Category: birds

visible mending and a victorian bird

mending

In 1978, Soviet geologists discovered a family of six, in the vast and wild Siberian forest. They had been living there, in a cobbled together shack by a stream in complete isolations for 40 years. They missed World War 2.  Geologist Galina Pismenskaya recalled her first encounter with the family:

“The low door creaked, and the figure of a very old man emerged into the light of day, straight out of a fairy tale. Barefoot. Wearing a patched and re-patched shirt made of sacking. He wore trousers of the same material, also in patches”

I wanted to share the story with you because the details of their life and survival are astounding – you can find the article here.  And the image of the old man’s clothing grabbed me – I guess you could call it extreme mending.  Mending is fascinating and I think so often beautiful.

My policy on possessions is have good things you love, not too many, and keep them for a long time. I almost never buy clothes. There are a just a couple exceptions – every once in a while I buy a smock dress from Cal Patch and wear it relentlessly.  First there was this one and then last summer this one.  It’s my uniform – I like having a uniform.  Most of what I have was given to me and much of it I’ve had for a long time. I mend things, make do, re-use and repurpose. I like the practicality – economy and the aesthetics.

The blue jacket was given to me 15 years ago I think – I wore the sleeve edges ragged and I’m patching them with lovely old cloth from Sri Threads.

mending

The green jacket above I’ve had for about 20 years – it has lot’s of issues but not enough to let it go – I’m patching it with gorgeous Fortuny scraps.  I’m partial to flannel shirts and the red plaid above is a favorite – besides the ragged sleeves (I’m hard on sleeves) It had a big hole under one arm. Nothing says success like an underarm hole.  I patched it with a 19th century dress maker’s scrap.

dress mend

And the dress above – also a hand me down – is one of my most adventurous mends. The bottom of the skirt had a big section with glue or something spilled on it. I cut it out and sewed in a section from a cotton camisole. There was a little button loop and I left it at the bottom and added a button to the seam so I could pull the hem up. Pretty fancy.

me and moose

And Moose – there has to be a photo of Moose and she sort of agreed to participate. She visited here all week – such a good kitten.

In other sewing news – I finished the victorian bird! 9 years after starting – but still – so good to get it done.

victorian bird

victorian bird

victorian bird

 

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.

gift tags and a caption contest – updated

ann wood birds

ann wood birds

update 12/17 :

Thanks so much for your wonderful imaginations – so many good captions!  And there was – by unanimous decision – a tie – so 2 birds will be awarded.  And the winners are:

Debra : “Four calling birds, three acorn caps, two spools of thread, and a pincushion filled with many needle sharps!”.

And Bach Hanes  :  Everyone ready? Let’s get the flock out of here.

Thanks again to everybody who came up with a caption.

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I sure do like to make a little bird, put an acorn hat on it and take its picture.  I love the photos in part because everyday things are transformed into little  bird world things – I imagine their perspective and peek into their world and wonder what they are up to…

What do you think they are up to? Make up a caption for the photo above and leave it in the comments of this post.  An esteemed panel of judges will choose a winner who get’s their very own bundled up bird. Everyone is welcome to participate.

bundled up bird

little house gift tagsAnd gift tags! A little yellow house in the forest – print them on card stock, fold at the roof and add a little glitter and a string or ribbon.  Click here to download the little house tags.

A couple notes:

* The red ribbon in the photo above is 4 mm silk ribbon – I love it – you can get it here.

* The pattern for the little birds is here.

* And the little birds in the photo are in the shop now and I restocked a couple bunnies and squirrels too.

19th century surprise in a phoebe nest, fungi and a newt

newt

I sew in a little house in the Adirondacks as much as possible in the warmer months.  And every year (so far) Eastern Phoebes build a nest under the roof overhang and have little Phoebes – sometimes two broods in a season.  I love watching them. This year I got a chance to examine a nest up close for the first time.  It is a beautiful, delicate, thoughtfully made thing – one little bit at a time (Phoebe’s are pretty small).

phoebe nest

I don’t notice the thread or wool stuffing that floats away while I’m working but apparently they do and there it was, woven into the nest- the soft wooly stuff right on top for warm comfortable babies.  And below that there was another nest ( each brood gets a fresh nest)  with a bit of tulle  from a 19th century gown and Japanese indigo threads. I’m so pleased they found it useful!

phoebe nest

adirondack forest

I also wanted to share  a couple photos from a walk I took in a part of the forest I hadn’t explored before, a long walk off the path and through the wild stuff. The smells were incredible and I saw things I had not encountered before –  like this strange pinkish thing – I discovered later it’s coral fungi.

coral fungi

newt

And I ran into a newt – a lovely little red eft who graciously let me take his picture.

on my work table : bright and happy things

little birds in progress

little birds in progress

For the last week or so I’ve had lots of happy, sweet, festive things to work on.  It is a lovely thing that I hear from women who had my  caketopper birds for their wedding and would like a little bird for their child and so I’ve been making special birds for little girls. Two were for a birthday cake and had fancy party hats.

tiny party hats

party hat birds

birthday birds

I had so much fun making the hats. I love mini and I love crepe paper – it is magic stuff.  I’m working on a little girl size version of the paper feather crown  and I’ll share the instructions for that soon – everybody needs a feather crown.

birthday party birds

winter continues

fairy path

I still enjoy bundling up a couple little birds and taking them out for a photo in Prospect Park. 9 years in, I still enjoy it. Even on a day as frigid as it was – I think they enjoy getting out…..

bird adventure

bird friends

* Find the sewing pattern to make your own bundled up bird here.

So far it has been a pretty wintery winter and this feels like the depths of it. I’m having persistent fantasies of warmer days and the smell of the forest.  I took the photo below in the Adirondacks and it’s one of my favorites. It’s an enchanted  spot – I would not be surprised at all to see a fairy or an elf or a gnome  appear on the mossy little path.

fairy path

 

birds made from my pattern

becky's bird

I’ve collected a few images of birds made from my pattern to share- people have made wonderful, imaginative birds and taken fabulous photos:
becky's bird

 from Becky – “the stand off”

christina's bird

from Christina – Daisy Chain Creations

amanda

from Amanda – Hanging by a Thread – A snow scene!

irene_b

In Dots – by Irene (love the tags)

karen

from Karen- these are so sweet- checkout the satchel on the bird in the center

abby's bird

and a thoughtful little bird in the garden by  Abby Glassenberg!

little birds : a sewing pattern

bird pattern

The little bird sewing pattern is finally here! My goodness- it was an epic effort – this first pattern. I hope you enjoy it! You can purchase it here.

little birds : a sewing pattern

Little Birds includes a link to the  free video tutorial  “how to make a perfect bird leg” – useful with this pattern and for all your bird leg needs as well as a link to a video on sewing the bird body that you will receive within the PDF when you purchase the pattern. I hope you make birds! If you do I’d love to see – you can post photos here if you like. And if you’d like to be notified when more patterns are available (there is a ship on the horizon…..) you can sign up here.

a history of birds

*This is a long post and there are a lot of birds in it.

I’ve been working on a pattern for my little birds and as I’m reaching the end of that long process of drafting and adjusting the pattern, shooting the steps, writing the instructions, testing the pattern, compiling the files and materials and resource lists etc., etc. I’ve been thinking a lot about my long history with these funny little fabric birds. Releasing this pattern feels like a big step in that history and involves some letting go.

bird work

The things I make are a large part of my identity and that is maybe even a little more true of these earnest little  birds. They came about sort of accidentally – it’s funny how one thing leads to another and strange things you could not invent occur.

How I came to Make Thousands and Thousands of Little Fabric Birds

 In the fall 2005 I happened into a ruined Edwardian gown. I wish I had a photo. It was in pieces and all of it too delicate and  too fragile to even display.  At the same time I was designing a holiday window for a shop on Orchard Street. The gown was shimmery and twinkly and I wanted to incorporate it. The featheriness of the fraying fabric suggested birds and I began to experiment with sewing a bird shape. I counted – I made 60 failures before I came to a shape that sort of worked. The first birds were fancy: miss haversham on the left and bertha whimsy emerson on the right.

fancy birds

I hadn’t intended to sell them but people wanted to buy them so I did and then I made more.

more birds

And more. And more.

grooms

I also photographed them. They went to summer camp,

campers

put on plays,

red_ridinghood

Read More

ship work and a dark bird

Spring really fires me up and I’m having a super busy and super productive month. Besides all the air and freshness the extra daylight in the evening makes such a difference.

lilacs

I find I  work best early in the morning to mid afternoon and then I usually get a significant creative second wind between 5 and 8 PM – how about you? Other people’s creative practices are always interesting to me.
A couple progress photos for you:

dark bird
sails

A  dark, crow-ish sort of bird and and sails for several new ships. I’ve been saving that antique embroidered cuff on the lower right  for 6 years- waiting for just the right ship. I’m finishing the first full sized, multi sailed extravaganza sort of ship that I’ve made in a long time tonight and I’m excited to photograph it  tomorrow – excited enough to get up extra early.

owl work

I’m  working on some new owls – a  new smaller owl shape for me with some new details.  I’ll finish these tonight and photograph them in the morning . They are part of my “new creatures” update tomorrow ( friday 3/28 ) evening.

owl work

And onother new shape –  a hummingbird – a bit larger than a real hummingbird but still quite small, she fits in the palm of your hand.  The bird and owls are made mostly from Sri textiles – I love this muted palette.

hummingbird

 

 

 

laurent

Another new creature Laurent ( all my rats are french) and a blue owl.

blue owl

junk in the trunk

 

He’s big and blue and  bad, and has some junk in the trunk.

on my work table

grey_sri_owl

Owls. And a blue velvet songbird.

I get pretty excited about fall and to celebrate I pulled out my houndstooth wool.  I’m also working on a blue velvet songbird and another owl  made from a  textile from Sri Threads.  It is one of my all time most favorite fabrics – I can barely stand to use it. I think if I had miles of it I would never get tired of it. Here’s a closer look – it’s a thick  heavy weave and the pattern is incredible.

And I made a little more progress on the songbird.

Another fall ritual for me is taking a group of little birds out to prospect park for a photo ( I do it every spring too).  It was a big adventure.

song bird preview

These songbirds ( and probably one more) all made from vinatge and antique garments,  as well as forest flower ballerinas will be available  in my shop tomorrow at 11 AM ( new york time) . Also,  I have a new and  much speedier checkout  – you no longer need to create an account if you prefer not to – just enter shipping and email and you’re done. Existing customers can still log in as usual.

houndstooth songbird

teal songbird

antique teal jacket The teal songbird is made from this antique jacket.

black bodice songbird

antique bodice with fancy red silk trim

And this black songbird is made form this antique bodice.

There will be an owl and ship update on Tuesday Septmber 4th at 1 PM ( new york time) and you can check back here on Monday for previews.

forest ballet

Earlier this summer, on another trip to the Adirondack park,  I made and photographed ( in front of my favorite mossy stump)  a little troupe of forest fairy ballerinas.

forest ballet

The ballerinas:

miss daffodil

miss daffodil

miss fern

miss fern

miss rose

miss rose

The ballerinas will be available in my shop on Thursday at 11 am ( New York time).  Lately I moved ann wood handmade to a new server  and this is long overdue -my old one could not handle the spikes in traffic that come with shop updates so I have been unable to share the date and time of updates to try to keep it manageable. I have felt unsure about how to test my new server  in any significant way  but I thought  of  a plan while I was away last week : it’s a particularly quiet end of summer week  and a  holiday  weekend ( in the US anyway) so I’m going to have  a couple small shop updates  and share the date and time – here , and with my mailing list and facebook – I’ll share the whole  schedule  and another  preview (songbirds) tomorrow.