For weeks and weeks I’ve been occupied with lots of the things necessary to keep a making things business afloat and there hasn’t been much time for making things. I’ve worked on web stuff, book keeping stuff, teaching stuff, designed some things and did some press stuff (some fun things coming in the spring) among other things. All good and important things but I miss my time, my hours and hours in my place making things. This week I finally got back to it and made this dastardly fellow out of one of my favorite ever Sri Threads treasures – a thick striped gray wool flannel- just enough for one bad tempered owl. Also made from Sri Textiles – a curious spider, her legs are hammered iron wire – I use a little anvil. Skittering away with her bustle in the air. And new mushroom specimens – more of the signed and numbered edition. All these things and more will be in the shop in about a week- you can sign up for the mailing list if you’d like a notification. And I made a dress! My first ever – it’s a jumper / apron / pinafore / sort of affair. The older I get the more I dress like Holly Hobby and I’m OK with that – it’s contemporary Holly Hobby. It’s got pockets and french seams and I’m very proud of it -it was challenging and satisfying and I want to sew lots more clothes. I got the pattern here – there aren’t a lot of instructions but I was able to figure it out and I found a tutorial on french seams here.
I’m in a year of experimenting and shifting and being a beginner. One of my main life skills is being a good beginner – moving forward without a lot of attachment to outcome – being willing to act in uncertainty. From the perspective of feeling confident and comfortable The Squam Retreat is a terrible idea for me. The days are intense and challenge me in so many ways: I’m used to, and enjoy, being by myself. The idea of sharing a cabin with strangers for 4 days seems impossible. Teaching – speaking to a group – managing precious time for other people, all seem like giant mountains to climb. It was all so worth it – and then some. I had wonderful cabin mates and that was a big part of the experience – left to my own devices I would have missed that. Elizabeth Duvivier plans every detail of this experience thoughtfully, insightfully and expertly. I loved teaching- again. It got my wheels turning in new ways. I loved getting glimpses of other peoples imaginations and processes. I think there is a moment in learning a new skill or technique when doors open in your imagination – possibilities emerge and you experience an elusive kind of flow and focus. It’s inspiring and motivating to watch that unfold.
I came home exhausted and charged up at the same time. Four days out of my routine was valuable in so many ways. I did things I was afraid of, learned more about my own rhythms, got a million new ideas and made friends. Real Friends. The experience left me with a New Year’s day kind of feeling – a map of things I need to pay more attention to, ways in which I should be challenging myself more often, ways I need to grow and ideas that I have been consistently resistant to that I don’t just need to consider but should be marching towards. I did as much learning as I did teaching – from students and the class experience and from spending time with women who run creative businesses and run them beautifully.
It was my second time at Squam and the second time I was so engaged in the moment and the experience I forgot to record it. I’m so grateful to Andi Schrader for taking the wonderful photos below. She also made this little house - I love it and it is a perfect token of the experience.
Some glimpses of the botanical class through Andi’s lense:
(more photos after the break)
I’m headed to the Squam Art Retreat tomorrow to teach my botanical sewing class – I can’t wait to get started. I’m bringing a ridiculous amount of stuff with me – it’s like I’m moving. I’ll also be at the art fair with some of my botanical experiments and I’ll have the prototypes for the ship pattern with me too if you’d like to see or have a question, or just come say hi – the fair is always fabulous.
And some new Fortuny pieces – I just sent this group off to Venice.
Francesco and Alessandro
It has happened – my blog has moved – I am on the other side. I think having everything in one place is a much better and so much simpler solution and I made lots of other improvements that were overdue like secure on-site credit card payments in the shop, an overall better shop experience and backend-wise everything is a lot more user friendly for me. I moved over labor day weekend. Sarah Bailey of Spun Monkey handled everything for me and I would be lost without her – if you use wordpress you need her – can’t say enough good things about working with Sarah.
For the first post at my new blog address one of my favorite subjects: beautiful textiles from Sri Threads. A box arrive a little bit ago (they are always unannounced and unexpected) filled with inspiring treasures gathered by Stephen Szczepanek . I love unpacking the boxes – I make coffee, and put on music, (Johnny Cash for this box) I go very, very slowly and linger over each intriguing thing – thinking of what I might make.
I’m not sure what the piece above is – a cuff I think – I love the shape and the metal closure tabs.
The flannel pieces above are wonderful – the textures and the colors are so striking. There are also some wonderfully textured cream and ivory pieces of heavy cotton – perfect for the pale owl and white rat I’ve been wanting to make. All this color is perfect for toadstools too.
I’m making some little toadstools to take to Squam next week. We’ll be making toadstools in my botanical class and I’ll have some for sale at the Art Fair on Saturday ( at very special fair prices). I’m also bringing paper mache ships – if you’ve been thinking about trying the pattern and you’re in the neighborhhod come by and say hi and check them out.
I’ve been taking some time to wander around and pay extra attention to moss and mushrooms and other botanicals in preparation for my class at Squam this year (just a couple weeks away!). On my last excursion I spotted all sorts of mushrooms – most of which I’ve never seen before.
This yellow one with a spotted cap was the biggest- the size of my hand and intensely yellow.
These little yellow and black ( and kind of creepy) guys are tiny – less than an inch high.
I also made a little terrarium with a tiny fishbowl I found at a yard sale.
I’m looking forward to the class and the time in the forest and it also winds up a period of extreme busyness for me – I’m working on the botanical class, 2 new patterns, a special project for holiday 2015 and another for holiday 2014 among other things – all wrapping up in the next couple weeks. The last night of the Squam retreat (9/13) there’s an Art Fair - if New Hampshire is not too far for you I hope you’ll come say hi.
At last! I hope you make ships! And thanks so much for the encouragement and good wishes along the way – it helps. This is a huge pattern- 57 pages of photos and instructions, 3 templates – a Large Ship, a Small Ship, a Little Boat, a resource list and more. Make the three projects and then expand on that – you’ll learn how I make graceful shapes from cereal boxes and all sorts of other top secret techniques – you’ll make beautiful ships and get all sorts of ideas. You can find the pattern here or if you prefer on Etsy.
If you make ship I’d love to see, you can post here or send me a photo : ann at ann wood handmade dot com
There are also a couple little (very little) companion videos including :
Over the weekend I took the entire ship building /pattern making operation way upstate into the Adirondack park. Major progress was made and there where some setbacks too. If I had known how long this would take or how hard it would be I’m not sure I would have started, but I’m glad I did.
I’ve still got a handful of photos to take, a bunch to edit and lots of pages to layout but I hope the hardest part is done. I’ve been testing as I go along so I’m confident the instruction is solid and there’s a lot of it. Hopefully the patterns make it out into the world by the end of the week. This has been such an epic effort and learning experience and I’ll be very, very, happy when it is officially done and released and I’ll also be very excited to start the next pattern.
PS – If you’d like an email when the pattern is released you can sign up here.
A little collection of new creatures – I’ve posted them on Etsy just now (7/31). I spent the morning re -shooting them, I was disappointed with yesterday’s photos ( on the up side I learned some things about aperture) so now I’ve got to roll right into Flamingo making – lots and lots of flamingos…
Pecksniff (he’s got some fancy junk in his owley trunk)
(beautiful fabrics courtesy of Sri Threads)
I started this dark bird months ago and he ended up becoming more complex than I originally intended.
His underside is stitched and stitched. I like to have this kind of project, this kind of compulsive, repetitive stitching to pick up sometimes. I like to have busy hands when something is percolating in my mind or when I’m searching for an idea or part of and idea.
On the subject of inspiration: I listened to a great episode of “After The Jump” yesterday – Grace Bonney talks to wall paper designer Katie Deedy about her creative practices, where she finds inspiration and how she develops ideas. I love hearing about other peoples creative process and I could relate to everything Katie said. The work of being inspired is a constant and consuming process for me. I enjoy all of it – even when it’s difficult – the thrill of the chase I guess. I’m so curious what might be next, what surprises and odd intersections might reveal themselves. I do some of my best thinking in the tedious or deeply repetitive work of hand stitching or paper mache and I’m sure that’s part of my attraction to those mediums.
I’m also nearly finished with a big gray owl – I’m photographing all the newly finished creatures today and I’ll add them to my shop ( temporarily on Etsy) tomorrow (7/31).
And progress – this is a sneak peek of the little boat pattern instructions that is part of the paper mache pattern collection (it’s nearly done!).
Ann Wood Handmade ( my shop website) is getting a make over. And part of that makeover is to consolidate my blog and shop into one place. In a couple weeks the new site will be complete and everything will live at annwoodhandmade.com ( for now I’ll still be posting here). I’m making lots of improvements to the shopping experience and I like the idea of having it all in one place – just seems simpler. While the shop site is down I’ll be using my etsy shop for sales.