Tag: creativity

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.


the big 2020 review and plans for the new year

art and drawing supplies on a pink desk

let’s start with the first project of the new year:

Years ago I got a very old, wobbly, pink console table at a flea market in Brooklyn. Turning it into a place to make my little daily paintings was the first project of 2021. My current living situation (Guilford, Connecticut since June) is serviceable but I have not really made friends with it. The pink desk is the first thing that has made me feel at home, less disoriented in disorienting times.
It needed a thorough cleaning to brighten the odd pink paint and tightening the leg screws completely eliminated the wobble.

art and drawing supplies on a pink desk

Ritual and habit anchor me. And the pink desk adds to the painting ritual. They happen mostly in the evening, the last thing I do each day. Pretty much. I haven’t missed a day in two plus years. I love that it’s waiting for me. It removes an obstacle to beginning. Removing obstacles is super helpful when committing to practice, to building a habit.

art and drawing supplies on a pink desk

more on new year plans in a minute, first let’s look back

Amidst the swirling debacle that was 2020, two lifelong dreams were fulfilled.

You know I love a list. Partly because I like to look back and see what stuck and what didn’t. What plans turned into reality and what stayed in the someday folder. I made an intentionally audacious (audacious for me anyway) list in 2015.  Looking back at it now I’m surprised how much of it came true. It also pointed me back at some things I’d still like to accomplish and some I’m probably letting go of. Like surfing. Mostly cause I’m scared of sharks.

Two big items on the list happened this past summer:

I planted a garden and took a pottery class. The hurricane at the beginning of August dropped a huge tree on the little garden and pretty much wiped it out but still… some stuff survived (mostly herbs and radishes) and I got to play in dirt and ate stuff I grew myself. I also learned a lot about bunnies, bugs and deer…

3 ceramic handmade plates

The pottery class was at the Guilford Art Center over the summer. It took most of the ten week class for me to figure out what I want to make and learn even the basic rules of clay. I am swirling with ideas and all the energy of being a beginner.

hand holding a tiny ceramic mushroom

And I made a painting. I’ve been intending to bust out the mini scale of my painting work and experiment for a long time.  At the end of the year I made it a priority. It was an experience. I learned a lot, including that paint is expensive. It’s something I’ll continue to experiment with but at a less ambitious size unless I win the lottery.

blog and shop stuff

A few highlights : The Elegant (and sometimes nude) Rag doll pattern was released as well as 9 new free tutorials:

picnic bugs
wire doll house bed
overalls for the tiny rag doll and mr. socks
miniature paper hens
scrap flower garlands
chicken ornaments
owl ornaments
pin girls
lucky fish

mouse doll house tea party

My favorite project of the year was the mouse house. Made for joy. 100% Joy. And that’s my plan for 2021. Look for Joy. Indulge in and commit hard to things that bring Joy and let go of things that don’t.

Two of the big lessons from 2020 for me were:

1. Take nothing for granted.
2. I’m capable of more than I think.

Weeding out the things that don’t really bring Joy is harder than it sounds. But I can make it the first question. Put it at the top of the list when deciding what to spend time on, let it steer me. I think the daily painting practice helps with that. Showing up and listening to myself.

If you’re feeling up for a daily practice the 100 Day Project is a good opportunity to test drive one. The next round starts January 31st. Think of it as an opportunity to listen to yourself.

I’m still feeling around for my goals for this year. There are a few things I know for sure in the short term – in the next few weeks you will see a new sewing pattern (the crow), prints and notecards made from daily paintings and plans for the third annual international scrap festival.

Lots of other ideas are still swirling and percolating and I’m giving them room to do that. Building more time in my days to feel around for Joy.

lucky fish : slow stitch project

slow stitch scrap fish diy

slow stitch scrap fish diy

Who doesn’t need some luck? Plus these very simple fish are pulling me out of slushy, stubborn stuckness.

One thing leads to another, if you let it, but first you need to start. Where I really started was ironing, ironing scraps. It went on my to do list because it was an easy win (I felt like doing it). And I had saved a couple bundles of scraps, each sent by a friend, to sort and iron pre-move.

slow stitch fabric fish diy

As I ironed and sorted by color the wheels started to turn and I felt a strong and persistent spiritual directive to slow stitch some fish.

Maybe you feel like stitching some fish too. Let it be a meandering process, try stuff. Let one thing lead to another.

** DOWNLOAD THE FISH TEMPLATE **

You will also need:

  • fabric scraps – light cotton or linen
  • little scraps, buttons lace for embellishing
  • stuffing
  • a basic sewing kit
  • pencil

cutting out fabric fish shape

1. Pin the pattern to 2 layers of light cotton fabric – right sides of the fabric together – and cut out. Be sure to clip out the little triangle notches.

2. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil.

3. Stitch the seam by hand or machine, leaving open between the notches. Find hand sewing tips here. 

4.  Clip notches around the curves and clip off the points at the nose and tail. Be careful not to clip the seam.

5. Use a chopstick to turn the fish right side out.

6.  Pro tip: use a plastic mechanical pencil to push out the corners – retract the lead first.

7. Stuff your fish.

Read More

house for a mouse : make mini chandeliers and a bed

mouse house diy projects

doll house diy

Making a cozy house for nice mice: part 2 – the bedroom

If you haven’t checked out Part 1 find it right here.

 

doll house furniture tutorials

mouse house tutorials

mouse house diy

The Admiral escorts Mrs. Croft off to bed.

 

doll or fairy bed diy

 

 

Of course they need a bedroom too, a cozy escape from the trials of the day.  The tutorial for their dear little wire bed is here.

 

 

 

dollhouse chandelier diy

*some links are affiliate links – meaning I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the links – they are marked with an asterisk

The fancy chandeliers are made from vintage beads and buttons and *24 gauge wire. Any wire small enough to fit through your beads will work. Improvise and work with what you’ve got – that is the spirit of the mouse house. I didn’t have a ton of beads – I gave most of them away a while ago – what was I thinking… So I took apart a couple vintage earrings, found a few glass buttons and beads and some tiny plastic seed beads.

I’ve got some tips below to get you started:

dollhouse chandelier diy

Make a circle of beads on your wire – whatever size you like. Twist 3 or four wires onto the ring – with a short end and a long end.

dollhouse chandelier diy

I used four wires – spaced out pretty evenly around the circle of beads.

dollhouse chandelier diy

Add a bead or button to the short ends and curl them up.

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make a house for a mouse

make a mouse dollhouse

mouse doll house

A fancy dress tea party for very nice mice!

They are so happy to see you! Come right in!

Step into their warm, welcoming ramshackle room. I could totally live there! They’ve made it extra festive and cozy for a fancy tea party with friends.

Find part 2 – a cozy bedroom right here.

mouse doll house tea party

The dear little scene is made from stuff I had around, a couple things from my childhood dollhouse, old french letters on the wall and some favorite tiny treasures. The mice and plates are free tutorials in case you are feeling the need for a mouse tea party. I’ve shared a few tips and ideas below for creating a very nice mouse house including miniature plate hangers for your tiny mismatched china, more on that in a minute.

make a mouse dollhouse

mouse tea party

Making a mouse tea party was not my plan for Saturday.  All of a sudden I felt the need to make something entirely for Joy. 100% JOY.  And it was, sorting through my treasures, making the wire chandelier, putting together the little scene and photographing it was 100 % joy.

mouse doll house door

mouse house diy

some details:

*some links are affiliate links – meaning I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the links – they are marked with an asterisk

A fancy bicorne hat for the host -The tiny bicorne hat was made using this pattern but I used the “bird bicorne accent” pattern piece for the hat and then cut another a little smaller for the decorative piece.

The mice – made from the very nice mice  free pattern – pro tip – lately I’ve been adding walnut shells or a coin or two for weight in the bottom to help them stand up.

Tiny plates and cups made from this free tutorial – so much fun.

pickling spice for mini mouse food

mouse food – Pickling spice makes great mouse food. I put some in a little glass button and sprinkled some by the door mat too – little mouse debris, you know how mice are…

miniature chandelier

Chandelier – Its made from this *super handy 24 gauge wire, a vintage earring I’ve had for ever and a few tiny beads. The easy plate hangers are made from this wire too.

make miniature plate hangers

make miniature plates and plate hangers for a dollhouse

Cut a few inches of  *24 gauge wire. You will also need needle nose pliers – small ones are great, wire cutters and pins for hanging. I used the sharpie to color the *little applique pins. The little pins come in handy for lots of dollhouse things.

Bend the wire in half and make a loop. Twist the ends under the loop,

Place your tiny plate on  and bend up the ends.

Remove the plate, trim the ends and curl them with the pliers.

Put your plate on and press the curled ends to hold the plate snuggly.

make miniature plates and plate hangers for a dollhouse

The wall is made from foam-core and I push the little pins (colored with a sharpie) in to hold the hangers. You can use tiny nails too.

If you’ve got kids home from school this would be a fun project and stay tuned for more ideas. If you do make a mouse tea party I’d love to see – you can email photos to info at ann wood handmade dot com or use #annwoodpattern and #mousehousediy to share on instagram.

Wishing you all health and  peace and happiness and I hope this all passes quickly.

Onward!
ann

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.


a paper ship installation and other notes from the forest

paper boats in a basket

paper boats in a basket

It was a pretty cozy situation, hanging out by the fire watching paper vessels turn in the breeze. And that’s what I wanted to make. A cozy situation, a daydreaming place for anybody who chose to partake. A situation I think Mr. Roger’s would approve of. That is my barometer for lots of things – “what would Mr. Rogers think of this? What would Mr. Rogers do about this?” It never steers me wrong.

paper ships hung in a library(photo by awesome @bailey.b.raha)

And the world needs more paper ships. This is my firm belief. I made lots of paper ships and boats over the last couple months to bring to the Squam Art Retreat. I hung an installation of them in the sweet little library, it’s my favorite room at the camp.

paper ship and boat installation

The smaller boats are quick and easy to make and I’ve made you a tutorial and templates for making your own. You can find that right here. And I’m teaching the larger ships in a workshop in October.

squam lake

squam art tote bag

I love the retreat and I love that giant forest and I made the artwork for the tote bag this year! So happy with how it turned out.

tiny rag doll under a mushroom

embroidered felt doll jacket

 

And it was an exceptionally good year for mushrooms at Squam Lake. Big colorful mushrooms kept popping up all over the place. This one was just right for sheltering a tiny lady. You can find the free pattern for her little jacket and hat right here. Bundle up somebody little. It comes in Mr. socks size too.

mr. socks dolls

Speaking of that mischievous cat I ran into some of the Socks cousin’s on a path, it was a happy meeting for everybody. You just never know who you might meet. As usual I was so busy being in the forest I hardly took any photos but you can find more images from the Squam Art Retreat right here.

owl sewing pattern booklet

In other news : The Owl Booklet starts shipping today! It turned out even better than I expected and I’m excited for you to get it. Thanks so much to everybody who pre-ordered. The first printing is just about sold out and there are more on the way.

owl sewing pattern booklet