experiments in paper and lovely old handwork

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 (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.

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


  1. Merilyn Wood

    Hi Ann, I think this blog is just the best. What wonderful bits and pieces found in France. It reminds me of my trip there last year. I just love old papers and laces. Luggage was a great problem when limited to 10kgs for everything.Thank you for the memories. Best wishes Merilyn

  2. Carole Bridgman

    Ann Wood, your work never fails to slay me. I’ve been collecting pattern pieces today for a paper horse project, using a map of New York City. I love making paper horses still, very much behind the curve. Have you seen this project? tinypricksproject.com It would be a great use of your vintage linen if you’re so inclined.

  3. Catherine Wood Flavin

    I can’t wait to see what you transform the linens into! Once I tackle the cedar chest, I think that there will be more surprises in store. Stay tuned…

  4. I, too, love the smell of old linens! The wallpaper was fabulous. Thank you for sharing your creativity!

  5. I have a stack of old linens and hand embroidered cloth that is taller than me! When I was buying some once my late mother questioned, why I was buying the thing nobody wanted or valued anymore. I replied that, that was exactly why I was buying/rescuing it!!
    So now I don’t know what to do with it all these many years later.
    I love your work and you inspire me to maybe pull some out and cut into it.

  6. “to live with them, to look at them, it was a thing I wanted in the world”
    I think you’ve just summed up why I make things, right there, in that one sentence!
    What a wonderful blog you write.

  7. Just discovered this beautiful site..and am feeling very inspired..thank you !

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