I’ve been taking some time to wander around and pay extra attention to moss and mushrooms and other botanicals in preparation for my class at Squam this year (just a couple weeks away!). On my last excursion I spotted all sorts of mushrooms – most of which I’ve never seen before.
This yellow one with a spotted cap was the biggest- the size of my hand and intensely yellow.
These little yellow and black ( and kind of creepy) guys are tiny – less than an inch high.
I also made a little terrarium with a tiny fishbowl I found at a yard sale.
I’m looking forward to the class and the time in the forest and it also winds up a period of extreme busyness for me – I’m working on the botanical class, 2 new patterns, a special project for holiday 2015 and another for holiday 2014 among other things – all wrapping up in the next couple weeks. The last night of the Squam retreat (9/13) there’s an Art Fair - if New Hampshire is not too far for you I hope you’ll come say hi.
At last! I hope you make ships! And thanks so much for the encouragement and good wishes along the way – it helps. This is a huge pattern- 57 pages of photos and instructions, 3 templates – a Large Ship, a Small Ship, a Little Boat, a resource list and more. Make the three projects and then expand on that – you’ll learn how I make graceful shapes from cereal boxes and all sorts of other top secret techniques – you’ll make beautiful ships and get all sorts of ideas. You can find the pattern here or if you prefer on Etsy.
If you make ship I’d love to see, you can post here or send me a photo : ann at ann wood handmade dot com
There are also a couple little (very little) companion videos including :
How To Put The Wind in Your Sails
Over the weekend I took the entire ship building /pattern making operation way upstate into the Adirondack park. Major progress was made and there where some setbacks too. If I had known how long this would take or how hard it would be I’m not sure I would have started, but I’m glad I did.
I’ve still got a handful of photos to take, a bunch to edit and lots of pages to layout but I hope the hardest part is done. I’ve been testing as I go along so I’m confident the instruction is solid and there’s a lot of it. Hopefully the patterns make it out into the world by the end of the week. This has been such an epic effort and learning experience and I’ll be very, very, happy when it is officially done and released and I’ll also be very excited to start the next pattern.
PS – If you’d like an email when the pattern is released you can sign up here.
A little collection of new creatures – I’ve posted them on Etsy just now (7/31). I spent the morning re -shooting them, I was disappointed with yesterday’s photos ( on the up side I learned some things about aperture) so now I’ve got to roll right into Flamingo making – lots and lots of flamingos…
Pecksniff (he’s got some fancy junk in his owley trunk)
(beautiful fabrics courtesy of Sri Threads)
I started this dark bird months ago and he ended up becoming more complex than I originally intended.
His underside is stitched and stitched. I like to have this kind of project, this kind of compulsive, repetitive stitching to pick up sometimes. I like to have busy hands when something is percolating in my mind or when I’m searching for an idea or part of and idea.
On the subject of inspiration: I listened to a great episode of “After The Jump” yesterday – Grace Bonney talks to wall paper designer Katie Deedy about her creative practices, where she finds inspiration and how she develops ideas. I love hearing about other peoples creative process and I could relate to everything Katie said. The work of being inspired is a constant and consuming process for me. I enjoy all of it – even when it’s difficult – the thrill of the chase I guess. I’m so curious what might be next, what surprises and odd intersections might reveal themselves. I do some of my best thinking in the tedious or deeply repetitive work of hand stitching or paper mache and I’m sure that’s part of my attraction to those mediums.
I’m also nearly finished with a big gray owl – I’m photographing all the newly finished creatures today and I’ll add them to my shop ( temporarily on Etsy) tomorrow (7/31).
And progress – this is a sneak peek of the little boat pattern instructions that is part of the paper mache pattern collection (it’s nearly done!).
Ann Wood Handmade ( my shop website) is getting a make over. And part of that makeover is to consolidate my blog and shop into one place. In a couple weeks the new site will be complete and everything will live at annwoodhandmade.com ( for now I’ll still be posting here). I’m making lots of improvements to the shopping experience and I like the idea of having it all in one place – just seems simpler. While the shop site is down I’ll be using my etsy shop for sales.
I’m still slogging away at the ship patterns – I’m through the armature making sections which is huge. Shooting for next week for release. If you’d like an email when new patterns are released you can join the list here. Sewing feels like a treat and a needed change of pace – way too much time with my computer lately. I’m working on a few new things.
These are mostly made from Sri Textiles – in a moody palette I find myself returning to again and again this year. There is also a wonderful bit of eccentric mending on the lower right.
The songbird is a little bit of a re- design. The songbird pattern was the only one I hadn’t backed up and I lost it – so frustrating. As soon as I finished the new design I found the old one in a mislabeled box. I’m glad I did it though – they’re different – the old shape is more stylized in a way I like and the new one has a more natural shape and I like that too.
And a button score! I used up what I thought was a lifetime supply of vintage and antique shell buttons – I use them for rigging ships and owl eyes. I’m back in buttons for at least a couple years I think.
Big projects have them. Usually what keeps me motivated is the process – I like making things, all sorts of things and that has extended to my new project: making patterns (especially because it’s new to me and I’m all lit up with learning).
I had hoped to finish the paper mache ship pattern in the Adirondacks over the holiday weekend. Planned on it really – no distractions, great light, plenty of room etc. but I’m back in thick, hot NYC summer and I‘ve still got a long way to go. Often, if something is taking me a very long time it’s because I’m lingering in the process – I don’t want it to end. In this case a lot of the fun designy stuff (like the cover) is done. And the project has gotten bigger:
I had made the executive decision to keep it small and manageable – just one ship – one small, pretty ship and I was nearly done with that.
But then I reversed that executive decision and decided to make it a collection – 3 vessels. The original small ship, a little boat and a large ship (similar to “The Gulnare” one of my favorites) – a big billowy full sailed affair. And the large ship pattern had to be designed pretty much from scratch – I didn’t have a reliable large ship template. That’s a lot of designing, and a lot of step photos and instructions, editing, testing etc. A lot.
This morning I woke up feeling daunted by the hugeness of the task and frustrated about not being where I hoped I would. I re- read a post from James Clear that I keep a quote from pinned to my wall:
It’s great advice. Great, simple advice that I still need to be reminded of often. The size of the project has changed and it requires a new strategy to finish. Rather than pushing hard towards a completion date or relying on my enjoyment of the work to motivate me I’ve got it on my schedule everyday – 3 hours - first thing in the morning: photographing, compiling, testing and editing.
I can’t wait for you to try the ship patterns and I know that focusing on the schedule rather than that goal is the most reliable way to get there. If something, some goal has been eluding you I recommend trying the approach.
One of my favorite parts of making paper mache ships ( and other things) is collecting words and parts of words and letters to include. I’m always collecting them and when I’m ready to make something, or sometimes when I’m wandering and inviting inspiration I sort through the box – I love the happenstance of it.
I think if you want to make progress, find your best work and ideas, you must be willing to start where you are – as awkward or small as that might be. I’m usually very willing to do that – it’s one of my main life skills (the other is that I am insanely persistent, relentless even, the cool hand luke of art and craft). As soon as I started to compile the patterns I’m working on I realized that video instruction would be helpful – there’s nothing like a demonstration and it helps with language barriers on tricky steps. I have no video making knowledge or equipment beyond my semi broken iphone and a part of a tripod I found in the trash but I put something together with stuff I had around that’s working well enough and I wanted to show you in case you’re in need of a similar solution.
I used a table lamp clamp I got at a yardsale, a wood clothespin and 2 file clips. The clips slide in and out of the clothespin easily and I can position it in a bunch of useful ways – it’s getting the job done. I’m looking forward to getting better but having fun being a mess and experimenting. The whole pattern making experience has put me into that curious and driven kind of place that I was in when I began 7 years ago.
Today I was taking stills ( I don’t use the phone for that) and making videos for the next pattern – paper mache ships and boats (start saving your cereal boxes). I’m hoping to finish the photography tomorrow morning, test the rough draft this week, put it all together over the holiday weekend and have it available just after that.
paint box 7/29
The ships and boats are a very satisfying project to make and I’m excited about sharing it.
Thanks so much to everybody who has purchased the bird pattern. I’m putting a post together of birds made by y’all and if you’d like to be included you can send a photo to me at: ann at ann wood handmade dot com (please put bird photo in the subject).