There are all sorts of new things in the shop today. Ships and owls, captain cormac, small paintings and more.
And what is more perfect for Valentine’s day? Nothing says I love you quite like a giant mosquito.
The last time I showed you these ships they were getting their final layer of paper mache, the newsprint layer. Then I abandoned them. I didn’t feel inspired in any particular direction color wise so I left them alone. Weeks later I still didn’t feel inspired in any particular color direction so I started experimenting. I like newsprint and almost always use it as my final layer and I like it to show. I paint in washes (there is a video of this whole process here). I use water color and mat acrylics. I don’t use any clear coats on top, I like the matte quality of the paint, but I do burnish them with a soft cloth when they are dry, it just smooths them a tiny bit and makes a pretty surface.
I also love to splatter them with a fine spray of white or ivory. I found that bristle brush at a flea market, an old toothbrush works too.
Next I add buttons for the rigging. Lately I like lots of buttons and I’m always on the lookout for antique mother of pearl buttons. You should hide yours when I come over… The three ships below are made from the paper mache ship pattern collection. I did modify the sides of the large ship, I do it a little differently almost every time I make one.
Each ship is getting a gentleman sailor owl captain (the small and medium sizes from the little owl pattern).
I love turn of the century fabric and lately I’ve come across some contemporary fabrics that remind me of some of my favortite antique small prints. The fabric I used for this owl’s face is from Cotton and Steel, below on the left and the tiny black and white print on the right is by Seven Berry.
This weekend I’ll finish the sails and rigging and start more paper and fabric ships. I want to begin the year with a substantial fleet, an auspicious and nautical beginning to 2018.
It is lovely to have an expanse of days ahead of me that can fully accommodate a current hermit inclination. And the combination of having let go of a lot of things during a fall purge and having a photo shoot for a magazine feature right before the holidays, I’m unusually tidy and organized. There are twinkle lights and quilts and happy plants – it’s pretty cozy.
With the exception of a visit to the DMV tomorrow morning I can spend hours and days parked on the couch with happy projects. I’m working on songbirds from 18th century textiles, some mr. socks and tiny rag dolls and lots of other projects including the flamingo kit.
I’ve made a couple prototypes and zeroed in on my paper choice – a combination of German and Italian papers. I may end up offering both options but I wonder if there is a strong preference for one or the other. What do you think – pale pink or all coral?
And the first of the 2017 fleet.
I have more paper and fabric ships and boats in progress – some I’m making in preparation for my spring Sweet Paul Makerie workshop and some for the shop (next month I think). Speaking of workshops I’ll be adding a new one for the fall of 2017 – working out the details now.
And there is the possibility for next year (2018) of doing something in France – wouldn’t that be nice…….
The Honey Rose (all fabrics courtesy of lovely Sri Threads)
She’s made mostly from kimonos – whispers of fabric layered into something new. My stitches mixed with stitches from other hands and centuries. I’ve been thinking about making her since the big box of kimonos arrived unexpectedly… There is always a point in building this sort of ship that I decide that I am never doing it again – they are insanely labor intensive – maybe the most irrational part of my irrational enterprise. And then it’s done, floating and twirling and casting lovely shadows and I can’t wait to make another.
* 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.
There are also a couple little (very little) companion videos including :
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.
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.
PS – If you’d like an email when the pattern is released you can sign up 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
When I’m making ships I spend a lot of time with a big box of pale ruined dresses and parts of dresses, edwardian mostly, and each time I go through it I pull out little bits to save – things too fragile to use but too precious to part with or things I find so interesting as they are I don’t want to change them.
A tattered bit of very old silk lace with tiny bright green beads attached to each point – it was a cuff – it must have been a magnificent garment.
I finished 2 more ships today and photographed them – one similar to The Louisa May and another paper mache.
This style of ship is also one of the patterns I’ll be publishing and I spent some time breaking down the steps today. I would also love to teach a paper mache ship class in person – it’s such a satisfying project to make.
PS – all the new ships will be available in the shop tomorrow (6/5).
An owl at sea
And The Anastasia
I got up extra early this morning to begin photographing more new ships. This time of year the nicest light happens between 6:30 and 7 am. I’ll do the same again tomorrow – the ships are tricky to photograph – they need lots of light and are almost constantly in motion – lots of waiting around for stillness.
(find the pattern to build your own ships here)
You might notice that I’ve rearranged my place. I have stuck with pretty much the same arrangement in every apartment I’ve lived in. I tried changing it a couple years ago with unhappy results – nothing about it worked – I couldn’t concentrate and it just felt wrong. I got inspired to try again a few weeks ago and I’m very happy with it. From a purely practical perspective I have light where I need it and it makes sense with the electrical outlets. It feels more open and spacious and new and the plants seem to like it. The sewing machine is next to the largest window now – it’s a huge improvement. Sometime when I’m being tidier I’ll show you the whole thing – right now I’m kind of a disaster in that department.
I’ll post some more ship photos in the afternoon tomorrow ( they will all be in my shop on thursday 6/5).
The Louisa May – she’s made mostly from edwardian gowns and petticoats – sheer, thin, whispery things sewn over millinery wire.