my big creative year : 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:

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”

Linus Pauling


And I would add this - have lots of ideas and write them down, record them.

Volume matters not because you’re bound to get lucky eventually but because asking your brain to generate lots of ideas keeps the wheels turning and the machinery well oiled.  It makes you ask the second question and the third and the fourth etc. etc. that will lead you to new places, lead you deeper into your imagination and your magic.



on November 24, 2015 0

gather ye scraps – the forest folk pattern is here


The forest folk pattern is in the shop. Little creatures that fit in the palm of your hand and are cozy in your pocket. I’m so excited to share this pattern with you – it is a satisfying project to make and, if you are inclined, a jumping off point for making all sorts of other creatures. The pattern has full instructions for a bunny and squirrel and with little modifications to the fabric colors and tail and ear patterns you could create skunks, beavers, gophers,chipmunks! raccoons….. you get the picture. I’d love to see what you make and you can send photos to ann at ann wood handmade dot com.

handmade forest friends

The squirrels and bunnies can be hand or machine sewn – I think hand sewing is best for beginners and it can be a nice travel project- I’m making lots for gifts this year – I pack up some cut pieces and sew them on the subway. The little bunny in the center is made from a worn cotton velvet that started its life with me as a skirt when I was in my twenties. About 15 years ago it became a pillow cover  and now it’s becoming a flock of little velvet bunnies because who doesn’t need a little velvet bunny? The velvet was more difficult than wool to sew but I couldn’t resist it.  (These creatures and some others are in the shop now if you  are not inclined to sew your own).

so long little bunny

so_long_bunnySo long little bunny!

forest folk sewing pattern
on November 19, 2015 6

sketchbook : week 35

Week 35  in my yearlong sketchbook practice.  I accidentally took a 4 week break from my sketchbook practice.  I wish I hadn’t. In a week that was impossibly busy it seemed like the sensible thing to do. I wish I had found a way to squeeze it in but it felt like the only option.  Once the wheels came off I slippery sloped into avoidance and stuckness.  At the same time I missed it – more and more – that little part of my day and all the good things it brings me even when I don’t feel like doing it.  I got back on track last week. Lesson learned I hope, about the perils of letting go of a discipline that is working for me.

sketchbook : week 35

on November 16, 2015 1

on my work table : a dark bird

dark bird progress

I’m working on a dark bird made mostly from an Edwardian bodice ( you can see it here). I wish you could feel the texture of the velvet ribbon – it feels like the silky top of a cat’s nose. The dark bird is one of several pieces I’m working on  - dastardly owls among them.  It’s been a long time since I made things for myself, for my own shop, it’s been a year of special projects, wholesale, collaborations and pattern making.

dark bird progress

dark bird progressThe wings are stitiched an stitched, it’s a slow and peaceful kind of sewing.   Her beak is carved from a twig – I use an exacto knife on a nice hard dry twig and then sand, stain and buff them. I think this bird’s feet will be made from paper mache. For a bird of this size (it’s one of the largest I’ve made)  and owls I use 16 gauge wire for the feet and leg armature. If you’re curious there is a full list of my favorite resources and supplies here.

beak carving

on November 12, 2015 4

my big creative year : the power of uncertainty

plasitc bag soaring

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 subconsciously – it is already a certainty. And often I feel myself bumping up against rigidity in my thinking because I’m headed somewhere that conflicts with what my brain considers a given, a known quantity or a proven or even familiar course of action. Certainty isn’t open, it isn’t creative and it isn’t curious – it doesn’t have room for possibilities and possibilities are magic.  I wonder:

What would the world look like if we could forget everything for just a moment?

What would my own possibilities look like if I could un-know all I believe about myself?


on November 9, 2015 4

very little bunny

little bunny
I love his littleness – he is just 3 and 1/2 inches tall and would be very cozy in someone’s pocket. I’ve been working on a sewing pattern for a basic forest creature body for weeks without success. I wanted it to be very little, detailed but not fussy and easy to make. After a bazillion drafts and failures I’m satisfied, very happy with this little fellow, and ready to dive into shooting the steps.  The pattern will also have little modifications to make a squirrel, and maybe some other pocket sized  little forest folk.

little woolen bunny

so long little bunny

So long little bunny! Check back for the pattern next week-ish or hop on the mailing list if you’d like an email when it’s ready to go.

on November 5, 2015 15

experimenting with dolls : a workshop at squam

ann wood doll workshop

Squam Art Workshops opened pre-registration for their 2016 offerings this week – there is so much good stuff. The Squam Retreat is always one of the highlights of my year and I’m extra excited about this workshop – Experimenting With Dolls :

Expressive, experimental, interpretive dolls. This is a class about possibilities, trying on ideas and most importantly play. We will explore a variety of traditional and experimental construction methods and materials including some of my favorite supplies and resources. And I’m bringing a huge collection of textiles to share – antique gowns and other garments, kimonos, lace, buttons and trims – all sorts of fabulous things with rich and inspiring textures and stories.

Find all the details for my doll workshop here and the registration details here.

antique garment linings

I’m already looking forward to it - especially sharing my collection of textiles and antique garments. Those old things are such a huge part of my  inspiration and process. I’m bringing heaps, all sorts of things to explore and play with – so many possibilities – a chance to let them whisper to you and maybe be taken somewhere unexpected.

antique garments

antique lace gown detail

If you have questions about the doll workshop or the Squam Retreat please use the contact form – happy to help and if you’d like to be notified of future workshops you can sign up here.

on November 4, 2015 1

star folk sewing pattern

The star folk pattern is here!  Six pink cheeked little stars ( including grumpy and shooting) and a sleepy moon to sew. They are lovely as ornaments or a garland and make a devastatingly sweet mobile. Devastating.  It’s an easy pattern – nothing complicated and there are tons of photos to illustrate the steps if you are a beginner  and a resource list.

star folk sewing pattern

If you don’t see the mobile video below click here to check it out.  I love the way the different expressions and the movement work together.


star ornament

shooting star ornament

starfolk sewing pattern

I hope you make stars!

on October 28, 2015 0

my big creative year : doll part 2 – fancy unmentionables

mini doll

I have lots of ideas for dolls ….. traditional, contemporary, maybe something mysterious or dark and ideas endeavoring in experimental directions. I’m excited about all those ideas but as soon as I started to play with the idea of dolls there was a very insistent desire to make a doll my 11 year old self would have loved. A doll with layers of fancy unmentionables under her gown, to have the fun of dressing her, to indulge in tinyness, detail, sweetness, minutia, sentiment and nostalgia. I got wonderfully lost in it, all the while feeling – more of this please.  I love her like you love a doll, an odd little doll.

antique lace doll slip

tiny doll

miss thistle

miss thistle

on October 26, 2015 11
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