imperial cats : experimenting with dolls

Somebody new turned up. Here’s how it happened:

The experimenter in me has been needing some encouragement so I planned a solid chunk of time for messing around last week. I started by looking at Pre Columbian Figures for inspiration (this is something I’ve played with before) then made a bunch of super quick charcoal sketches.

From the drawings I chose a couple shapes to use as templates. An important part of this process for me is to be quick and not linger in decisions or get stuck on overthinking. It’s a yes and process, feeling for ideas and happy accidents, not perfection. Trying stuff.

I know it’s hard to let go of out come, especially when you are sewing, so much time and energy, but what you learn in the process is valuable. One thing really does lead to another, if you let it. I did not love everything I made last last week but it did get my wheels turning.

And the experiment is ongoing (I’m still very much in the middle) and lots of fun. If you feel like trying this you can come up with your own shapes to play with or you can use my templates (I’m nice like that). I’ve got two so far. You can download the cat-ish figure here and the bird-ish shape here.

I find this guy hilarious. He ended up feeling a little bit like a ming dynasty emperor or soldier. (I love ming dynasty imperial portraits – the silhouettes, the details…). There are other shapes to explore in the charcoal sketches I started with, more sparks of ideas and curiosities to investigate but I feel like making a bunch of these right now, a little army. That’s what I’m doing today on this rainy Sunday.

What are you sewing today? How do you experiment? What get’s your wheels turning? Let us know in the comments.

 

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.


47 Comments

  1. Grace Barcliffe

    This was such a happy lil newsletter today.Thanks for spreading so Joy this Sunday morning!❤️

  2. Marilina

    OMG Ann… You surprised me! How amazing is your creativity ❤️ Thank you so much for inspiring me. P.S. I can’t wait to start working on these new projects. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for sharing your process, Ann! And for generously sharing the templates. Your last character, Mr Ming, is adorable in a crotchety way.

    • I am currently making snippet rolls with left over bits of fabric and embellishments. I use craft supplies, paper, buttons,beads,lace, and many other objects. I let my projects sit for awhile when I run out of ideas, when inspiration hits, off I go again. Making snippets is relaxing and creative, and a stress relief.
      Thank you for sharing your creative process and your projects.

  4. Kim Gibson

    I do love to read your blog posts! I have several of your patterns, but haven’t made any due to weird things happening, but I love the looks of them. I believe I will add the cat and pull out some fabric and get started!

  5. You are encouraging me to get drawing and sewing some whimsical characters I’ve been mulling over for some time. Thanks for the inspiration and let the fun begin!

  6. How cute! I’ve been sewing little fabric necklaces from the fabric stash I received this year!! Just putting little pieces of fabric together and stitching them down. No rhyme or reason. Whatever feels good. I have some little sticks that I fold the fabric on as I sew. Then a few beads, strip of ribbon and hemp string for the necklace. Done! My hands are busy and keeps me out of bars!!! Hahahaha
    LOVE your catish design!!!!!!

  7. Lesleigh

    I love these kitties and very much appreciate your reminder to not become mired in overthinking, a battle I wage daily. Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. Louise Oakes

    I love to see other people’s process – how a + b equalled c. I find it really inspirational. I usually start by going through some fabric and then ideas gradually come.

    • annwood

      Sorting fabric is a great place to start. My mom kept big bags of scraps in the attic and I spent hours sorting through them, imagining things to make.

  9. I am part of the team here … I love your creations and am grateful for your inspiration. My biggest take away is to not over think and that the process not perfection is the gift of creativity … the learning and the JOY. Thank you kindly for your generosity … you are very kind (and nice).

  10. Love the thunderbird design. I’ve been looking thru my 1982 sketch travel books and love the Membres indian drawings -thinking of embroidery with them -pretty eloquent.

  11. Jacqueline

    I’m new to your work…where have I been (under a rock)? !??

    I love making handmade dolls. I especially like all of your creations.

    Cant wait to look at your past designs.

    Jacqueline from Texas

  12. Sharon Pires

    I have taken a left hand turn to making ceramic Christmas ball ornaments. Some I love and others are not that great. I thank you for reminding me that messing around is a good creative process. Not to get stuck in overthinking it. And I am always so impressed with your generosity with sharing patterns, techniques, ideas. Yes you are nice like that❤️

    • annwood

      Thanks so much Sharon – I’m just learning ceramics and embracing the messing around process too. I turn out mostly stinkers but I’m having lots of fun and learning a bunch.

  13. The black cat immediately made me think of an elderly Queen Victoria in full mourning dress! Loving all these creatures!

  14. Laura marcario

    These are just wonderful. And yes you are nice like that. Thank you for your niceness. L

  15. had to laugh when you said they reminded you of chinese dynasty. that was my first thought when i saw the shape of the cat. it looked like they were wearing those outfits. love the experimenting~

  16. Ginny R.

    This is just wonderful, Ann! Templates printed and ready to give it a try (but what will Mr. Socks think?). As always, a big thank you for your amazing generosity.

  17. Heather Smith

    These are great! I am deep in there overthink right now but you always have a neat trick to keep the creativity flowing. Thanks for sharing!

  18. You shared exactly what I needed to hear just when I needed to hear it! So many ideas and projects fluttering around in my head but I can’t seem to start any of them because of the mire of overthinking and over-researching instead of just diving right in and doing! I really love what you’ve created here…the sketches are especially wonderful and I hope they’ll become inspiration for a few new paintings!

  19. Exciting news!!! I love your patterns and make a lot of them. You’re the best.
    Can’t wait to try these two

  20. Donna Timm

    You always inspire me with the way you venture out and try new little projects…I love the birdish one! and the cat of course.

  21. It’s so fun seeing what kind of personalities arrive, even if they do look a little gruff! Thanks for the inspiration and reminding me not to overthink.

  22. Ann, these are great!! Thanks so much for sharing them. Got my eye on the would-be owl too!!

  23. Thank you for your post. I too love to make your patterns and am always inspired by your creativity and “just do it” approach. I am about to start your raven pattern but might take sidetrack to make this kitty first. I’m so easily distracted!

  24. I made a cat last week while I was not feeling well, too bad I cannot enclose a photo. I think it came out pretty good, it does have a tail, and red boots.

  25. Martine P

    Love your new cat creation. It looks like it can be cuddled and loved ❤️ thank you Ann!

  26. I love your rough sketch’s and I’m so hoping you work with your mermaid sketch.Thanks for the patterns will be having fun playing with them especially the bird one

  27. Margaret O'Brien

    Here I sit on a rainy Sunday afternoon…bed made, paper read…..now what to do that’s fun nd interesting for the rest of the day ? Thank heavens I went onto your blog !! A rummage through the large and small scraps in the boxes, and my afternoon is set. (and probably more to come) Have loved making your projects….and friends and relatives love them….but I don’t squeal as to where the inspiration comes from. Thank you, thank you, love you !!!

  28. Margaret O'Brien

    Here I sit on a rainy Sunday afternoon…bed made, paper read…..now what to do that’s fun nd interesting for the rest of the day ? Thank heavens I went onto your blog !! A rummage through the large and small scraps in the boxes, and my afternoon is set. (and probably more to come) Have loved making your projects….and friends and relatives love them….but I don’t squeal as to where the inspiration comes from. Thank you, thank you, love you !!!

    ((This is not a duplicate….although I may have used the same words or phrases in other comments ))

  29. Margaret O'Brien

    ** This is not a duplicate comment, although I may have used similar words or phrases before. This is entirely new !!!**

    Here I sit on a rainy Sunday afternoon…bed made, paper read…..now what to do that’s fun nd interesting for the rest of the day ? Thank heavens I went onto your blog !! A rummage through the large and small scraps in the boxes, and my afternoon is set. (and probably more to come) Have loved making your projects….and friends and relatives love them….but I don’t squeal as to where the inspiration comes from. Thank you, thank you, love you !!!

  30. So interesting to see your experimental process! I’ve been trying something similar with dolls clothes this week, putting newly-learned techniques into action and seeing where they take me. It’s great to make new things!

  31. Jeretta Bliss

    I think these are very cute.! I have a ceramic cat, poodle, giraffe, and a unicorn. My mother made me several years ago. They all have on hand made dresses and bloomers. I just love them.
    She passed away in 2000.Thank you for sharing. GOD BLESS YOU.

  32. rachel kopel

    Up until now a key phrase was *whatever floats your boat.* NEW key phrase *whatever gets your wheels turning.* Smoke if ya got ’em.

  33. Kim Simcox

    Thank you so much for your wonderful creativity, you are such a wonderful kind, generous soul. You are an inspiration, I love them both and I am going to find some fabric now to sew a cat. 🙂

  34. michelle MARTINELLI

    Thank you Anne, it’s a real pleasure to hear from you in my mailbox! I live in France and do a lot of tinkering with fabric, paper and other things. I love your cat. And what a great generosity to offer us the boss!

  35. Irene Frazão

    Thank you! Such a joy and inspiration to read your blog!
    I live in Lisbon, Portugal.

  36. amaranda de jong

    Thanks so much LOVE them you are sooooooooooooo generous with your time x I have been making the fish (a lot of them in fact ! so much pleasure they bring) would post and share but don’t know how to, so they are on my Insta with your name tagged thanks again stitchy friend x

  37. HollyAnn

    Wonderful results, and LOVE YOUR PROCESS of discovery! ❤️❤️❤️

Leave a Reply to Kim Simcox Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *