Category: workshops

experiments in paper, lovely old handwork and the last summer special

ships made from antique paper

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.

ships made from antique paper

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.

antique french paper

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.  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.

scrap of antique french wallpaper

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.

antique french pattern tracings

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.

boats mad from antique paper on my work table

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.

And old linen:

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.

hand stitched beetles and mushroom

PS – Are you making ships and needle books  and mushrooms and beetles with me in LA?  The  antique french paper ship is a weekend class and the others are evening classes. It’s a lovely time stitching with like minded individuals and  I’m bringing all sorts of cool stuff to play with – signups are here.

PPS -There’s more old cloth to talk about and some applique experiments (thanks so much for your feedback on that) but I’m out of time today – come back next Friday and I’ll tell you all about it.

Make a ship or boat – they twirl in the breeze and cast lovely shadows. All the ship and boat patterns are 25% off through August.

flea market report (french edition), summer doll pattern sale and a glorious chunk of nothing

antique textiles and paper found in france

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.

box of antique miniatures found in france

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.

daily painting in a french chateau

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.

cherrie tree in the south of france

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.

antique textiles and paper found in france

lace scraps

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.

needle book workshop in france

ps – have you made a needle book?  Find the tutorial here. The exquisite book above was made here in the workshop by Petra.

antique fabric scrap bundles

textile seed pods

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.

tiny rag doll picnic

tiny rag doll patterns and kits are 25 % off through july

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 for the remainder of July all the tiny rag doll patterns and kits are 25 % off. I’d love to see what you make – use #annwoodpattern and #missthistlesociety on instagram.

new fall 2019 workshops

antique paper ship workshop

paper ship workshop

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.

french paper ships

antique paper ship workshop

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.

details and registration

edwardian birds

edwardian bird workshop

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.

details and registration

stitched beetles

stitched beetle workshop

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.

details and registration

stitched mushrooms

stitched mushroom workshop

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.

details and registration

needle book

needle book

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.

details and registraion

extreme mending, sledding lambs and the 100 day project

patched and mended sleeves

patched and mended sleeves

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.

pale patches on a linen smock

100 days of creativity

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.

Back to Vermont.

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.

fabulous dresser at warmbook barn

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.

caught in the act

new 2019 workshops : botanical specimens, sugar house retreat and songbirds

botanical stitching class with ann wood

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.

botanical stitching class with ann wood

botanical specimens 101 – saturday april 6th

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.

 

botanical stitching class with ann wood

botanical specimens 102 – sunday april 7th

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.

 

songbirds  – friday april 5th

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.

 

SugarHouse Retreat with Ann Wood and French General at Warm Brook Barn  -March 21st-24th, 2019

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.

squam 2019 : tinder and spark – come experiment with me in the forest

a mysterious box - an idea generating experiment

inspiration gathered on my work table

The Squam Art Retreat 2019 offerings are up and registration is open. I’m already looking forward to teaching next September.

experiments on my work table

There is art and practice in generating ideas.  Come spend a day with me in the forest experimenting and having lots of ideas.

Tinder and Spark – idea generation : experiments, curiosity and constraints

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.

a mysterious box - an idea generating experiment

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.

Find all the details here!

two mini workshops

hand stitched amulets

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:

hand stitched amulets

colorful fabric pendants on a worn piece of wood

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 : sewing pattern

little sailor mouse

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.

france, battling natsubate and pushing the songbird pattern across the finish line

textile toadstool in the south of france

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.

hand stitched songbird progress

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.

corde sur ciel : france

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).

textile toadstool in the south of france

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.

dioramas at squam

diorama detail

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.

play house gathering at squam

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.

charming assemblage figure

diorama detail - antique bottle with lichen

squam diorama figure

diorama detail

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.

tiny rag doll in the forest

a little hand stitched toadstool in a big forest

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?

the sudden appearance of a third toe and a workshop in brooklyn

bird foot made from paper and wire

The truth is I thought birds had two toes. Some birds anyway. I was aware that many birds had 3 toes but, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I thought that there were also lots of birds with two toes. The actual number is much closer to zero…

I stand by my two toes. I think two is exactly the right number of toes for birds who go camping and put on plays and get married in the forest.  Exactly the right number of toes for ballerina birds and pirates.

bird foot made from paper and wire

And I have lately decided that 3 toes is the appropriate number of toes for my more realistic songbirds. How to add the third toe was a puzzle though. I failed again and again, rejecting methods that were too complicated or unreliable.  Last Sunday I landed on a simple and elegant solution, a method and a realistic three toed bird foot I am thoroughly pleased with. It’s going in the pattern. PS – I haven’t given up on the cast foot – it is in the works – more on that soon.

hand stitched birds

handmade fabric bird

And I’ll teach the three toed method at my next songbird workshop, my first ever in NYC, and right down the street from my place! Come to Brooklyn for a two day songbird workshop on June 2nd and 3rd at Brooklyn General.

find all the details and register here

And if you’ve got questions send me an email, I’m happy to help.

friends who sew – the LA workshops

ann wood rag doll workshop

ann wood rag doll workshop

We made songbirds and dolls. We stitched and stuffed and tried stuff. We hammered wire bird feet on a tiny anvil and carved beaks from twigs. I repeatedly cautioned everyone not to cut themselves and then I was the only one who did. The days were packed and exhausting and there was a big salad and baked treats each day. French General is a good place. I’ve demanded that they let me come back and we are working on something special for October. Stay tuned or sign up for the mailing list if you’d like to be the first to know when registration opens.

There were three classes – the rag doll once and the songbird twice. Each class was completely full and everybody was a pro.  It was like a dream, a room full of serious stitchers. I usually invite beginners too (and will again) but these one day classes were so ambitious I did not.

ann wood rag doll workshop

Sewing, as a group activity, is a lovely thing.  I felt at home at FG and with the people who showed up to sew. It makes everything easy.  And fun. I had fun. I hope everybody had fun. I can be kind of a slave driver and it was a lot to ask of people.  A lot of work and a lot of thinking, right up against the edge of what’s possible to do in a day (by the way – the follow up stuff will be emailed to you in a couple days – reviews of some of the tricky stuff and instruction on a couple things we didn’t get to like very easy shoes for dolls).  And big thanks, to each of you who took the time and precious energy to show up and try something.

I was so busy and engaged  I took almost no photos. I so wish I had, the more than 50! birds and rag dolls were wonderful and the shop is beautiful and full of fascinating things.  Thanks so much Jennifer Serr for the rag doll class photos. And here are some of the songbirds in various stages of blast-beruffled plume-

ann wood bird workshop

And a couple in their natural habitat.

work shop bird by mary stanley

(bird by mary stanley)

(bird by jill burgess)

This was a  was a big and expanding experience in lots of ways.  Teaching is good for ideas, for thinking in general.  And for being part of the world which I do enjoy occasionally.

two new workshops : songbirds and elegant rag dolls

This March I’ll be teaching three all day workshops at French General in Los Angeles. Songbirds (sold out) on the 24th and 25th (the same class offered twice) and Elegant Rag dolls (sold out) on the 23rd. Registration is open and you can find all the details at French General.

Find the songbird sewing pattern here.

 

Songbirds
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. Basic sewing skills are needed, we will be stitching by hand and machine.

Elegant Ragdolls
Mysterious girls with secrets. The details make me happy, front bustles revealing a scandalous amount of leg, slippered feet, fancy underthings and elegant chignons. I’ll guide you through the stitching and stuffing and details and share my favorite supplies, top secret tips and techniques and some treasures from my collection of antique textiles. Basic sewing skills are needed, we will be stitching by hand and machine.

I hope to see you there!

 

workshop news

goddess doll

Squam Art Retreats announced their 2018 workshops and opened pre- registration this past Monday (If you are on my mailing list you were the first to know). I’m teaching in both spring and fall next year.

ann wood : diorama workshop

My spring class will be dioramas, creating 3-dimensional compositions, shadow box assemblages, small worlds of our own. We will explore the poetry and spirit of things. You can find the details and registration information here.

In the Fall I’m teaching experimenting with dolls, all sorts of dolls. It’s a class about possibilities, trying on ideas and most importantly play. A “yes and” way of working, starting before you know where you are headed.

ann wood : doll workshop

We will draw inspiration from our own experience as well as how the figure has been represented throughout history (I’ve been particularly interested in goddess figures lately) and explore the art, sentiment, nostalgia and spirit of dolls – all they can mean and be.

ann wood : doll workshop

In both cases I’ll bring everything you need for the class which is madness and also fun, the hunting and the gathering, imagining what you might like.  For the diorama workshop I do ask that people bring an item to share and an item they might like to use. I taught this class this past fall and there was a fascinating array of things, I love looking at people’s stuff.

If you aren’t familiar with the retreat checkout their instagram feed here and you can find all the details on both retreats here.

In other news I’m putting together at least one workshop on the west coast for next year (stay tuned for news on that)  and in June I’m headed to France with The French General. That trip is currently full but send me an email if you would like more info or to be on the waiting list.

curious specimens

tiff : specimens

ann wood makerie

Constraints are interesting. So are intersections. We employed both elements in our warm up exercise at the mini makerie in Boulder last week. Each student received a mysterious box of supplies, a chunk of time and one instruction: a source for inspiration that shall remain a secret because it worked beautifully and I’ll probably do it again.

stitched collages

The compositions they created far surpassed my expectations and got wheels turning in all sorts of interesting ways for the entire workshop.

Immediately after the warm up we began creating our collection of imagined specimens: curious plants and creatures that exist at the edge of dream and reality. The workshop took place at At Hand Studio in Boulder, artist Fran Menely’s spectacular work space. As we began to think about inventing our specimens we explored her gardens for inspiration.

I loved spending 3 big days with 11 like minded individuals. Women who showed up willing to try stuff, experiment and collaborate. We spent most of the final afternoon photographing our work. We used found objects, specimen pins, old book covers (I grab them whenever I see them – such unexpected colors) and scavenged text to create mood and atmosphere that suggests the sort of dream world our strange specimens might inhabit, their imagined history.

cindy : stitched pods

tif: specimens

blair : pod and dragonfly

debora : nest

angela :mushroom and bug

fran : indigo mushroom

whitney : mushroom

abby : paper and fabric flowers

rachel : seedpod

tara : mushroom

karen : mushroom

dioramas in the forest and a third kind of image

squam diorama workshop

diorama workshop at squam

I think about thinking a lot. I think about imagination a lot. The mystery of it.  Creativity, art, inspiration, expression, all of that. I think about how it feels to get something past the filters. To get something that was inside on the outside in a way that feels complete and true. Seeable. With all it’s you-ness in tact.

That kind of expression is what’s on my mind when I’m preparing for workshops. The last two especially, Squam and the mini makerie. Both workshops had a strong focus on exploring and trusting your imagination and starting without knowing exactly where you are headed. Experimenting and responding.

I experiment on myself all the time, watch myself work, observe my own thinking and patterns, where I get stuck, how I unstick myself and I bring that experience with me. I also read a lot this spring and summer about art, imagination and creativity and that something else that doesn’t have a name. I came across the quote below in a collection of observations on Joseph Cornell’s boxes by Charles Simic. I love the idea of a third kind of image:

“There are really three kinds of images. First, there are those seen with eyes open in the manner of realists in both art and literature. Then there are images we see with eyes closed. Romantic poets, surrealists, expressionists, and everyday dreamers know them. The images [Joseph] Cornell has in his boxes are, however, of the third kind. They partake of both dream and reality, and of something else that doesn’t have a name. They tempt the viewer in two opposite directions. One is to look and admire the elegance and other visual properties of the composition, and the other is to make up stories about what one sees. In Cornell’s art, the eye and the tongue are at cross purposes. Neither one by itself is sufficient. It’s that mingling of the two that makes up the third image.”

– Charles Simic
Dime store Alchemy

I so recommend this book. I got it as a gift from my much older sister who is knitting me a sweater several years ago and it has been next to my bed ever since waiting for me.

I asked students to keep that in mind, the unnamable thing, the third kind of image, as the worked on their boxes in the forest at Squam:

*click the images for a larger view – there are lots of details.

squam diorama workshop

squam dioramas

squam playhouse

And just like that it’s fall. September has gone by in a flash and I miss the forest, especially my early morning walk along this path for coffee. Until next time.

“The real things are happening in the forest still.” – Charlotte Mew

 

natural history : a new workshop

natural history : a workshop with ann wood

natural history : a workshop with ann wood

* Update – The workshop has sold out but please add your name to the wait list if you were hoping to join – cancellations do happen. 

Registration just opened for “Natural History” a three day creative retreat with The Makerie in Boulder – September 22nd to the 24th.

Our assignment for our three days together is to create and document an imagined natural history. We will look for inspiration at the intersection of history, poetry and nature, working collaboratively as well as individually to create and photograph a collection of specimens.  We’ll use textiles, paper, found objects and a variety of other tools, techniques, materials and inspiration I’m bringing.

stitched botanicals

I’ll guide you through improvisational (and fun) exercises designed to spark you creatively, help you dig deeply into your imagination and generates ideas.  It’s a  spontaneous, “yes and” way of working – each action builds on the previous – you work with what shows up. It’s less about finished works and more about making connections and  recognizing serendipity and happy accidents when they appear. We will pull ideas and details from our experiments as a starting point for designing and making our plants and creatures.

blue beetle

mushroom specimens

hand stitched toadstool

perched fly

On our last day together we will style and photograph our specimens individually and as a group.  I’ll share tips for creating compelling compositions and moods, simple lighting hacks and other seat of the pants techniques that I use in photographing my own work.

This is a workshop about experimenting, collaborating, playing and getting out of your own way.  That is a life long daily challenge for me and I love sharing what I’ve learned so far. I hope I can help you be a more intrepid explorer of your imagination, reach past the territory you’ve already navigated and expand your skills for sharing that world.

Sounds like fun to me and I hope to see you there! If you’ve got questions please send me a message – I’m happy to help.

*registration has closed but you can still join the wait list here.

the positive snowball effect of finishing things and a new workshop

ann wood

It’s such a mistake to let too many unfinished projects pile up. The weight of all that isn’t done can really mess with a person’s momentum and momentum is key.  When it happens the only way through is to start finishing things – one at a time. This week I’ve been finishing stuff – big stuff and little stuff. A wooly edwardian owl was the first – he was nearly there so it was an easy win.

hand stitched owl

He’ll be in the shop next week with some songbirds and other creatures – you can sign up here if you would like an email notification when the new things are available.

Crossing just one thing off the list makes a huge difference, the shift is instant and it’s easier to tackle the next – as each task is completed momentum starts to snowball and replace the self perpetuating overwhelmed and stuck feelings.  My next project was finishing up my improvisational doll experiments – also lingering in “all most done”.

handmade dolls

handmade soldier doll

He stepped right out of a Jane Austen novel, one of her steady hearted colonels. I love him. And he is excellent at guarding books.

A large project got finished too,  creating a new workshop for this September.  Come see me in Boulder!

ann wood

That’s me – in my middle aged art lady uniform. The linen smock (by Cal Patch) really is my uniform – if you run in to me in Brooklyn or come to Colorado there’s a pretty solid chance I’ll have it on. This is my first 3 day workshop ever and it’s presented by the Makerie  September 22nd through the 24th.  3 days to explore something with a small group sounds marvelous. The title of the work shop is Natural History.

little fly

I can share all the details with you next week and registration will open then too. For now I’ll leave you with this very little fly I made to bring to Boulder with me.

stitched rutabagas and floating ships : sweet paul makerie 2017

hand stitched stitched rutabagas

hand stitched stitched rutabagas

The Sweet Paul Makerie is coming to Brooklyn!  And not even just Brooklyn but my neighborhood – a couple blocks from my place – so good. I’m offering 2 workshops-  ship building and  an intro to 3 dimensional sewing (a stitched rutabaga!).

The rutabaga is a good introduction to sculptural sewing and working with spheres ( there is a free sphere pattern here if you’d like to experiment). And they have a secret ingredient that makes them perch in kind of interesting and root-vegetabley way.

rutabaga sewing pattern

 

If you’d like to try the rutabaga get the sewing pattern here.

I taught a stitched botanical class in 2015 at the Philadelphia Makerie and had a marvelous time – it was a beautiful event in every way – every detail thoughtful and lovely –  so looking forward to the spring retreat.

hand stitched stitched rutabaga

hand stitched sails

hand stiched floating ship

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