Tag: workshops

abandoned quilt tops and stitched crows

fabric crow

It has some great moments and some highly questionable choices (worn towels…). All of it is very nostalgic for me.

salvaged quilt top

I’m always on the look out for  vintage or antique quilt tops. They are frequently super cheap and a great source for unusual little bits of fabric, perfect for all sorts of small projects (including doll quilts). Or if you find something  with no objectionable moments or issues you can take it across the quilt finish line. The quilt above (found on ebay) was probably assembled in the 70’s and has lots of sweet calicos. Another I found recently is pale and has a mix of small turn of the century and depression era prints salvaged from garments. Both are coming to workshops in LA with me.

needle book pages

I’m using the older quilt for needle book pages. I’ve been stitching up lots for the class.  You wouldn’t think machine sewing a ton of rectangles would be appealing but it is. I’ll probably get over it but right now I can’t get enough. It’s peaceful and satisfying to stack up the finished pages. Also I’m thinking of offering the pre-sewn, ready to embellish  pages as a kit this winter – what do you think?

stitching crow wings

Besides needle books we will be making paper ships, beetles, mushrooms and crows. I’m bringing lots of old garments to work with.

fabric crow

carved beaks and an edwardian skirt

paper ship

find workshop details and sign up here

 

basket of edwardian lawn gowns

And as soon as I get back to Brooklyn I’ll start shooting steps for a crow sewing pattern. In other pattern news the large rag doll and soldier patterns are coming soon too – I have a major do-over to deal with but hope to have at least one of those ready before the holidays.

stitched beetles

stitched beetles made from scraps

I wonder what they talk about – somebody seems pretty bossy…

new fall 2019 workshops

antique paper ship workshop

paper ship workshop

French paper ships, edwardian birds, stitched beetles and toadstools and a sweet needle book. I’m headed back to LA in October for a big week of workshops.  And I’m still trying to squeeze a couple more in for 2019 (east coasters stay tuned – how would you feel about Connecticut?). If you’d like to suggest someplace near you that might like to offer a workshop with me let me know.

french paper ships

antique paper ship workshop

They glow like the moon and twirl in the breeze. Spend two days making romantic paper vessels with billowy sails. You will learn my top secret paper layering techniques and create your ship hull from antique and handmade papers. The stitched linen and cotton sails will be finished with antique fabrics and garment fragments.

All tools and materials are supplied for this workshop including specialty handmade papers and a collection of antique french paper for finishing, sail fabrics and embellishments and antique buttons and rigging. If you have fabrics or papers that are meaningful to you, you are welcome to bring them, but it is not required. The finished ship measures approximately 13 inches by 18 inches.

Are you traveling? Your ship disassembles and folds flat for travel. It’s magic.

All materials are provided for this workshop. Coffee/tea, lunch and aperos served.

details and registration

edwardian birds

edwardian bird workshop

Working with antique garments we will create a creature inspired by ravens and crows. A dark bird with a mysterious and intelligent presence.

You will learn to stitch and sculpt the body shape, create intricate layers of feathers, sculpt talons and carve the beak.

The antique Edwardian mourning garments we will work with provide interesting textures, colors and detail that will be unique to your bird. We will be stitching by hand and machine. The finished bird is 8-9 inches tall.

All materials are provided for this workshop. Coffee/tea, lunch and aperos served.

details and registration

stitched beetles

stitched beetle workshop

Spend and evening stitching a sweet beetle with me. We will work with vintage and antique fabrics, lace, wire and a couple secret ingredients to create these whimsical little creatures that fit in the palm of your hand. The finished beetle is approximately 4 inches long (excluding his darling antennae).

All materials are provided for this workshop. Aperos served.

details and registration

stitched mushrooms

stitched mushroom workshop

Make magical toadstools! We will spend an evening stitching enchanted fungi. You will work with vintage and antique scraps to create caps and stems and you’ll learn the top secret method for making a concave cap underside.

All materials are provided for this workshop. The finished mushroom is 4-6 inches long. Aperos served.

details and registration

needle book

needle book

Stitch a little book for your needles and notions and the scraps you can’t part with.

Spend an evening slow stitching with me. We will embellish and personalize pre- sewn pages to create a mini 6 page booklet plus cover and center heart. There will be exquisite antique buttons and fabric and lace scraps to choose from. You will learn to assemble the book, add details, embroidery and create spaces for your notions. The finished book is approximately 3 and ½ by 5 inches.

All materials are provided for this workshop. Aperos served.

details and registraion

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

new 2019 workshops : botanical specimens, sugar house retreat and songbirds

botanical stitching class with ann wood

There are two botanical specimen workshops – you can take either or both (take both – spend the whole weekend stitching strange specimens with me!). Each day will focus on different techniques and projects.  And we are offering the songbird class again.

I’m headed to Vermont in early spring for lambs in pants and stitched talismans and back to Los Angeles in April to teach 3 workshops at French General. Find all the details below and links to registration. I hope you can make it! I’m bringing everything you need including treasures from my antique textile collection and my favorite tools and supplies.  All you have to do is show up. If you have any questions please send me a message.

botanical stitching class with ann wood

botanical specimens 101 – saturday april 6th

fungi, root systems, and seed pods

You will create elegant stitched seed pods  with realistic root systems and invent wild and strange species of mushrooms. We will explore basic soft sculpture techniques including working with spheres and creating and modifying patterns. I’ll share my techniques for creating forms and texture with textiles, wire, paper and other simple materials.  Click here for more info and registration.

 

botanical stitching class with ann wood

botanical specimens 102 – sunday april 7th

bulbs,  rare specimens and fabric printing 

You will learn to create realistic bulb root systems and techniques for creating organic feeling marks on fabric.  We will explore antique botanical prints for inspiration and I’ll guide you through the process of inventing your own rare specimen using traditional as well as non traditional soft sculpture techniques. Click here for more info and registration.

 

songbirds  – friday april 5th

Come make songbirds with me. I’ll guide you through the process of sewing, stuffing and sculpting the basic shape, creating natural looking layers of feathery textures, embroidering features, carving beaks, sculpting feet and giving your creation spirit and “birdness”. I’ll also share my some of my favorite supplies, top secret tips and techniques and some treasures from my collection of antique textiles. Click here for more details and registration.

 

SugarHouse Retreat with Ann Wood and French General at Warm Brook Barn  -March 21st-24th, 2019

Join me in Vermont for a glorious cosy weekend stitching lambs in pants (or dresses) and amulets and making gorgeous sugar drop necklaces (among other things) with French General. The Sugarhouse Retreat is a weekend filled with cozy fireplace warmth, maple syrup treats and friends near and dear – including a visit to one of Vermont’s Sugarhouse’s on the annual open weekend as well as crafting by the fire. Delicious meals and hosting by Meleen Dupre of Warm Brook Barn.   Click here for more details and registration.

squam 2019 : tinder and spark – come experiment with me in the forest

a mysterious box - an idea generating experiment

inspiration gathered on my work table

The Squam Art Retreat 2019 offerings are up and registration is open. I’m already looking forward to teaching next September.

experiments on my work table

There is art and practice in generating ideas.  Come spend a day with me in the forest experimenting and having lots of ideas.

Tinder and Spark – idea generation : experiments, curiosity and constraints

I will guide you through a series of  improvisational (and fun) exercises designed to bypass blocks, spark you creatively, help you dig deeply into your imagination, spot intersections and generate ideas.

We will employ constraints to move our thinking in novel ways and practice approaching assignments laterally.  Sometimes a shift in approach makes all the difference. We will look for serendipity, invite happenstance to guide us and we will play. Play generates lots of ideas.  In idea generation volume matters.

a mysterious box - an idea generating experiment

The day begins with experiment #1 :  a mysterious box…. a collection of materials and found objects. Employing the remarkable creative power of constraint and with a top secret inspiration source in mind you will create a small work of art.  I’ll help you push past blocks and navigate and choose techniques and tools.

One thing leads to another, if you let it.  If the experimenter in you needs some encouragement  please join me for this day of exploration. What will you unearth?  What has been waiting for an opportunity to emerge? Come with that curiosity.

Find all the details here!

two mini workshops

hand stitched amulets

Come sew with me in LA in October!  I’ve added two mini evening workshops to my visit with French General, fun nights of stitching, all materials supplied:

hand stitched amulets

colorful fabric pendants on a worn piece of wood

Stitched amulets Tuesday, October 16th / 5-8pm
Spend an early evening with stitching up small, sweet textile talismans. We will provide all of the small bits and pieces, including antique French and Japanese fabric, cord, buttons and charms for you to create a handful of small amulets that can be worn for luck, love or given to a friend.

All materials are supplied for this workshop, but you are free to bring any small special pieces to make your talisman uniquely yours. Click here for details and registration.

very nice mice : sewing pattern

little sailor mouse

Very nice mice – Thursday, October 18th / 6-9pm
Spend an evening making mice with me! I’m bringing everything you need and lots of extras for embellishing and sweet details. We’ll hand stitch adorable little friends and along the way I’ll share some of my favorite supplies, tips and tricks. And while we photograph our creations in whimsical mini sets I’ll offer you some seat of the pants techniques for capturing your creation’s unique personality and charm.
Everything is supplied for this workshop. Click here for details and registration.

france, battling natsubate and pushing the songbird pattern across the finish line

textile toadstool in the south of france

Natsubate, I definitely have it. It is a Japanese word that can be translated as “summer fatigue”. July is almost always lazy and slow for me. There is no talking myself out of it. I should probably start planning for that. Besides the seasonal aspect, the natsubate, giant projects almost always have doldrums, usually near the end, when the hard part is done. A massive wall of resistance rises between me and the little last details.

That stuckness is cemented by ambiguity. Specifics, specific tasks, specific goals and time frames move things forward and support momentum.

hand stitched songbird progress

That’s where the songbird pattern has been,  trapped in a perfect storm of inertia: July, just the fussy boring details left to do and a lack of structure, a lack of plan to complete those. There is also, I’m sure, an element of brain fatigue, the backlash for having not taken a break for a while, not letting my mind and focus muscle rest. A few days out of my routine being tossed about in salt water helped with that.

And I can fix the lack of plan part while still accounting for my seasonal dip in energy and focus by applying James Clear’s method, reduce the scope, stick to the schedule. I’ll devote a couple golden early morning hours each day to a specific lists of tasks. When I broke down exactly what I needed to do on paper it was suddenly clear that would be more than enough to push this pattern over the finish line and into the shop. That clarity was motivating on its own and to add some accountability to further inspire me I’ll tell you that the finish line is Tuesday, 7/17.

corde sur ciel : france

Now let’s talk about France a little bit. France gets a big thumbs up from me. I suspected it would be good but it was beyond my imagination. Good job France, you really brought it. I was so completely engaged in the experience I hardly took any photos but I’ll share what I’ve got below and you can find more on french general’s instagram feed  (scroll down a little for Corde Sur Ciel).

textile toadstool in the south of france

I’m planning now for a longer stay next summer. You should come. If you think you might like to let me know – and I’ll keep you informed as plans solidify.

Have a beautiful weekend and I’ll be back on Tuesday to share the songbird pattern. At last.

the sudden appearance of a third toe and a workshop in brooklyn

bird foot made from paper and wire

The truth is I thought birds had two toes. Some birds anyway. I was aware that many birds had 3 toes but, for reasons I don’t fully understand, I thought that there were also lots of birds with two toes. The actual number is much closer to zero…

I stand by my two toes. I think two is exactly the right number of toes for birds who go camping and put on plays and get married in the forest.  Exactly the right number of toes for ballerina birds and pirates.

bird foot made from paper and wire

And I have lately decided that 3 toes is the appropriate number of toes for my more realistic songbirds. How to add the third toe was a puzzle though. I failed again and again, rejecting methods that were too complicated or unreliable.  Last Sunday I landed on a simple and elegant solution, a method and a realistic three toed bird foot I am thoroughly pleased with. It’s going in the pattern. PS – I haven’t given up on the cast foot – it is in the works – more on that soon.

hand stitched birds

handmade fabric bird

And I’ll teach the three toed method at my next songbird workshop, my first ever in NYC, and right down the street from my place! Come to Brooklyn for a two day songbird workshop on June 2nd and 3rd at Brooklyn General.

find all the details and register here

And if you’ve got questions send me an email, I’m happy to help.

woodshedding birds and owls

hand stitched birds

hand stitched birds

I’m in the woodshed with songbirds. Evaluating the pattern and steps, testing and adjusting little things – using what I learned teaching the workshops last month to make the pattern all I want it to be.

pale blue textile bird

My friend Mickey introduced me to the term woodshedding and I love it:

“The ability to conjure up a feeling of wonder in others, to create a sense of awe, has always fascinated me. And while I do believe that magic can just “happen” under the right circumstances, creating magic is a much different story. It involves a lot of hard work, endless study and a constant refining of process and craft. In music, they call these periods of intense practice woodshedding, referring to the time spent honing skills privately out in the woodshed.”

Mick Riad  –  Creative Director, Fortuny

I think it is my favorite place to be, in the woodshed with something. Discovering, testing and refining. Deep in a learning process.

handstitched birds on my worktable

crimson and puce bird

hand stitched bird details

velvet fortuny owl

I’m also woodshedding owls to prepare for the dastardly owl workshops this fall (I think there are 2 spots left).  Eventually they will also become a pdf and print pattern too.

What’s going on in your woodshed?

Update – the songbird and owl patterns are available in the shop now:

a sewing pattern for a dastardly owl      sewing pattern for a textile songbird

two new workshops : songbirds and elegant rag dolls

This March I’ll be teaching three all day workshops at French General in Los Angeles. Songbirds (sold out) on the 24th and 25th (the same class offered twice) and Elegant Rag dolls (sold out) on the 23rd. Registration is open and you can find all the details at French General.

Find the songbird sewing pattern here.

 

Songbirds
Come make songbirds with me. I’ll guide you through the process of sewing, stuffing and sculpting the basic shape, creating natural looking layers of feathery textures, embroidering features, carving beaks, sculpting feet and giving your creation spirit and “birdness”. I’ll also share my some of my favorite supplies, top secret tips and techniques and some treasures from my collection of antique textiles. Basic sewing skills are needed, we will be stitching by hand and machine.

Elegant Ragdolls
Mysterious girls with secrets. The details make me happy, front bustles revealing a scandalous amount of leg, slippered feet, fancy underthings and elegant chignons. I’ll guide you through the stitching and stuffing and details and share my favorite supplies, top secret tips and techniques and some treasures from my collection of antique textiles. Basic sewing skills are needed, we will be stitching by hand and machine.

I hope to see you there!

 

dioramas in the forest and a third kind of image

squam diorama workshop

diorama workshop at squam

I think about thinking a lot. I think about imagination a lot. The mystery of it.  Creativity, art, inspiration, expression, all of that. I think about how it feels to get something past the filters. To get something that was inside on the outside in a way that feels complete and true. Seeable. With all it’s you-ness in tact.

That kind of expression is what’s on my mind when I’m preparing for workshops. The last two especially, Squam and the mini makerie. Both workshops had a strong focus on exploring and trusting your imagination and starting without knowing exactly where you are headed. Experimenting and responding.

I experiment on myself all the time, watch myself work, observe my own thinking and patterns, where I get stuck, how I unstick myself and I bring that experience with me. I also read a lot this spring and summer about art, imagination and creativity and that something else that doesn’t have a name. I came across the quote below in a collection of observations on Joseph Cornell’s boxes by Charles Simic. I love the idea of a third kind of image:

“There are really three kinds of images. First, there are those seen with eyes open in the manner of realists in both art and literature. Then there are images we see with eyes closed. Romantic poets, surrealists, expressionists, and everyday dreamers know them. The images [Joseph] Cornell has in his boxes are, however, of the third kind. They partake of both dream and reality, and of something else that doesn’t have a name. They tempt the viewer in two opposite directions. One is to look and admire the elegance and other visual properties of the composition, and the other is to make up stories about what one sees. In Cornell’s art, the eye and the tongue are at cross purposes. Neither one by itself is sufficient. It’s that mingling of the two that makes up the third image.”

– Charles Simic
Dime store Alchemy

I so recommend this book. I got it as a gift from my much older sister who is knitting me a sweater several years ago and it has been next to my bed ever since waiting for me.

I asked students to keep that in mind, the unnamable thing, the third kind of image, as the worked on their boxes in the forest at Squam:

*click the images for a larger view – there are lots of details.

squam diorama workshop

squam dioramas

squam playhouse

And just like that it’s fall. September has gone by in a flash and I miss the forest, especially my early morning walk along this path for coffee. Until next time.

“The real things are happening in the forest still.” – Charlotte Mew

 

natural history : a new workshop

natural history : a workshop with ann wood

natural history : a workshop with ann wood

* Update – The workshop has sold out but please add your name to the wait list if you were hoping to join – cancellations do happen. 

Registration just opened for “Natural History” a three day creative retreat with The Makerie in Boulder – September 22nd to the 24th.

Our assignment for our three days together is to create and document an imagined natural history. We will look for inspiration at the intersection of history, poetry and nature, working collaboratively as well as individually to create and photograph a collection of specimens.  We’ll use textiles, paper, found objects and a variety of other tools, techniques, materials and inspiration I’m bringing.

stitched botanicals

I’ll guide you through improvisational (and fun) exercises designed to spark you creatively, help you dig deeply into your imagination and generates ideas.  It’s a  spontaneous, “yes and” way of working – each action builds on the previous – you work with what shows up. It’s less about finished works and more about making connections and  recognizing serendipity and happy accidents when they appear. We will pull ideas and details from our experiments as a starting point for designing and making our plants and creatures.

blue beetle

mushroom specimens

hand stitched toadstool

perched fly

On our last day together we will style and photograph our specimens individually and as a group.  I’ll share tips for creating compelling compositions and moods, simple lighting hacks and other seat of the pants techniques that I use in photographing my own work.

This is a workshop about experimenting, collaborating, playing and getting out of your own way.  That is a life long daily challenge for me and I love sharing what I’ve learned so far. I hope I can help you be a more intrepid explorer of your imagination, reach past the territory you’ve already navigated and expand your skills for sharing that world.

Sounds like fun to me and I hope to see you there! If you’ve got questions please send me a message – I’m happy to help.

*registration has closed but you can still join the wait list here.