Category: how to

starting where you are

I think if you want to make progress, find your best work and ideas, you must be willing to start where you are – as awkward or small as that might be.  I’m usually very willing to do that – it’s one of my main life skills (the other is that I am insanely persistent, relentless even, the cool hand luke of art and craft).  As soon as I started to compile the patterns I’m working on I realized that video instruction would be helpful – there’s nothing like a demonstration and it helps with language barriers on tricky steps. I have no video making knowledge or equipment beyond my semi  broken iphone and a part of a tripod I found in the trash  but I put something together with stuff I had around that’s working well enough and I wanted to show you in case you’re in need of a similar solution.

video settup

I used a table lamp clamp I got at a yardsale,  a wood clothespin and 2 file clips.  The clips slide in and out of the clothespin easily and I can position it in a bunch of useful ways – it’s getting the job done.  I’m looking forward to getting better but having fun being a mess and experimenting. The whole pattern making experience has put me into that curious and driven kind of place that I was in when I began  7 years ago.

Today I was taking stills ( I don’t use the phone for that) and making videos for the next pattern – paper mache ships and boats (start saving your cereal boxes). I’m hoping to finish the photography tomorrow morning, test the rough draft this week, put it all together over the holiday weekend and have it available just after that.

ship mast

ship romance

paintbox 7/29

paint box 7/29

The ships and boats are a very satisfying project to make and I’m excited about sharing it.

Thanks so much to everybody who has purchased the bird pattern. I’m putting a post together of birds made by y’all and if you’d like to be included you can send a photo to me at: ann at ann wood handmade dot com  (please put bird photo in the subject).

how to make a perfect bird leg

I keep adding things to the bird pattern. Last week I decided it needs videos so last weekend I shot how to sew the body, ( it’s the trickiest part) you’ll get a link to that with the pattern download. And today I shot “how to make a perfect bird leg”.

mason

It’s one of the things I’m most often asked about, the little bird legs, so I thought I would share that now as a gift. It’s my first ever video! It should be below  – if not click here.

How to Make a Perfect Bird Leg

*measurements are approximate for a bigger foot use more wire and create a bigger loop

* and one correction – if you find the 18 gauge wire to difficult use a HIGHER gauge wire – I incorrectly said lower gauge

tools and materials list:

18 or 19 gauge steel wire (hillman is my favorite brand)
floral tape (flora is my favorite brand)
needle nose pliers
wire cutter
hammer
hard surface

I hope you make bird legs! And stay tuned for the little bird pattern – it’s almost there. If you’d like email updates about new patterns and workshops etc. you can subscribe here.  Be sure to check the “make something” box on the signup form.

 

paper mache teacup pattern

A paper mache teacup pattern to  mark the 5 year anniversary of my blog, my experiment.   A  perfect time to say thank you and give you a present.

There is a template you can download here.  And lots and lots of photos and instructions.  If you do make teacups I’d love to see and you can upload a photo here if you like or leave a link to your photo in the comment section below.

ann wood teacups

What you need:

  • Click here to download the template
  • paste –  I use golden harvest wheat paste ( wall paper paste)
  • light cardboard – cereal or frozen pizza box is great and a bit of thicker cardboard for a base
  • newspaper – it’s nice to have different colors
  • scotch tape ( not the invisible gift wrap  stuff- the shiny sticky stuff)
  • glue – elmers, glue stick, hot glue  – whatever you like
  • pencil, scissors, exacto knife, and paint and brushes, glitter, fabric – whatever you’d like for decoration.

Click the photos for larger images.

Cut out the templates for the teacup, handle and bottom  and trace them onto your cardboard. I had the best results with a Kashi frozen pizza box.  Cut out your pieces and  very lightly and  gently score the the teacup where the dotted lines are on the template with the BACK of your exacto knife.

Make a very  tiny snip  – really tiny -just a 16th of an inch or so where the sections meet. Next bring the bottom sections together one at a time and tape together on the outside (the printed side). Then turn it over and taper the bottom inside.  Do this for each section – always taping both sides…….

Read More

things to do on a rainy day

rainydayship

I made the ship above  as a prop for a TV commercial a couple years ago.  I assembled some boxes and parts of boxes into a shipish shape and then added all sorts of stuff – pipe cleaners, dixie cups, part of a birthday crown, wooden ice cream spoons, buttons, felt, etc. etc. The castle collage below was for an ad as well. I think they would be fun for little people to make ( with some grown up help).

castleflat

Both  involve using the die cut sections of boxes for details .  I can’t resist a good piece of cardboard – I live near a fancy grocery and their recycling is full cartons and boxes with  interesting cutouts and shapes.

cardboard

paper mache boat pattern

And instructions. Epic instructions.  They just go on and on.  I hope to add more concise printer friendly instructions later but my Christmas brain just isn’t capable of it. We are making  Mediterranean inspired little sail boats with lateen rigging – a single triangular sail on a relatively short mast.

What you will need:
download pattern here
large cereal box
scissors
scotch tape
ruler
exacto knife
newspaper- 2 colors
wall paper paste
paint brushes
paint
skewers. dowels or twigs
string
heavy duty thread
needles – various sizes
fabric
buttons
glue


(click thumbnails for larger images)

Download the pattern here and cut it out on the dotted line – the solid lines are for scoring –  there are little triangles on one end  – you can fold those back to trace the line onto your cardboard and poke your pencil through the tip of the V on the pattern to mark your cardboard.

Use a ruler to draw the lines as shown on the pattern. I’ve highlighted the lines to score in red. Use the BACK of your exacto knife to score the lines in red and then gently bend the boat into shape…… Read More

new boats and castle press

fishingboats

The fleet here  is growing rapidly. I’m working on all sorts of new boats and ships and the little lateen rigged sailboats inspired by van gogh’s fishing boats are for you to make, I’m going to share the pattern and instructions next week. It takes me forever to work out the “how to” stuff but I think it’s pretty much there and I just need to test it on a couple people and photograph the steps. They are simple and relatively quick, I think you’re going to have fun making them.

Cardboard castle news:

Cardbaord Castle #2 is in the current issue of Elle Decor  – Japanese edition.  I get excited about any celebration of cardboard castle making and the entire magazine is lovely  so I’m pleased and flattered to be included.

cardboardcastle5

tiny tophat

How to make a tiny tophat (in excruciating detail).

What you will need: top hat pattern (click to download pdf), black poster board, scissors, manicure scissors ( for trimming the little curved bits),  elmer’s glue, floral tape, large paper clips, a light color pencil, a dowel or something for  curling the poster board  and black glitter.

tophatmaterials

Trace the 3 pattern pieces onto the black poster board and cut them out. I use a large paintbrush handle to curl all the pieces a little as shown below. I feel this step is key to your success as a tiny tophat maker. Next, overlap the edges of the cylinder about a 1/4″, glue, and clamp with a paperclip.

tophat1      tophat2     tophat3

When the cylinder is dry trim off any extra bits you might have so the bottom and top edges are pretty smooth, apply glue liberally to the top and bottom edges and place the brim and top.  I use floral tape to hold it all together while it dries.

tophat4       tophat5      tophat6

When the glue has dried trim off any excess on the top and brim and shape and smooth the brim with your fingers. Use the exacto knife to poke a hole in the bottom and then insert the little scissors to cut the opening.

tophat7      tophat8      tophat9

Paint it quickly and completely with elmer’s glue, give it a roll or shake in the glitter, leave it to dry and brush off the excess glitter with a stiff paint brush or old toothbrush. Finished!

tophatthumb

Hello tiny tophat!

play all day

I’m  pleased and excited to be included in “Play All Day – Design For Children” published this year by Gestalten. I’m also pleased to live in a world where you can have a blast making  castles out of old cardboard  boxes and on top of that! somebody will publish them in a lovely book.

It’s available at amazon now – check out  pages 48 and 49!

And a couple notes:

* Fill in the Blank Gallery is having a cardboard horse making workshop on Sunday, if you’re in Chicago check it out – all ages and skill levels are welcome and it’s free!!

* Henchard and some other new things ( including some ready made sweethearts and  a new set available to order)  will be in the shop sometime next week. If you are on the mailing list you will be notified when the shop is updated.

Cardboard Stampede

cardboard horses

Or: How to make a cardboard horse.

cardboard horses

In 2006 I started making cardboard horses. They were a self imposed assignment, a daily creative task intended to motivate and loosen me up, little experiments, paralysis prevention. My plan was to make a cardboard horse everyday, Monday through Friday until I had 100. I did and exhibited the group at Tinlarkin Los Angeles  in 2007. I’ve made 3 patterns, two adults and a colt, to share and I hope you make a cardboard horse or two or three or maybe a little family or maybe your own stampede!

What you will need:
pattern
cardboard- you can use any kind – I think a medium weight is good, I’m using cardboard from a gift box.
scissors
manicure scissors
pencil
hammer and one nail
buttons
thin wire
pliers
paint and brushes, glue, paper, fabric, lace etc. – whatever you like, whatever you’ve got.

First download and print the patterns, cut out the pieces and trace them  onto your cardboard.  I like to use a pair of manicure scissors for the difficult small bits – corners etc. I included an optional tail and mane in the pattern.  I’m foregoing those for this horse and will add a tail and mane of antique lace.

(Click the images for a larger view)

You can finish your horse with collage or fabric or pencil  – the possibilities are endless – but if you choose to paint  then paint both sides to prevent curling. I’m using latex paint for the base, adding some dapples from my water color box and some splatters of ink, you can use a stiff paint brush or old tooth brush. I used a fine sharpie pen to draw on a very simple  eye and mouth.

Next I’m adding the antique lace mane and tail using a glue stick ( or elmer’s glue if you prefer).
Once that is dry we’re ready to assemble.

Arrange the legs with the body sandwiched between and use the nail to make a hole through all three layers. You’ll need to put a piece of wood or heavy cardboard underneath to protect the surface you’re working on. Thread the wire through the button holes and then pass both strands through the legs and body. Thread both wires through a small button on the back,  pull it tight  and twist to secure and trim the extra wire with pliers. Add  another piece of wire for hanging by twisting it around the buttons. I like to give all my horses a name, this is Sebald, horse #101.

cardboard horses

I’ve hung sebald amongst the snowflakes with horse #71 winston.

You can share your horses here if you like:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/1315046@N23/
I’d love to see!

my friend

This is my friend Judah
3judah.jpg

Judah is three and he’s smart and funny and already good at paper mache. He’s fun to make things with and for; this was for him and so was this. Next I’m going to make him some version of a beanbag toss game I found in a McCall’s Needlework and Crafts magazine from 1970. You lay it on the floor and try to toss the frog to the lillipad, fish in the water, the bird in the nest and the ladybug on the leaves.

3game.jpg

I’ve posted the pattern and instructions here .

acorn how to

There have been a couple questions on the particulars of yarn/glue acorn making so here are a couple of tips based on my recent experience. First I wrapped the balloon entirely with one layer of yarn. For the first layer I thinned the Elmer’s with a little
water and painted it onto the balloon, and then the yarn, soaking it completely through. I let that dry over night ( this is by far the hardest part for me). For the second layer, balloon still in tact, I used the glue full strength, painting it on in small sections and pressing the yarn in so the surface stayed glue free an pretty. The second layer took most of the day to dry (agony, again, for me) then I popped the balloon, separated the sections with an exacto knife, and though it was sturdier than expected I reinforced the inside bottom, top and hinge point with a little wool felt. For kids I recommend thicker yarn than I used for the base.

Here’s the second layer in progress. It’s important that the balloon is still inside because the first layer softens again.
3acornhowto.jpg