Category: workshops

france, battling natsubate and pushing the songbird pattern across the finish line

textile toadstool in the south of france

Natsubate, I definitely have it. It is a Japanese word that can be translated as “summer fatigue”. July is almost always lazy and slow for me. There is no talking myself out of it. I should probably start planning for that. Besides the seasonal aspect, the natsubate, giant projects almost always have doldrums, usually near the end, when the hard part is done. A massive wall of resistance rises between me and the little last details.

That stuckness is cemented by ambiguity. Specifics, specific tasks, specific goals and time frames move things forward and support momentum.

hand stitched songbird progress

That’s where the songbird pattern has been,  trapped in a perfect storm of inertia: July, just the fussy boring details left to do and a lack of structure, a lack of plan to complete those. There is also, I’m sure, an element of brain fatigue, the backlash for having not taken a break for a while, not letting my mind and focus muscle rest. A few days out of my routine being tossed about in salt water helped with that.

And I can fix the lack of plan part while still accounting for my seasonal dip in energy and focus by applying James Clear’s method, reduce the scope, stick to the schedule. I’ll devote a couple golden early morning hours each day to a specific lists of tasks. When I broke down exactly what I needed to do on paper it was suddenly clear that would be more than enough to push this pattern over the finish line and into the shop. That clarity was motivating on its own and to add some accountability to further inspire me I’ll tell you that the finish line is Tuesday, 7/17.

corde sur ciel : france

Now let’s talk about France a little bit. France gets a big thumbs up from me. I suspected it would be good but it was beyond my imagination. Good job France, you really brought it. I was so completely engaged in the experience I hardly took any photos but I’ll share what I’ve got below and you can find more on french general’s instagram feed  (scroll down a little for Corde Sur Ciel).

textile toadstool in the south of france

I’m planning now for a longer stay next summer. You should come. If you think you might like to let me know – and I’ll keep you informed as plans solidify.

Have a beautiful weekend and I’ll be back on Tuesday to share the songbird pattern. At last.

dioramas at squam

diorama detail

If you visit here often you know that June was mostly a traveling and teaching month for me beginning with a diorama class at Squam. It’s a fun class to teach and I always learn a bunch too, in preparing as well as the class experience. There is always magic in that class. The magic in people who show up for it and experiment, magic in that forest, and always in that gathering.

play house gathering at squam

It continues to be one of my most favorite places.  Elizabeth Duvivier invented Squam and she invented me as a teacher.  She was willing to give it a shot so I was too. Teaching continues to change and expand me like nothing else. The students this spring experimented and stretched, were open and willing and supported each other, I loved being part of it.

charming assemblage figure

diorama detail - antique bottle with lichen

squam diorama figure

diorama detail

Gathering things for this class is an adventure and I love having permission to roam around and acquire lots of lovely old things to share. Things I feel some spirit in. And there is also so much to find in that giant oak forest.  After class I like to wander around and look for the intersection of real and make believe that intrigues me so much.

tiny rag doll in the forest

a little hand stitched toadstool in a big forest

P S – I’ll be back at Squam this fall and I’m in the planning stages for 2019 workshops now and will be headed South for the first time. I’m rolling ideas around for that – what would you like Southern friends?

the sudden appearance of a third toe and a workshop in brooklyn

bird foot made from paper and wire

The truth is I thought birds had two toes. Some birds anyway. I was aware that many birds had 3 toes but, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I thought that there were also lots of birds with two toes. The actual number is much closer to zero…

I stand by my two toes. I think two is exactly the right number of toes for birds who go camping and put on plays and get married in the forest.  Exactly the right number of toes for ballerina birds and pirates.

bird foot made from paper and wire

And I have lately decided that 3 toes is the appropriate number of toes for my more realistic songbirds. How to add the third toe was a puzzle though. I failed again and again, rejecting methods that were too complicated or unreliable.  Last Sunday I landed on a simple and elegant solution, a method and a realistic three toed bird foot I am thoroughly pleased with. It’s going in the pattern. PS – I haven’t given up on the cast foot – it is in the works – more on that soon.

hand stitched birds

handmade fabric bird

And I’ll teach the three toed method at my next songbird workshop, my first ever in NYC, and right down the street from my place! Come to Brooklyn for a two day songbird workshop on June 2nd and 3rd at Brooklyn General.

find all the details and register here

And if you’ve got questions send me an email, I’m happy to help.

friends who sew – the LA workshops

ann wood rag doll workshop

ann wood rag doll workshop

We made songbirds and dolls. We stitched and stuffed and tried stuff. We hammered wire bird feet on a tiny anvil and carved beaks from twigs. I repeatedly cautioned everyone not to cut themselves and then I was the only one who did. The days were packed and exhausting and there was a big salad and baked treats each day. French General is a good place. I’ve demanded that they let me come back and we are working on something special for October. Stay tuned or sign up for the mailing list if you’d like to be the first to know when registration opens.

There were three classes – the rag doll once and the songbird twice. Each class was completely full and everybody was a pro.  It was like a dream, a room full of serious stitchers. I usually invite beginners too (and will again) but these one day classes were so ambitious I did not.

ann wood rag doll workshop

Sewing, as a group activity, is a lovely thing.  I felt at home at FG and with the people who showed up to sew. It makes everything easy.  And fun. I had fun. I hope everybody had fun. I can be kind of a slave driver and it was a lot to ask of people.  A lot of work and a lot of thinking, right up against the edge of what’s possible to do in a day (by the way – the follow up stuff will be emailed to you in a couple days – reviews of some of the tricky stuff and instruction on a couple things we didn’t get to like very easy shoes for dolls).  And big thanks, to each of you who took the time and precious energy to show up and try something.

I was so busy and engaged  I took almost no photos. I so wish I had, the more than 50! birds and rag dolls were wonderful and the shop is beautiful and full of fascinating things.  Thanks so much Jennifer Serr for the rag doll class photos. And here are some of the songbirds in various stages of blast-beruffled plume-

ann wood bird workshop

And a couple in their natural habitat.

work shop bird by mary stanley

(bird by mary stanley)

(bird by jill burgess)

This was a  was a big and expanding experience in lots of ways.  Teaching is good for ideas, for thinking in general.  And for being part of the world which I do enjoy occasionally.

two new workshops : songbirds and elegant rag dolls

This March I’ll be teaching three all day workshops at French General in Los Angeles. Songbirds (sold out) on the 24th and 25th (the same class offered twice) and Elegant Rag dolls (sold out) on the 23rd. Registration is open and you can find all the details at French General.

Songbirds
Come make songbirds with me. I’ll guide you through the process of sewing, stuffing and sculpting the basic shape, creating natural looking layers of feathery textures, embroidering features, carving beaks, sculpting feet and giving your creation spirit and “birdness”. I’ll also share my some of my favorite supplies, top secret tips and techniques and some treasures from my collection of antique textiles. Basic sewing skills are needed, we will be stitching by hand and machine.

Elegant Ragdolls
Mysterious girls with secrets. The details make me happy, front bustles revealing a scandalous amount of leg, slippered feet, fancy underthings and elegant chignons. I’ll guide you through the stitching and stuffing and details and share my favorite supplies, top secret tips and techniques and some treasures from my collection of antique textiles. Basic sewing skills are needed, we will be stitching by hand and machine.

I hope to see you there!

 

workshop news

goddess doll

Squam Art Retreats announced their 2018 workshops and opened pre- registration this past Monday (If you are on my mailing list you were the first to know). I’m teaching in both spring and fall next year.

ann wood : diorama workshop

My spring class will be dioramas, creating 3-dimensional compositions, shadow box assemblages, small worlds of our own. We will explore the poetry and spirit of things. You can find the details and registration information here.

In the Fall I’m teaching experimenting with dolls, all sorts of dolls. It’s a class about possibilities, trying on ideas and most importantly play. A “yes and” way of working, starting before you know where you are headed.

ann wood : doll workshop

We will draw inspiration from our own experience as well as how the figure has been represented throughout history (I’ve been particularly interested in goddess figures lately) and explore the art, sentiment, nostalgia and spirit of dolls – all they can mean and be.

ann wood : doll workshop

In both cases I’ll bring everything you need for the class which is madness and also fun, the hunting and the gathering, imagining what you might like.  For the diorama workshop I do ask that people bring an item to share and an item they might like to use. I taught this class this past fall and there was a fascinating array of things, I love looking at people’s stuff.

If you aren’t familiar with the retreat checkout their instagram feed here and you can find all the details on both retreats here.

In other news I’m putting together at least one workshop on the west coast for next year (stay tuned for news on that)  and in June I’m headed to France with The French General. That trip is currently full but send me an email if you would like more info or to be on the waiting list.

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)

Read More

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.