Category: workshops

curious specimens

tiff : specimens

ann wood makerie

Constraints are interesting. So are intersections. We employed both elements in our warm up exercise at the mini makerie in Boulder last week. Each student received a mysterious box of supplies, a chunk of time and one instruction: a source for inspiration that shall remain a secret because it worked beautifully and I’ll probably do it again.

stitched collages

The compositions they created far surpassed my expectations and got wheels turning in all sorts of interesting ways for the entire workshop.

Immediately after the warm up we began creating our collection of imagined specimens: curious plants and creatures that exist at the edge of dream and reality. The workshop took place at At Hand Studio in Boulder, artist Fran Menely’s spectacular work space. As we began to think about inventing our specimens we explored her gardens for inspiration.

I loved spending 3 big days with 11 like minded individuals. Women who showed up willing to try stuff, experiment and collaborate. We spent most of the final afternoon photographing our work. We used found objects, specimen pins, old book covers (I grab them whenever I see them – such unexpected colors) and scavenged text to create mood and atmosphere that suggests the sort of dream world our strange specimens might inhabit, their imagined history.

cindy : stitched pods

tif: specimens

blair : pod and dragonfly

debora : nest

angela :mushroom and bug

fran : indigo mushroom

whitney : mushroom

abby : paper and fabric flowers

rachel : seedpod

tara : mushroom

karen : mushroom

dioramas in the forest and a third kind of image

squam diorama workshop

diorama workshop at squam

I think about thinking a lot. I think about imagination a lot. The mystery of it.  Creativity, art, inspiration, expression, all of that. I think about how it feels to get something past the filters. To get something that was inside on the outside in a way that feels complete and true. Seeable. With all it’s you-ness in tact.

That kind of expression is what’s on my mind when I’m preparing for workshops. The last two especially, Squam and the mini makerie. Both workshops had a strong focus on exploring and trusting your imagination and starting without knowing exactly where you are headed. Experimenting and responding.

I experiment on myself all the time, watch myself work, observe my own thinking and patterns, where I get stuck, how I unstick myself and I bring that experience with me. I also read a lot this spring and summer about art, imagination and creativity and that something else that doesn’t have a name. I came across the quote below in a collection of observations on Joseph Cornell’s boxes by Charles Simic. I love the idea of a third kind of image:

“There are really three kinds of images. First, there are those seen with eyes open in the manner of realists in both art and literature. Then there are images we see with eyes closed. Romantic poets, surrealists, expressionists, and everyday dreamers know them. The images [Joseph] Cornell has in his boxes are, however, of the third kind. They partake of both dream and reality, and of something else that doesn’t have a name. They tempt the viewer in two opposite directions. One is to look and admire the elegance and other visual properties of the composition, and the other is to make up stories about what one sees. In Cornell’s art, the eye and the tongue are at cross purposes. Neither one by itself is sufficient. It’s that mingling of the two that makes up the third image.”

– Charles Simic
Dime store Alchemy

I so recommend this book. I got it as a gift from my much older sister who is knitting me a sweater several years ago and it has been next to my bed ever since waiting for me.

I asked students to keep that in mind, the unnamable thing, the third kind of image, as the worked on their boxes in the forest at Squam:

*click the images for a larger view – there are lots of details.

squam diorama workshop

squam dioramas

squam playhouse

And just like that it’s fall. September has gone by in a flash and I miss the forest, especially my early morning walk along this path for coffee. Until next time.

“The real things are happening in the forest still.” – Charlotte Mew

 

natural history : a new workshop

natural history : a workshop with ann wood

natural history : a workshop with ann wood

* Update – The workshop has sold out but please add your name to the wait list if you were hoping to join – cancellations do happen. 

Registration just opened for “Natural History” a three day creative retreat with The Makerie in Boulder – September 22nd to the 24th.

Our assignment for our three days together is to create and document an imagined natural history. We will look for inspiration at the intersection of history, poetry and nature, working collaboratively as well as individually to create and photograph a collection of specimens.  We’ll use textiles, paper, found objects and a variety of other tools, techniques, materials and inspiration I’m bringing.

stitched botanicals

I’ll guide you through improvisational (and fun) exercises designed to spark you creatively, help you dig deeply into your imagination and generates ideas.  It’s a  spontaneous, “yes and” way of working – each action builds on the previous – you work with what shows up. It’s less about finished works and more about making connections and  recognizing serendipity and happy accidents when they appear. We will pull ideas and details from our experiments as a starting point for designing and making our plants and creatures.

blue beetle

mushroom specimens

hand stitched toadstool

perched fly

On our last day together we will style and photograph our specimens individually and as a group.  I’ll share tips for creating compelling compositions and moods, simple lighting hacks and other seat of the pants techniques that I use in photographing my own work.

This is a workshop about experimenting, collaborating, playing and getting out of your own way.  That is a life long daily challenge for me and I love sharing what I’ve learned so far. I hope I can help you be a more intrepid explorer of your imagination, reach past the territory you’ve already navigated and expand your skills for sharing that world.

Sounds like fun to me and I hope to see you there! If you’ve got questions please send me a message – I’m happy to help.

*registration has closed but you can still join the wait list here.

the positive snowball effect of finishing things and a new workshop

ann wood

It’s such a mistake to let too many unfinished projects pile up. The weight of all that isn’t done can really mess with a person’s momentum and momentum is key.  When it happens the only way through is to start finishing things – one at a time. This week I’ve been finishing stuff – big stuff and little stuff. A wooly edwardian owl was the first – he was nearly there so it was an easy win.

hand stitched owl

He’ll be in the shop next week with some songbirds and other creatures – you can sign up here if you would like an email notification when the new things are available.

Crossing just one thing off the list makes a huge difference, the shift is instant and it’s easier to tackle the next – as each task is completed momentum starts to snowball and replace the self perpetuating overwhelmed and stuck feelings.  My next project was finishing up my improvisational doll experiments – also lingering in “all most done”.

handmade dolls

handmade soldier doll

He stepped right out of a Jane Austen novel, one of her steady hearted colonels. I love him. And he is excellent at guarding books.

A large project got finished too,  creating a new workshop for this September.  Come see me in Boulder!

ann wood

That’s me – in my middle aged art lady uniform. The linen smock (by Cal Patch) really is my uniform – if you run in to me in Brooklyn or come to Colorado there’s a pretty solid chance I’ll have it on. This is my first 3 day workshop ever and it’s presented by the Makerie  September 22nd through the 24th.  3 days to explore something with a small group sounds marvelous. The title of the work shop is Natural History.

little fly

I can share all the details with you next week and registration will open then too. For now I’ll leave you with this very little fly I made to bring to Boulder with me.

stitched rutabagas and floating ships : sweet paul makerie 2017

hand stitched stitched rutabagas

The Sweet Paul Makerie is coming to Brooklyn!  And not even just Brooklyn but my neighborhood – a couple blocks from my place – so good. I taught a stitched botanical class in 2015 at the Philadelphia Makerie and had a marvelous time – it was a beautiful event in every way – every detail thoughtful and lovely –  so looking forward to the spring retreat. The class line up is great – you can see them all here. I’m offering 2 workshops – an intro to 3 dimensional sewing (a stitched rutabaga!) and ship building.

hand stitched stitched rutabagas

hand stitched stitched rutabaga

hand stitched sails

hand stiched floating ship

If you’ve got questions feel free – email me at info at ann wood handmade dot com and please put workshop in the subject line.

doll experiments from the workshop and tiny rag doll : print-edition

cedric randolf moth

tiny rag doll print pattern

Briefly – as there is much to cover today – the very first print pattern is in the shop. I’ve turned the tiny rag doll sewing pattern into a 16 page hand illustrated booklet accompanied by three pattern sheets. To celebrate this (for me) huge milestone – the first 25 purchasers will get some bonus items with their pattern.

mr. socks on vacation

It’s the first day of fall – it doesn’t feel like it but it will by Sunday and I’m looking forward to it – it’s been an airless summer in NY.  I got an excellent dose of forest, air and space at The Squam Art Retreat and so did mr. socks.  I also came back with lots of creative energy –  I love watching people move through their process and  getting glimpses into their imaginations. I taught two experimenting with dolls workshops and was impressed by the willingness to truly experiment and try things – to pick up a thread and follow it. It certainly isn’t easy but can take you to interesting and unexpected places. I’m deeply grateful to everyone who participated for their willingness to be open and vulnerable – I loved being part of it.  I’ve shared many dolls below and some were still being worked on – I hope to show you those soon- good things were happening…..

enchanted fish

Sondra’s enchanted fish

cedric randolf moth

Tif’s (dottie angel) gentleman moth –
“my name is Cedric Randolf. i am a moth, I fought in the Boar War. i am quite wise and quite old. in one eye i have a cataract, with my other eye i see only goodness”

rabbit girl

Rabbit Girl (in process) by  Tricia

moon

The moon – and all her phases…. by Jaime (fancy tiger crafts)

edwardian_lady

Vanessa’s Edwardian lady

(lots more photos after the jump)

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experimenting with dolls : a workshop at squam

ann wood doll workshop

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.

botanical workshop at squam art retreat

I got back from Squam on Sunday – tired to the bone, happy and satisfied. It was such a good time – 4 days in the spectacular New Hampshire forest making toadstools and seedpods.  And it really feels like summer camp, a bell rings for meals 3 times a day, the cabins are rustic and charming and have lovely fireplaces that are magically filled with logs when you’re not looking. The nights were cold and the days were warm – the perfect climate for me. I caught up with old friends, made new friends,  expanded as a teacher and came home inspired and full of ideas.

The student work was fantastic.

toadstools_1

enchanted toadstools

Thanks to lovely Christine Chitnis for the photos below and checkout lots more in her beautiful Squam post – you get a real sense of the place and the experience.

seedpods squam 2015

squam seed pods 2015

toadstools squam 2015

seedpod squam 2015

the makerie workshop and sweet paul magazine

sweet paul magazine

I spent last weekend in Philadelphia teaching at the sweet Paul Makerie. I came home equally spent and inspired. The whole Makerie experience was fabulous – fascinating people, spectacular class line up (I would have loved to take all of them) and it had Sweet Paul all over it – every detail thoughtful and exquisite.

I taught Stitched Botanicals – seed pod forms in textiles. Teaching is new to me and I feel my feet under me more each time. I had wonderful, generous, open students – willing and enthusiastic about trying stuff – I was blown away with what people made.

botanical textile art

botanical textile art at the sweet paul makerieGetting out of my cozy bubble once in a while is so good for me, this was, among other things, a gathering of like minded women, there was such a feeling of belonging and I learned a ton. I came home with a bunch of new ideas and feeling like my world got bigger.

makerie students

I’ve been a huge fan of Sweet Paul since he began way back in olden times (I make this mushroom dill sauce almost every week). Before the magazine there was a blog and then a digital magazine and now the gorgeous quarterly print magazine.

sweet paul magazine

 

sweet paul magazine

It’s exceptional – the kind of thing you save. Paul came to visit last October and I’m featured in the current edition. I couldn’t be more excited – there is an interview and pictures of my place and work. It was shot by Colin Cooke whom I loved. I’m terribly awkward about having my picture taken and he taught me a fabulous technique I call “laughing to the side” – check it out in the feature or see it employed on my about page.

my next workshop : Sweet Paul Makerie

My next workshop is open for registration. I’m teaching  Stitched Botanicals this coming April (11- 12th) at the Sweet Paul Makerie. You can get all  the  details about the weekend, classes (the teacher line up is spectacular – so many people I admire) and registration right here.

stitched botanicals

I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been a huge Sweet Paul fan from afar forever  – I worked with him earlier this year and was incredibly impressed and the Makerie retreats always look so beautiful. The spring retreat is taking place at the Antropologie / Terrain head quarters in Philadephia.  Hope to see you there and if you’ve got questions just email me.

stitched botaniclas

home

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.

little house

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:

botanical inspiration

andi's toadstools

suzan's mushroom

squam_toadstools

(more photos after the break)

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headed for squam

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.

botanical experiment

And some new Fortuny pieces – I just sent this group off to Venice.

rats

Francesco and Alessandro

piero

Piero

lorenzo

And Lorenzo.

the forest and squam art retreat

I sure do like to make something and then wonder around the forest looking for  a perfect spot to photograph it.  It’s an intersection I’ve always been attracted to. I finished this indigo fellow in the Adirondack Park over the weekend with a particular mossy stump in mind for his photo.

indigo owl

mushrooms

I also worked on my toadstool pattern and technique  – that is one of the shapes I’ll be teaching at Squam in the fall ( there are just a couple spaces left in the class – you can register here).  There are so many things I want to share in that class – so many possibilities.  I’m also excited that there is a free afternoon built into the schedule –  the forest at Squam is spectacular and it would be such fun to photograph what we create.

seed pod

I’m building lessons around shapes and techniques that can be used as jumping off points – like the toadstool shape, a  seed pod shape, a very particular way to create stems, root systems,  textures etc.

botanical_and_spider

I’d love to see you there – if you have questions I’m happy to answer – just send me an email.

P.S. – if you can’t attend the retreat but you’re near by or don’t mind traveling to New Hampshire – come say hello at the art fair ! I am already deep in preparations for that – It’s going to be an adventure.

 

 

squam art workshop

I taught a boat making  class at The Squam Art Retreat in the beginning of June.  It was my first time at  Squam  and my first time teaching anything ever.  Teaching was a leap of faith sort of thing and I think it went well – I didn’t spontaneously combust or anything and everybody made truly great boats. I liked teaching more than I expected to, so much so I hope to do it again soon – maybe here in NYC .  The class was held in the nature center – Sugar House – it’s a  camp so all the buildings have names.

squam classroom

I had wonderful students – skilled, generous and lots of fun.

julie's boat

I have written a few tutorials but participating in other people’s very individual processes, feeling their enthusiasm and having a peek into their imaginations was an interesting shift in perspective. I left with some new energy for my own work and pretty fired up about teaching again .

student boats

And  I made new friends  including some from right here in Brooklyn :  lovely and talented Jessica  Marquez – she has a book coming out in October ( congratulations!)  and   Rebecca Ringquist ,   I have  been a fan of her work for a very  long time  – she gave me two of her beautiful  hand screened embroidery samplers.

rebecca ringquist samplers

I wish I had taken more pictures. I saw the biggest weirdest bug I’ve ever seen in my life marching up a dock and did not take a photo.  The lake and the forest and the turn of the century cabins  are astoundingly beautiful and so up my alley – not one picture.  I was too busy having a fabulous time.  Other people took lots of great photos though-  there is a flickr group here.

Squam June 2012

(photo by Christine Chitnis)