Tag: creativity

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

the 2019 annual scrap festival : 10 ideas for your scraps

stitched amulets on my work table

stacks of antique fabric scraps

Did you know it is national scrap week? It is not. I made that up. But it should be a thing. I’m making it a thing.  A bag of scraps is food for thought, inspiration, an invitation to happenstance, possibility thinking. It always has been for me.  

January is an organizing month here. I am sorting through pretty much everything but mostly fabric scraps. Choosing what to keep, what to let go of and making what I keep as tidy and orderly as scraps can be. I’m ironing my scraps. I secretly love to iron. Not my clothes, I’m permanently, slightly, comfortably disheveled.  I like to iron scraps. It’s a little ridiculous. Lets call it meditative. Or it could also be called productive procrastination… 

tiny scrap of vintage fabric to patch tiny pants

And sometimes not so productive procrastination. It frequently devolves into spending a lot of time pondering a very small and fabulous scrap. I love this scrap. Now I have to make a tiny pair of pants so I can add this patch to them. And then I have to make a lamb to put in the pants. You see how this goes…

fragment of an antique garment

There are some pieces I can’t call scraps. Some are so exquisite I call them fragments. Something left over from a life with marks from other hands and days.  

If you have found your way here it is likely you have scraps too. In celebration of the inaugural scrap festival I’ve collected 10 ideas for your scraps. Let’s start with 3 projects for your most special scraps, your fragments.  

1. sweet needle books –  for needles and ideas and memories.

2. amulets – little stitch experiments I  started making last summer. I begin with no shape in mind, just layering my favorite fragments, experimenting and playing with compositions. Then I trim them and sew a backing. I find the compositions are more interesting if I approach them this way rather than beginning with the shape. I made a little template of the shapes I use for you – you can download that here.  And for cord I usually use this waxed thread (PS I get a tiny commission if you buy it through that link, you can also find it in craft stores).

stitched amulets on my work table

3. ethereal garlands – for the tiniest scraps, the un-sewables, the little whispers you can’t let go of.

4. string quilts- there is a full tutorial here for this quick and easy flip and sew technique for your longish scraps.

5. Once you have pieced together a bunch of scraps you can make a fabric basket – you know what you could put in it?  Scraps.

specks and keeping stitched compostition

6. marvelous fabric compositions – let happenstance be your guide and find inspiration in these stitched pieces by Specks and Keepings. The left-overs from garment sewing are used as is. I love the compositions. There is magic in those accidental shapes and relationships. 

7. french seam pillow cases – for your larger scraps. This is on my domestic sewing list. 

8. jar opener – so clever – made from fabric scraps and rubber shelf liner. 

9. fabric twine – for your tiny scraps. And netflix. And wine. 

10. And finally – it  is illegal to do a blog post about fabric scrap projects without including fabric bunting. Plus I love it – so sweet to make for little folks.

Find 4 more scrap project ideas here. And if you have a project to recommend please leave it in the comments.

 P S – 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.

ann wood : stitch expeiments and stacks of antique scraps

the fruitless search for the ultimate organic dot and the diy solution

The quest for the perfect organic dot fabric for toadstools is never ending, I’m always on the look out for fungal feeling dots, speckles and marks in general and I’m super particular. Shopping in LA a few weeks ago there was lots of nice batik stuff that was close but no cigar. I described my dream fabric to my friend Molly and she said “dude you could totally make that”. That is such a good attitude. Yesterday I experimented a little. And dude, I can totally make that, so can you.

making marks on cotton fabric with bleach

Gather some cotton fabric, bleach, wax paper and tools for mark making. I tried all sorts of things, rubber stamps, pallet knives, brushes, straws, cardboard, spools, on and on. Also put on an apron and some gloves and do this somewhere very well ventilated or outside.

marking with bleach on fabric using a pencil eraser

I had one little dish of straight up bleach (you just need a little) and another diluted about 2 parts bleach to one part water. I put wax paper under the fabric and started making marks. My favorite tools ended up being a pencil eraser, putty knife, a stiff bristle brush, a toothbrush for splattering and a little spool that I glued a piece of wool felt to one end of. A cork would have been good too – just thought of it.

spool with wool felt glued to one end for bleach printing

cotton fabrics printed with bleach for making fabric toadstools

The marks take a moment to begin to “develop”. I let most of the fabric sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing. I have googled/pinterested around and there are all sorts of interesting things you can do with this technique and you can get pretty fancy about it. Find a great tutorial here and another here. 

We will be playing with this process in my botanical workshop in Kentucky next November (at this moment is is wait list only but if you’d like to go jump on the wait list – stuff happens in a year).

toadstools made from fabric

toadstools made from fabric, brown and red with spots

find the mushroom sewing pattern here

I love how they turned out, the bleach prints are so perfect for little fungi.

the magical possibilities of cardboard and behind the scenes in the mouse diorama

paper mache ships hanging in my window

Cardboard is all over the place, for free! It has lots of interesting qualities and I’m always curious about the possibilities of things. I’m very interested in transformation, particularly of modest things, discarded things. The thin stuff, like a cereal box, is wonderfully flexible and you can create remarkably graceful curves with a little ingenuity. It is the secret ingredient in my paper mache ships. I think that is quite a transformation, from family size Cheerios box to floating ship, it is a kind of magic.

paper mache ships hanging in my window

It is also what I use for my teacup armature.

cardboard teacup armature

Or even more intriguing, let it be the star of the show, glorified in all its cardboardness. The shapes and tones and textures all observable and celebrated.  And I can’t resist an interesting die cut, they set my imagination on fire. Die cuts figure heavily into this spooky cardboard castle.

yummy fun playhouse

I made this playhouse from cardboard and popsicle sticks ages ago for Clare Crespo’s Yummyfun Cooking.  So many hot glue burns but so much fun.

And speaking of fun checkout this super simple diorama for photographing your continental mice in a make believe French countryside. It is sand and pebbles, a little fake moss (all found at Joann’s) and a sweet print I got in the actual South of France last summer. It’s in a giant plastic container to diffuse the light.

felt mouse in a countryside diorama

This guy seems pretty excited about it. He was made by a student in the French General Mouse workshop last week. Find the pattern to make your own here.

P S – Do you get my weekly -ish newsletter? (there are two great cardboard halloween costume ideas in this week’s issue.

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