Queen with Duster

In the late 1980’s, my 97 year old grandmother died and we cleaned out her house in Bristol, RI. Along with drawers full of old keys and costume jewelry, I saved a stash of garter clips and kept them in wait for a future project. Their day came in 1995, when I started working on Queen with Duster.  

"Queen with Duster", fabric-relief, 10" x 11", 1995

 I’m always on the lookout for small interesting objects that can be sewn down and I liked the pattern created with the garters lined up. The figure started out as a bride, but evolved into a queen when she was crowned with a bejeweled pin. 

a collection of my grandmother's garters

sketches for "Queen with Duster"

Her dress is made from an old wool petticoat of my grandmother’s that was washed so many times, it had become very thin felt. The silver hairpins were also my grandmother’s and she made the tatting on the bottom of the skirt. See “Pink House”, another piece made with my grandmother’s things, here.

detail from "Queen with Duster" 6" x 4"

my grandmother, Louise (Salley) Hartwell in the 1920's

Milkweed Pods


milkweedtitlepageWMThe pods are light and almost have the texture of handmade paper. They open up in the fall, bursting with the most delicate, downy seeds and their boat-like shape and small size make a fitting bed for a little person.


This sleeping girl nestled in her milkweed bed is in my board book, Wee Willie Winkie.milkweed2@WM

For more ideas on wee doll bedding, visit my post about walnut shells here.

Christmas cards past

Throughout her lifetime, my mother, Mary Mavor, made some beautiful Christmas cards,which she sent out every year. This selection spans many years, from the late 40’s to the 90’s. Some of her early cards were done in blue print, which she commonly used in the 50’s for reproducing small print runs.  

by Mary Hartwell (Mavor), hand colored blue print, about 1947


by Mary Mavor, hand colored blue print, about 1950


by Mary Mavor, 3 color silk screen, about 1955


by Mary Mavor, hand colored off set print, 1990

Close-ups (Winter Trees)

This group of trees starts with a paint and crayon picture I made as a child of 7. Next is a detail of a painting I did in art school and then part of an early fabric relief winter scene. The last two are taken from my book, Pocketful of Posies

snowman and trees, 1963

from “Laplander Mural” 1977

detail from “Skating” 1987

from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.

Snowy Monday

We drove around town this morning, marveling at the snowy scenery, which made everything look like a Christmas card. Here are some photos of Falmouth and Woods Hole.

Falmouth Historical Society

Nobska Lighthouse, Woods Hole

Nobska Beach, Woods Hole

house on Falmouth Village Green

Crowell House, Woods Hole

bed & breakfast, Falmouth

Snow and granola

I’ll add to the multitude of snow pictures being posted on the eastern seaboard today. We woke up to about a foot and a half of the white stuff this morning.

Rob got out his beloved Kabota tractor and plowed the driveway, while Ian and I shoveled.


For my friends and neighbors, I made a huge batch of granola and filled up a dozen quart canning  jars. For the labels, I cut paper circles with wavy scissors and decorated them with stamps, stickers and a dye cutter that cuts out tiny leaves. Then I stick them to the canning jar tops with double sticky tape and tied ribbon around.

Three Kings

In the early 80’s, I designed projects for Magazines. I remember that the projects themselves were fun to figure out and make, but writing the directions was a big chore. You have to break the process down step by step and explain every detail. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how you did something in a clear understandable way. I work intuitively, so writing coherent directions was work!   

Ticket 1981

  Here’s a ticket stub to a production of the opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, which was performed in Falmouth by a local theater group in 1981. I designed the posters, program, tickets and costumes. The image of the three kings got me thinking about doing a nativity scene of cloth dolls. The thing about dolls is that they usually have legs, which makes it difficult for them to stand on their own. So, I gave these characters long robes and even put sand in the bottom to make them stay grounded. The kings were made from lush fabrics like brocade and velveteen, with metallic braid, and they carried bead and button gifts. Mary and Joseph’s clothing was more homespun, with woven wools and roughly textured cloth.  

Creche scene from Better Homes and Gardens, 1981

Better Homes and Gardens, 1981

Better Homes and Gardens, 1981

patterns from Better Homes and Gardens, 1981

Favorites (Christmas)

From time to time, I’ll be posting a group of photographs of my favorite things. These Christmas decorations are from my husband’s family in Pennsylvania. My mother-in-law would set up scenes on the mantle piece and window sills around the house. I love the way one of the Santas has a kid leather beard, instead of the traditional cotton.

There are seven metal reindeer left in the set, some with bells and some so lame that they need help standing.

These glass ornaments are so delicate and are still stored in what looks to be their original box. 

This wooden angel candle holder is about 3″ tall.  I love her little head wreath.

And there’s a flock of sweet sheep and lambs, with their wooden legs worn and exposed. 

Fall Friends

Fall Friends was made in 1995, in between book projects.

Fall Friends, fabric relief by Salley Mavor 1995

During this period, I used cotton velveteen quite often for the back grounds. In this case, I dyed the fabric for the sky and hillside. The clouds were made by painting on a rice based resist liquid that I can’t remember the name of, but I think it is Japanese. You get a softer look than batiking with wax, which can have a cleaner edge.

Detail from "Fall Friends"

The bush trunk is wool covered wire and the smaller wire branches are wrapped with embroidery floss. The border is made of upholstery fabric, with all of the embroidered edging done by hand. I used to do a satin stitch with the sewing machine, but found it to be too flat and mechanical looking.

Detail from" Fall Friends"

This is a drawing I did as a student at RISD in 1977. It’s pencil on layered pieces of tissue paper, which has yellowed over time from rubber cement. I think of it as an early example of  my interest in experimenting with different working surfaces. Soon after this, I started combining materials and doing more and more 3 dimentional work.

Drawing by Salley as a RISD student, 1977

Woods Hole Village Quilt

A few years ago, my friend Terry McKee and I designed and organized the making of a community quilt for the Woods Hole Public Library
Center square of the Woods Hole Quilt

 We asked local quilters to make squares depicting buildings and scenes from our Cape Cod village. I was honored to make the center square of the library, a familiar sight with a distinctive round stone exterior.  My family has lived here since the 1920’s when my scientist grandfather, James Mavor Sr., came to set up a lab at the Marine Biological Laboratory. As a child in the 60’s, I remember walking with my class the short distance to the library from the Woods Hole School (one of the quilt squares).  Today, the library is still a central part our community, one that reflects the unique charm and character of our village. 

Woods Hole Public Library

 In the process of making the library square, I found some stone wall fabric that looked remarkably like the building. I decided to liven up the scene with appliqued bushes and vines made with batik fabrics.  About twenty women worked on the quilt in 2006 and 2007, and it was hung in the Library stairwell in early 2008. Come and see our beautiful quilt! For those of you who travel on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, the library is just up the hill from the dock.

Detail of quilt center square

Stitching rope letters to the banner

 The Woods Hole Community Quilt is now featured in a 2010 Calendar, which was made to celebrate the centennial year of the Woods Hole Public Library. Find out about the calendar here.

Terry McKee (left) and Salley Mavor with the framed Woods Hole Quilt