All posts by annwood

a miniature world, inhabited by stylish ants

dusting : fortuny ants

dusting : fortuny ants

Meet the Beaumonts, fifth avenue’s most stylish anthropods.

To celebrate Fortuny’s 2016  Micromondo collection (which means micro–world in Italian) I created a miniature world of cosmopolitan, domestic bliss inhabited by sophisticated ants with a taste for midcentury furniture and modern art. They also really love christmas – that’s part 2.

ant world

ant world

ant world

ant world

The ants are 6 inches tall and made from the Micromondo collection.  I made furniture, drapery etc. – everything a fully appointed ant penthouse needs – from the new wools, velvets and linens as well as many of the classic patterns – the blue and bronze above is one of my favorites. I also made ant art – I got super into the art making – and family portraits – lots of tiny details.

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mr. socks : a new sewing pattern!

hello mr. socks!

hello mr. socks!

He’s a mischievous cat….. I’m so happy to share the sewing pattern with you today – you can find it in the shop right here.  And in celebration of his debut when you purchase mr. socks with any additional  pattern or patterns before Monday you can use discount code: socks  For 20% off your entire purchase. The discount will expire at Midnight this Sunday  12/4.

PS – If you are purchasing on Etsy the code is HELLOSOCKS

mr. socks : sewing pattern

mr. socks takes a stroll

What adventures will your mr. socks have? I’d love to see! You can email photos to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com, share them on flickr or use #mrsocks on instagram.

I get pretty excited when I finish a sewing pattern. They take forever and parts of it are deeply tedious. Usually at some point along the way it feels like it will never be done and I have to swim through a torturous spell.  And then all of a sudden there’s a surge of momentum and it’s done.  I’m going to bask in the glow of completion for a day and then dive in to making another – what do you think it should be?

 

mr. socks sewing pattern

miniature poinsettias – a preview of something new

mini paper poinsettias

Miniature fascinates me – we’ve talked about it before. It fascinates and delights me – takes me to that marvelous creative place where time and self-consciousness completely disappear – I can lose myself for hours and hours. I began to create a very particular miniature world, with very particular inhabitants more than a year ago and I can finally show it to you next week. It’s been one of my most favorite projects of all time.

Just lately that little world got ready for the holidays – and of course it needed poinsettias, pink and white poinsettias.

mini paper poinsettias

mini poinsettia

They are made from crepe paper  – I painted it just the right shade of pink. Tip – adding water and rubbing alcohol to acrylic paint makes it penetrate crepe paper much better – you can get clear, bright and translucent color.

There are a couple previews of the recently festivised version of the project below and more to come next week.

mini poinsettia

miniature fortuny shopping bag

PS – The vinegar, citrus, clove cleaner I made is awesome – smells good – and works great. I’m pretty pleased.

PPS – The mr. socks pattern is imminent  – probably tomorrow – just finished up a couple last minute reshoots today – crammed into the one corner of my place where I can get some light on a rainy day.

mr. socks pattern shoot

simple, happy things, progress on the mr. socks pattern and new tiny dolls

citrus clove cleaner

I don’t bake anymore- at least not very often – because I can’t control myself around baked goods.  At all.  So I have to limit my exposure.  One of the things I miss about it are the fabulous smells – especially this time of year.  Cloves are a favorite and lately I started simmering cloves in a crock pot – I throw in citrus peels too if I have them.  I tried adding cinnamon – that was a little too much for me.  But the cloves are magnificent – a warm, clean smell –  just enough – and I’m surprised at how much it affects my mood.   It’s such a simple and pretty much free thing that brings me a lot of happiness.

citrus clove cleaner

And if some is good – more is better.  I’m experimenting with homemade clove citrus cleaner.  I Googled recipes and it could not be simpler to make – add white vinegar  and citrus peels to a jar along with optional spices – cloves in my case because of the new clove obsession.

Full disclosure – I don’t know if it works yet.  My jar has been sitting for about a week and I’ll test it out in about another.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  Have you tried this?  I clean with vinegar often but hate the smell – so I thought it was worth a shot.  Plus it looks pretty.

Another simple and happy and pretty inexpensive thing that brings me lots of joy  – my plants.  Potted plants and stuff I pick up in the park and plop in water – sprigs of white pine etc.  Most of the potted plants were given to me or found abandoned on the sidewalk in Brooklyn. The one exception is the Norfolk Pine. I spent 30 bucks on it  3 years ago to serve as a christmas tree.  It will again this year too – I give it a shower about every ten days and coffee every once in a while – it loves it.

happy pllants

happy pllants

In other news – the mr. socks pattern is getting close – maybe next week or right after Thanksgiving.  You can sign up here if you’d like and email when the patterns is available.

There are a couple mr. socks prototypes in the shop right now along with several new green shoed tiny ladies.  Also – this is the last time the tiny dolls will be offered at their current price – there is just too much time in the fully wardrobed little dolls so if I do make more there will be a significant price increase.

P. S.  If you’ve been making your own tiny rag dolls from the pattern stay tuned for a winter coat pattern coming soon.

mr. socks

mr socks in a box

fist full o dollies

 

bundled up birds and paper mache teacups at anthropologie

ann wood anthropologie teacups

I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for ages. I began working with Anthopologie last fall on a couple projects for this holiday season – paper mache teacups and bundled up little fabric birds.

ann wood anthropologie birds

They are both items that are near and dear to me and I have a particularly long history with the little birds – it began more than ten years ago. I walked into Anthropologie on Fifth Avenue today and there they were – lots and lots of familiar little birds looking back at me. It was a little disorienting and it’s kind of a funny thing to think about – how many little birds and teacups there are in the world now.  I am not someone who thinks in quantity.  I think its a good thing though  – a good thing that there is a place in the bigness and busyness of the world for paper mache teacups and earnest little fabric birds.

ann wood anthropologie teacups

There are two birds and two  teacups – one a souvenir of Paris and the other New York City. The insides have festive stripes and dots and are sparkly.

ann wood anthropologie teacups

I had fun making them – loved painting the illustrations for the cups.  You can find the birds and teacups online and in stores – you can find Anthro’s entire ornament assortment for this year here (there is lots of fun stuff – including an oyster by Tamar Mogendorff).

Or if you like you can make your own. Find the pattern for the teacups here and the little bird sewing pattern here.

morning stitches

morning stitches

morning stitches

I like to sew by hand, early, as soon as there’s a little light. Its quiet, peaceful, reliable and slow and it steadies me.

fancy rag doll

I make black coffee and I stitch for a couple hours – often little things and usually on the couch, by the windows, keeping the house plants company.

morning stitches

I love it especially this time of year, the old radiators start to clank and moan and make that steam heat smell I love; I stitch and stitch and listen to the world starting up again.

turnips, mosquitos and the big bad wolf

stitched turnip

* shop announcement the new things below and some suprises are in the shop now –  Friday 11/4

stitched turnip

A heroic root vegetable – the majestic turnip. I love making these – rutabagas and turnips – the stitching is meandering and meditative and I like experimenting with textures and layering.  I have found that antique table linens are ideal for making the shape – the cotton is thick and there is a little sheen. I layer sheer cottons – often pieces of antique kimonos and lots of stitching  to add color and more texture including the  rough edge where the leaves were chopped off. That’s my favorite part.

stitched turnip and rutabaga still life

PS – I’m teaching a class on this very subject in the spring in NYC – at the Sweet Paul Makerie.

And do you remember the wolf? He is among a little group of things started over the summer that finally got finished and photographed this week.

bb wolf

He doesn’t look so bad…. He looks sort of pleasant.

big bad wolf doll

But do not trust him – there is a dark side.

tiny rag doll problems

And he is only one of the problems a tiny rag doll can run into around here.  I finished 5 new mosquitos too – 2 are going on special missions but the other three Edwardian girls will be in the shop tomorrow. Please meet the ladies:

edwardian mosquito

edwardian mosquito

edwardian mosquito

tiny rag doll nation

tiny rag doll by dawn

tiny rag doll by dawn

The  tiny rag doll pattern was not something I planned on or saw coming but I’m so glad I followed the impulse – it has been and continues to be a very happy thing.  A happy thing for me to make and a happy thing to share. I think it strikes a cord – a point of connection so many of you that show up here have in common with me and each other. It’s the kind of sewing I grew up doing – slow hand stitching.  There is sweetness, simplicity and nostalgia about it.  I came across this thought from Dawn – a tiny rag doll maker – she puts it perfectly:

I love the quiet peacefulness of stitching by hand, using a thimble, putting the tiny pieces together just so.  I feel a connection to countless other hand stitchers who came before me.  I think it comes through in the dolls.

The doll above – forward looking and ready for adventure is by Dawn ( as well as the next 3) and below I’ll share some other wonderful tiny rag doll work by customers. You can find more and add  your own to the ann wood handmade by you Flickr group – there are lovely things happening there – all sorts of ideas and details and variations being shared (including adorable crocheted wigs – a pattern from another fabulous tiny doll maker Beth – scroll all the way to the bottom of her page for the link).

I think it’s the perfect moment for a tiny doll revolution – the world needs more tiny handmade rag dolls  – an army of hand stitched little ladies who mean business.

P.S. If you’ve made a tiny rag doll and have details, variations or tips you’d like to share please do in the comments or email me and I’ll add it to the post.tiny rag doll by dawn

tiny rag doll by dawn

tiny rag doll by dawn

Below – tiny rag dolls by Karen:

tiny rag dolls by karen

 tiny rag dolls by Karen

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pigeon progress and the glorious, inviting emptiness of my work table

pigeon drawing

I’ve been seeing pigeons in my dreams for weeks – not real pigeons – stitched pigeons – they insist on being made. You know how pigeons are – always insisting on things.  I have to trick myself into starting a new shape – I love the process when I’m in it but there is always anticipatory anxiety – it’s knowing I have a series of failures ahead of me. I don’t mind them as they happen – it feels like process, progress and discovery,  I get immersed in it. But still, even though I know that – starting – taking the very first step – is always hard, even for stuff I’m pretty excited about.  So I start with a baby step and it’s almost always the same. I give myself the gift of putting it off for one more day but it goes on the list for the next day – first thing. I also gather what I need to start so it is handy and ready to go.  I usually wake up ready to dive in.  Who knows what magic my subconscious works overnight or maybe just the simple acts of putting it on the list and collecting the supplies gets me past the onerous starting line.

pigeon drawing

New creatures start with a drawing. I like charcoal on drafting velum – messy and spontaneous.  From there I can trace out a profile and start to guess at gussets.  Next I sew up and stuff a series of drafts – marking them up with sharpies and making adjustments. The first draft was less pigeon and more small sad turkey with issues….. I made about a half a dozen more,  making a little progress on each and eventually getting close to the shape I want – the pigeon shape below.

pigeon progress

I’m pretty happy  with this shape – it needs a little more fullness in the breast so I’ll probably do one more draft and then try it in good fabric. Hopefully pigeons will appear over the weekend.

One more note on starting – I’ve been doing something new for a while and it’s working well for me. Historically – I have kept things on my worktable – tools, notebooks, fabrics – a perimeter of stuff.  As an experiment I got rid of it all – found other nearby  homes for everything.  I also began emptying the table of whatever I’m working on at the end of the day.  It seems counter productive if I’m just going to work on the same thing in the morning but it has a magic effect.  Emptying the table ends the day. It feels official.  And when I wake up there is just my list and an invitingly empty space.  It feels like a fresh start. I make clear and conscious choices about what to do without an overwhelm hang-over from the previous day.  I start the day more peacefully and feeling in charge and since I work by myself I am, technically, supposed to be the one in charge.  Putting the stuff away is extra work but the benefits have out weighed that.

And please meet Edmond. A contemplative rat – like his brethren the mosquitos, pigeons and spiders – one of the less loved creatures.

edmond : rat

 

spectacular cloth – 18th century textiles

vermeer yellow textiles

crimson antique textiles

Can you imagine – the hands that wove and embroidered them, the rooms they decorated and moved through?  I am mesmerized by these textiles – most from the 1700’s – the vermeer yellow velvets below are 17th or 18th century – the goldenrod piece with gold lame roses is French 19th century.

vermeer yellow textiles

 antique textiles

antique blue textiles

The colors are intense and I wish you could feel the texture – the weaves are thick and tight. I wondered if they would be sewable and they are – amazing. They came as a complete surprise –  I have remarkably good luck in the fabric department  – this was an incredibly generous gift from Trish Allen  of Trouvais  – a collector’s shop of rare and special early textiles – lovely, inspiring treasures – the antique ballet costumes – oh my.

18th century textiles

The box has been here for weeks and I take them all out and look at them almost everyday.  I only photographed a few things today – I might show you some more tomorrow – along with a new creature I’m working on. I started my first project today – a french blue songbird made from an embroidered 18th century silk.  Next will be mosquitos and I think something botanical.

And speaking of songbirds – a new crew of Fortuny birds – here they are discussing some important songbird issues.

fortuny songbirds

fortuny songbirds

stitched rutabagas and floating ships : sweet paul makerie 2017

hand stitched stitched rutabagas

The Sweet Paul Makerie is coming to Brooklyn!  And not even just Brooklyn but my neighborhood – a couple blocks from my place – so good. I taught a stitched botanical class in 2015 at the Philadelphia Makerie and had a marvelous time – it was a beautiful event in every way – every detail thoughtful and lovely –  so looking forward to the spring retreat. The class line up is great – you can see them all here. I’m offering 2 workshops – an intro to 3 dimensional sewing (a stitched rutabaga!) and ship building.

hand stitched stitched rutabagas

hand stitched stitched rutabaga

hand stitched sails

hand stiched floating ship

If you’ve got questions feel free – email me at info at ann wood handmade dot com and please put workshop in the subject line.

October is for sewing

fortuny songbird

fortuny

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery,  Anne of Green Gables

Maybe it’s my favorite  –  or maybe tied with March – I like the blustery months. It is just so extraordinarily pleasant – perfect days.  And I’m sewing a ton – hours and hours of hand sewing every day after a longer than usual phase of other things – planning workshops for next year, teaching, making sewing patterns etc. – there was a lot to swim through so I could sit and sew again. I’m making lots of songbirds- some Fortuny – like the birds below and some from antique garments.  I’m also making owls,  and rats, building ships and working on a new shape – a new creature.

fortuny songbird

thread

departing owls and songbirds

hand stitched songbirds

Most of the finished things above are headed off on a special mission in the UK but I do plan to have lots of things in my shop soon and will be sending creatures to the  Fortuny showroom in Manhattan next week.

And check back for progress on the new shape I’m working on – it is another of the often less loved creatures and one I have a complicated relationship with…….

doll experiments from the workshop and tiny rag doll : print-edition

cedric randolf moth

tiny rag doll print pattern

Briefly – as there is much to cover today – the very first print pattern is in the shop. I’ve turned the tiny rag doll sewing pattern into a 16 page hand illustrated booklet accompanied by three pattern sheets. To celebrate this (for me) huge milestone – the first 25 purchasers will get some bonus items with their pattern.

mr. socks on vacation

It’s the first day of fall – it doesn’t feel like it but it will by Sunday and I’m looking forward to it – it’s been an airless summer in NY.  I got an excellent dose of forest, air and space at The Squam Art Retreat and so did mr. socks.  I also came back with lots of creative energy –  I love watching people move through their process and  getting glimpses into their imaginations. I taught two experimenting with dolls workshops and was impressed by the willingness to truly experiment and try things – to pick up a thread and follow it. It certainly isn’t easy but can take you to interesting and unexpected places. I’m deeply grateful to everyone who participated for their willingness to be open and vulnerable – I loved being part of it.  I’ve shared many dolls below and some were still being worked on – I hope to show you those soon- good things were happening…..

enchanted fish

Sondra’s enchanted fish

cedric randolf moth

Tif’s (dottie angel) gentleman moth –
“my name is Cedric Randolf. i am a moth, I fought in the Boar War. i am quite wise and quite old. in one eye i have a cataract, with my other eye i see only goodness”

rabbit girl

Rabbit Girl (in process) by  Tricia

moon

The moon – and all her phases…. by Jaime (fancy tiger crafts)

edwardian_lady

Vanessa’s Edwardian lady

(lots more photos after the jump)

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handmade postcards and a sneak peek: the first print pattern

handmade postcards

handmade postcards

For a brief moment – a while back – I was making hand drawn postcards to include in packages. Lovely to do and they made packing and shipping more fun but not a super rational or realistic time management decision.  A good exercise though – it woke up a drawing muscle I don’t use often – simple line drawings. They are quick and definite and it’s a kind of drawing that is peaceful for me and I can get deeply focused pretty quickly.

handmade postcards

handmade postcards

It started wheels turning in my head about making illustrations for my patterns and getting them in print. The wheels started turning and that was pretty much it – one of those things that felt too big and scary to start – I sat on the idea for a few more weeks. I could and maybe should out- source the illustrations but I wanted to do at least one pattern myself.  I have illustrated in an official capacity before – it is a little known fact that I illustrated a cook book – Jasper White’s Summer Shack Cook Book – A Complete Guide To Shore Food.   All Jasper’s cookbooks are great and this one is my favorite –  it has a gazillion illustrations – all pen and ink – I did the “how to” technical  stuff as well as the fun stuff. I ate so much lobster I couldn’t be near it for two years.vegetable parade

Since there is nothing like a credible threat for productivity I decided to take tiny rag doll kits – with full printed instructions – to my doll workshop at Squam last week as an extra for my students (more on that soon). It is amazing how quickly you can figure things out when it has got to get done. I decided very late the Friday before my Wednesday departure and started drawing like a madman – all day – everyday and usually into the night. I formatted the pages in photoshop and figured out how to turn it into a booklet – quickly. The deadline was magic – I brought it to the retreat (so glad I did – it’s a fun travel project) and had a chance to tidy it up and make some adjustments when I got home.  It is done. And I am happy with it.  tiny rag doll wardrobeThere may be a fancier iteration in the future but I kind of love this hand drawn version – hoping to have it available in the shop tomorrow. I don’t have a clear idea what the appetite for printed patterns is – if it’s significant I’ll do them all – probably starting with the mushroom pattern. What do you think – do you prefer PDF or printed patterns?

an immodest doll in her scandalous entirety

an immodest doll

an immodest doll

Except for her jewelry and 18th century silk slippers – she is unabashedly and completely nude.    And just when you think she couldn’t be any more scandalous she even drops her diaphanous wrap.

an immodest doll

an immodest doll

Please meet Esmé – my first naked lady – a recent doll experiment.

I put the sketchbook practice on vacation for a couple weeks to free up time to experiment with dolls – in preparation for my Squam class next week.  I have had a blast.  I wanted to practice some things I’d like to demonstrate, come up with some templates and practice pattern making on the fly – quick and messy.  I also wanted to try to get a sense of what this class will feel like to participants and  look for ways to help people feel free and playful.

B.B. Wolf

I’ve made a bunch of things I’ll show you in a couple weeks – spontaneous things.  I sit down with a little pile of material and try stuff.  The bad wolf above was an exercise in quick pattern making – making a super rough sketch and turning it into pattern pieces in about 30 minutes.  I sewed up the parts and it had all sorts of problems but I accidentally landed on some things I like too. Now I’m sculpting from the outside and adding details.

B.B. Wolf

The quick experimenting has been good for me –  given me a million ideas.  If you are attending the workshop you are getting a doll maker on fire.  And some of the things I’ve been working on will eventually become sewing patterns (the mr. socks – one of my other quick experiments- pattern is in the works).  So looking forward to the class and  the whole retreat next week –  I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

P. S. I’ve been collecting lots of inspiring doll images on pinterest you check out here if you like.