(some of the little paintings below are available here)
Entirely nude, but for a threadbare whisper of a nightgown.
The gown is made from the sleeve of an Edwardian lawn gown – so simple to make. I just hemmed the top edge – gathered across the front side and added ribbon ties that go around her neck – halter style.
She is offered in the shop – along with a few other new things – as promised I’ve been adding at least one new thing every day and will continue to for as long as seems reasonable. For now she is happy here, she sits serenely, in her nightgown, silently judging that little ant who admires himself so constantly.
And something new on my worktable – an evolving rag doll creature. The texture thing is pretty ambitious and I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, it’s labor intensive even by my standards. But I do like the effect on him.
Before I tell you about the workshop I have to tell you that the squam art retreat, where I’ll be teaching it, already sold out in pre- registration – both spring and fall sessions (there is a waiting list and stuff happens in a year so …. contact squam to get on the list). That’s the bad news. The good news is – just today I learned of a scholarship opportunity being offered by Honey & Oak:
We are offering one spot to attend the Squam Workshops either for their Spring session (June 7th – June 11th 2017) OR their Fall session (September 13th – September 17th 2017). You get to choose what works best for you! In addition, we will provide a $500.00 stipend to be used towards Travel Expenses and Extras.
It’s a pretty sweet deal – find all the details on how to enter right here. You must enter by January 3rd.
And also – just so you know – September will be the 10th and last retreat – I’m sad to see it go – it has been a truly marvelous experience.
In my diorama workshop (fall 2017) we will explore the poetry and spirit of things. I’m bringing all sorts of things to play with and we’ll forage the magnificent fall Squam forest for natural elements too. The compositions that emerge might be entirely abstract or tell a story, they might reflect an inner landscape, an outer landscape or an intersection of ideas – intersections are always interesting places.
There is more info on the class and retreat here.
I hope your holidays are lovely,
Week 41 in my yearlong sketchbook practice.
Mind mapping and I go way back….. I first used it during the couple of years or so I spent trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, pre – this blog, pre – ann wood handmade. It helped me feel my way through, sort and evaluate ideas and then figure out steps to begin, to make stuff happen.
My brain is not a good place to keep things – ideas chase and distract me, things get lost, when my head feels cluttered I get overwhelmed and unhappy.
Getting stuff out helps me keep moving forward. My notebooks remain my most important tool for capturing ideas but for looking at the whole picture, making complex plans or experimenting with possibilities I find mind mapping incredibly useful. And I enjoy it – which matters – it’s fun, fun is good, fun gets me to do stuff. I use software or sometimes just pencil and paper – each have their advantages, the premise is the same for both:
Organize thoughts around a central idea.
Topics, sub topics and related ideas radiate out from the central idea and then branch off into increasing detail. That’s one of the big benefits for me – details go where they belong and I’m less inclined to become mired in, or overly focused on them. I use shapes and colors and lines and size to define or highlight ideas. I see connections and intersections, relationships and priorities that I might not otherwise have seen if I was working something out in my head or making a strictly linear list.
I started a new mind map this weekend. I’ve got a wicked summer cold, laryngitis, zero energy and large sections of me are covered in calamine lotion (unprotected walk in a swampy forest) – I’m wretched and itchy and generally poorly so I took to my bed on Sunday and played with Xmind all day – it’s free unless you want to get super fancy and I love it. It looks snazzy and you can add hyper links, images, reminders – all sorts of useful stuff. The image below is the beginning of my map (it has gotten much bigger) and I blurred some stuff out so as not to spoil any surprises.
My central topic is broad – my plans for the second half of 2015 – products, artwork, marketing, workshops, blog stuff – all of it. I’m just getting started and it’s already helping me generate new ideas and have a sense of direction and priorities for the rest of the year. I start messy and inclusive, brain dump style – and then refine – wether I’m working on paper or a program. As my focus gets clearer I start to add action steps. I love the structure around my ongoing projects and it makes space for new ideas. It’s not a to do list but it helps me build meaningful to do lists. Excellent and entertaining use I think, of an entire Sunday in bed.
P.S. When I mention or link to or recommend something here – books, websites, products etc. it’s because I think they’re interesting or awesome or I’m curious what you think about them – I don’t get paid for it, there are no affiliate links here. Just so you know.
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.
I’m still slogging away at the ship patterns – I’m through the armature making sections which is huge. Shooting for next week for release. If you’d like an email when new patterns are released you can join the list here. Sewing feels like a treat and a needed change of pace – way too much time with my computer lately. I’m working on a few new things.
These are mostly made from Sri Textiles – in a moody palette I find myself returning to again and again this year. There is also a wonderful bit of eccentric mending on the lower right.
The songbird is a little bit of a re- design. The songbird pattern was the only one I hadn’t backed up and I lost it – so frustrating. As soon as I finished the new design I found the old one in a mislabeled box. I’m glad I did it though – they’re different – the old shape is more stylized in a way I like and the new one has a more natural shape and I like that too.
And a button score! I used up what I thought was a lifetime supply of vintage and antique shell buttons – I use them for rigging ships and owl eyes. I’m back in buttons for at least a couple years I think.
I designed a new cake topper over the summer: Flamingos in Love.
I painted miles of crepe paper in very particular shades of pink and coral.
They are available in my shop now as well as at BHLDN. I’m also thinking of putting a “make it your self” kit together for these – what do you think?
I loved working with crepe paper and I’ve got something else for the cute department in the works – here are a couple sneak peeks:
Made from antique Japanese textiles – a gift from Sri Threads. And inspired by the little fragment of a garment in the photo below that would not stop saying rutabaga to me.
I spent last week in the Adirondack forest, by a lake. The house is called Road’s End and it is among other things, a former turn of the century cure cottage.
There are lots of sleeping porches ( to facilitate the cure) and I used this one for my work room.
It was glorious and I sewed a ton. And when I wasn’t sewing or sleeping or swimming or reading I hiked up things. The views were spectacular.
The view from Whiteface Mountain – a frightening 3,676 ft.
And I collected twigs and whittled some beaks.
The beaks were for two songbirds I finished and photographed there – here’s a peek at those:
It turns out vacations really are good for people. I don’t take vacations. I barely take breaks or days off- partly because it needs to be that way (so far anyway) and partly because I like to work and partly because I’m pretty compulsive. I did make things and sew my ass off but there were breaks and activities outside that and there was almost no internet – that may have been what was really vacationy. What a relief. A discomfort too – but less so after a couple days.
I came home with an organized and clear head; motivated and with something that was puzzling me figured out – I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.
Update: comments are closed, votes are being counted , winners announced later today.
Thanks to all of you – a panel of expert judges has, with difficulty, narrowed the field to twelve and a winner will be chosen by your vote. Also, as a thanks for your time, imagination and enthusiasm 2 prizes will be awarded – one bundled up bird for the caption contest winner and another bird will be awarded to a name chosen at random from the voters. Please vote by number (and only once) in the comments section of this post and I’ll announce both winners by the end of the day Friday.
“Now watch me friends, as I restores this lad to ‘is full strength with Dr. Bulfinch’s Magic Potion!”
2. gayle ortiz
They all agreed that, although it wasn’t the Ark, it had potential!
I heard that she will awake at love’s first kiss.
4. Jennifer Cheek-Payan
“Honest guys, he just fell”
5. Linda Richter
Okay, everyone! Take a minute and say your goodbyes. I’ll be sending you back to clean up your workspace and then get in your box. We will miss you around here! Make it work!
“Attention flyers, we would like to remind everyone that there is absolutely no perching in the loading and unloading zones.”
“Now witness, dear friends, as David Blainebird prepares to package himself alive for 6-10 business days! Don’t try this at home!”
Darlene had told only her best friend, Eliza, but by the time her mail-order groom was set to arrive, the whole town had heard about it.
9. Brian GadgetSponge
If only Henry had seen that it was a glass window…
10. Shelby Medina
Listen up birds! Look what they’ve done to Simon! We gotta blow this coop!
11. Polly Anna
Maybe we should rethink this destination wedding thing.
12. Janet Wilson
“Coming soon to a theater near you: Two Weddings, a Flashmob and a Funeral.”
I’m working on some new songbirds, hoping to finish today. They will be in the shop by the end of the week along with a small collection of other new things.
I’m working with linings. I pulled everything out and started thinking about them a couple days ago. I love linings – they are full of surprises. I’ll post progress over the next several days here and on facebook as I’m able – I’m taking all this and a bunch of other work on the road for a few days.
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful questions and generous comments. And here are your answers:
why owls? do they hold a special meaning for you?
The owls evolved out of the birds. When I was working out the bird pattern I tried to make one from wool that was much to heavy and the shape got wonky. It turned into a little owl. That made me think of a lot of other heavy wools and tweeds I had and how owly they were and I started making larger owls. For a long time I just made the same owl over and over again – ian – the first full size owl made in 2006 I think ( named for ian mcshane whom I love).
I am a huge fan of your work. And I would love to know if you take custom orders. For instance, I have my great-grandmother’s wedding dress, and I’m wondering if this would be something you could transform into an owl or other creature/creation.
Thanks so much!
Hi Shirley – Right now I’m not able to take custom orders. It just isn’t possible time – wise at the moment but I hope I can soon. I’d love to see your great grandmother’s dress.
Thank you so much for this opportunity! Your work is so inspiring and I am always amazed by the materials you use. How do you source them, do you have any headhunters for such fabrics?
Hey Ann, you are truly an inspiration to me, thank you. I have a question about your finds- WHERE ON EARTH DO YOU FIND SOME OF THESE PIECES?! They are absolutely breath taking. Could you by any chance give specifics on any of the stores (online, shops, etc.) where you hunt?
I’d like to know how you source your vintage materials, and could you explain your thought process? Thank you for doing this! (:
I find things all over and sometimes they find me. Looking for things is a huge part of the fun for me. I go to lots of flea markets locally and sometimes antique clothing shows. I have a couple dealers I work with and ebay is a great source too – I check daily. And people give me things – my friend Stephen Szczepanek sends me incredible packages.
Thought process : that’s a big question but part of the answer is : I love fabric. I always have. Even during periods of my life when I didn’t sew I collected it. And before that my mother collected it for me. I still have a stash of fabric she saved or collected for me – picked up at flea markets etc. Things full of memories and possibilities.
i have a couple questions:
1) you have a beautiful studio in new york city. i found the city to be so expensive! is this the sole source of income for you? (your work is amazing) if not, what do you do for a living?
This is my only source of income and it is hard. If I didn’t enjoy making these things so much it would be impossible. It would be much more reasonable to do this somewhere other than NY city and that may happen someday.
the drape next to your bed looks like it has been a work in progress over time, did you find scrap lace and hand sew them all together at once or did you just keep adding until you were satisfied (if you are satisfied yet!)? how long did it take to complete this? absolutely beautiful, ann.
thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions!
The drapes and curtains here are a functional thing but I do love the way they look. A couple years ago I started pinning bits of lace and dissected garments to them – as a way of keeping track of little bits – keeping them in front of me for inspiration. It has worked well and grown into something I really love.
I wanted to let you know that your work is so inspiring. More of a technical question: It looks like you do so much by hand. Is all of your stitching by hand or do you sometimes use a machine?
I use both hand stitching and a machine – a vintage white – it belonged to my mother and I learned to sew on it. I sew simple seams on the machine and more complicated curvy tiny things by hand. A lot of what I make is very small or has very small details. I also like to sew things inside out ( on the machine or by hand) and then turn them right side out, stuff them and sculpt the shape from the outside with hand stitching.
Wow thanks x
Have you produced a book and if not might you in the future.
I have not produce a book but I would very much like to in the near future.
Do you do workshops or tutorials.
I’ve been publishing tutorials on my blog for a while and will continue to. I’ll be teaching workshops for the first time in 2012 ( and also possibly something later this year too) and will share details on that soon. Send an email to info at ann wood handmade with workshop as the subject if you’d like to be updated on that.