The Pocketful of Posies books are here!

Copies of Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes have arrived a little ahead of schedule and I’m so excited!  The experience of opening the box and seeing a stack of my books for the first time is like theater on opening night, not the dress rehearsal, but the real thing!

Making a children’s book is quite a production, involving many people, usually over several years. In this case it took about 5 years to go from the initial commitment of the publisher, Houghton Mifflin and myself to this moment when the books are out in stores. Autographed copies can be ordered from my local bookshop, Eight Cousins 508-548-5548. Also, Amazon.com has a feature that allows you to look inside the book. Those of you who have already ordered copies should be receiving yours soon.

But, I’m still not finished getting the original illustrations ready for the traveling exhibit. There are 9 more borders to make before we hang the first show in Falmouth on Sept. 14th. Instead of typing, I’ve got to go thread a needle!

To celebrate their arrival, I’m offering a giveaway of a copy of Pocketful of Posies to a reader in the USA. Please leave a comment on this post and the winner will be chosen at random on Sept. 15th.

Pocketful of Borders: Humpty Dumpty

Here’s a shot of my work table (ironing board) with a border in progress. It shows the illustration from Pocketful of Posies that includes “Humpty Dumpty”, “Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers” and “Two little dicky birds sitting on a wall”.

There’s lots of foliage and a stone wall build with a combination of stone beads and individually appliqued felt stones. Peter Piper’s hat and basket of peppers are made with thread wrapped and coiled wire.

I had fun using some interesting pieces of driftwood and other found objects.

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

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

Picture frames are finished!

After slaving away for most of the summer, Rob has finished all 51 picture frames for the Pocketful of Posies exhibit and they look beautiful! In my last post about the frames (see here) , the partly made pile was stacked up on his work bench.

Rob cut off the excess from the corner ears on the table saw…

and used a planer to smooth off the surface. 

Here you can see a before and after, with one ear planed and another still bumpy with glue and wood.

Then the frames were sanded with 2 grades of sand paper until they were really smooth.

Then he carried the frames up from the basement into his new workshop and applied Tung oil, which brings out the natural color and wood grain.

To make a good finish, the oil has to be rubbed off after it has soaked in.

Here’s a frame with the inside slats. I love the way cherry looks with the oil.

But they are not finished yet! The last step is rubbing on paste wax to make a satiny finish.

Now, they are lying in wait for my artwork. The UV Plexiglas will be arriving soon and we’ll start assembling the pictures!

Pocketful of Borders: my black hen

This illustration from Pocketful of Posies is for the rhyme, Hickety, pickety, my black hen, she lays eggs for gentlemen. My descriptions will be brief, as I’m working hard to finish all of the borders for the upcoming traveling show. The colors vary in this series of photos becuase I took them at different times of day, under different lighting conditions. The color green is famously difficult to reproduce anyways. Here’s the fabric relief piece sewn to foam core board, before a border was attached. Yes, I made the egg basket, by wrapping and coiling wire around and around. Pretty obsessive, but necessary!

The arched hen-house is made with bittersweet vine, with driftwood floor boards.

The border need a little punch, so I sewed some purple perle cotton around the outside edges.

The embroidered leaves could also be seen as feathers.

The hen’s nest is made from some curly excelsior packing material and her feathers are highlighted with purple metallic thread.

This coloring is more true to the original piece.

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

Baby Jacket for Moss

When little Moss was born last fall, I knew I had to make something green for him to wear. His jacket is made from the same Simplicity pattern (6256) as Evan’s, which you can see here.  I am not waiting for  grandchildren of my own to make clothes for. Whether or not I will ever become a grandmother is uncertain and out of my control, so I take the opportunity to sew for those children who are here now. I made some children’s clothes earlier in the summer, before I realized that I was way behind in getting ready for my show in September. Sewing from a pattern is relaxing, like following a favorite cookie recipe. For Moss’s jacket, I used mottled green fabric with orange dots and lined it with cotton batting.

Then I chain stitched a name tag with Moss.

And shaped it into a leaf, which I appliqued to the jacket front.

Then a stem and pointed leaf edging were added with variegated embroidery floss.

The jacket was lined with a solid moss-green fabric and I made bias tape to sew around the raw edges.

Buttons and button holes came next.

This little guy is ready for cool days this fall.

Pocketful of Borders: Donkey & Elsie Marley

I’m making good progress on the borders for the Pocketful of Posies Exhibit and thought I’d show one from earlier this summer. This double page spread illustrates the nursery rhymes “Donkey, donkey, old and gray…” and “Elsie Marley has grown so fine, she won’t get up to feed the swine…”.

The hungry swine were fun to make! The stones on the path were made with chain stitches in a tight spiral.

See a detail shot of the driftwood roofs and tree in an earlier post here.

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

Closeups (summer trees)

Before summer passes us by, I’ve gathered a group of trees from my artwork to show. The first one is a crayon drawing on lined paper from 1963, when I was 8 years old.

crayon on lined paper, 1963, age 8

Jumping ahead 20 years, this tree is from an early fabric relief picture called “Jumping Girl”. My obsession with embroidering leaves was underway!

detail from “Jumping Girl” 1985

This is from my first children’s book, The Way Home, published in 1991. By this time, I’d started making branches with thread wrapped wire. Read the story of the making of the book here.

detail from “The Way Home” 1991

Here’s a faux tile I made for my kitchen in 1990. See the other tiles in an earlier post here.

Faux Tile, 1990

About 10 years ago, I started using more felt and appliqued this tree trunk to the dyed cotton velveteen sky in my book, The Hollyhock Wall.

detail from “The Hollyhock Wall ” 1999

Now, I’m using felt almost exclusively. The next 2 details of trees are from my picture book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes.

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

I incorporated many found objects in the “Posies” book and here’s a glimpse of  driftwood and bark buildings, with a tree between.

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

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

Pocketful of Borders: Ring around the Rosie

The one woman border stitching factory is running double shifts to get the illustrations finished and framed in time for my Pocketful of Posies traveling exhibit, which you can read about here.  This one is from the page for the rhyme “Ring around the rosie”. The border turned out to be much more involved than I planned and took several days to complete. From now on, I can’t afford to play around, trying out different approaches for each piece. It’s time to get serious. My goal is to complete one a day, so I’ll have all 51 ready by mid Sept., when we hang the show.

I picked out some upholstery fabric for the background and then chose the felt border colors.

I like to lay out different skeins of pima cotton from the Caron Collection next to the artwork and pick a color scheme that matches.

Then I edge the border pieces with a blanket stitch.

There’s a lot of open green space around the dancing figures in this illustration, so I thought that the border could take some embellishment. I did a little sketch of some leafy curled stems and embroidered them.

One thing led to the next and before I knew it, I was filling the leaves with orange floss and scattering french knots around like confetti.

When I put the finished border piece next to the artwork, it looked too busy and the many colors detracted from the circle of characters. It was clear to me that the first try didn’t look right and instead of wasting time trying to make it work, I quickly moved on. I put it aside and decided to make another design that was still embellished, but was limited to green chain stitching.

They were true doodles, done free hand, with every border section different. That way, I don’t have to plan it out and repeat exactly the same design for all 4 side pieces. Also, without a set pattern, the border more accurately reflects the lighthearted and uninhibited mood of the characters.

I then embroidered the date and my initials on the bottom corner pieces.

And continued doodling…

After sewing the side and corner pieces together to make a square border, I thought that it needed a little lift off the surface, so I added some wire around the outside edge.

Later, after I’d sewn the wire all around, I realized that I should cut and adjust the wire to conform to the curves of the corner pieces.

I then covered  the wire by wrapping it with variegated embroidery floss.

And to help define the form, I slipped some wire through the stitches on the backside of the inside edge, like a underwire bra.

Now, I sewed the whole wire supported border to the artwork and bent waves into the outside scalloped edge.

I’m half way through making the borders, with about 25 to go! I’ll try to remember to pause and take pictures as I go, but know some steps won’t be documented because I’m so intent on finishing this project.

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

Rose Hips

Rose hips are everywhere this summer.  The rosa rugosa plants are not native, but brought over from Asia hundreds of years ago. They love our climate and grow like weeds along the bike path, on road sides and along the edge of the beach. First, they bloom with the most brilliant deep pink flowers.

And then form rose hips that look good enough to eat, although they don’t taste very good. Years ago, I made the mistake of calling these beach plums (which are a totally different edible fruit), but the “botany police” corrected me.

They turn wonderful shades of orange and red and look as exotic as sea creatures, like mini octopi.

This fairy is in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk .