Category: birds

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

brutus magazine and my mother’s dresses

brutus magazine : ann wood

You may recall some months ago I was in a frenzy getting ready for a magazine shoot here.  I am very, very pleased and excited to be included in Brutus Magazine’s New York Makers feature.  Brutus is a Japanese culture magazine – it is always exquisite.  It was shot by  Yoko Takahashi and written by David G. Imber and Mika Yoshida – who made this happen for me – I’m truly grateful.

brutus magazine : ann wood

Seeing my Mother’s sewing machine in the feature made me think about what a long and interesting life it has had and how much she would have loved that. If you had known my Mother you would understand exactly where all those little birds came from.  She collected fabric for me – before I knew I wanted it – and I saved many of her dresses and scrap bags and still sew from them ( she had excellent taste). In honor of Mother’s day I put together a little collection of some of things I have made over the last nine years or so from my Mother’s dresses.

textile art bat

textile art songbird

handmade fabric bird
paper mache ship

make your own birds

Find the pattern for the little birds here and the merry wobblers here.

handmade little bird

maude_2

winter continues

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

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!

on my work table

Sewing feels like a treat and a needed change of pace, I’ve spent way too much time with my computer lately. I’m working on a few new things.

sri creatures

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.

sri songbird

sewing pattern for a textile songbird

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.

get the songbird sewing pattern

vintage_buttons
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.

little birds : a sewing pattern

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

little birds : a sewing pattern

get the little bird sewing pattern pdf

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. And make a bird size top hat just like the caketopper bird above is wearing – find the free tutorial right here. I hope you make birds! If you do I’d love to see – use #annwoodhandmade or #annwoodpattern on instagram. And if you’d like to be notified when more patterns are available 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

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.