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.

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 the light of the window?

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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…

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Polly’s traveling again

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Polly is proud to show-off her new outfit, which she’ll be wearing during her next trip. She’s especially fond of her Glengarry bonnet! Polly will be visiting relatives in Scotland (my grandfather on the Mavor side was born in Glasgow) and hiking the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness. She’s sure to bring back lots of pictures and stories of her adventures!

etsywidgetlinkMy Etsy Shop is closed during our trip and will reopen June 16th.

Wee Folk in the bugle weed forest

WoodlandFolkinBugleweedWMThe whole Woodland Folk family recently ventured out into the bugle weed forest for some fresh air. Ever since they had the excitement of posing for my new book, it’s been dismal for them, all cooped up inside. The wee folk couldn’t get enough of the natural surroundings!

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Many of you have made your own versions of these dolls by following the directions and patterns in Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. I hope that you are having as much fun as I am! The book is available through your favorite book seller or from my Etsy Shop (autographed, with extra goodies). Please note: My shop will be closed from May 29 to June 15th.

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Fairy Family Video!

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My husband Rob and I had so much fun putting together this 2 min. video to spread the word about the Fairy Family RAFFLE for the benefit of Highfield Hall. While I worked on the dolls, I kept having to pester him about coming to film different stages of the process, from wrapping their bodies, to dressing them, to painting their faces. Make sure that you watch long enough to see these process shots, as well as the animated close-ups of the fairies.

Here’s the info about the RAFFLE:
Take a chance to win a fairy family of 5, handmade by Salley Mavor. 3 tickets for $5.00. Tickets may be purchased online or at Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth, MA, where the fairy family is on display. The Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall outdoor exhibit will be held from June 28th to August 31, 2015. The raffle drawing will be August 30, 2015. The prize will be sent to the winner anywhere in the world! Good luck!

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Wee Folk see themselves

BRIDESlookingfeltweefolknewcoverblogThe wee folk have been getting a kick out of seeing pictures of themselves on the pages of my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures! The brides, woodland and winter folk, and Mary and her lamb are tempted to walk back into their familiar scenes, but they have new separate lives now.

Supplies to make the wee folk dolls, including wool felt can be ordered from A Child’s Dream. I sell faux flowers to make fairies, as well as the book (with autograph and extra goodies) in my Etsy Shop.

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Fairy Family RAFFLE!

fairyfamilyraffleI am excited to introduce my newest creation — a Fairy Family! All five doll-house sized  family members, Mom, Dad, brother, sister and baby were specially made for a raffle to benefit Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth (Cape Cod) Massachusetts.The raffle will be held from now until the end of this summer’s outdoor exhibit, the Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall, which I am curating again this year. If you visit this blog regularly, you’ll know that I don’t sell one-of-a-kind dolls, so this is a rare chance to have a unique family of wee folk, all hand-stitched by yours truly. At the end of this post, you’ll find information about the fairy house exhibit and purchasing raffle tickets online. But first, I want to show you some behind the scenes photos. Fairy_Family-1765 To make the fairy dolls, I gathered faux flowers in a purple and blue color scheme. For the felt clothes, I cut out patterns from my new book Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. FAIRYRAFFLE1 The book also has directions for adding breasts to make shapely, more womanly fairies, instead of just flat chested nymphets. fairyraffle-1755 fairyraffle3I used some unusual acorn caps that have been hanging around my studio for years. For the life of me, I can’t remember where they came from. fairyraffle2 Here are the fairies on my work table, before they were given wings. Fairy_Family-1787-2 The children are already flying around and having adventures! fairychildrenraffle It’s going to be quite the fairy summer on Cape Cod! I hope that many of you will make the trip to see the fairy houses. And everyone, near and far can take a chance at winning the fairy family. Good luck! Fairy Family Raffle: 3 tickets for $5.00. Tickets may be purchased online or at Highfield Hall, where the fairy family will soon be on display. The raffle drawing will be held August 30, 2015. June 28 – August 31, 2015 ~ Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall, Highfield Hall and Gardens, Falmouth, MA. This outdoor exhibit, curated by Salley Mavor, will feature 32 fanciful fairy houses made by local artists, architects, potters, felters, woodworkers and fairy house aficionados.

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FELT the noun, not the verb

detail from “Pocketful of Posies”

I’m in love with wool felt! Aren’t you, too? Quite often, it’s my material of choice, along with embroidery thread. Once you use the wool variety, it’s hard to go back to handling the cheap acrylic type commonly found in craft stores. It’s like retiring your polyester pant suit in favor of cotton, wool or linen. Wool felt is seductive– it not only feels better, but has an integrity and durability not found in imitation fabrics. I primarily use wool felt that comes in sheets of different thicknesses.

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detail from

detail from “Pocketful of Posies”

People inquire about wool felt all the time, so I’ll address that right away. The cottage industry that made the plant dyed felt I used in the illustrations for Pocketful of Posies no longer dyes felt.

Pocketful of Posies 2010

Pocketful of Posies 2010

Many online businesses sell wool felt, from garish commercially dyed colors to softer, plant dyed and “heather” shades. A Child’s Dream has a nice selection of  premium quality 100% wool felt. Sweet Emma Jean sells a less expensive rayon/wool blend. Of course, 100% wool felt is pricey, but it is certainly worth it. The doll clothes pattern pieces from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk don’t require very much material, so a little can go a long way. If you want to try natural dying your own colors, take a look at this informative blog post from Willodell.

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures

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Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures 2015

I want to clarify something — I use felt (noun) in my pieces. I do not make felt or do felting (verb). I don’t know why it bothers me, but my work is often described as “felted” when it is not. Felting has a rich history and has been around since ancient times. The verb to felt involves the manipulation and meshing of wool fleece fibers to form sheets of felt or a 3 dimensional felted form. Needle felting is immensely popular now a days, so I can see how the noun and verb are becoming interchangeable in some people’s minds. I’ve tried felting and think it’s fun, but find myself more interested in embroidering and decorating existing felt pieces.

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from Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures 2015

Many of you have said that embellishing and stitching together little outfits is your favorite part of making the dolls from Felt Wee Folk. Women of a certain age have fond memories of sewing felt clothing for their Troll dolls during their first invasion in the 60’s. The later version of wide eyed Troll dolls where much cuter and not as appealing, in my opinion. I can still remember sewing snaps on my Troll clothes and trying to figure out whether to make the stitches jump from hole to hole or go outside the snap. I decided that it doesn’t matter which is the “right” way and tried both. Decades later, I’m still figuring out new ways to make and clothe little dolls and my early experience with making Troll clothes may have been what spurred me into writing how-to books.

project from Felt Wee Folk - New Adventures

project from Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures