Scotland (Oct. 2015) Iona

Scotland_Oct15vOne of the special places we visited in Scotland was the small Isle of Iona. The Irish Saint Columba founded a monastery there in the 6th century and it remained a center of Gaelic Monasticism for 4 centuries.


We couldn’t have wished for a more gorgeous, sparkling day to take a ferry ride and walk around the village.


The Iona Abbey is a short hike from the ferry dock.


The 8th Duke and Duchess of Argyle are buried inside.


We wanted to stay longer in this tranquil spot, but had to catch the ferry back.



Posies exhibit in Greenville, SC


Last week, Rob and I visited Greenville, South Carolina, where I gave a talk in conjunction with my Pocketful of Posies exhibit. It was a pleasure to meet the people who came to see the show and hear about my work at the Upcountry History Museum  last Thursday. Before heading inside the museum, I couldn’t resist standing next to the enormous banner outside.

The museum staff did a superb job hanging the show! I’m happy to say that it’s the most creative and professionally presented installation I’ve seen on the five-year tour. There’s plenty of time to visit the show, which is on display until Feb. 14th, 2016. This could very well be its last venue, as I’m no longer soliciting new locations. Of course, it could be a different story if an invitation from a great place with funds to ship the artwork comes forth.


The bold choice of lilac purple walls really sets off the natural golden brown wooden frames. They covered one area with a 6′ blow-up of the “Wise Old Owl” and a screen, which shows my Rabbitat video and Felt Wee Folk book trailer on a loop. Signage with different versions and information about the rhymes hang below the framed illustrations. For this, the previous exhibitor, the Bel Air Library in Maryland generously shared their research about the rhymes with the Upcountry History Museum. To give an idea of how I make the figures, they laid out step-by-step parts in a display case. They’re the same ones I made and photographed for Felt Wee Folk. And last but not least, the black box theater lighting makes everything pop and sparkle!

Pocketful of Posies, Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 14, 2016 at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina.



We really enjoyed our visit and took a few extra days to see a friend and relative in the area. I spent a wonderful day near Columbia with my cousin, also named Salley with an “e”. Her 5-year-old grand-daughter is also named Salley, so our family surname continues to be passed down. Our grandmothers were 2 of the 5 independently minded, high spirited Salley sisters of Orangeburg, SC. In this circa 1900 photo, my cousin’s grandmother has their father’s arm around her and mine is standing, 2nd from the left.


And we had a fantastic visit with my RISD classmate, Niki Bonnett, who lives in Asheville, NC. What an artsy, fun town! Years ago, Niki designed the poster and catalog for my pins, which you can see here. We could have soaked up the southern hospitality for a bit longer, but had to fly home.



Inspirations profile


I am excited to let you know that my work is featured in the current issue (88) of Inspirations Magazine, which is published in Australia. The profile, titled “A Wonderful World”, is a 3 page interview with lots of photos. The whole magazine is beautifully produced and lives up to its reputation as “the world’s most beautiful embroidery magazine”. Closeup-1-2

I’m so impressed with the article layout and am thrilled to have a spread about textile super star Kaffe Fassett on the facing page! A big thank you to the editors at Inspirations for inviting me to tell my story and share my work with a wider audience of embroidery enthusiasts.


Nativity Scene photo shoot


I know it’s rushing the season, but for those of you who celebrate Christmas, it’s time to get started on making a nativity scene, so that you have it ready to display during the holidays. This set is from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, which has patterns and directions for making Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, 3 Kings and a shepherd and his sheep.

In this post, I show what the scene looked like in my studio, before we took photos for the book.


The nativity figures are fun to make and can be as simple or decorative as you want.  I especially enjoyed coming up with the costumes for the three kings. Their gifts are different beads that look liked containers.

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk

For the photo shoot, I made the manger from curved pieces of driftwood, creating an arched structure. The back drop is a dark purple piece of felt with sewed on star sequins.


Bayberry branches and dried foliage were the right scale for trees and brush. I used beach stones to fill gaps and build up the surrounding landscape. A pail full of beach sand covered the plywood base and the straw bedding was dried beach grass.



The photo below is the one Rob and I chose for the book. We used a different photography method, which gives a more dramatic nighttime effect. We took the photo at night, in a completely dark room. During a long expose time of about 10 seconds, Rob “painted with light”, pointing and moving a small flash light around the areas he wanted lit up. We repeated that many times, until we had a good selection of photos from which to choose.

I’ve already heard from several enthusiastic people who are in the process of making or have competed a Nativity of their own. And I’m sure that each set of characters will be as unique as their maker!


Scotland (Oct. 2015): Abbotsford


In the Scottish lowlands, we visited Abbotsford, the home of 19th century author Sir Walter Scott, who’s historical novels were influential in popularizing and romanticizing Scotland’s past.


The building and gardens were impressive. Rosie got a good view from high up with the hollyhocks.


The interior rooms held an even more amazing collection of treasures, my favorites being the entryway full of armor and wooden sculpture and the sitting room, with its hand painted Chinese wallpaper.