Close-ups (peas)

My peas are starting to come up in the garden. Their vines are such a cheery sight in the spring and then the first food to pick in June. This series of closeups begins with a peapod pin made with velvet ribbon and green wooden beads. You can read the story about my pins here.

peapod pin 1977

peapod pin 1977

Here’s a detail from “Picking Peas”, a fabric relief from 1985. The full scene is on another post here. The peapods are glass beads. I must have figured out how to knot the string to make the net or cut a piece out of an existing net.

detail from "Picking Peas" 1985

detail from “Picking Peas” 1985

The peapods in this illustration from Mary Had a Little Lamb are made from seed beads sewn inside thin satin ribbon.

detail from " Mary Had a Little lamb" 1995

detail from ” Mary Had a Little lamb” 1995

This is a felt pin from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. The peas in the ribbon pods are glass beads in both this photo and the one below.

pin from "Felt Wee Folk" 2003

pin from “Felt Wee Folk” 2003

 Here are some felt pea vines from an illustration in my upcoming book, Pocketful of Posies.

detail from Pocketful of Posies” 2010

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

Fairie Festival (mud man)

People really have fun coming up with personas  and costumes to wear at the May Day Fairie Festival. This character, “mud man”, obviously took a lot of time figuring out his outfit and makeup a few years ago. This year’s fair will be from April 30th  to May 2nd at Spoutwood Farm in Pennsylvania.

It  must have taken patience to add the feathers to his beard and the horns look so natural.

He came in my tent and surprised me! He’s wearing one of those great Utilikilts made of work clothes canvas.

What a face! Nice teeth, though.

Pocketful of borders (Mary Had a Little Lamb)

x-ray of my wrist

I’ve recently resumed working in my studio after months recuperating from my fall and broken wrist in January. It was  a bad break that required surgery to put in a plate and several screws.   Two orthopedic surgeons told me the break was too complicated for them to fix and that I needed a hand specialist. Now, I look at the x-ray of my wrist and appreciate the intricacies of the hand surgeon’s fine detailed work. I’m glad that I waited the ten days after the break to have her do the surgery in Boston. Today, after 2 months of hand therapy, I’ve regained most of my wrist’s rotation, but still have limited flexibility and strength. Even though the break was in my subdominant left hand, I need the full use of my wrist to hold materials that I stitch with my right. As I work, I can feel the tendons in my hand and wrist pulling and aching, but I’m determined to sew! My physical therapist told me that she will work with me another month, to see if we can get back as much use as possible.     

"Mary Had a Little Lamb", pages 26/27 from the book, "Pocketful of Posies"

detail from "Mary Had a Little Lamb"

 Before the accident, I was going to spend the winter making borders for all 50 of the original illustrations from my upcoming book Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes . So, I have a lot of work to catch up on.     


The pictures now need to be given borders and mounted on stretched backgrounds before being framed under glass for the traveling exhibit. The illustrations were photographed a year ago for reproduction in the book and now can be reworked for their 2nd life as framed pieces of original art. I just finished the border on the double-page spread for the rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. There was already a felt border, but I needed to finish the outside edge. I made a scalloped pattern and cut around the outside so that the corners were rounded.     


Then, with some variegated cotton thread (Watercolours by Caron), I sewed a blanket stitch around the curved edge.  I added a decorative curly-cued chain stitch made with 2-ply variegated embroidery floss (DMC).     


The scalloped border looked too flat, so I sewed 26-gauge wire to the underside, near the outside edge.     


I embroidered the date and my initials to the bottom border. Then, I bent the wire to make a wavy edge, just like you’d do with pie crust around the outside edge of a pie pan. The felt artwork is then sewn to a stretched piece of upholstery fabric.    



Here’s the finished picture. In the book, the words from the rhyme will be printed in the large open spaces and the book’s gutter will be in the center.     

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" ready for framing

Note: See other posts in the Pocketful of Borders series here.

Alex’s dress

I love to sew children’s clothes and especially enjoy making dresses for little girls. This special girl, Alex, started wearing her blue dress last summer and it still fit her this past Easter in Woods Hole. I like her matching ensemble of jeans and rubber boots. Her parents and grandparents have been family friends for many years and they sent these photos of their little girl to share. I’ve included pictures of the fabric and pattern.

Ojai House

Last week I was in Ojai, California, staying at the wonderful Oaks at Ojai Spa. After a long hard winter spent mending my broken wrist and concussion, it was wonderful to eat healthy food and excercise in a beautiful place. I’m feeling rejuvenated and like myself again. It’s as if I went away for “the cure”.  One morning, we went for an early brisk walk around Ojai and saw this most adorable house with a live oak in front. After we returned to the spa, I grabbed my camera and rushed back to take pictures in the early morning light.

Close-ups (owls)

Owls have such distinctive shapes and characteristics that make them visually appealing.  They can be identified by a simple silhouette or depicted in all their glory with every feather rendered in detail. This series begins with an owl (enlarged x 2) from an illustration for the Halloween poem in my book, You and me: Poems of Friendship and then continues with a felt purse from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. There’s the tiniest owl from In the Heart and then two from my upcoming (Sept./2010) book, Pocketful of Posies.

detail from "You and Me: Poems of Friendship" 1997

detail from “You and Me: Poems of Friendship” 1997


detail from "In the Heart" 2001

detail from “In the Heart” 2001

detail from endpapers in "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

detail from endpapers “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

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

Fairie Festival (costumes)

People work all winter on their costumes to wear at the May Day Fairie Festival. Not just women and girls wear wings, but dogs and manly looking guys have them, too. These photos show a sampling of characters from around the fair and in my tent in years past.  The Festival will be held from April 30- May 2 this year at Spoutwood Farm in Pennsylvania. You can see more photos and find out about the festival here.

Close-ups (mushrooms)

Ah, the fascination of mushrooms, with their bizarre, alien quality. This group includes some real mushrooms I found and used as props and some I made.  The first photgraph is of some mushroom houses that I made for a scene that was used in an educational reader illustration in 1979. To see more mushroom houses and read about the story in another post go here.

mushroom houses, 1979

 Skip ahead 20 years to this photograph, which shows some of the first Blossom Fairies that I offered as kits in 1999.

Blossom Fairies on a mushroom, 1999

  This is a pair of wee folk sitting in a cluster of mushrooms that were growing so fast that I had to run home and get my camera before they changed shape.

Wee Folk under mushroom, 2002

 I molded the next mushroom from clay, glued kid leather on top and painted the leather red. For the photo shoot, I put some drops of glycerine on the mushroom to look like rain.

mushroom made from kid leather, 2005

 This last one is from my up-coming book, Pocketful of Posies (Sept. 2010).  

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

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


Here are 2 fabric relief pictures that incorporate the story of St. George and the Dragon. These pieces were personal projects and not made for an illustration job or to be published in a book. Both “George’s Chair” and “The Storyteller” illustrate the power of the imagination, one through reading a book and the other with storytelling.

georgeWM   The chair was made with worn upholstery fabric and sticks out about 1″ from the surface. It has a lace doily on top and the chair’s legs are polymer clay.

georgeanddragonWM George’s chain mail hood is made from metallic fabric and his arms, legs and sword are wire wrapped with metallic thread. The princess has an acorn cap crown sprayed with gold paint.












Doll Collection

Among my family treasures is a doll collection that came from my grandmother, Louise Salley Hartwell. My first name comes from my grandmother’s maiden name. As children, we weren’t allowed to touch most of the dolls, but just gaze at them high up in shelves. She found many of the dolls in her travels and collected them throughout her long life of almost 100 years. Here is a photograph of my grandmother on her Gramma Lou’s lap, with one of her sisters. Gramma Lou lived with the Salley family in Orangeburg, SC and taught all 5 daughters how to sew.   

my grandmother, Louise Salley Hartwell, on lap (1892)

  Here’s a group shot of some of the dolls from the collection.  

from my grandmother's doll collection

 This wooden doll is about 10″ tall and most likely has been in the family its whole life.  I have no information about her, but she looks very old.  


Her face is painted simply, but with an intense expression and it looks like moths have eaten her wool felt hat.  


Inside the silk dress hem is a cloth tag that has this written: 35-25:100-M in red ink.  Her legs and arms are simple wooden pegs. 


She has such a delicate little sliver of a nose attached to the wooden head.