My friend and maker of wonderful things, Mimi Kirchner drove down from Arlington on Monday and we spent the day together. For those of you who haven’t discovered Mimi, visit her blog, Doll, as soon as you read this post. She inspired me to write my own blog and just recently, to open an Etsy shop. We met 30 years ago, when we were members of the Christmas Store, a seasonal craft coop in Cambridge, MA. We always have a lot to talk about because we’re interested in the same kind of things and our lives have taken us in similar directions, both personally and professionally. Mimi brought a Tattoo magazine that features her tattooed dolls in their Christmas gift guide. She also showed me the new Land of Nod catalog that includes several of her doll designs. It was a glorious fall day and we talked about art and our lives as we walked from my house, through Beebe Woods and into Falmouth center to have lunch. It was great to see you, Mimi!
One of my fabric relief pieces, Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion is on display this summer at the Cotuit Center for the Arts in Cotuit on Cape Cod. It’s included in the PORTRAITS show upstairs through July 22, 2012. The Center’s main floor gallery is showing portraits by super realist painter Jon Friedman. I hope that summer visitors to the Cape will stop in to take a look!
FREE Felt Wee Folk Fairy Poster (left) with the purchase of a signed SELF PORTRAIT: A Personal History of Fashion Poster (pictured below) from my Etsy Shop. All posters are 18″ x 24″.
ALSO- Fairy poster is included with the purchase of my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects from my Etsy shop.
When I visited my sister Anne this past spring, she brought out our mother’s look-a-like doll. Mom’s doll was made by our great-aunt, Alma Salley.
Here’s a picture of Mom with her father in the early 1930′s. Mom described him as a kind, gentle man and I love seeing photos of them together. We never knew him, as he died before his grandchildren were born.
Anne and I remember receiving exquisite doll clothes made by Alma when we were young. We didn’t see our Salley relatives very often, as they all lived in South Carolina and we were in New England. This is an old painted photo of Alma, who was born in the 1880′s and lived through a lot of changes, well into her 90′s.
This photo shows my great grandparents and their five daughters. My grandmother, Louise (second from the left), was the only one who left the south. After 8 years of courting, she finally gave in and moved north to Rhode Island, to marry my grandfather. By that time, she was 35 and he was 45, old newly weds for their era, but common by today’s standards. The “Salley girls” were famous in Orangeburg, SC for their spirited independence and all five of them went on to graduate from college. Even though there weren’t any males to carry on the family surname, subsequent generations have several first named Salleys, like myself. We are descended from Henry Salley, who came to America along with a group of other French Huguenots who founded Orangeburg, South Carolina in the early 1700′s.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scallop shells serve as a hat and chair back for this character in “Posies”.
On my recent trip to visit my sister and her husband in Oregon, I took pictures of their wedding dolls. I made them for Anne and Dennis when they married in July, 1988.
In typical Mavor fashion, the wedding was an eclectic blend of cultures and styles. It would be out of character if any of us had a conventional wedding! Anne wore a dress from Afghanistan, with a Swedish crown of candles. (She spent a college year in Sweden.) Dennis wore a Polish outfit in a nod to his family heritage.
The dolls are about 6 inches tall and I think they were displayed on top of the wedding cake.
The candles on her head-dress are tube beads.
The hat, shoes and boots were made of real leather.
I remember enjoying adding the decorations to their clothing. It was fun to revisit the dolls after 24 years!
Last week, I saw this picture in the fashion section of the Wall Street Journal. The article pointed out a change in women’s business attire, from dark suits, to bright colors and even florals. The peplum jacket reminded me of my wee folk fairies. Not that today’s business women are wearing folksy petal petticoats and fitted, leafy tops. I’m just glad to see that women in the corporate world are showing more confidence in their own individuality. Those pink shoes have got to go, though!
I designed a felt peplum style jacket for my 3 1/2″ Blossom fairies about a dozen years ago. It is the basic pattern used for the fairy’s clothing in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk. This jacket is the usual giveaway that someone has used my patterns in dolls they sell on Etsy. I don’t mind that they make the dolls and use my patterns for their clothing, but I try to keep up with shop owners and ask that they credit me and my book as the inspiration for their creations. Most everyone honors my request and are usually apologetic, when they realise that they didn’t think to credit me in their product descriptions. One woman said that she assumed it was OK to use my designs because my book is so well-known. Well, the book is still being discovered and I hope it will stay in print for years to come. That means that the publisher needs to see a consistant demand for the book.
I’m not making dolls to sell myself and am happy that people are having such fun making them. The Bayberry Fairy below is included in my new Blossom Fairy Poster, which is available in my Etsy Shop. Want your poster autographed? Just mention it on your order.
A whole swarm of Blossom Fairies are gathered together in my newest 18″ x 24″ poster, which is listed in my Etsy Shop. I’ll be glad to autograph any of the posters–just mention it on your order. There’s Blueberry, Black-Eyed-Susan, Aster, and Porcelain Berry, along with 12 other fairies dressed in petal petticoats. About a dozen years ago, I went on a fairy-making binge, designing all kinds of wee characters to go with different flowers and berries in season. I carried them in a basket, searching around the neighborhood for the best natural spots to take their pictures. Hazy days were best for photography, because there were less harsh shadows on their delicate fairy faces.
It was fun to go through the slides (they were taken before digital) and pick out which fairies to include in the poster. Many of the photographs are printed in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk and some are still available as note cards in my Etsy Shop. My sister, Anne Mavor designed this poster in her clean, classic style. Even though I don’t make kits and Ltd. edition dolls any more, it’s fun to have the photos to work with. I’m happy to find a way to bring back the Blossom Fairies!
On our last day in the bay area of California, we visited beautiful Muir Beach. We met our friends from home, Judy and Phil Richardson, who are renting a house in Berkeley for a month. Judy and I created 2 picture books together (read about our book, The Way Home here). This was an opportunity to see Green Gulch, Phil’s boyhood home. For years he has talked about growing up on a cattle ranch that was later protected from development, when the property was given to the San Francisco Zen Center and a nature conservation organization.
Polly came along, while we hiked through the Zen Center and up to the top of the hill, which overlooks Muir Beach. What a spectacular view!
Leading up to our special day, we had gone out to Green’s restaurant in SF earlier in the week, which is run by the Zen Center. Here, Polly is inspecting my dinner, a delicious grilled polenta that was served with butternut squash and sweet potato gratin.
Local photographer, Dorene Sykes needed a model for a project, so she asked me to come over to her home studio with some of my dolls. I brought a basket of possible wee folk and we decided that Little Red Ridinghood would show up the best. She took this sweet picture of me holding her out front. The purpose of the exercise was to literally focus attention on an object in the foreground, with an identifiable, but less clear person in the background. Dorene and I had a lot of fun trying out different poses. I really like that way this one came out, especially the flattering extra “soft focus” effect, since I’m feeling aware of my age ( 57 yesterday).
We’re back home and the snow peas in the garden have grown an inch. It’s going to be the earliest harvest yet! One of the highlights of our trip west was a visit with some RISD classmates in San Francisco. Rob and I had such a great time catching up with Ashley Wolff, Julie Downing and her husband Scott Slotterback. I swear, we didn’t plan our coordinated blue tops and jeans. Earlier in the day, I gave a talk at the Academy of Art University, where Julie teaches illustration classes. In the evening we gathered at Julie and Scott’s art-filled house.
Julie and I figured out that it’s been 29 years since we’ve seen each other. Ashley came to visit me last summer, which I wrote about here. Even Polly Doll made new friends. We took her picture with the little boy from Julie’s book, White Snow, Blue Feather and Miss Bindergarten from Ashley’s book’s.
Julie presented me with my old RISD meal card mug shot. I have no memory of the card, but apparently we were too unreliable to carry cards on our persons and had our pictures displayed on a board in the cafeteria. She had kept it all these years in a folder with other RISD memorabilia.
I look like a mixture of Pocahontas and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Thanks for such a good time, Julie! All these years, we’ve all been caught in the family and career vortex, so it’s great to finally reunite and still have fun together!