Sunday, June 19, 2011

Toy Dachshund

Toy Dachshund by Alice Wood
Toy Dachshund, a photo by Alice Wood on Flickr.

I've managed to make up the Dachshund pattern. I elongated the body, shortened and widened the legs and made the ears a different shape. This one is black with brown details, but I'm going to make one up in plain brown too. I just need to order some nice fur. I'm a bit low on all materials actually and the fur is rather expensive. Materials cost per dog is high and the making time is fairly lengthy because it's quite involved with a fair bit of hand sewing. I think I will go for Spaniels next, and find some nice fur for Retrievers and Labradors.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

and Treasure in the Post!

I was sitting here procrastinating when I heard the letter box go. Hooray, another distraction! Hoping for something better than bills or a pizza leaflet I skipped downstairs. And hit the jackpot. A book has been delivered, and better still, I am in it! It is the very lovely, touching and beautiful creation of Ruth Phillips, titled Cherries From Chauvet's Orchard. It is memoir that tells the story of the birth of Postcard from Provence, Ruth and her husband Julian's life in France, the life of his paintings after they leave the studio and their journey towards making a family.

Back in February 2005 Julian began a project to paint one small postcard-sized picture each day, and to post it onto a blog. The paintings were all for sale. It was such an extraordinarily patient, dogged, committed and serious thing to do. I had known Ruth for some years and wished them both well in their new life and home. I watched the paintings accumulate, they were very good. They cost $100 US dollars. They were tantalisingly affordable to someone like me and I so wanted to support them in what they were doing. I agonised over the first twenty or so paintings. I loved the colour in one, or the subject of another, the green cooking apple and the jar of purple plums or the red pomegranate? I bought Apple and Green Bowl.

As the months went on I found excuses to buy one more, and then another, and one 'for my husband' and 'one for my son'. You can see where this is going. By January 2007 I had bought four paintings. I spent such happy times looking at the new paintings as they appeared, and creating a fantasy shopping list in my mind of all the ones I was planning to buy when I had a little money spare again.

Then disaster struck. The New York Times ran a piece on Julian and literally overnight he sold every postcard on the blog. He sold other paintings too on his main website. I don't really mean it was a disaster of course, it was the best possible thing that could have happened, but my little secret treasures were suddenly in the world's eye.

After that article each painting sold instantly, often many times over, as soon as it was posted online. Fastest finger was the way to go. I tried for a few but wasn't quick or lucky enough. At last Julian decided to sell the paintings by auction. A very sensible and fair way to do things. He would receive a better price for his work and, the holy grail of artists, perhaps make a living from them.

As a last treat I bid on the first one to go to auction, and won it. Apple half on a gold rimmed saucer. It cost more than twice the price of the others, but I suspected it might be my last chance to buy.

I keep the paintings in my studio, unframed. I like their edges, the tactile quality of the little boards. I pick them up to look at, and move them around. They are like little characters with stories. They have a fixed date in time, and record the light and atmosphere observed on that day. They are lovely.

When Ruth began her book she wrote to everyone who had bought paintings and asked them to tell her how they fitted into our lives. I wrote back and sent her a photo of my studio where they are propped on bookshelves. So now I am in the book. This is magical, and I love the way these paintings create narratives, and histories. They draw people in with a sense of belonging, and they reassure me that choosing a creative life, with all its attendant difficulties, can be totally worth it and ultimately rewarding.

A New Woofer

I've finished a new dog. He's a sort of tufty black critter with a white bib. I think he's probably of mixed heritage! Have been trying out new ear positions. It's amazing how they all come out different from exactly the same pieces of pattern. It all depends on the way the mohair falls, or sticks up! Dachshund pattern is finished with one black and brown dog cut out and ready to sew. I hope to have one ready very soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Little Toy Dog Company

I've been making some little toy dogs recently, and have set up a new shop at Folksy for them. I'm starting out with the Jack Russell terrier, a Cheeky Brown Terrier, a Dalmation and a Black Collie dog with a white bib. The pattern is my own design and I'm thinking I might make an alteration so I can make sausage dogs too!

They are all fully poseable with articulating joints on all legs. The fabrics are various kinds of mohair which is often used to make posh teddy bears. Their little collars are removable too. I think I might make some little dog beds and dog coats...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kate Stables Union Chapel 2011

This afternoon we went to the Union Chapel in Islington where my friend Kate Stables was playing with her band This Is The Kit. I love her music and she has a lovely voice. She is very talented. You can listen to her on their myspace page. Daylight Music happens every Saturday 12-2pm at the Union Chapel and it's free. You can take children as well, which is perfect! We saw three bands play today. I did a few drawings but nothing too hot. Wish I could have drawn the rest of the band but I was too slow!

Kate Stables, drawing without looking (at the paper). 2011

Drummer, The 99 Call, Union Chapel 2011.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A short story

A short story
Originally uploaded by Alice Wood
Found this in my sketchbook. I'd forgotten about it. Hopefully I'll find something else really useful in a bit, like a complete 32 page picture book all ready to go...

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Friend in Need pt4

A Friend in Need pt4
Originally uploaded by Alice Wood
Parts 1 and 2 of this story were published in Horse + Pony magazine before it ended publication with the August issue. Sue has kindly allowed me to post the rest of the story along with the final two illustrations...

Part Four

Jess got up slowly. She was drenched, her pony had disappeared into the storm and she couldn’t see Mrs Feather anywhere. She began to walk, hoping that Otter would have stopped to graze, but as she went on and on, there was no sign of him. The rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun, but even though Jess could now see where she was going, she still couldn’t see anybody else around. They had all disappeared and she had no idea where she was.

Gemma was feeling quite pleased with herself, because she had managed to stay on her pony during the storm. The new boots had helped, so did the sticky seat jodhpurs she’d recently bought. When the rain had hit them, Pip had turned so suddenly that without all these extra aids, and a good firm grip on the neckstrap, she would have been off, and there was no-one to help her get back on. She was not, however, looking forward to going back and facing her parents and Mrs Feather. She knew she would get the most awful telling-off and no doubt a punishment of some kind. It would probably be no riding, although she hoped that wouldn’t last for long, especially as the doctor had said how much good it was doing her. She had just turned towards home, when her racing thoughts were interrupted by a brown pony cantering towards her.
“Otter!” she cried, recognising the pony whose stable was next to Pip’s. Pip recognised him too and neighed a welcome. Otter was relieved to find a friend and as he nuzzled Pip, Gemma was able to reach his reins and catch him. “Did Jess ride you?” Gemma wondered. “Where is she now then?” She decided to follow Otter’s backtrail in the hope of meeting up with Jess. “I hope she hasn’t hurt herself coming off,” Gemma said out loud. “I shall never forgive myself if she has…”

Jess was never more relieved than when she caught sight of the two ponies heading her way, Gemma beaming with delight at finding her friend unhurt. They decided it would be better to go straight back to the stables than to search the moor for Mrs Feather. She could have been anywhere, both of them were wet through and the ponies had had enough.

As they rode back, Gemma & Jess talked. Jess understood that Gemma had gone on the spur of the moment, and didn’t feel upset.
“Just think of what you could do,” she said to Gemma. “Look at Lee Pearson –he’s won about ten gold medals at the Paralympic dressage.”
“When I get older I might be able to have an assistance dog too, then I could really be independent,” said Gemma, dreaming of a bright future.
Gemma grew quieter as they neared the stables; she was right to be apprehensive. Her parents were furious with her for disappearing like that and there was a huge row as they told her exactly what they thought of her. Mrs Feather was tight lipped, she had been through a lot that afternoon, and felt absolutely worn out.

Jess left them to it, and went to rub down the ponies and give them some hay, then she made everyone a cup of tea, hoping that by now the atmosphere had calmed down a bit. Gemma’s mum was just winding down, but at the sight of Jess’ bedraggled hair, she started off again.
“And look at poor Jess!” she shouted. “Bad enough that you worried us sick, but Jess had to go out in that awful storm to rescue you.” Jess couldn’t help herself, she started to laugh. “I don’t see what’s so funny…” Gemma’s mum began to say, but then Gemma caught the giggles too and they were both off.
“I’m sorry, Mrs Morgan,” Jess said, when she could speak again, “but you know, you have got it the wrong way round. It was Gemma who rescued me!”
“So you see, Mum, I can do things on my own,” said Gemma. “only, it would be more fun if Jess could come with me next time.”
“Huh!” snorted Mrs Feather, sounding just like one of her horses. “Jess will have to have some lunge lessons first. Coming off like that when your pony shied – you need to work on improving your seat!”
Jess and Gemma smiled. Riding lessons, a good friend to ride with, and big dreams for the future – they both felt that they had everything they wanted.