I’ve gathered a few images of fantastic crows made from the pattern below. So good! I’ve added links to the makers where ever possible.
Is there a color, or colors you have a hard time working with? For me it’s red. It’s not that I don’t like red, it just hardly ever seems to find its way in to anything. Until lately, all of a sudden lots of rich red scraps have been turning up (or maybe I’ve just started noticing them) and my worktable is covered with magnificent reds and crimsons.
I’m working on two projects to share at the Sugar House Retreat in March. a cardinal, and a fabric necklace. The cardinal is made from the songbird sewing pattern with a few modifications. I love all the varieties of red and pink that turn up in cardinals and I’m working on a few.
The necklace is a scrap project, most of them collected in France this summer. It’s a jump in without a plan sort of process, step one is just cutting some circles. I’m adding little bits of green too. I like the idea of using color as a starting point and a constraint and I’ll probably use the scrap necklace project ro experiment in other shades. I’ve started collecting some teal scraps for another.
If you’d like to join me in Vermont for the Sugar harvest and lots of projects, exploring and fantastic food and friends you can find more details here. It’s a small and super friendly retreat. I had a fantastic time last year and you can checkout some images from that here. Or checkout out #warmbrookbarn on instagram.
It has some great moments and some highly questionable choices (worn towels…). All of it is very nostalgic for me.
I’m always on the look out for vintage or antique quilt tops. They are frequently super cheap and a great source for unusual little bits of fabric, perfect for all sorts of small projects (including doll quilts). Or if you find something with no objectionable moments or issues you can take it across the quilt finish line. The quilt above (found on ebay) was probably assembled in the 70’s and has lots of sweet calicos. Another I found recently is pale and has a mix of small turn of the century and depression era prints salvaged from garments. Both are coming to workshops in LA with me.
I’m using the older quilt for needle book pages. I’ve been stitching up lots for the class. You wouldn’t think machine sewing a ton of rectangles would be appealing but it is. I’ll probably get over it but right now I can’t get enough. It’s peaceful and satisfying to stack up the finished pages. Also I’m thinking of offering the pre-sewn, ready to embellish pages as a kit this winter – what do you think?
Besides needle books we will be making paper ships, beetles, mushrooms and crows. I’m bringing lots of old garments to work with.
I wonder what they talk about – somebody seems pretty bossy…
One of the benefits of being prolific is the mistakes and failures don’t phase you. They are just information. My process is deeply iterative. I try and fail and try again, adjusting and experimenting endlessly. I love being right in the middle of that process and it can go on for years.
The ships are like that, the paper mache ships and lately paper ships. Endless experiments and all sorts of failures and all sorts of discoveries. Discoveries and innovations that can only come (I think) from that kind of process.
I’ve been playing with paper I found in France. I went to tons of spectacular flea markets with French General. My main objective was finding paper for the ship class this October (update -this workshop was in 2019). These antique booklets are ideal and I got lots of them – the colors and quality of the paper are perfect. Totally worth the schlepping. And Kaari (French General) found wonderful old letters, ghost messages traveling time.
This antique wallpaper and these gorgeous old pattern tracings were French flea market finds too. I’m thinking of making ships with the tracings. And maybe framing a couple. The wallpaper I love just as it is.
My other paper project involves making lots and lots of smaller paper ship and boat experiments. I’m going to hang them as in installation later this year, more on that soon. It’s daydreamy work, I do my best thinking when my hands are busy.
And I’m making a ton of them so I feel improvisational and uninhibited about trying stuff. It’s a “yes and” unedited process, one thing does lead to another if you let it. I’ve been working on them every day for a while and like the cardboard horse project years ago the growing fleet is surprising me. I love looking at them. That was my original impetus for making the paper mache ships – to live with them, to look at them, it was a thing I wanted in the world. There is a full tutorial for the small paper boats coming soon (early September- ish). They are fast, easy and magic so be on the lookout for interesting paper.
My mother always collected fabric for me, even when I didn’t know I needed it. And apparently she still is, with perfect timing. My sister Catherine sent me this bundle of hand stitched linens she found in our Mom’s things, mostly collected at the flea markets she haunted almost every weekend. They are exquisite.
They even smell good, they smell like they should. I’m keeping almost all of them in tact, making pillow covers, stuff like that. So much beautiful handwork. There are a couple with a lot of damage I’ll make needle books with and incorporate into some applique experiments.
In the corner of a sweltering hot barn jammed with mountains of dusty ancient things there was a little box of crumpled tissue. First a little silver fork pokes out. Then a tiny china lid that might belong to a teapot.
A shell thin glass vase that is somehow not broken is floating in the tissue too. I stop looking because I already know I need it and the rest should be discovered slowly and savored, each thing emerging. A tiny sterling candlestick and then unbelievably it’s mate, miniature binoculars, and the lid does belong to a teapot, the little set is complete and even has a platter. Old and wonderful. Everything about it is magic and sweet and melancholy and lonesome.
Vacations are not my thing. And technically this is not a vacation, I am in France to teach workshops with French General. I brought lots of projects to work on too, things to sew, writing projects, all sorts of fun things. But I did nothing. Almost nothing. My brain refused to participate. I did more of nothing than I ever have in my life. 3 weeks of nothing. Plus it was 105 degrees, making nothing the only reasonable choice anyway.
Glorious nothing, swimming and cherries from a tree for breakfast, loads of coffee and wine, fantastic cheese and bread. Feeling supremely happy wandering brocantes and vide greniers eating a jambon beurre and finding treasures. Mostly things for making things. Loads of that. And Edwardian garments and antique paper for the October workshops in LA.
Checkout some highlights from the France workshops and wanderings below. And if you’d like to spend time with me in France next summer signups will be open soon. Send me a message with France 2020 as the subject if you’d like more info.
ps – have you made a needle book? Find the tutorial here. The exquisite book above was made here in the workshop by Petra.
I’m headed home tomorrow and I felt my brain come back on line today. Sad to go but ready to work and think and experiment. Ready to dive into the busyness of finishing sewing patterns, preparing for the next 3 workshops and something special for September involving old paper and the forest.
And Summer is for making tiny dolls and outfitting the little ladies with summer hats and dresses and miss matched china for lawn picnics. I’ve put the miss thistle society patterns and tutorials all in one place for you and I’d love to see what you make – use #annwoodpattern and #missthistlesociety on instagram.
French paper ships, edwardian birds, stitched beetles and toadstools and a sweet needle book. I’m headed back to LA in October for a big week of workshops. And I’m still trying to squeeze a couple more in for 2019 (east coasters stay tuned – how would you feel about Connecticut?). If you’d like to suggest someplace near you that might like to offer a workshop with me let me know.
They glow like the moon and twirl in the breeze. Spend two days making romantic paper vessels with billowy sails. You will learn my top secret paper layering techniques and create your ship hull from antique and handmade papers. The stitched linen and cotton sails will be finished with antique fabrics and garment fragments.
All tools and materials are supplied for this workshop including specialty handmade papers and a collection of antique french paper for finishing, sail fabrics and embellishments and antique buttons and rigging. If you have fabrics or papers that are meaningful to you, you are welcome to bring them, but it is not required. The finished ship measures approximately 13 inches by 18 inches.
Are you traveling? Your ship disassembles and folds flat for travel. It’s magic.
All materials are provided for this workshop. Coffee/tea, lunch and aperos served.
Working with antique garments we will create a creature inspired by ravens and crows. A dark bird with a mysterious and intelligent presence.
You will learn to stitch and sculpt the body shape, create intricate layers of feathers, sculpt talons and carve the beak.
The antique Edwardian mourning garments we will work with provide interesting textures, colors and detail that will be unique to your bird. We will be stitching by hand and machine. The finished bird is 8-9 inches tall.
All materials are provided for this workshop. Coffee/tea, lunch and aperos served.
Spend and evening stitching a sweet beetle with me. We will work with vintage and antique fabrics, lace, wire and a couple secret ingredients to create these whimsical little creatures that fit in the palm of your hand. The finished beetle is approximately 4 inches long (excluding his darling antennae).
All materials are provided for this workshop. Aperos served.
Make magical toadstools! We will spend an evening stitching enchanted fungi. You will work with vintage and antique scraps to create caps and stems and you’ll learn the top secret method for making a concave cap underside.
All materials are provided for this workshop. The finished mushroom is 4-6 inches long. Aperos served.
Stitch a little book for your needles and notions and the scraps you can’t part with.
Spend an evening slow stitching with me. We will embellish and personalize pre- sewn pages to create a mini 6 page booklet plus cover and center heart. There will be exquisite antique buttons and fabric and lace scraps to choose from. You will learn to assemble the book, add details, embroidery and create spaces for your notions. The finished book is approximately 3 and ½ by 5 inches.
All materials are provided for this workshop. Aperos served.
Extreme mending, that’s what happens when you can’t let go. I can’t let go of this giant flannel shirt. I got it for a quarter at the Herkimer NY Goodwill in 2010. I started mending it a couple years ago, mostly just worn edges. Last winter it had some major sleeve blowouts and other serious issues. It was barely a shirt anymore but I remain too attached to part with it. I spent my 3 hour train ride to Vermont (more on that in a minute) stabilizing it. And now I’m plugging leaks. Besides my ridiculous attachment to it I like the process of this kind of meandering mending. And I like the result, the unexpected layers and combinations that turn up.
I’m mending my linen smock too where I have worn it thin, keeping it mostly pale. I’ll never part with it either and it will eventually be all patches. I’m good with that.
The Hundred Day Project starts on Tuesday April 2. It’s a free art project that takes place online. Every spring, people all around the world commit to 100 days of creativity. Are you participating? I sort of am. I do a little painting or drawing everyday anyway so I think that counts. All you need to do is commit to a project (big or small or very small) and tag your instagram posts with #The100DayProject. You can do anything, You could mend something if you like.
This blog started with a similar experiment. It was a little different, I committed to making 100 cardboard horses. I made one Monday through Friday and gave myself the weekend off. Much like my daily practice now, somedays I loved it and some days I most certainly did not. But I know now I need it.
If you decide to participate I can offer you some of what I’ve learned:
* Be realistic about time. The amount of time you commit can be very small and still have lots of benefits.
* Have a plan for the bad days, a minimal but acceptable effort. And accept the bad days. Everybody will have lots of them. I have some very bad days and post some real stinkers.
* It’s helpful to do it around the same time everyday. Your subconscious gets on board after a while and shows up with ideas.
* Think of it as an opportunity to listen to yourself and maybe get glimpses into your singular and powerful imagination that you would not otherwise get. Plus new instagram friends.
And if you feel like making your daily art a cardboard horse feel free – there is a whole tutorial here. And as an added bonus when you’re done you have a stampede.
I took the train up to Warm Brook Barn in Vermont to teach at their Maple Harvest retreat with French General. The group was lovely and intensely creative. We made silk necklaces, talismans, beeswax candles, wax seals and lambs in pants. There was a beautiful snowstorm of almost exactly the right duration and intensity and It was all generally a blast. And I loved exploring all the fabulous details of the old houses.
PS- If you’d like to make a little sled it’s super easy – I found a tutorial here.
And PPS – A rare occurrence – I’m usually like a ninja, a lamb in pants making stealthy ninja. I was captured in the wild in Vermont, caught in the act, sneaking up on a sledding lamb in pants for a photo.
There are two botanical specimen workshops – you can take either or both (take both – spend the whole weekend stitching strange specimens with me!). Each day will focus on different techniques and projects. And we are offering the songbird class again.
I’m headed to Vermont in early spring for lambs in pants and stitched talismans and back to Los Angeles in April to teach 3 workshops at French General. Find all the details below and links to registration. I hope you can make it! I’m bringing everything you need including treasures from my antique textile collection and my favorite tools and supplies. All you have to do is show up. If you have any questions please send me a message.
fungi, root systems, and seed pods
You will create elegant stitched seed pods with realistic root systems and invent wild and strange species of mushrooms. We will explore basic soft sculpture techniques including working with spheres and creating and modifying patterns. I’ll share my techniques for creating forms and texture with textiles, wire, paper and other simple materials. Click here for more info and registration.
bulbs, rare specimens and fabric printing
You will learn to create realistic bulb root systems and techniques for creating organic feeling marks on fabric. We will explore antique botanical prints for inspiration and I’ll guide you through the process of inventing your own rare specimen using traditional as well as non traditional soft sculpture techniques. Click here for more info and registration.
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. Click here for more details and registration.
Join me in Vermont for a glorious cosy weekend stitching lambs in pants (or dresses) and amulets and making gorgeous sugar drop necklaces (among other things) with French General. The Sugarhouse Retreat is a weekend filled with cozy fireplace warmth, maple syrup treats and friends near and dear – including a visit to one of Vermont’s Sugarhouse’s on the annual open weekend as well as crafting by the fire. Delicious meals and hosting by Meleen Dupre of Warm Brook Barn. Click here for more details and registration.
The Squam Art Retreat 2019 offerings are up and registration is open. I’m already looking forward to teaching next September.
There is art and practice in generating ideas. Come spend a day with me in the forest experimenting and having lots of ideas.
I will guide you through a series of improvisational (and fun) exercises designed to bypass blocks, spark you creatively, help you dig deeply into your imagination, spot intersections and generate ideas.
We will employ constraints to move our thinking in novel ways and practice approaching assignments laterally. Sometimes a shift in approach makes all the difference. We will look for serendipity, invite happenstance to guide us and we will play. Play generates lots of ideas. In idea generation volume matters.
The day begins with experiment #1 : a mysterious box…. a collection of materials and found objects. Employing the remarkable creative power of constraint and with a top secret inspiration source in mind you will create a small work of art. I’ll help you push past blocks and navigate and choose techniques and tools.
One thing leads to another, if you let it. If the experimenter in you needs some encouragement please join me for this day of exploration. What will you unearth? What has been waiting for an opportunity to emerge? Come with that curiosity.
Come sew with me in LA in October! I’ve added two mini evening workshops to my visit with French General, fun nights of stitching, all materials supplied:
Stitched amulets Tuesday, October 16th / 5-8pm
Spend an early evening with stitching up small, sweet textile talismans. We will provide all of the small bits and pieces, including antique French and Japanese fabric, cord, buttons and charms for you to create a handful of small amulets that can be worn for luck, love or given to a friend.
All materials are supplied for this workshop, but you are free to bring any small special pieces to make your talisman uniquely yours. Click here for details and registration.
Very nice mice – Thursday, October 18th / 6-9pm
Spend an evening making mice with me! I’m bringing everything you need and lots of extras for embellishing and sweet details. We’ll hand stitch adorable little friends and along the way I’ll share some of my favorite supplies, tips and tricks. And while we photograph our creations in whimsical mini sets I’ll offer you some seat of the pants techniques for capturing your creation’s unique personality and charm.
Everything is supplied for this workshop. Click here for details and registration.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?