my big creative year : the one task method

At any given moment I have a lot of things started. I bounce around working on something for a bit and then move to something else. It is rare for me to start something and stay with it without interruption until it is complete.

textile art bird in progressAnd even if something is nearly done there might be some small detail avoided in a moment when something else felt more urgent. More and more things end up in the land of almost done and lots of little details, like stitching fox paws, add up to a day or more of work that I’m not really factoring in. I’m nickel and diming myself to death in the time department.

fox paw stitchingFor the last couple weeks, just to see what would happen, I’ve been picking one thing, one project or task and staying with it until it’s done. I check it off the list, clean up the mess and start the next thing. I started with low hanging fruit to get the ball rolling – little projects or orders that were just about done. The choice always feels uncomfortable, feels counter intuitive when so much needs to move forward and it’s hard to get all the other stuff out of my head and focus – but I settle down after a little while and I found lots of benefits to working this way:

* It busts right through unrealistic expectations and wishful thinking – I get a much better sense of how long things really take.

* Crossing stuff of the list feels good, finishing feels good – it puts energy back in the bank – loose ends are distracting and draining.

* It forces me to do some important things I avoid by burying myself in busyness – prioritizing, making choices and planning realistically.

* There is no ambiguity at the end of the day – progress or lack of it is very clear.

* Individual projects get more forward momentum – I’m less inclined to linger unnecessarily in choices and possibilities and I’m more inclined to work through problems efficiently since I can’t escape into another task, it creates a kind of resolve – it’s your birthday owl – today is the day, not tomorrow, not next week, today.

soft sculpture indigo owl

fiber art owl

on May 18, 2015 13

on my work table

I’m working on a bunch of things all at once that I hope I can show you finished next week.  That’s the plan anyway – for the last ten days or so I’ve been working differently (p.s. still standing up) and it is having a magical effect….  I’ll tell you all about it on Monday. For now here’s a bit of what I’m working on:

A dastardly indigo fellow made from my most treasured pieces from Sri Threads. I love all the mending, the other hands and the layering and textures – so owly.

indigo owl progress

paper mache ship progress

paper mache ship and owl

And ships and boats and little passengers – spring is always for building ships.  I finished a large ship and owl and photographed them earlier this week – it’s been lingering here captainless and almost done for weeks. A note on photographing ships and boats – they move. They have sails so they twirl constantly  - to help them be still for a sharp photo I tie a spool of thread to the stern and / or the bow and then use the spool to position them at the angle I want and anchor them – the thread is easy to get rid of in a photo editor like  iphoto with the touch up tool.

paper mache ship

Pattern notes if you would like to make your own ships:

The template and pattern for all the ships is here ( I sligtly altered the side template of the large ship for this one – it’s easy to do).

And the owl captain pattern is here.

on May 14, 2015 3

my big creative year : audacious thinking

Thinking outrageously, hypothetically removing limitations and entertaining wild possibilities is a good creative exercise, a good thinking tool and I use it often to get unstuck or to work through an idea. But applying that kind of thinking to my life and work in a larger way has been difficult. This weekend I spent time thinking about this question:

What if I could do anything?

If money was no object, if there were no obstacles, no chance of failure or negative consequences – what would I do? I think truthful answers might be enlightening, there might be signposts and arrows among them but I find the question paralyzing.

I’ve never been good at thinking big about my life, my work, thinking audaciously. Big makes me nervous. And it seems to me that I endeavor in the other direction – so much of what I do, what I’m attracted to and what I create for myself is small, the world recreated at a more manageable and comfortable scale.

forest dioramaI find it hard to turn my practical brain off and I think a large part of me never wants to be caught with grand plans – a deeply ingrained belief that modesty is a virtue. I’m fortunate, one thing has led to another and all sorts of wonderful things I could not invent have occurred, it feels somehow ungrateful to reach and it is incredibly difficult and uncomfortable to really get my head around the question. My answers, my list, mostly doesn’t feel very audacious, it feels quite tentative in fact so I’m going to keep working on it – look harder. Getting myself to write anything at all was like pulling teeth, there were a couple surprises though – here’s what I’ve got so far:

I would paint and draw a great deal

I would learn to surf – nothing crazy- little waves

I would plant a garden

I would cook a lot

I would travel a little

I would wander a lot

I would take a hand built pottery class (that seems pretty do-able – I’m looking into it)

Actually – I would take lots of classes – I could fill the rest of my life with that

I would have dogs and cats and goats

I would make a picture book for children or maybe children and grownups

I would make dioramas

I would buy a very old house

I would swim often

I wonder if you ask yourself this sort of question – if you find resistance in your thinking or spectacular visions – I’m curious – if you feel like sharing please do.

on May 11, 2015 8

sketchbook : week 12

Week 12 in my yearlong sketchbook practiceI usually listen to music ( I have middle aged lady solo dance parties all the time) or podcasts while I work but I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to a sound machine app when I do my sketchbook work. And always the same sound – wind in the pines.  I find it peacefull and soothing in general  and it helps me settle into sketchbook brain more quickly – it’s become an important part ot the ritual.

sketchbook : week 12

on May 9, 2015 1

brutus magazine and my mother’s dresses

You may recall some months ago I was in a frenzy getting ready for a magazine shoot here.  I am very, very pleased and excited to be included in Brutus Magazine’s New York Makers feature.  Brutus is a Japanese culture magazine – it is always exquisite.  It was shot by  Yoko Takahashi and written by David G. Imber and Mika Yoshida - who made this happen for me – I’m truly grateful. I’m not sure if it’s available in the US just yet – I’ll update here when I know more.

brutus magazine : ann woodSeeing my Mother’s sewing machine in the feature made me think about what a long and interesting life it has had and how much she would have loved that. If you had known my Mother you would understand exactly where all those little birds came from.  She collected fabric for me – before I knew I wanted it – and I saved many of her dresses and scrap bags and still sew from them ( she had excellent taste). In honor of Mother’s day I put together a little collection of some of things I have made over the last nine years or so from my Mother’s dresses.

textile art bat

textile art songbird

handmade fabric bird
paper mache ship
handmade little bird

maude_2

on May 7, 2015 15

my big creative year : make believe

I pursued a blue fox through the forest this past weekend (the Adirondack forest- it was a glorious weekend – the first real feeling of spring up there). I had a fabulous time – I got muddy and scratched and poked by sticks, was tormented by flies and wasps, and kneeled in enchanted poop but it was marvelous.

textile art fox in the forest

I have spent much of my creative life in pursuit of the land of make believe, the world on the other side of the looking glass, down the rabbit hole, through the wardrobe….  It has always been something that captures and delights my imagination. I know what’s real and what isn’t. I’m pragmatic, practical and not terribly sentimental but I have spent a great deal of time and energy and resources to create a world, largely for myself, where enchanted creatures appear in the forest, or a ship might float through my open window. I wonder if I’m wired that way, I wonder if it was things I was exposed to as a small person, I wonder why I find the intersection of real and pretend so compelling – especially where pretend inhabits the natural world or where real is recreated, represented – like a soundstage, theater, dollhouse or diorama. The fascination has not diminished as I’ve gotten older, it has held on to me and I’ve given it more space, more time, more thought and more intention.

blue fox textile artMy weekend with the blue fox left me wanting more and wondering what else might happen to an elusive and elegant blue fox in the dark and shimmering forest – where is he going? What might he come upon? Whom might he meet?

on May 4, 2015 8

a sample sale and the alpha workshops auction

Please meet Pietro – he’s mean, green and not afraid of pattern. Pietro is being auctioned to benefit The Alpha Workshops  - you can find the auction here and more about the wonderful work that The Alpha Workshops does here.

textile art owl- fortunyAnd one other bit of news – I’m having a sample sale today - these are the sleepy lambs and goats I made while creating the sewing pattern – you can find them here. Or if you’d like to make your own the sewing pattern is here.

handmade lambs

sleepy handmade goat

on April 30, 2015 0
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