Elsie Marley goes to Concord

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I’m pleased to let you know that an original fabric relief illustration from Pocketful of Posies will be part of a special exhibit at the  Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts this fall and winter. My contribution is the double page spread of “Donkey, donkey old and gray” and “Elsie Marley, shes so fine, she won’t get up to feed the swine”. I thought this would be a good opportunity to revisit this piece and show some process photos about adding the border.

First, here are the particulars: Oct. 10 – May 3, 2015 ~ Good Night, Sleep Tight: Art from Children’s Literature will feature over twenty original illustrations from classic and contemporary children’s books woven around the themes of bedtime, dreams, and lullabies. My old friend and college mate Beth Krommes will also have an illustration from one of her wonderful books in the show.

I will also be signing books at  Author and Illustrator Day on Dec. 7th at the Concord Museum, Concord, MA. This event is held in conjunction with the annual exhibit, Family Trees: Celebration of Children’s Literature.

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After the illustrations were photographed for the book, I needed to make them presentable for their next life as framed works of art. I cut out pieces of felt to make a border and embroidered them with my initials and the date. Although it took 3 years to make all 51 pieces, I treated the collection as one work and dated each piece 2010, the book’s publication date. Then, I stitched the felt scene and border onto a stretched piece of upholstery fabric. And last, but not least, my husband Rob built wooden shadow box frames for all of them, which you can see here. See posts about making more of the borders here.

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“Picking Peas” repair job

"Picking Peas" fabric relief 1986

“Picking Peas” fabric relief 1986

Do you ever think about how your creations will hold up in the future? Recently, I learned a lesson in the importance of using quality, archival materials. Back in 1986, when I made “Picking Peas”, I didn’t think about those kind of things. I used wire that was the right thickness and was not concerned about what kind of metal it was. It’s my style to use materials I find around, instead of buying everything new. Over the years, using found materials has helped me explore new ways of working. Odd pieces of this and that have pushed me to make bolder design decisions that I would otherwise have made if I just used thread and cloth. But, I learned that if you want your artwork to last beyond a few years or even a generation, you should be more careful about what kind of materials you use.

This summer, I borrowed the “Picking Peas” for my show at Falmouth Museums on the Green. When I picked it up from its owner, I noticed that some pea vines were an orange brown color instead of green. The owner hadn’t noticed the change, but I could see that rust had reared its insidious head! It didn’t help that the piece had been hanging for almost 30 years in a house right on the ocean, with salt air flowing through every open window.

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It was clear that something had to be done before the corrosion spread further and parts started crumbling apart. I promised the owner that after the show was over, I would fix the damage before it was returned. This is my first experience with textile conservation, so I proceeded slowly and cautiously.  I worked on one section at a time, peeling the pea fence, one side at a time and removing the rusted wire vines. I decided to take the dry approach, and vacuumed away any fine particles.  Luckily, the background was made of dark upholstery fabric, which held up pretty well and camouflaged the stains a bit.

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I remade the vines, this time using copper jewelry wire and wrapped them with embroidery floss. I did my best to cover the rust stains.

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I added the glass peas and plastic leaf beads to the vines.

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This is how it looked after everything was put back together. You can hardy see the rust stains, which blend in with the brown background fabric. “Picking Peas” is now back with its owner, hanging just around the corner from a beautiful view of Vineyard Sound.

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Closeups: leaves

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With autumn quickly approaching and the leaves close to falling from the trees, I thought I’d put together a group of leaf closeups. These images are all details from Pocketful of Posies illustrations. If you already have the book, you can have some fun picking out which pages they come from. The first image is about life size, but the others are blown up so you can see the stitching better. And yes, it’s all hand done. I’ve also got a leaf theme going on my Facebook page this month.

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Birds included in SAQA cards

Birds0001blogWMLook what came in the mail today! A pack of note cards that feature the unique works of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) Professional Artist Members. 10 art quilts are in the set, including my Birds of Beebe Woods piece. I feel honored to have my work selected for this collection, which represents the broad range of styles and techniques identified as “art quilts”. Card sales will benefit SAQA and are sold at a very reasonable price on their website here.notecardscollection_lgJust as a reminder– I sell cards as well and have 2 detailed images from Birds of Beebe Woods (shown below) in my Etsy Shop here.

FYI -  Birds of Beebe Woods, as well as many of my original fabric reliefs from the past 30 years will be included in this upcoming exhibit:
July 4 – August 16, 2014 ~ Salley Mavor: Expressions in Stitches: Then and Now Falmouth Museums on the Green, Falmouth, MA. Historical needlework from the museum’s collection will be exhibited alongside the contemporary embroidered artwork of Salley Mavor.  Sat, July 19th – “Tea at the Museum” and Artist Talk – 1:00 -3:00 pm.

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Cards – Birds of Beebe Woods

Mothers

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On this Mother’s Day, I’d like to share some of my artwork that depict mothers. The domestic scene above is an illustration from Mary Had a Little Lamb. And the one below shows the kitchen in my book, In the Heart. 

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This detail from my Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion, covers the years when my children were very young and physically attached to me.

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I made this “Old Mother Hubbard” ornament for the Family Trees Exhibit in Concord, MA.

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And finally, here’s The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, from my book Pocketful of Posies which peels away the sugar coating of motherhood.

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Noah’s Ark Poster

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I am pleased to announce the addition of another 18″ x 24″ poster to my Etsy Shop. The poster is new, but the original NOAH’S ARK piece was made 28 years ago!

I remember working on it during a transitional period, when I created animals that were similar in size and style to my pins (see them here), which I sewed to dyed and appliqued cotton velveteen background fabric. The animal’s legs are formed with tube beads. I also remember finding the orange upholstery fabric that’s around the border while shopping at a large fabric store in Berkeley, CA. I can recall playing around and re-positioning the animals for a long time until they looked right. It was also during a time when I fell in love with hand embroidering little leaves on bushes and trees. You can see some details of the animals and landscape below.

The NOAH’S ARK Poster is available from my Etsy Shop here.

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Needle Arts magazine cover

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I returned from our trip to Cuba (see posts here) to find my Birds on the cover of the March issue of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America’s Needle Arts Magazine! Of course, I knew about the article, but I was unaware that my piece would be on the cover, so it was a nice surprise. Thank you, Shirley Wozena, for describing my work so well in the article. Mary Corbet’s Needle N’Thread blog has a post about this issue and EGA in general.

It is gratifying to know that many of the magazine’s readers have been introduced to my work for the first time. The article shows photos of the process of making the Birds of Beebe Woods, which are some of the same pictures I’ve shared on this blog. I’ve heard from people who want to know if I have instructions or a kit to make their own. Embroidery and needlework has a strong tradition of copying and learning from patterns and directions, so it’s a natural assumption that I would share my techniques. I’m glad that embroiderers are inspired to learn more, but honestly, I can’t imagine revisiting this piece like that and writing out detailed directions.

Yes, I post photos of general steps along the way and have written how-to instructions for the dolls in Felt Wee Folk, but it only goes so far. For instance, in the past, some have expressed frustration that I haven’t shown detailed instruction on how to form hands and fingers. My answer is that I consider the more involved process of making my fabric reliefs a proprietary personal expression that I’m not sure I can explain effectively anyways. My work requires a non-analytical approach that I don’t want to tamper with. For me, recounting the process would be going back in time, instead of moving forward. And, I don’t want to ruin the magic, because that’s what keeps me excited about making the next piece!

This month has been an embarrassment of riches, in the magazine department. Because of postponements, it just happened that everything came out in March. In addition to Needle Arts, there was the Cape Cod magazine profile. The Horn Book Magazine has my essay, “The Common Thread” in their March/April illustration issue and Fiber Art Now has included my Birds piece in their On View feature.