I’ve been using bird imagery to my artwork for a long time. The most recent is last year’s Birds of Beebe Woods piece, which has its own page here.
Let’s go way back. I embroidered the piece shown above in art school in 1974, when I was teaching myself different stitches. The little red bird below is from my first picture book, The Way Home (1991).
In the sequel, Come to My Party (1993), the bird is given a name: Harold.
This swimming duck felt pin is one of many projects in my 2003 how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.
This goose climbs up and runs down the hill in my board book, Jack & Jill (2006).
The last three close-ups are from Pocketful of Posies (2010). Check the tour schedule for the exhibit of original fabric relief illustrations here.
The first image in this series of bed pictures is an illustration for a poem called Tumbling, which is included in my 1997 poetry anthology, You and Me:Poems of Friendship. Then there’s a page from my 2001 picture book In the Heart, which was written by Ann Turner. Copies of In the Heart are available in my Etsy Shop.
“Are the children in their beds?” from my Wee Willie Winkie board book.
And here’s “my son John, went to sleep with his trousers on” from Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. I offer autographed copies with a poster in my Etsy Shop.
“Go to bed first, a golden purse” from Pocketful of Posies. See the touring exhibit of the original embroidered illustrations from the book. Next location: Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA, Sept. 4 ~ October 31, 2013.
And here’s Elsie Marley, who won’t get up to feed the swine, which is also from Pocketful of Posies.
One of the fun and challenging parts about illustrating for children is showing emotion and action, especially in fiber art, which tends to be static. To counter-act the stiff blandness, I like to bring forth emotion by exaggerating the poses and facial expressions of my characters. But there’s a fine line between evoking believable feeling and creating a grotesque appearance, much like the difference between acting well and over acting. I’ve seen some doll faces that are downright scary and bizarre. My goal is to portray emotion with a subtle firmness, without being too disturbing.
Nursery Rhymes are full of emotional and physical activity, so I had lots of opportunities to experiment with poses and facial expressions in my book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. Here are a selection of close-ups from the book.
Do you want to see the original embroidered illustrations from the book? There are still several locations scheduled for the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit, which has been touring the country since 2010.
Working in miniature, there are many objects available for wheels; buttons, washers, snaps, key rings, etc. This series of images are mostly from my earlier work, starting with a detail from a piece I made in 1986. The wire bicycle is less than 2 inches long. Looking at these, I’m amazed that I had time to do all of the stitching because I had a baby and a preschooler to take care of. I remember working every evening after they went to bed.
The button wheels in this detail (below) from “Fall”, 1987, are about 1/2″ in diameter.
Skip ahead 10 years for this detail from the Sidewalks poem in my 1997 book, “You and Me: Poems of Friendship“. The car hub-caps are fancy coat buttons and the tires are made from black insulated wire. The stroller wheels are 1/2″ buttons.
Here’s a detail from “The Hollyhock Wall”, 1999. The car hub-caps are made from regular sized snaps.
The bicycle wheels in this detail from “You and Me” are made from the smallest key rings I could find, about 1/2″. The bicycle spokes are metallic thread and the helmets are painted acorn caps.
This is another detail from the same Fast Friends illustration in “You and Me”. That’s my husband Rob in the truck.
16 years later and I’m still making ice cream trucks. This 2″ embroidered one is from a baby quilt I’m in the process of making for a friend. Stay tuned for more quilt images!
Today is the Spring Equinox! Let’s celebrate the coming of warmth and the promise of the growing season. Here are some spring-inspired closeups of my artwork, starting with a house and tree, which I guess is from the first grade. Skip 50 years, to a group of details from some nursery rhyme illustrations in Pocketful of Posies. If you have the book, you can look carefully and pick them out.
Cat pin circa 1980
It’s about time I showed more cat pictures because there are so many to choose from. Cats were the subject of the first post in the Close-ups series, back in 2009. This brown cat pin is over 30 years old. Read about my pins here. The baby leopards are from “Rana is Born”. The piece was the inspiration for Judy Richardson’s story, Come to my Party, which I illustrated in 1993.
detail from “Rana is Born” fabric relief 1992
This costumed cat is a detail from “On Halloween”, which is in my 1997 book You and Me: Poems of Friendship. The whole illustration is printed as a poster, which is available in my Etsy Shop.
detail from “On Halloween” 1997
This seated cat is from my 1999 book The Hollyhock Wall.
detail from “The Hollyhock Wall” 1999
This kitty is part of the faux tile frieze in my kitchen. Read about that here.
Faux Tile 2001
And this cat topiary is from the verse “Molly My Sister and I” in my book Pocketful of Posies. Autographed copies, plus a poster are available in my Etsy Shop.
detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010
This close-up of a wee milkweed baby is also pictured in my newest card, which you can see in my Etsy shop here. She’s less than 2″ long.
The best bedtime stories end with a sleeping child. This is a detail from the last illustration from my 2001 picture book, In the Heart.
“Go to bed second, a golden pheasant.” detail from Pocketful of Posies.
This sleeping bird is from my first book, The Way Home. Read about the making of this book here.
Little Boy Blue is asleep under the haystack. detail from Pocketful of Posies.
“To bed, to bed”, says sleepy head. Detail from Pocketful of Posies.
A slumbering fairy on the warm rocks. He’s 2″ long.
One shoe off, the other shoe on, deedle, deedle, dumpling, my son John. Detail from Pocketful of Posies.
Are the children in their beds? Detail from Wee Willie Winkie board book.
It’s been a while since I’ve shown some closeups, so here’s one about chairs. See the archived posts from the Close-ups Series here.
I use chairs as perches for my little dolls. The trick is making the chairs in shallow relief, so that they don’t stick out too far in my pictures. The first photo shows a girl sitting on a chair made from milled wooden pieces that are used in doll house miniatures.
detail from “The Storyteller” 1998
George’s chair is made with old worn upholstery fabric. The chair’s feet are sculpted with Fimo. Read about and see more pictures from “The Storyteller” and “George’s Chair” in another post here.
Detail from “George’s Chair” mid 90′s
Mary’s mother sits knitting in this detail from Mary Had a Little Lamb. I only had to show a board in the back and one chair leg to achieve her pose.
These little women from The Hollyhock Wall are about 1 1/4″ tall, so their chairs are tiny. They were made of wire wrapped with grey embroidery floss.
The yellow high chair is made from miniature doll house wooden parts. It’s in the kitchen scene in my picture book In the Heart. I was able to get some copies when it went out of print, so I’m offering autographed books for a good price in my Etsy shop.
detail from picture book “In the Heart” 2001
Here are a couple of details from Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. The girl is sitting in a wicker chair made with floral cloth wire.
Detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010
Scallop shells serve as a hat and chair back for this character in “Posies”.
Detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010
It’s time to bring back the Close-ups. I started the series 2 years ago, when I fell off a ladder and broke my wrist. Using one hand, I wrote about and showed pictures of past projects, organized by theme. It helped me get through the 4 month recovery period, when I couldn’t sew. See the whole Close-ups series here.
Right now, I’m in hibernation, making parts that will be used in an animation my husband Rob and I are doing. This “little” project is growing into more than a winter activity, though, and it will be a long while before we’re finished. I want to wait until we have a finished film (probably a few minutes long) before we show anything, including process photos. I’ve got other art related commitments to take care of this year, so I’ll soon have to put the animation project aside until I have more time to get totally immersed.
Back to sheep–which are giving birth at this time of year. Maybe it’s their expressions, or their ears, or their white fluffy body balls with stick legs, but sheep are very satisfying to portray. This first image at the top of the post is a detail from my picture book Mary Had a Little Lamb. See more pictures from the book here. The one below is part of an embroidered piece I made in art school in 1974.
These sheep from my 1986 Noah’s Ark fabric relief, show the beginning of my love affair with French knots.
Here’s a simpler, appliqued version, which decorates a felt purse in my 2003 how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.
Then, there are several details from nursery rhymes in my 2010 picture book, Pocketful of Posies.
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
Salley, age 8
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
detail from "One Misty, Moisty Morning" in "Pocketful of Posies" 2010
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
detail from "Little Jack Horner" in "Pocketful of Posies" 2010
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
detail of balsam pillow in "Felt Wee Folk" 2003
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
detail from "Little Jack Horner" in "Pocketful of Posies" 2010