If you’ve been visiting here for a while (thank you) you know I’m a big fan of Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit – particularly the box method. I’m overwhelmed with projects right now and that makes me a little frantic and anxious. Anxiety makes it hard to focus which produces more anxiety etc. etc.
“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity” – T. S. Elliot
I’ve never been good at moving multiple things forward and the boxes help immensely with that – they contain the projects in more than a physical way. This past Saturday I devoted an hour to gathering and boxing.
I chose a collection of Japanese textiles (courtesy of Sri) for toadstools, owls and hummingbirds and antique garment fragments in shades of black for 2 dastardly owls. The search focuses me and spending time ironing ( which I secretly love) starts to slow my brain down; as I make my little piles, put them in their boxes and write the project name on the tag I feel forward progress, ideas that were vague start to solidify, panic recedes and I feel better and clearer about the coming too busy week – enthusiastic even.
A finished hummingbird – photographed in one of my favorite spots – the side of my tool chest. I think the patina of the wood and the light give it a stillness and trompe l’oeil feel I like.
I came across a youtube video recently that stunned me. If you visit me on Facebook you’ve already heard a bit about this. When I was 5 or 6 My mother took me and my younger sister (who was very small at the time) to the movies. It was a big deal- my mother didn’t drive – not at all – and we lived in the country so a long walk to a bus etc. with little folks – pain in the butt. I was mesmerized by the film and have had images from it floating around in my head ever since. I did not remember the name and it was so long ago and so pre internet I couldn’t imagine I would ever find it. And then I came across this video and recognized it instantly: the tales of beatrix potter
It premiered in 1971 – the Royal Ballet presentation of The Potter tales. There are lots of clips on youtube and you can find it in it’s entirety on DVD on Amazon. My strongest memories are of the Jeremy Fisher segment.
I love the moodiness and there is an intersection between pretend and real elements - a particular note – that has always held a huge appeal for me. I believe this film played a huge part in who I became and I think you’ll see more of its influence in some new work I’m in the planning stages of. You might also enjoy this series of behind the scenes photos by Lara Platman of the making of the costumes ( it is still performed on stage).
I’m working on several new ships – it’s been ages and I especially love to make boats in the spring. The first is made from tattered antique gowns, layers of silk, tulle satin, lace and sheer cotton – stitched and stitched in a meandering way – inspired by the eccentric mending and layers of boro textiles.
The 2 below are paper mache. I start with a layer of brown paper, torn up paper grocery bags (very old lady of me to save them) for the first layer over the cardboard armature and then layers of newsprint. I usually let some or all of the newsprint show so I divide it according to type size and style and I have a box of clipped out words saved (also very old lady of me).
The next is a translucent paper mache ship – a big one – in its beginning stage when it looks like a cocoon. I’ve hung it to dry and I can start to apply the finish layers in the morning – I love waking up to dry paper mache.
And my rat problem has gotten worse……
You could win your very own crepe paper bunnies! In celebration of spring I’ve teamed up with fellow Brooklynite Vané Broussard of Brooklyn Bride to offer you the chance to win a pair of forest folk cake topper bunnies – a perfect cake topper or an unexpected Easter basket treat for someone special. The winner gets to choose the flower and glittery slipper color for mrs. bunny. Find all the details and enter here. The winner will be chosen on Friday 4/11.
I’m working on some new owls – a new smaller owl shape for me with some new details. I’ll finish these tonight and photograph them in the morning . They are part of my “new creatures” update tomorrow ( friday 3/28 ) evening.
And onother new shape – a hummingbird – a bit larger than a real hummingbird but still quite small, she fits in the palm of your hand. The bird and owls are made mostly from Sri textiles – I love this muted palette.
Another new creature Laurent ( all my rats are french) and a blue owl.
He’s big and blue and bad, and has some junk in the trunk.
Happy spring! I’m spring cleaning like nobody’s business and preparing for the second annual ann wood virtual stoop sale. There will be a couple antique garments, some vintage fabric and paper (the usual suspects) as well as some original art work and a truly odd assortment of other things. The sale is happening on etsy : https://www.etsy.com/shop/annwood on Sunday evening, March 23rd, at 8 pm (new york time). As always - you can refer to my calendar to know what’s coming up. There are some previews below and maybe more tomorrow if time permits – this is always more work than i think it’s going to be.
The beading on this wretched antique cape is all black glass, hand done and super detailed – there are lots of different designs and cool dangly things.
Below – another detail form the cape beading, paper mache flatware, a drawing of a ship, a celluloid flower pin from the 50’2 and some art deco chandelier crystals – they’re lovely and I have a bunch.
I think I’ve mentioned before – I had a pretty serious puppet phase in the mid 90′s - the little theater and odd little cast of characters has been in a box forever – maybe someone will enjoy it. I also made tons hand puppets and gave them away, the remaining spare parts and almost finished puppets will be in the sale on Sunday too.
And shells – lots and lots of shells – some I collected, most I purchased. So many possibilities……….
I love March. Especially after a winter like this has been – and it’s not over – but the last couple days have been glorious. The sun was out, the windows were open and I worked on little birds this morning.
I finished the little group of camper birds this afternoon and started photographing things for the shop.
(after their official photo they went off to enjoy the day)
I got such a late start on photos I had very uneven light – I have found that a sheet of cheap drugstore white poster board makes a very serviceable reflector.
Checkout the difference with and without:
(The birds and lambs will be in the shop tomorrow 3/12)
Occasionally, and always unexpectedly, a package magically appears in my vestibule from Sri Threads. They always inexplicably contain exactly what I need at that moment and things I couldn’t even dream of – all thoughtfully collected by the brilliant eye of Stephen Szczepanek. When a package appears I make tea and put on music and spend way more time than necessary unpacking and examining – it is such an incredible gift. The textiles are remarkable in color and texture and history – bits of eccentric mending and exquisite wear and patina that bring qualities to whatever I make that just pass through me – that is such a particular sensation – an ideal.
I think the magical and thoughtful way they come to me brings a certain spirit to the objects as well -they spring from a wonderful set of circumstances I did not and could not invent – happenstance is magic.
This weekend I finished a group of 12 little experiments made from Sri treasures – each numbered and signed ( the numbered series will close at 100).
I’ll finish photographing them today and add them to the shop tomorrow 3/4. Also – for your convenience, I’ve added a long overdue calendar of updates (it’s at the top right menu of this page) both here and at my shop website – it lists the time and in some cases place for future updates so you can have an idea of what’s on the horizon – I’ll update it regularly.
Something new I’ve been working on:
Crepe paper bunnies in love, dressed up and ready to celebrate. I’ve got a few production details to work out but they will be in my shop very soon – you can join the shop mailing list if you would like an email notification when they are available.
update 2/27/: they are available now in the shop
I’m looking for a helper (this is a huge scary leap for me) and I wonder if you know anybody that might be interested in working with me. The ideal person probably has their own little enterprise or those sorts of aspirations – the experience here could help with that, they have a flexible schedule, are located close to Brooklyn, NY ( I’m in Park Slope) and they wouldn’t mind working with me in my very small but lovely place that can get extra cramped and chaotic when big wholesale orders are moving through. Most importantly of all they have very, very clever hands – sewing experience would be wonderful but I’m willing to teach that to some one who just has a magic touch. The hours would be small and sporadic at first with the goal of moving to one day a week and on from there. The pay would also be small to begin but with room to grow if things work out.
If you know someone who might be interested please share this with them. If you’re interested yourself please message me here or email me at ann at annwoodhandmade dot com with “studio help” as the subject line.