About Salley Mavor

I make 3-dimensional fabric relief pictures that are photographed and used to illustrate children’s books. I sew together different materials to create fanciful scenes in relief, much like a miniature stage set, with figures imposed on an embellished fabric background. My work is decorative and detailed, full of patterns from nature and found objects, all sewn together by hand with a needle and thread.

introducing Polly’s cousin Rosie


Before introducing Rosie, I’d like to say a little something about her cousin Polly. Since Polly has a history of dawdling and missing her ride to the airport, I thought I’d better get her ready for our next trip. I’ve looked in all her usual resting places, but she’s nowhere to be seen! Maybe she’s tired of being hauled around in the bottom of my purse and doesn’t want to go to Scotland again. She’s survived many adventures, from standing on a boat railing in Antarctica to wandering the streets of Havana, to climbing stones in Ireland.

It could be that she’s had enough excitement and wants a calmer existence. I trust that she will appear when she’s good and ready to come out of hiding. Luckily, Polly liked to have her picture taken– you can see her travels here.

Despite being so young (she was born yesterday), her cousin Rosie is ready and willing to fill in for her. She’s in a bit of a shock that all Polly left behind were her discarded travel costumes. Rosie’s outfit of a plaid skirt and wool sweater should be well suited for the coolish Scottish weather this autumn.


Rosie may come across as shy and timid at first, but I have a feeling that she will surprise us all. She’s already packed and ready, which either shows her excitement or anxiety, or both!


Follow Rosie and her travels on Instagram.


shelter from the rain


This little pair, child stars from my book, Felt Wee Folk, found a perfect shelter from the rain! Like a paparazzi, I whipped out my cell phone, snapped a photo and instantly shared it on Instagram. A few days later, I took a picture of my work table, which shows a new wee folk family in the works. They’re for a charity raffle that I’ll announce later this fall. And if you’re already following me on Instagram, you’ve seen glimpses of bearded men from Whiskers, my newest piece. For a visual person, the urge to capture images all day is kind of possessing and the instantaneous nature of this new social media phenomenon makes it even more irresistible. I still plan to publish more comprehensive posts with lots of photos in the future, but for now I’ll share quick little glimpses into my world.

And soon, we’re off to Scotland again! I invite you to follow along in real time on Instagram.



making Face Time (part 3)


FaceTimeWMThis is Part 3 in a series about making my newest piece, Face Time. It picks up where I left off in Part 2, which covers the embroidered felt wreathlike frames. Part 1 explains the concept of the piece and shows the making of the heads.

Face Time will be on display this fall at Some Things Looming in Reading, Pennsylvania. Their fiber art exhibit, Entangled will run from Sept. 12th to Oct. 24th.

After all 41 frames were finished and each bust was safely sewn inside its own personal cameo, I arranged the characters according to time period. It was like putting together a puzzle, fitting the pieces in chronological order. Characters from the past were rooted at the bottom of the tree and others cascaded upward through time to contemporary folks at the very top.


Tree branches were formed with felt covered wire. Embroidery floss seed stitches on the felt created a bark-like texture. The smaller branches are made of floss wrapped wire. I sewed the branches to the back of the “cameos”, extending the wire around the frame to give each little portrait some structure, like bendable bones.


With this piece, I tried out a new kind of border/frame. Instead of putting fabric on top of and around the sides of a wooden stretcher, I stapled the background fabric to the back, creating a space inside for the 3-d tree. I padded the stretcher bars with cotton batting and covered it with fabric, like upholstering furniture. It required quite a bit of fussing and hand stitching to make the corners look good. This way the finished piece can be hung with or without another outside frame or shadow box.


I made felt covered wire leaf forms for the corners, first embroidering the strips of felt with seed stitches.


And then filled in some gaps with floss wrapped wire doodles.


Face Time is currently being shown in Entangled as you see here, without a glass covered frame. But that is temporary, as Rob will make a frame to protect the artwork from curious fingers and dust.


Thank you for following along through the process! As with Birds of Beebe Woods, I am not selling Face Time and will be entering it into juried shows around the country. Please visit the events page from time to time to see where my original work is on display.

For those of you interested in making your own characters, please refer to my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, for basic guidance.





making Face Time (part 2)

FaceTime-19446FaceTimeWMThis is Part 2 in a series about making my newest piece, Face Time. It picks up where I left off in Part 1, which shows and talks about the painted and wigged wooden bead heads.

Face Time will be on display this fall at Some Things Looming in Reading, Pennsylvania. Their fiber art exhibit, Entangled will run from Sept. 12th to Oct. 24th, 2015.


I wanted each character to peek out of their own frame, like cameo portraits. I cut pieces out of felt with scalloped shears and embroidered the edges.

This, along with stitching the leaves and stems took many, many hours.



I brought them with me on boat excursions near home…



and far away on our canal trip in France. I got a lot done on the plane ride, too.


Finally, all 41 busts had their own wreathlike frame.


The heads are based on the wee folk dolls in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. This little lady’s bonnet is made with embroidery floss wrapped wire.


After the wreaths were completed and the busts sewn in place, I figured out their arrangement on tree branches. They would be grouped according to time period, going from past at the bottom to present at the top.



The tree branches were made of felt covered wire.

To be continued in Part 3


making Face Time (part 1)

FaceTimeWMAbout a year ago, my newest piece, Face Time started taking shape. I took pictures along the way, during the many months that its collection of little heads occupied my work table. The piece was completed this past winter after about 6 months of work. I am pleased to say that Face Time will be on display this fall at Some Things Looming in Reading, Pennsylvania. Their fiber art exhibit, Entangled will run from Sept. 12th to Oct. 24th, 2015.

I’m often asked how long it takes to make a large piece like this (24″ x 30″). It’s hard to say for sure, because my days are interspersed with so many other activities (and distractions) having to do with the business side of being an artist. Of course, I’d rather be stitching every day in my studio, but I fear that would lead to an obscure life, without a presence beyond my studio walls. I’d guess that at least 50% of my work time is spent promoting my art in some way; e-mails, interviews and other publicity, Etsy Shop, editors and publishers, social media, entering and arranging exhibits, etc. OK, that’s enough of a reality check–shall we stick with the romantic notion of spending all day stitching in a window seat?

family tree-2I’d like to take you through the making of Face Time, so you can have a sense of what’s involved.  If you’ve read my post, When to tell how and when not to, you’ll know that I don’t always show my process, but this is one of those instances when I’ve taken enough photos to warrant a 3 part series. I’m excited to share the new direction my work has taken!

For Face Time, I started in the usual way, thinking about the idea for a long time before jotting down itsy bitsy drawings in my sketch book. While I work, the concept remains strong and constant, while the overall design changes with time. I also consider how the parts will be rendered in embroidery and 3 dimensional needlework.


I wanted to show different people from all over, evolving through time, from long ago civilizations at the bottom, to present day people at the top. I wasn’t so interested in making a personal family tree, but a depiction of the world’s collective heritage. I envisioned a group of faces from a variety of backgrounds and cultures peeking out of the greenery, all linked to a tree-like form.



Researching fashion history was very fun! Online, I found pictures of hair styles, beards, hats and garments. In addition to wigs and painted facial features, each wooden head had a bit of clothing showing at the neck and shoulders. They expand on the wee folk doll projects from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. Wire glasses were something new, which I thought contributed to the individuality of some characters.


Over a period of many weeks, the heads grew in number, filling my modest work table.



There ended up being 41 heads in all, covering many centuries. Here they are, in a group shot, before they were separated by leaves and branches in the finished piece. I will show more about that in part 2.

To be continued…


Klimt cave paintings


My Husband and I recently watched the movie “Woman in Gold”. Both of us were awestruck and moved by the true story of a Jewish woman’s fight to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s painting of her aunt Adele (pictured above) that was taken by the Nazis. The movie is beautifully filmed and acted by Helen Mirren, but the real star is Klimt’s powerful painting, which serves as the centerpiece of this drama about family heritage, national identity, justice and the long-lasting devastating effects of WWII.

Seeing the movie reminded me of an amazing exhibit we saw last year in Provence at the Carrières de Lumières. My photos give a sense of the scale of the cave, but they don’t sufficiently convey the powerful experience of seeing images from Klimt’s paintings projected on every surface inside, from under foot to over head. The scenes constantly moved to music, evolving from one image to another. Klimt’s iconic patterns were everywhere, surrounding and enveloping the viewers, who wandered around, room to room, dwarfed by the huge interior walls. I felt like I was inside his paintings. Every year, they feature a different artist’s work and I feel lucky to have seen this special production in 2014!

FranceKlimpt1 FranceKlimpt4 FranceKlimpt6 FranceKlimpt5 FranceKlimpt7

Scotland – June 2015: sculpture & more Polly


While walking the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Polly came close to being stepped on by John Knox and saw musicians playing under the gaze of Adam Smith.


Polly atop a wee head of hair in a garden outside of Glasgow.


King James V looks down from Stirling Castle.


A unicorn pointing high from a street in Stirling.


Polly meets some friends and gets into the action in Edinburgh.


A majestic deer in Edinburgh.


Polly pets  a lion at Edinburgh Castle.


And steadfast Robert the Bruce guards Stirling Castle. See all of the archived posts with Polly Doll here.