curious 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


  1. Thank you so much Ann for all your inspiration. Old fabrics. And guiding us all through our visions. You are remarkable!
    An experience not to be forgotten!

  2. You must truly be an inspiring teacher, as the results your students created are just amazing! I am also curious about the sweet little black scissors with the curled handles… is that a prop you have, or is it something that is available somewhere to purchase?

  3. Angela Stavropoulos

    Ann, thank you so much for your inspiration and guidance, as well as sharing all of your fantastic photography and styling tips. It was a wonderful weekend of making, and an absolute honor to spend it with YOU!

  4. Each and everyone of these is absolutely beautiful. I have “the makerie” on list of retreats to attend – it’s just that’s its a long way from Montreal!

  5. Just wonderful – it takes a fine teacher to get such creativity for pupils. I’ve been to so many craft retreats where I’ve just “frozen” – I so wish I could get to the US easily for one of your classes….

  6. This is breathtaking. The collage element has just caused all sorts of beautiful, exhilarating fireworks to go off in my brain. Thank you, as always, for the amazing inspiration you share so generously.

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