Birds at Highfield this summer!

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I recently cleaned the glass which protects the Birds of Beebe Woods. While the piece was uncovered and exposed, Rob took some new photos. This time he didn’t aim the camera straight on. We thought we’d try coming from the side a bit, to emphasize the sculptural quality of the birds.

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Birds0001blogWMI think these photos better translate the experience of looking at the real piece. Of course, it’s best viewed without glass, but it’s necessary for protection from light and dust.

Printed reproductions in the form of posters and cards are available from my Etsy Shop.

Birds of Beebe Woods is on display at Highfield Hall, Falmouth, MA until Sept. 15th. I’m also excited about the upcoming outdoor exhibit, Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall (June 28 – Aug. 31), which I’m curating again this year.

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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

Blog Tour host Mimi Kirchner

feltweefolknewcoverblogToday, doll artist and all-round versatile maker of wonderful things, Mimi Kirchner is hosting the Felt Wee Folk BLOG TOUR. The tour schedule is listed at the bottom of this post, with links to participating blogs. I invite you to follow along. There are reviews of my new book and opportunities to enter Give-aways for copies of Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures.

Mary Corbet – Needle n’ Thread kicked off the tour on Tuesday with a post featuring a beautiful curly-haired doll she made based on my book’s instructions and patterns.

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Today’s blogger, Mimi and I met more than 30 years ago through the Boston area’s art/craft community and have been friends since. Here she is in my studio, sharing a magazine spread about her tattooed dolls. I’m so glad that she’s getting this great exposure!

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You can see Mimi’s creations all over the internet and in social media, on her blog, Facebook, Instgram, Flickr and Twitter. She’s constantly updating her blog with her latest projects, from swaddled babies to burly tattooed men and a whole lot of other treasures. She sells originals, as well as patterns for making her pin cushions and a variety of dolls in her Etsy Shop. Thank you, Mimi – you’ve been an inspiration to me and so many others!

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I’ve written about a visit to Mimi Kirchner’s studio here, her pin cushions here and some of her ceramic ornaments that I bought years ago here.

Felt Wee Folk BLOG TOUR Schedule:

March 3 – Mary Corbet – Needle n’ Thread

March 6 – Mimi Kirchner – Doll 

March 10 – Margaret Bloom – We Bloom Here

March 12 – C&T Publishing’s Blog

March 13 – Kimara – Wee Folk Art

March 15 – Phoebe Wahl

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Book Trailer

book - Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures

book – Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures

I am pleased to announce the upcoming release of my newest how-to book.
Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures: 120 Enchanting Dolls by Salley Mavor, C&T Publishing ©2015, 160 pages, 8″ x 10″.

Books may be pre-ordered from my Etsy Shop here. Your order will be sent when the book is released in late February 2015. Books ordered from my Etsy Shop will include some extra goodies; autograph, a winter scene poster (folded flat) and faux flowers to make 2 fairies.

Rob and I had such fun filming the process of making a fairy doll for this book trailer:

This long-awaited all-doll version expands the wee world introduced in the original edition of Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects (C&T Publishing 2003), with pictures, directions and patterns for making more bendable figures with a variety of hairstyles, outfits, and armatures.

Favorite doll projects from the first book, including acorn-capped blossom fairies and other fanciful wee folk make a return appearance. As requested by fans, more challenging techniques, such as wig making are added, making this book suitable for all skill levels, from the beginner who is learning the blanket stitch to the experienced embroiderer who relishes fine stitching.

The book is bursting with inspirational photographs of little characters set up in miniature worlds, from woodland scenes to doll houses, to fairy gardens. A certain type of person enjoys creating and looking into tiny, enchanting worlds and this book is for them! These dolls appeal to the child within you, no matter your age.

Take a behind the scenes look at photo shoots for the book here.

Upcoming book signing events (poster included with book purchase):
Sunday, March 8th at 3:00pm — Book Release party at Eight Cousins Bookstore, Falmouth, MA
Sunday, March 15th at 2:00 pm — Book Signing and short presentation, Return of the Wee Folk at the Sandwich Public Library, Sandwich, MA

poster - Felt Wee Folk

poster – Felt Wee Folk

Close-ups (beds)

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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

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“Are the children in their beds?” from my Wee Willie Winkie board book.

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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.

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“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.

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And here’s Elsie Marley, who won’t get up to feed the swine, which is also from Pocketful of Posies.

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Close-ups (emotion)

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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.

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working on Felt Wee Folk – 2nd edition

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I really can’t believe that 10 years have gone by since  Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects was published! I’m grateful that it has had such a good run and is still in print. I’ve said repeatedly that I won’t be writing another how-to book and that I want to focus on exploring my art form. I still want to continue on that path, but the practical side of me has decided to take some time this year to update Felt Wee Folk. I want to do what I can to keep the book in print for at least another 10 years.

In the 2nd edition, the popular projects, like the fairies and dolls will remain and the non-doll felt projects will be replaced with new varieties of wee folk characters and more doll-making tips. This all doll version will have a new cover and about 30 more pages than the first edition. The second edition will feature many new projects for seasoned wee folk makers as well as yet-to-be converts, who are just beginning to learn how to wrap pipe-cleaner limbs. We don’t have a definite date for publication, but with the work I still have to do, combined with C&T’s production time, the book should be on the shelves sometime in 2015. And because the information is propitiatory,  I won’t be able to show the new projects I’m designing until the book comes out. Sorry, but that’s how these things work.

For now, Amazon is selling print-on-demand copies of Felt Wee Folk. They don’t mention that it’s print-on-demand, but it is. They also have a  Kindle version. The book’s publisher, C&T sells an e-book version, too. Downloading the book may be the easiest way for people from around the world to obtain the information without paying for overseas postage

feltweefolksI have a limited number of the high quality original edition in my Etsy Shop and will switch over to selling the print-on-demand version when those run out. Don’t worry, the felt purses, pins, etc. will not disappear – they’ll be available separately as downloads from C&T’s Pattern Spot, when the new edition is published. So, please be patient and enjoy the first edition for another couple of years!

Debbie from A Child’s Dream Come True just sent some beautiful wool felt samples for me to use in the new projects. This is going to be fun!

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Have you seen my new prints, which feature projects from Felt Wee Folk? “Humankind” and “Adopt the pace of nature” are available in my Etsy Shop.