out. Rowing hard until I can catch a breeze and some beautiful momentum. For the next few days I’m making – starting and finishing – a doll everyday. Experiments and some of the usual suspects like mr. socks and tiny rag doll. It’s the kind of sewing I feel like doing, the kind of thinking I’m in the mood for.
I began today with Nora. A mysterious dark eyed girl. Im still deciding on her degree of anatomical accuracy and outfit. I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon and evening finishing her.
Working on shorter term projects gives me a sense of forward motion and satisfaction. I can feel the shape of the day again. Hopefully I can bring some of that energy into the larger projects in a couple days.
Have a lovely weekend and check back next week to see who else appears.
P.S. There are a couple new small paintings in the shop.
Everything I’m doing this week would either not be remotely interesting to you or is top secret so it’s the perfect time to share a few good ideas I’ve come across lately. Stuff I’d like to try. I love paper lanterns, I like things that hang and play with light. These have so many possibilities. You could use fancy paper, or found paper – mixing in some wax paper and or fabric could be interesting. I love the way they look hung together. Find a tutorial for four different styles on Oh Happy Day. And lots more photos too – all beautifully styled and charming.
I’m a fan of finding ways to use the littlest scraps – especially little bits of fabric I love to much to part with. You’ll find a complete tutorial for this “end of day” basket here. It seems pretty straight forward – clothes line rope, fabric scraps and a machine with a zig zag stitch. I particularly love the black mixed in with bright color on this basket. It also occurred to me that a tiny – doll size – one might be interesting.
And the sketchbook collage work of illustrator Julie Hamilton. I discovered her work through the Brown Paper Bag Blog – there is a post with lots of Julie’s work and more about her process. It’s such a good way to experiment and an easy place to start if you’re feeling stuck. Make some marks. collect some paper, cut stuff up and mess around.
If you try any of these I’d love to hear about it – you can let me know in the comment section.
The sketch book posts don’t usually get included in the blog page but I made an exception this week for a couple reasons. Mostly because I had a good week – I liked everything I made last week – that hardly ever happens. There’s even a naked lady.
And I wanted to tell you about my current obsession with Staffordshire Pottery and how that came about. I love looking at other people’s stuff. I want to look in your windows and open your drawers. I want to stop by when you are not expecting guests and look at everything. I came across this blog lately: The Bible of British Taste.
And I love everything about it – the houses, the art, the stuff, the textiles- on and on. This house in Scotland is my favorite post. That’s where I came across Staffordshire and there is just something about them – formal, sweet and quirky – all at the same time. You’ll also find some Chinese portraits there that have inspired.
Check it out – I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Also – For the next few weeks any way – I’ll be adding little paintings to the shop each Thursday.
I like this little fellow – amazing what turning buttons a little can do for an expression.
I’ve made him a boat and he is going to sea alone – perfect for him – he seems pretty bossy.
He is made from the small size of my little owl pattern and the boat is made from this pattern (both patterns are on sale for subscribers through the July 4th holiday – you can sign up here if you like– you’ll get the code shortly after).
I’m making more over the weekend. I want to bring a couple to the Squam Retreat with me in September. I’ll be at the art fair on September 16th with sewing patterns and art work and some surprises. I hope you’ll come say hi. It will be only the third time I’ve done this sort of thing in the 11 years I’ve been in business – I am generally pretty hermity. But it’s the last year for the retreat and the art fair and the first time I have print patterns to sell (there are more on the way – I’m drawing the mushroom pattern illustrations now) so I am showing up. I will kind of dread it for the next couple months and then end up having a good time, proving my wise mother right again – her advice around anxiety producing situations was always “ You’ll be fine once you get there”.
And please meet Josephine and some curious birds. Her dress and silver slippers are made from Fortuny and she has Edwardian lace unmentionables.
Have a lovely long weekend – I’ll be here – making lots of things.
Suddenly a billy goat appeared. A very distinguished goat. It was not my plan, he is not on my list or schedule and I probably should have been doing something else. But I felt a strong spiritual directive to make a surly goat. I had the impulse and I followed it immediately, that hardly ever happens and I think its a good thing to do. I usually have quite a lot of time between my ideas and when I do something about them. Sometimes they get stale – resistant to action. Maybe too much time lets doubt creep in or I get stuck in an endless circle of overthinking. There is huge value in diving right in, creating the first iteration, maybe making a mess but also getting a feedback loop going. I’m pretty sure there is some actual brain chemistry around this but I haven’t looked it up yet – I was busy making a goat.
I made my gray goat rag doll from an Edwardian skirt. I used the aristocratic lamb pattern with some adjustments to the head. I’m working on another in black now (and I do plan to release this as a sewing pattern).
Goats have been on my mind, turning up in my little paintings often (by the way I’m adding new small paintings every Thursday – including the goat above). And I’m working on some tiny goats for a project I’ll show you this fall. I love their expressive, humany faces. They always look like they are silently judging you.
This goat be in the shop next week – I’m thinking Tuesday – with some other recently finished things including some Sri Threads songbirds.
You can sign up here if you’d like an email when the new things are available.
I’m particular about paint. I like very flat color. I’ve been using Holbein acrylics for a while and the last time I went to pick some up I discovered something new – or new to me – from Holbein to try – Mat Acrylic.
They come in big tubes and the colors are flatter than flat. Very opaque too. They flow beautifully on paper and the finish of the paint when dry is almost paper-like itself. They are unlike anything I’ve tried before – the closest comparison I could make would be gouache which I find difficult to work with. Also – in case you are wondering – I paint my little squares on hot press watercolor paper. I like fluid 100 and Arches.
And lovely Sri indigos and teals. Teal is the color that is on my mind lately – smokey and mysterious. I’m working on things for the shop and will add these as soon as they’re finished – possibly tomorrow , more likely Saturday. I also have some rag doll experiments in the works, including some Fortuny rag dolls I’m excited about.
Thanks to everybody who entered last week’s book give away – the winning number (chosen by a random number generator) is 330. I’ll be sending an email your way Annie L. for address info. If you would like to order a copy of Stitch-Illo you can find it here.
I like pigeons. I like the city beasts. And I have an affinity for the less loved creatures, ants bats, rats, mosquitos etc. Pigeons fit right in. What I love best about them is that they manage to be imperious and goofy – all at the same time.
So I want to make a pigeon. I stalled in the muslin draft phase. Stalled real good. The universe keeps sending me excellent pigeon fabric though. Maybe that’s why I got stuck – couldn’t choose. There is also a little anxiety about when to move out of prototyping – and all the freedom and experimenting that affords – into trying one in beautiful pigeony fabric.
I ended up deciding to combine a mix of collections in a way I don’t very often. I used Fortuny for the body and will use it for the feet also, an Edwardian pinafore and other garment scraps will be feathers and some beautiful teal from Sri Threads for the head.
The teal is what finally got me to take a shot at turning out a finished bird. It arrived lately with some other magnificent pieces and I couldn’t resist trying it. I’m happy with the shape and I’ll move into details this weekend and start a couple more too – using more of the exquisite things from Sri.
A condescending yet vacant pigeon or two should be forth coming.
The winner is – number 330 – there will be an email coming your way shortly Annie L!
Janine Vangool (upper case magazine) makes beautiful things. I’m happy to be included in the latest volume of her Encyclopedia of Inspiration series – Stitch-Illo. It’s a collection of artists who tell stories through stitch work.
The stories I tell with the things I make are sometimes very direct – like little birds who camp and put on plays.
More often I think of them as little mysteries – open ended questions – magical possibilities – ships that might float right in your window like a moth or a bit of dandelion fluff. Creatures whose expression and body language imply a history – a world of their own.
It’s a big book – and there is a huge variety of techniques and of the ways narratives are used by the 46 artists featured. There are several pages devoted to each and 600 color photos, some of my favorite artists are included- like Adriana Torres.
I’m also discovering beautiful work that’s brand new to me.
And here’s the fun part – I have one to give away. Everybody is welcome and I’ll make it super easy – just pick a number between one and five hundred and leave it in the comments. I’ll announce a winner next Thursday.
*Update – Comments are closed now – I’ll announce the winner (chosen by random number generation) and the winner will be announced later today.
Mr. socks is in print! My second print pattern is in the shop. It’s a 12 page booklet with 47 hand drawn illustrations. I’m starting another print pattern this evening while the mechanics of putting it all together are all still fresh in my mind. And while my drawing muscle feels strong. I love the little booklets – they are a giant amount of work but I love making them.
Maybe you’ll make a mischievous cat. Maybe he will have an adventure. I’m rolling around the idea of a photo contest for later this summer – more on that soon.
Just in time for your holiday weekend stitching – the rutabaga pattern is here. It’s a relatively quick project – depending on how long you linger in the details. I taught it at a workshop recently and fabulous turnips and rutabagas were created in under 4 hours.
Personally – I like to linger in the details of these – especially the appliqué. It’s repetitive, easy, relaxing work that requires just enough attention to make it the perfect activity for percolating ideas. I make it my job to have ideas – lot’s of ideas – and I love the sensation of letting an idea percolate, letting my subconscious have a crack at it. I drift into pleasant, soft focus daydreamy work and behind the scenes problems get solved, perspective shifts and connections are made. A brisk walk works too but then I don’t get a lovely rutabaga out of the deal.
I also like the appliqué portion of the program because it goes against my grain a little (a lot). I’m sometimes afraid of raw edges in a way that inhibits me creatively – I can get too obsessed with being neat and buttoning things up and lose the essence of the thing. I’ve been experimenting with pretty traditional appliqué (I’ll show you soon) and would like to get a little free-er in my designs.
Besides the meditative benefits there are so many reasons to make a rutabaga (or turnip) – they are, I think, the most beautiful of the root vegetables. No one is ever expecting a stitched turnip so they make wonderful gifts. And these rutabagas have a secret ingredient that makes them balance in a dynamic, root vegetable-lish way.
I add a little weighted fill – 1mm glass bead fill is my favorite. I put 2-4 spoonfuls in the toe of an old pair of tights to keep it in one spot and insert it into the bottom. The result is a rutabaga that perches at a jaunty angle instead of just lying on its side.
I hope you make rutabagas (or turnips)! And if you do I’d love to see – you can email photos to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com.
Have a beautiful weekend,
And just like that I’m a finishing machine.
I haven’t felt this much momentum in a long time. I’m even finishing stuff that was already finished – a little extra. A few days after crossing improvisational doll Matilde off my to do list it was clear she was missing something so I made her an underskirt from an antique wedding dress and added the button bustle and black stitch detail at the last minute – I love the combination of black and ivory.
I finished so much stuff I’m allowed to start new things and I have lots of ideas. Many of those ideas sprang out of a lovely package form Sri Threads that appeared with the usual serendipity – unexpectedly and at a perfect moment. Such inspiring old cloth.
I have more songbirds in progress and I feel like there is a pigeon here somewhere too.
Take my word for it – I’m an expert at being super busy without really accomplishing much.
I don’t know if it’s a seasonal shift or anxiety about how much I’ve got to do right now but I’ve been waking up super early – 5-ish. Man, those early hours are good. And quiet. I’ve been devoting them to things that have been getting away from me – mostly sewing patterns and kits. It’s amazing how much is getting done in those small, early chunks of time.
I do so much better – daily schedule-wise – when I assign blocks of time instead of tasks – it’s all still guided by the big list but it’s way harder to procrastinate and avoid stuff if the commitment is a chunk of time. It’s also easier to start – less intimidating and once I get passed starting I usually get interested – even in the really dreaded stuff like accounting or editing.
It’s effective because I always – ALWAYS – overestimate what I can do in a day but usually underestimate what I can do in an hour. Lately by 8 am after a couple chunks of time devoted to creating pattern documents or illustrations I’m feeling pretty good about what’s done and start my other work with less distraction.
You can read more about all the ways I trick myself into being productive here and here.