bird work : piratizing with ease and precision

fortuny pirate birds

fortuny pirate birds

I still make birds! And they still like to dress up like pirates (find the sewing pattern to make your own here). I’m particular about eye patch placement and I also like to make sure they stay in place, the little string especially. The patch is made from black card stock with glitter because they are those sort of pirates, the glittery eyepatch sort.  I use embroidery thread for the string and I sew it in place before gluing on the patch.

fortuny pirate birds

Start at the back and leave an end hanging. Make a tiny stitch at the back of the head.

Make another anchoring stitch at the temple and again where you will place the patch.

Finally come around to the back and knot again where you started.  Glue the patch on and wrap floral tape around to hold it firmly place while the glue dries.

fortuny pirate bird

fortuny pirates

Hello Pirates!

Try this:

very nice mice : free sewing pattern      little boat ornament

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creativity for overwhelmed introverts

creativity for overwhelmed introverts

There are things I need to remind myself of occasionally.  And maybe you need to be reminded too. Everything speeds up this time of year.  More and more gets packed in.  I try to keep up, pedaling faster and faster.  By  mid December I have an upset stomach, eye twitch, a mild stutter and I’ve lost touch with my imagination – my thoughtful and most creative self.  So I’m reminding myself of some things I know are true:

the power of uncertainty

the power of uncertainty
Two great enemies of creativity are inertia and certainty. The fix for inertia is simple, not easy, but very simple – start, move, take a step forward. Certainty is trickier. Our brains are built to be efficient, they categorize, assume, learn, repeat and create habits and rules. It is work to notice – really look at things, consider them outside of their familiar context or history or purpose. Auto pilot is easy and comfortable and I catch myself slipping into it, in little ways and big ways, all the time. I see what I expect to see because…..keep reading

 

good ideas
Sometimes ideas are like mosquitos – a relentless whisper.  Sometimes they are slippery and hard to grasp. Sometimes they flow like a river, tumbling over each other. Sometimes they are lurking in the shadows, maddeningly half revealed.  Sometimes they are frightening – too big to wrap our arms around.
Whether they are big or little, scary, silly, sad, strange, embarrassing or brilliant they are in unlimited supply. You can’t run out.
And this is also true…….keep reading

 

for introverts

for introverts
On a scale of 1-10 for introversion,  1 being an actual hermit and 10 being the super extroverted end,  I would place myself at 3, or maybe 2 and 1/2. I don’t mind it, don’t want to change it and couldn’t if I did. It’s not a condition, it’s not better or worse than the other end of the spectrum, I do like people, I’m not sad or lonesome in any general sense, I’m just wired in such a way that solitude, and lots of it, is where my energy comes from. I would like to be a BETTER introvert though in three ways I’m clear about:
Figuring out……keep reading

the importance of no
the importance of no and what I love about collage
“A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” Gandhi
I say yes when I should say no. I think it’s most often to please or to avoid immediate discomfort, sometimes to avoid taking the time to make a truly thoughtful decision or sometimes for fear of…..keep reading

little gifts : endeavor to delight

handmade toadstools

Little things. The kind of things you can make in an hour or two or over  a couple evenings. Something unexpected, something that charms.

handmade toadstools

 

If you visit here regularly you know that the holidays are not my favorite thing.  But that part appeals to me, making presents for people, especially little things.

little sailor mouse

And I like Christmas trees, festive, spicy  smells, sweet packages (download the free little yellow house tags here) and a manageable amount of snow might be nice.

small handmade gifts

small handmade gifts

You can find most of the ornament patterns above in the shop as well as the mushroom pattern ( I reduced it by about half for the minis).  And find the free mouse pattern here and the free woebegone pine tree pattern here.

doll kit making

I’m also making doll kits. One million of them. Not really but that’s what it feels like. I’m assembling and shipping kits (and staying hydrated).  After a few days I found a rhythm and the assembly part has sped up. It’s a good thing I enjoy repetitive tasks. So far anyway. I am not enjoying all the paper cuts. So many paper cuts.

shop note:  Stuff is shipping every day and all current orders (including back orders) should be out by Tuesday of next week. And doll kits will be back in stock by next week too.  Send me an email if you want to know as soon as they are available.

workshop news

ann wood : doll workshop

Squam Art Retreats announced their 2018 workshops and opened pre- registration this past Monday (If you are on my mailing list you were the first to know). I’m teaching in both spring and fall next year.

ann wood : diorama workshop

My spring class will be dioramas, creating 3-dimensional compositions, shadow box assemblages, small worlds of our own. We will explore the poetry and spirit of things. You can find the details and registration information here.

In the Fall I’m teaching experimenting with dolls, all sorts of dolls. It’s a class about possibilities, trying on ideas and most importantly play. A “yes and” way of working, starting before you know where you are headed.

ann wood : doll workshop

We will draw inspiration from our own experience as well as how the figure has been represented throughout history (I’ve been particularly interested in goddess figures lately) and explore the art, sentiment, nostalgia and spirit of dolls – all they can mean and be.

ann wood : doll workshop

In both cases I’ll bring everything you need for the class which is madness and also fun, the hunting and the gathering, imagining what you might like.  For the diorama workshop I do ask that people bring an item to share and an item they might like to use. I taught this class this past fall and there was a fascinating array of things, I love looking at people’s stuff.

If you aren’t familiar with the retreat checkout their instagram feed here and you can find all the details on both retreats here.

In other news I’m putting together at least one workshop on the west coast for next year (stay tuned for news on that)  and in June I’m headed to France with The French General. That trip is currently full but send me an email if you would like more info or to be on the waiting list.

tiny dolls, captain charmley, mister skimpole and other new things

rag dolls : finishing touches

* All the new creatures and dolls below are in the shop now.

mr. skimploe : houndstooth owl

Houndstooth is always a bold statement and the scale is daring for an owl of his stature. I think he pulls it off though and he should, Mr. Skimpole is concerned only with appearances and pleasure.

sinclair : hand stitched owl

His associate Sinclair, a far more somber owl, is made from Edwardian and Victorian garments and has shoe button eyes.

For the last couple days I’ve been adding finishing touches and last minute details to almost finished dolls and creatures. I love a worktable covered with lots of things that only need the fun part done, a little edge stitching or an expression tweaked. One after another they cross the finish line and I feel like an over achiever for a little while.

rag dolls : finishing touches

tiny doll pinafore

emaline : rag doll

captain charmley : rag doll

tiny rag doll

Tonight I’ll begin a new group of things. Mostly ships and boats. I love waking up to a freshly dried layer of paper mache.

Have a lovely weekend and holiday,

ann

4 free projects to try and a post crash update

4 free projects to try

minki kim linen bookmarks

I’ve been hitting the Pinterest pretty hard lately and collected a few projects I thought you might like to try.  First, linen book marks by Minki Kim. I love book marks as little gifts (it is time to make the things for the people…) and Minki shares some great techniques and ideas for imagery.

felt ornament gift tags

Next stitched felt gift tags from Purl Soho. Purl has a huge collection of free projects, it goes on and on, lots of knit and crochet stuff and a bunch of sewing and craft projects too – all with Purl’s sweet, clean, contemporary style.

bustle and sew alpaca

And a dear Appliqué Alpaca from Bustle and Sew. Everybody loves an alpaca. Find all the instructions and templates right here.

the cheerful space diy

Finally a step by step painting tutorial from The Cheerful Space. I especially love this for a beginner or somebody who is having a hard time starting – this will get you moving and trying stuff.

and the post crash update:

I’m back in Brooklyn but not back to business as usual. It has been a month since the ceiling came crashing down unexpectedly and I’m still dealing with it. I do have a ceiling again, a beautiful ceiling but I have not been able to put things back together here yet. I came home to one hundred years of dust. In everything, it went everywhere.  Looking on the bright side it has been a fabulous opportunity to vacuum, wash, or launder    every    single    thing    I    own.

temporary arrangements

temporary arrangements

And I was very surprised to find about 2 thirds of my place painted an aggressive shade of salmon pink. I have no idea why. No one does.  It should be repainted by Monday and I can’t wait. I am spiritually at odds with this color.

But still, I am home. Happy to be here and making things. Please meet Fernando (dashing in powder blue) and Alvaro.

fernando and alvaro : fortuny owls

fortuny owl : fernando

alvaro : fortuny owl

4 free projects to try

dear little paper mache boat ornament : a free tutorial

free tutorial : dear little boat

Everybody loves to go boating.

I’ve made you something!  A free tutorial for a dear little paper mache boat ornament. The boat is 5 and 1/2 inches long and 6 and1/2 inches high – a very nice size for very nice mice or tiny rag dolls.

tiny rag doll

ann wood : boat ornament

They are quick and simple to make (really quick! make a bunch) and only require little bits of fabric, cardboard and other things you probably already have.  And the pattern scales up easily – if you’d like to make a larger boat. I think it is helpful to read through all the steps before you begin.

To get started download the dear little boat and sail templates here.

little boat tutorial

* You can click each image for a larger view.

1. Place the boat template on your cardboard and trace the outline. Mark the fold lines (the dashed lines on the template) in colored pencil. Use the BACK of the exacto knife to lightly score the fold lines. Cut out the template.

2. Gently fold at the scored fold lines.

3. Bring the front sides and bottom together.

4. Tape over the tabs with masking tape – it’s helpful to tear off several little pieces of tape so they are ready when you need them.

5. Tape over the outside seams as well.

6. Fold up the back of the boat and tape over the tabs as well as the outside cardboard seams.

7. Fold the boat bottom flap tabs toward the print side.

8. Fold the bottom flap into the boat and tape over the tabs

9. Fold the sides over – into the boat.

10. Tape along all the edges. We are ready for paper mache.

paper mache tips: Because the boat is small and our armature is sturdy – one layer of paper mache is enough. If you are making a larger boat use at least two layers. Tear small pieces of newsprint – roughly an inch or smaller – small pieces of paper create a smooth sturdy result- use the smallest pieces for covering corners, tight curves and edges. I like commercially prepared wall paper paste – available at most hardware stores Collect text scraps for embellishing.

11. Begin with the edges – paint paste onto the boat – apply a piece of paper and paint paste over.

12. After covering the edges fill in the rest of the areas. One layer of paper is enough for a small boat – two will make it even sturdier. If adding a second layer there is no need to wait for the first to dry. Read More

spooky poems read aloud and a creepy retrospective

the haunted house and other spooky poems

When I was small there was a record I loved. A collection of creepy poems read aloud in creepy voices. I have thought of it often but never expected to hear it again. I did this April. I guess just about everything is on the internet now. I have intense memories of these poems and the sensation of hearing them again is hard to describe. They terrified me as a child and I could not get enough. Now when I hear them I see the old record player, the worn carpet and the dusty, dappled light in the front room of the shady little house. It stirs up all my ghosts.

the haunted house and other spooky poems

If you’d like to hear it’s all there, on youtube. My favorites are The Erlking and Dust. I still love the recording and I wish more of the world could be delivered to me in rhythmically crackling record with old-timey voice format.

Happy Halloween and in honor of the spooky day a creepy retrospective.

spiders!

spooky cardboard castle

once I loved a spider

dastardly owls

shadowland

“A woman drew her long black hair out tight
And fiddled whisper music on those strings
And bats with baby faces in the violet light
Whistled, and beat their wings’ – T.S.Eliot

owls on my worktable and the socks family farm

blue fortuny owl

I like the creatures I make to have an attitude, an expression and body language that imply a history – a point of view, a world of their own.

mr. socks' tree farm

Mr. Socks for instance is a mischievous cat. A wanderer, a vagabond and sometimes a bit of a rascal. He goes where he likes and does what he likes. He has a good nature but is not entirely reliable. There is one thing about him that you can count on though, for his whole cat life every autumn he heads North where he works on the Socks family Christmas tree farm in Woebegone Pines. The whole Socks family lives in a big black house at the end of a crooked road where they cultivate very special varieties of forlorn firs and pines.

work table and owl feet

I’m headed back home to Brooklyn tomorrow. Exile has been interesting. This forced change of pace and place.  And it has had its benefits. I’ve spent more time outside than I would have, slept in good cold air and have been slightly over fed. And I have been reasonably productive.

fortuny lamb

The lamb (made from this sewing pattern) is part of a group of creatures for Fortuny.

blue fortuny owl

And there is a little houndstooth fellow too.

My head is already in next week. I’m finalizing plans for 2 more workshops in 2018 (more on that soon).  And I’ll have a surprise for you, a new free project. Last year it was the woebegone trees with mr. socks above, the year before very nice mice and this years project fits into that tiny world as well…

october is for sewing

This year it’s for sewing by the pool. I love a forlorn pool, all its summer sparkle and glory gone. It’s a contrast and a particular flavor of melancholy that I have always been attracted to.

I’ve temporarily relocated myself outside of NYC while my entire ceiling is replaced. It is a spectacular October and it’s good to be sewing again after a truly miserable week.

I brought a sewing machine, tons of fabric and projects to work on. Besides the pool I have a big sunny room to work in and a diligent helper. He loves the sewing machine. And thread, he really loves thread.

The first thing finished was another soldier  – more a Wickham than a Darcy this time. He is handsome and beguiling, all poetry and romance, but don’t believe him when he says his heart is yours……..

I’m hoping to have the soldier sewing pattern perfected, drafted and converted to an illustrator file in a couple days. I’ll shoot the steps as soon as I get home. I’m also working on a collection of Fortuny animals (they will be in the NY showroom for the holidays) and lots of little things, small sewing I never get tired of.

Thank you for your thoughts and concerns since the big dusty crash. I’m still all turned around and unsure of what to do next but things are generally well enough and I am finding a rhythm.

onward,
ann

the sky has fallen and emaline in the park

I’m writing to you today from the wreckage of my dear old place. The plaster ceiling collapsed on Monday. I’m crammed into the “safe section” with all my belongings and lots of dust. All my plans for October are canceled and I’m scrambling to get things together to leave for the rest of the month at least.

wreckage

The event itself was shocking and my brain has not really worked right since. All the rubble is still here ( which is interesting…..) and I sift through sometimes looking for tiny things that might have survived.

tiny tea cup among the rubble

I hate to wish time away. Especially October. It’s such a good month. But the next few weeks feel impossible. I will keep you posted as the situation and my whereabouts unfold.

rubble

When the catastrophe happened I was having a perfect rainy October day, hand sewing a rag doll, sitting right underneath. I’ve got good reflexes. She and I just ended up dusty and surprised.

emaline in the park

Her perfect October continues, spending blustery days in the park among the fading flowers and leaves, reading about star crossed lovers and thinking her wistful thoughts.

emaline ragdoll

curious specimens

tiff : specimens

ann wood makerie

Constraints are interesting. So are intersections. We employed both elements in our warm up exercise at the mini makerie in Boulder last week. Each student received a mysterious box of supplies, a chunk of time and one instruction: a source for inspiration that shall remain a secret because it worked beautifully and I’ll probably do it again.

stitched collages

The compositions they created far surpassed my expectations and got wheels turning in all sorts of interesting ways for the entire workshop.

Immediately after the warm up we began creating our collection of imagined specimens: curious plants and creatures that exist at the edge of dream and reality. The workshop took place at At Hand Studio in Boulder, artist Fran Menely’s spectacular work space. As we began to think about inventing our specimens we explored her gardens for inspiration.

I loved spending 3 big days with 11 like minded individuals. Women who showed up willing to try stuff, experiment and collaborate. We spent most of the final afternoon photographing our work. We used found objects, specimen pins, old book covers (I grab them whenever I see them – such unexpected colors) and scavenged text to create mood and atmosphere that suggests the sort of dream world our strange specimens might inhabit, their imagined history.

cindy : stitched pods

tif: specimens

blair : pod and dragonfly

debora : nest

angela :mushroom and bug

fran : indigo mushroom

whitney : mushroom

abby : paper and fabric flowers

rachel : seedpod

tara : mushroom

karen : mushroom

dioramas in the forest and a third kind of image

squam diorama workshop

diorama workshop at squam

I think about thinking a lot. I think about imagination a lot. The mystery of it.  Creativity, art, inspiration, expression, all of that. I think about how it feels to get something past the filters. To get something that was inside on the outside in a way that feels complete and true. Seeable. With all it’s you-ness in tact.

That kind of expression is what’s on my mind when I’m preparing for workshops. The last two especially, Squam and the mini makerie. Both workshops had a strong focus on exploring and trusting your imagination and starting without knowing exactly where you are headed. Experimenting and responding.

I experiment on myself all the time, watch myself work, observe my own thinking and patterns, where I get stuck, how I unstick myself and I bring that experience with me. I also read a lot this spring and summer about art, imagination and creativity and that something else that doesn’t have a name. I came across the quote below in a collection of observations on Joseph Cornell’s boxes by Charles Simic. I love the idea of a third kind of image:

“There are really three kinds of images. First, there are those seen with eyes open in the manner of realists in both art and literature. Then there are images we see with eyes closed. Romantic poets, surrealists, expressionists, and everyday dreamers know them. The images [Joseph] Cornell has in his boxes are, however, of the third kind. They partake of both dream and reality, and of something else that doesn’t have a name. They tempt the viewer in two opposite directions. One is to look and admire the elegance and other visual properties of the composition, and the other is to make up stories about what one sees. In Cornell’s art, the eye and the tongue are at cross purposes. Neither one by itself is sufficient. It’s that mingling of the two that makes up the third image.”

– Charles Simic
Dime store Alchemy

I so recommend this book. I got it as a gift from my much older sister who is knitting me a sweater several years ago and it has been next to my bed ever since waiting for me.

I asked students to keep that in mind, the unnamable thing, the third kind of image, as the worked on their boxes in the forest at Squam:

*click the images for a larger view – there are lots of details.

squam diorama workshop

squam dioramas

squam playhouse

And just like that it’s fall. September has gone by in a flash and I miss the forest, especially my early morning walk along this path for coffee. Until next time.

“The real things are happening in the forest still.” – Charlotte Mew

 

gunderson and snodd, a plum bat and other creatures

ann wood owls back

* The owls and everything below (plus some lambs in pants) are in the shop now.

Meet Mr. Snodd and Mr Gunderson. The best of friends.  I spent the last couple weeks finishing things, getting almost done stuff across the finish line. It clears out so much brains space. And I love the sensation of crossing something off the list.  I’m shifting my focus now to last minute workshop prep. I did not achieve the dream of being fully prepared  a week ahead of time but I’m in better shape than I usually am this close to leaving. Progress, not perfection right?

ann wood owls back

hand stitched bat

hand stitched bat

This plum bat is the second one I’ve made with the new method and I’m happy with it.  There are still some complications and difficulties I need to get rid of though before I can think about turning it into a sewing pattern.

paper mache ship and owl

The ship above is made from the small ship pattern.  And the gentleman sailor owl is the small size from the little owl pattern.

paper mache ship and owl

And a slate finch. I wish you could feel her velvet head.

slate finch : handstitched songbird

ann wood songbird

antique lace

antique lace

I’m spending the rest of the day sorting through mountains of fabric and lace to decide what’s coming with me. Some will be for workshops and some for the Squam Art Fair. I’ll be there with sewing patterns and some vintage supplies. Or just come say hi. If you do please bring me a beer (the keg is by the door).