Category: paper mache

make a ship for mr. socks

free paper mache ship pattern

paper mache boat

Mr. Socks is going to sea in his very own ship. I made it using my free paper mache boat pattern with a couple changes. If you’d like to make your own follow the original boat instructions but to make it just right for Socks use:

this slightly smaller template

and this sail pattern

(a note on sail making – there are instructions here if you need them)

a ship for mr. socks

Socks is the kind of cat that does just what he wants so he is off to Paris for a holiday in his brand new ship.

mr. socks goes boating

mr. socks goes boating

mr. socks goes boatingau revoir mr. socks!


bundled up birds and paper mache teacups at anthropologie

ann wood anthropologie teacups

I’ve been wanting to tell you about this for ages. I began working with Anthopologie last fall on a couple projects for this holiday season – paper mache teacups and bundled up little fabric birds.

ann wood anthropologie birds

They are both items that are near and dear to me and I have a particularly long history with the little birds – it began more than ten years ago. I walked into Anthropologie on Fifth Avenue today and there they were – lots and lots of familiar little birds looking back at me. It was a little disorienting and it’s kind of a funny thing to think about – how many little birds and teacups there are in the world now.  I am not someone who thinks in quantity.  I think its a good thing though  – a good thing that there is a place in the bigness and busyness of the world for paper mache teacups and earnest little fabric birds.

ann wood anthropologie teacups

There are two birds and two  teacups – one a souvenir of Paris and the other New York City. The insides have festive stripes and dots and are sparkly.

ann wood anthropologie teacups

I had fun making them – loved painting the illustrations for the cups.  You can find the birds and teacups online and in stores – you can find Anthro’s entire ornament assortment for this year here (there is lots of fun stuff – including an oyster by Tamar Mogendorff).

Or if you like you can make your own. Find the pattern for the teacups here and the little bird sewing pattern here.

paper mache, equanimity and a tiny gentleman sailor

paper mache ship work

Paper mache is good for my brain and spirit. It requires just enough attention – all those little pieces of paper – It’s a very effective antidote to stress and anxiety and good for percolating ideas – my hands are busy and my mind wanders gently around. It takes me a little while to settle into it but it never fails to bring a quietness and presentness – a sense of equanimity- whatever might be swirling around me. I think its meditation sneaking up on me.

paper mache ship work

I’m building ships and boats – besides the psychological benefits I miss having them around – I’m currently ship-less. The large ship above is made using this pattern with a couple modifications to the side and back templates. I’ve started the second layer of newsprint over the first of brown paper. I don’t usually wait for one layer to dry before starting the next and 2 layers should be enough for this ship.

The very mini boat below is an experiment – I wondered if the little felt boat pattern template would also work as a paper mache armature – it does! I taped it together with lots of masking tape and added two coats of paper mache. It’s so little the paper mache part was quick – about 15 minutes per layer.

little sailboat

gentleman sailor

If I was starting over I would have made the little boat 10% bigger – it shrunk a bit when it dried so t’s a tight fit for the gentleman sailor mouse I made to captain it (find the free pattern here). He’s fancy – with his lace ascot and looks pretty pleased with things.

P.S. – if you’ve never tried paper mache you can find a  free project here and another here – both are a good place to start.

october is for paper mache and terrariums

paper mache teacups

What’s better than an October day, so sunny and crisp and warm that a layer of paper mache dries in 20 minutes in the sun? I’m making some teacups for gifts and my tree this year – I usually use two layers of paper over the cardboard and this is the first.  These will be extra special because they are infused with spectaular Octoberness.

paper mache teacups


The color of the sky doesn’t seem real – but it was – what a day. October also means saying goodbye to the forest and that fantastic earth smell so I brought some home with me.

moss and lichen

happy terrariumMy terrarium perrished towards the end of last winter – the boiler in the old Brooklyn building I live in went south and there was a week of swinging between no heat and oven like temperatures that my little globe of mosses did not survive.  I love having a little bit of the forest with me through the winter, it’s happy in there and it smells good.

P. S.  The star pattern is almost here but not quite – I can’t get through a pattern step shoot without a big do-over.  Maybe it’s because of rushing or becoming increasingly persnicity about images or maybe I just need to do everything twice.



paper mache work

I’m working on a group of paper mache ships – all three from my ship pattern collection.  I like to paper mache in the evening – all those little pieces of paper – it’s relaxing and meditative and I wake up to lovely dry ships – ready for paint and sails.  I always start with a layer of brown paper  and usually finish with a layer of newsprint – I’m working over a cardboard armature so 2 layers is enough.

paper mache ship workI gathered some scraps for patching sails and making flags – these ships are going to be pale and romantic and have owl captains. If you’re waiting for the little owl pattern it’s almost here – after some testing I needed to revise the pattern a little – there was an unnecessary complication. I’m doing some re-shoots and it will be available next week – you can join the mailing list if you’d like to be notified as soon as new patterns are available ( I’ve got a lamb pattern in the works too).

sail scrapsI also want to share one of my favorite artists working with paper mache with you : Michelle Lassaline.  I love all her work and the masks especially – they have such presence. This image is so enchanting and mysterious and captivating, the detail of the painted hands…..

Michelle Llassaline Burro

You can find Michelle’s website here and more images here. If you happen to be in Nevada you can see her work in person on February 24th – find the details here.


paper mache ships pattern

paper mache ships hanging in my window

Learn how to make graceful shapes from cereal boxes and other top secret techniques. Make beautiful ships and get all sorts of ideas. You can find the PDF pattern here or if you prefer on Etsy.

* Update 2020- there is a booklet version too for one large ship – find it here.

This is a huge pattern- 57 pages of photos and  instructions, 3 templates – a Large Ship, a Small Ship, a Little Boat, a resource list and more.

I hope you make ships!

paper mache ship pattern

If you make ships I’d love to see, you can use #annwoodpattern on instagram or send me a photo : info at ann wood handmade dot com

ivory and gray paper mache ship

paper mache ship pattern

paper mache ships : buttons

paper mache fship pattern

paper mache ship and owl pattern


Owls make great captains – find the little owl pattern right here.


There are also  a couple little (very little)  companion videos  including :


How To Put The Wind in Your Sails

paper mache ship pattern

ship building in the adirondacks

Over the weekend I took the entire ship building /pattern making operation way upstate into the Adirondack park. Major progress was made and there where some setbacks too. If I had known how long this would take or how hard it would be I’m not sure I would have started, but I’m glad I did.

adirondack work shop

ship work

I’ve still got a handful of photos to take, a bunch to edit and lots of pages to layout but I hope the hardest part is done. I’ve been testing as I go along so I’m confident the instruction is solid and there’s a lot of it. Hopefully the patterns make it out into the world by the end of the week. This has been such an epic effort and learning experience and I’ll be very, very, happy when it is officially done and released and I’ll also be very excited to start the next pattern.


paper mache ship

PS – If you’d like an email when the pattern is released you can sign up here.

working through the doldrums

update: find the paper mache ship pattern here

Big projects have them. Usually what keeps me motivated is the process – I like making things, all sorts of things and that has extended to my new project: making patterns  (especially because it’s new to me and I’m all lit up with learning).

I had hoped to finish the paper mache ship pattern in the Adirondacks over the holiday weekend. Planned on it really – no distractions, great light, plenty of room etc. but I’m back in thick, hot NYC summer and I‘ve still got a long way to go. Often, if something is taking me a very long time it’s because I’m lingering in the process – I don’t want it to end. In this case a lot of the fun designy stuff (like the cover) is done. And the project has gotten bigger:

I had made the executive decision to keep it small and manageable – just one ship – one small, pretty ship and I was nearly done with that.

small ship

But then I reversed that executive decision and decided to make it a collection – 3 vessels. The original small ship, a little boat and a large ship (similar to “The Gulnare” one of my favorites) – a big billowy full sailed affair.  And the large ship pattern had to be designed pretty much from scratch – I didn’t have a reliable large ship template. That’s a lot of  designing, and a lot of step photos and instructions, editing, testing etc. A lot.

The Gulnare

This morning I woke up feeling daunted by the hugeness of the task and frustrated about not being where I hoped I would. I re- read a post from James Clear that I keep a quote from pinned to my wall:

 “Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule.”

It’s great advice. Great, simple advice that I still need to be reminded of often. The size of the project has changed and it requires a new strategy to finish.  Rather than pushing hard towards a completion date or relying on my enjoyment of the work to motivate me I’ve got it on my schedule everyday – 3 hours –  first thing in the morning: photographing, compiling, testing and editing.

I can’t wait for you to try the ship patterns and I know that focusing on the schedule rather than that goal is the most reliable way to get there.  If something, some goal has been eluding you I recommend trying the approach.

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 use #annwoodpattern on instagram 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


paper mache boats

 paper mache boats

The ship and 2 sailboats above will be in the shop early next week – I’m photographing them and a lot of other things (owls, spiders, birds, ballerinas and maybe another bat) over the weekend. And I might have one more ship  too – I’m working on it now.  If you are on the mailing list I’ll  let you know when they are available.