peplum fairy jacket

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 realize 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 consistent 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.

New Fairy Poster!

 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!

Wedding Banner: Kat & Devin

Last Sunday, we had the pleasure of attending Kat and Devin’s wedding.The bride’s family and my family have been closely connected through several generations. Kat’s grandparents and my grandparents were next door neighbors in Woods Hole in the 1940’s and our families have shared our love of folk dancing, folk music, sailing, and art ever since. Kat is an artist and her husband seems to be a free spirit. Here’s a picture of the dancing wedding couple.

As usual,  I made them a wedding banner for a gift. I really lucked out with the felt  colors I chose, since the wedding’s predominant color was purple/lavender.  I bent wire into the letters of their names and then picked out some decorative objects and beads. The pinkish square object in the center, between their names is a cool leather button I bought years ago.

I then wrapped the wire letters with embroidery floss and stitched the square wavy edged name panel with variegated pima cotton.

I sewed the wire letters and objects to the felt piece.

Then I stitched around the outside edge of the felt  banner piece and sewed the square panel in place. I added some fun “dalmatian” stone beads in a zig zag pattern.

I added some bead  and shell embellishments to the scalloped bottom edge and sewed the wrapped wire wedding date to the felt.

I picked some metal beads from India that I thought would bring an interesting texture to the hanging part of the banner.

A section of a strangled bittersweet vine serves as a hanger. I screwed in tiny metal eyes and hung the banner. I hope Kat and Devin like the banner. It was a lovely wedding and I wish the bride and groom many years of happiness!

Etsy shop open for business

I’ve finally joined the rest of the world by opening an Etsy shop! It’s taken a while for me to figure out what kind of items to sell, since I’ve given up mass-producing dolls and kits, etc. I could have really used a service like this 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago. At the moment, I’m happy to offer three brand new posters of some of my more popular fabric relief pieces; Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion, Rabbitat and On Halloween.

The 18″ x 24″ posters are high quality reproductions, printed on sturdy 100 lb. paper. My sister, Anne Mavor did a beautiful job with the graphic design–so tastefully done. I’m very excited to be offering these, so please visit my shop!

Baby Banner (Eliza Jane)

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My cousin John and his wife Mariana had a baby girl on March 1st, so I had to drop everything and make a baby banner for Eliza Jane. I took photos along the way, which give an idea of my process. It’s like the wedding banners I’ve been making for a few years. You can see all of them here.

I first made a simple pattern, with her name, birth date and weight written out. Then I cut out a smaller felt square and bent wire to form the letters and numbers.

I wrapped the wire with 2 strands of variegated embroidery floss, hiding the knots behind the curled ends. In this case, wire had to overlap to make the Z. I tried making the fancier lower case script Z, but it was hard to read, so I went with the simpler zigzag style. Below you can see how I made an orange stripe with another thread on top of the embroidery floss in JANE.

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I like using variegated thread to edge the felt.

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I made a narrow panel for a sheep button and some leaf beads.

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Glass leaf beads and a chain stitched vine fill the space between the words.

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I’ve had this ceramic sheep button for about 30 years. It’s so satisfying to put it to use in just the right place.

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I braided some Greek leather that I bought at a bead show and made a strap to hang the banner. Working with the leather reminded me of making gimp projects at camp. Remember gimp? What a weird material!

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Welcome to the world Eliza Jane!

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black cat pin

I gave a talk today at the First Congregational Church in my home town of Falmouth, MA. The audience included many needle workers who were very curious about how I made some of the pieces I showed in my slide presentation. Jo Ann Coleman brought a black velveteen cat pin to show. It’s one I had made over 30 years ago for her son, who was a classmate growing up in Falmouth. In the late 70’s, early 80’s, I made custom pins for customers who send photos of their cats. I remember seeing the picture of this big black one with a white beard. It’s wonderful that these pins I made decades ago keep coming back into my life! You can read more about the pins here.

Felt Wee Folk around the kitchen table

fairies from "Felt Wee Folk"

fairies from “Felt Wee Folk”

Sometimes I look at my blog statistics to find out how people find me. Quite frequently searches like “pipe cleaner dolls”or “wee felt people” bring them here. This week’s wordy favorite was “how to wrap embroidery floss around pipe cleaners for fairies”.

Last week, I received the most wonderful e-mail message from Michele in Nebraska, who wrote, “I didn’t do anything else yesterday evening except enjoy every single thing on your blog.” She went on describe how she and her family have enjoyed the doll projects in Felt Wee Folk.

“I purchased your book when my daughter was 15 (she is now 20 and a new mother). She had a close friend spend the night once that year and I brought my new book, along with lots of felt, threads, combed wool (I spin) and all manner of goodies, into the kitchen with the two girls and announced we were going to make tiny dolls. You should have seen their teenage faces! At first hesitant and then fascinated and completely absorbed, those two girls insisted on staying up till 2:30 in the morning so their little people could be finished! We talked about everything and laughed and laughed and when we were done, we sat and looked at our little people with the greatest satisfaction and joy. Just recently, my daughter’s same good friend came to our house to visit and told me that night spent here was the most fun she has ever had and that she felt so much love in our home. She has her little Wee Folk doll still and wants to make more with her children when she has them.

I just thought you might like to hear that your art has the most profound effect on others in such a positive and loving way. Thank you for your years of sharing. Thank you for leaving your examples of doll art on your website as inspiration for those of us who cannot get enough of them. I am sure you will be blessed in all your new endeavors.

And finally thank you for being true to yourself, for in doing that, what you have created is truly magical.”

Stories like Michele’s make me feel that sharing my fantasy/play world is truly worth it. It warms my heart to think of kitchen tables around the world scattered with silk flower petals, pipe cleaners and acorn caps. I can imagine faces of all ages and colors bowed in concentration and busy hands engrossed in making wee dolls. It’s been almost 9 years since Felt Wee Folk was released by C&T Publishing. Since 2003, the book has been reprinted many times, selling over 50,000 copies, which is way more than any of my children’s books.