anna brones

writer + artist + producer

Alice Feiring

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“Writers and other artists give voice to what others cannot or will not articulate.”

-Alice Feiring

Writer and journalist Alice Feiring stands for what she believes in.

Her focus is wine, interested in the stories of the art and craft that goes into making the drink that we have been consuming for centuries, and in turn, advocating for a better wine world, not just for the consumer, but producers and the land. She runs the natural wine newsletter The Feiring Line and is the author of several books. Her latest is Natural Wine for the People: What It Is, Where to Find It, How to Love It, an excellent resource for anyone diving into the natural wine world.

An early supporter of the natural wine movement, she’s not afraid to criticize it either. “But any successful movement, whether in politics or viniculture, is vulnerable to corruption. Just as it is reaching peak fame, the previously innocent world of natural wine is coming under threat by opportunists and big business. Natural wine isn’t dead, but something has been lost,” she recently wrote in The New York Times.

Whether you drink wine or not, Feiring stands an excellent example of what it means to take a stand for something as a woman, and the consequences that can ensue. In challenging conventional wine norms, she has faced criticism and scrutiny. In reading opposition to her work, it’s clear to see that satire can quickly turn into misogyny. As she points out in this Q&A, “Men speaking out against the mainstream are often heroes, women are seen as troublemakers or voices to silence. No matter what I say, it seems it’s controversial doesn’t it?”

Thank you to Alice for taking a little time to answer a few Women’s Wisdom Project Q&A questions.

What does wisdom mean to you?
A perfect balance of good judgement, proper boundaries, compassion and a sense of humor.

Is there an influential woman in your life who passed along a piece of wisdom to you? Who and what?

I’ve always been such a loner and longed for a mentor. I came close to it once, Beverly Russell. Beverly hired me to work at Interiors Magazine a million years ago but she was unceremoniously stabbed in the back and was let go, subsequently I was as well. On our last breakfast together she gave me two pieces of advice, “It’s not how good you are but who you know, and then how good you are helps you stay. The other warning was that if you’re good, someone will always want to knock you off and take your place.

What drew you to the world of wine? What has kept you in it?
At first the taste. Then its connection to place. Then the people. Then the issue of natural wine and its place in the world. Then the land, the vines and nature. Finally, it is the way it all complexly comes together in a perfect symbol of humanity.

What is the Alice Feiring definition of natural wine?
Start with organic viticulture and then nothing added or taken away, except maybe a bit of So2.

You are considered a controversial figure by some. Why do you think that your writing and work draws such controversy? Do you think that you would draw such controversy if you were not a woman?

Now, that’s a great question. Men speaking out against the mainstream are often heroes, women are seen as troublemakers or voices to silence. No matter what I say, it seems it’s controversial doesn’t it? So why? I have often said things that the industry didn’t want to hear. Without a doubt, women are held to different standards.

You’re known as a wine writer, but from reading other interviews with you, it’s clearly the written word and the craft of writing that you’re drawn to. What about writing feels so powerful to you?

Writers and other artists give voice to what others cannot or will not articulate. When I disparage what I do as self-indulgent, I try to remember that there is a greater purpose other than I just love disappearing into a piece and losing myself. It’s the best drug.

What wisdom would you share with your younger self?

I’d get tutoring for my dyslexia—but I’m not sure that would have been wisdom, though it would have been life changing. Okay, here’s one; I’d have made sure to become fluent in French.

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

Written by Anna Brones

January 7, 2020 at 08:21

Glad Lucia

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Glad Lucia!

Written by Anna Brones

December 13, 2019 at 10:45

DIY Scandinavian Woven Hearts

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Making things is good for us. Crafting can be similar to meditation and making things with our hands improves our mental health and makes us happier. Making things is intuitive – after all, it is in our human nature to create – and it allows us to connect to others, to come up with new ideas. Usually, investing in creativity results in more creativity.

You don’t have to come up with an involved handmade gift to get the benefit of making something. This is why I like simple creative holiday projects. Even small handmade objects to decorate the house give us the opportunity to use our hands and exert our creativity. That is time well spent.

I always make a batch of woven paper hearts this time of year (featured in my digital Advent calendar last year). These are quite common in Scandinavia. Bigger ones made with stronger paper can even be hung on the tree and used to hold holiday treats, like nuts or chocolates. The perfect way to put your hands to work and get the creative juices flowing.

DIY Scandinavian Woven Hearts

Find two pieces of paper of contrasting color. Usually these are done in red and white, but we’re here to be creative, so feel free to use your imagination.

Fold them both and cut a rectangular shape, with one end rounded. The straight edge should be where the paper is folded.

Cut two lines, so that the piece of paper is separated into thirds. Cut these lines about 3/4 of the way up, towards the rounded edge.

The cut lines create “loops” in the paper. Weave the two pieces of paper together by placing the first loop of Color A into the first loop of Color B, then inside of the next loop, and outside of the third loop. With the next loop, do the opposite, so start by placing the loop of Color A outside of the first loop of Color B, etc.

This all sounds more convoluted than it is, and will make sense when you do it. FYI: the two pieces don’t always weave together super smoothly, but with some maneuvering, you will get there in the end! Here is another visual that I didn’t make myself but that is also helpful.

Cut a straight strip of paper for a handle and glue or tape it to the inside of the heart.

Hang on an available branch or share the creative act and give away to a friend.

Written by Anna Brones

December 3, 2019 at 11:24

Send a Little Love in the Mail

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I made a few sets of holiday cards, all featuring my papercut illustrations.

Who doesn’t love receiving snail mail? Make sure someone you know gets a little love in the post this holiday season.

Some ideas:

-Write a note to a friend.

-Give a card as a gift.

-Send a thank you note to someone.

-Write a recipe on the inside and send it to someone you wish you could eat a meal with.

-Pencil in your favorite quote or poem and send to someone who could use the words.

-Draw a picture inside, or add a touch of color on the outside.

There are three cards in each set so you can even keep one for yourself and frame it on the wall.

You can buy a set (or two) in my shop.

 

Written by Anna Brones

December 2, 2019 at 07:02

Sign Up for 2019 Digital Advent Calendar: 24 Days of Making, Doing, and Being

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24 Days of Making, Doing, and Being is an advent calendar that I have made for the last two years, with the intention of creating a little magic every day during the month of December, so that it’s not just a countdown but an everyday celebration. It’s a focus on slowing down, finding balance and contentedness. The calendar is created as an antidote to the consumer frenzy that has come to define this month, a challenge to ground yourself wherever you are and reconnect with both yourself and the people around you.

I’m bringing it back again this year! This will be the third annual 24 Days of Making, Doing, and Being and I am looking forward to working on it and putting it out in the world. It all starts on Sunday December 1st and I wanted to give you a heads up now so that you could subscribe and be sure to get it in your inbox when December begins.

This year will be a little different, and if you’ve received the advent calendar in the past, or are currently subscribed to my newsletter list, you will still need to sign up. If you would like to signup for 24 Days of Making, Doing and Being$5 will get you access to the entire advent calendar.

The daily email will include artwork, prompts, recipes, etc. and you will be able to access the archives too. For the last two years, I have kept the calendar free of charge, but as it has grown it has taken more and more time and energy to produce, and offering it for a small fee allows me to keep the production of it just a little more sustainable.

And yes, of course you can get a subscription for a friend!

Amelia Bloomer

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“When you find a burden in belief or apparel, cast it off.”

Amelia Bloomer (1819-1894)

Born Amelia Jenks, Bloomer was a writer, editor, abolitionist, and active member of the women’s suffrage movement. Her progressive views helped to shift not only how American women viewed what they wore, but also themselves and their role in society.

After attending the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, Bloomer launched The Lily. The newspaper was entirely for women, and dedicated to covering the topics of the day. A publication by and for women was not only novel, but controversial. While it began as a temperance journal, it quickly evolved, and within its pages, Bloomer and her team not only advocated for women’s right to vote, but also to end slavery.

Bloomer later wrote, “The Lily was the first paper published devoted to the interests of woman and, so far as I know, the first one owned, edited and published by a woman. It was a novel thing for me to do in those days and I was little fitted for it, but the force of circumstances led me into it and strength was given me to carry it through. It was a needed instrumentality to spread abroad the truth of the new gospel to woman, and I could not withhold my hand to stay the work I had begun.”

But it was articles on fashion that would spike the interest in The Lily, as Bloomer advocated for dress reform. Long dresses of the day were heavy, impractical, and often, an impediment to health. As Lorraine Boissoneault writes for Smithsonian:

“… middle- and upper-class American women squeezed themselves into corsets and six to eight petticoats to fill out the shape of their skirts. The result weighed up to 15 pounds, placed enormous pressure on their hips, and made movement a struggle.

“Women complained of overheating and impaired breathing, sweeping along filthy streets and tripping over stairs, crushed organs from whalebone stays and laced corsets, and getting caught in factory machinery,” writes historian Annemarie Strassel.

Doctors worried the outfits might cause health problems for pregnant mothers, and the press regularly lampooned the style of the day, with cartoons showing assorted garbage getting caught in women’s sweeping skirts. But what could be done?”

Bloomer found an answer in a liberating new style of outfit: a short skirt with billowy pantaloons underneath. She published photos of herself wearing it, and advocated for the style change in the pages of The Lily.

This physical manifestation of women’s liberation of course caused an uproar, one that Bloomer hadn’t expected. “At the outset, I had no idea of fully adopting the style no thought of setting a fashion; no thought that my action would create an excitement throughout the civilized world, and give to the style my name and the credit due Mrs. [Elizabeth Smith] Miller. This was all the work of the press. I stood amazed at the furor I had unwittingly caused,” wrote Bloomer.

She hadn’t planned on starting a fashion revolution, but Bloomer became the outfit’s namesake, and in turn the face of the movement for dress reform. Women wrote to Bloomer asking about the dress, and if there were patterns available, and the interest was so great that The Lily‘s monthly circulation went from 500 to 4,000.

Imagine: a woman in pants! To the public of the day, the thought was not just unconventional, but unsightly. During the American Civil War, nurses were even banned from wearing them, but the freedom of movement that they allowed causes many nurses to ignore the ban and don them anyway.

Bloomer later went back to her full-length dress, and the suffragettes moved away from dress reform as one of their causes, but the connection between pants and women’s right’s remained—our wardrobes and our politics forever changed.

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

Written by Anna Brones

October 17, 2019 at 10:57

Witch Fika Greeting Cards

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I just got a batch of greeting cards made with my “Witch Fika” papercut illustration. These are perfect for writing notes to everyone in your coven.

After all, who doesn’t love a handwritten note from their favorite witch?

Available in my shop.

Written by Anna Brones

October 16, 2019 at 12:20