fairy house tour (part 2)

The fairy house tour around the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum continues with photos of some of my favorite structures. Out of 33 very different styles, I found the naturalistic interpretations more believable as fairy dwellings. These tended to blend in with the landscape and mostly used materials found in nature. Please note: This fairy house exhibit is closed, with the next scheduled for 2014.

A house with a teapot doorway.

This tree had several entrances.

These cottages perched on the roots look like guest houses for sprites.

A cozy picnic spot.

A wee painter’s shack.

Dew Drop Villas and a muscle shell windmill conclude the tour.

Birds of Beebe Woods: robin

Back in the spring, when I started working on Birds of Beebe Woods, robins were in abundance,  hopping around the yard. After making the larger, dominant crow, I added a robin to the piece, placing it in the center, down on the ground. Compared to the smaller, realistic looking birds that were made later, the crow and robin’s bodies are more abstract, with stylized patterns on their wings and breast. My approach to rendering the birds seems to have changed during the 4 months that I worked on the piece. Toward the end, when I sewed the nuthatch, chickadee and warbler, I referred to photographs more closely and was caught up in making them identifiable and naturalistic. I like to combine realism and abstraction.

In keeping with the robin’s perky nature, I curved the bird like a sideways apostrophe, with its tail flaring upwards.  The red breast presented a opportunity to play around with warm tones and metallic thread.

To see more posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, see the archives here. A 18″ x 24″ poster (pictured at the beginning of this post) is available through my Etsy Shop. Also, the piece is part of “Intimate Woods”, a fiber art exhibit at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA. through November 16, 2012. Then it will be on exhibit (along with 2 original illustrations from Pocketful of PosiesDecember 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th at the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Fairy Christmas at Hedge House Museum, Plymouth, MA.

Birds of Beebe Woods: warbler

I wanted to include a warbler in the Birds of Beebe Woods piece and found that a handful of varieties live in our area, each with their own distinct markings. I liked the look of the black throated green warbler best and thought its color patterns and striped wings would show up against the brownish gold background fabric.

To start, I found many photographs of warblers in books and on the internet and sketched until I found a pose that fit into the  scene of birds. After making paper patterns, I cut out the bird’s shape from matt board and cut pieces of white, green, black and yellow from wool felt. Thinking ahead, I glued cheap acrylic felt to the back of the matt board body, so there would be something to grab the stitches while the front felt piece was later being sewn in place. I also basted thick wool felt padding to the top of the matt board piece.


I embroidered the texture and markings on the warbler’s green head. The bead eye is sewn inside a cut out hole in the yellow felt. Periodically, I would hold the bird up against the background fabric, to make sure there was enough contrast.

I used a combination of blanket stitch, fly stitch and lots of little single stitches.


The wing’s stripes were defined by chain stitched lines.


To finish, I made a little felt tail and added thread wrapped wire legs. Then, the black throated green warbler was ready to join the flock.

To see more posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, see the archives here. An 18″ x 24″ poster (pictured at the beginning of this post) is available through my Etsy Shop.


An Irish Sojourn

Rob and I just returned from a magical visit to Ireland. We traveled with a group of Celtic music lovers who were brought together by Boston’s WGBH. The Learning Tour – An Irish Sojourn was led by WGBH radio Celtic music host Brian O’Donovan, who took us from county Cork and up the eastern coast to Dublin.

This is just a sampling of what we saw on our trip–there will be many more pictures to show in the weeks ahead. There’ll be more doorways, windows, storefronts, landscapes and moss!

Birds of Beebe Woods: cedar waxwing

Update: See the completed piece and read more about it here.
More and more birds are emerging in Birds of Beebe Woods, including this 6″ long cedar waxwing. Here are the felt parts before they were all embroidered and attached.

I like stitching the feather patterns and textures.

The September deadline for the Intimate Woods exhibit at Highfield Hall is approaching, so my goal is to make 3 small birds this week and more after that, if I have time. Then I have to attach everything to a stretched background, which usually takes longer than I think.

Birds of Beebe Woods

For the past 2 months, I’ve been working on a large (24″ x 30″) fabric relief piece. I haven’t picked a title yet, but the picture depicts birds in our town owned forest, Beebe Woods.


The deadline to finish is in early September and since my work takes forever, I’ll be stitching right through the summer. The piece will hang in a group fiber show, The Intimate Woods at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA, Sept. 18 – Nov. 16, 2012. This will be the same venue for my Pocketful of Posies touring show, when it returns  home next year, Sept. 4 – Oct. 31, 2013.

I’ve been taking photos of the different steps and have so far made a crow, robin, and cedar waxwing, with many more birds to come. The stage curtain looking border is made of felt covered wire. Later, when I have time, I’ll show more pictures. Right now, I’m happily in La La Land, immersed in the sewing process, listening to narrated books.


Turkey (cruising)

Last fall, our trip started with a week on a chartered 40′ boat. After loading up with supplies, we embarked from the town of Bodrum on the southern coast of Turkey.

We thought our “gulet’ would be a sailing ship, but the mast and boom held no sails or rigging. It seems that these traditional style boats are rarely seen under sail and are used primarily as motor boats.

There were 4 passengers and 3 crew, including a cook who introduced us to some wonderful Turkish food.

We had beautiful weather, without a drop of rain.

Our captain took us to some secluded harbors.

It was late in the season, so we didn’t see many other boats except for a few fishing vessels.

Some spots had trails which took us to inland homesteads, like this farm.

This cove is called “Cleopatra’s beach”. Who knows if she ever came here, but it’s on a little island with ancient relics all over the place.  

There’s an impressive amphitheatre…

with huge trees growing out of the stone seating.

And what is left of the town’s buildings.

The Mediterranean looked beautiful!

The hills in the background are on the mainland.

One time an ice cream boat came by!

A week on the water was a wonderful, relaxing way to be start our visit to Turkey.

We headed back to Bodrum (I’ll show more in a future post) and flew to Istanbul the next day.

Rabbitat – part 6 (rabbit characters)


Originally, I was going to make human characters living in the drift wood house, but I kept imagining long ears sticking up from their heads, so they changed into a rabbit family. Hence the name Rabbitat (see film here). The mother and father dolls are about 4 inches tall and made with a bendable pipe-cleaner armature. The heads are made from wooden beads covered with wool felt. There’s a seam down the front of the face, under the embroidered nose.


As soon as I added front teeth, they lost their bland cuteness and took on personality, or should I say rabbitality?


Maybe I just identified with them more, having been a buck toothed child.


The faces are embroidered, with glass bead eyes.


The ears have fine wire sewn around the outside edge, so they can be bent expressively.


The baby carriage is made from this wire, which is covered with a bark-like natural material I found at a florist supply business. The wheels are acorn caps with holes drilled in the center.


I embroidered a carrot motif on the clothing.



And let’s not forget the biggest character of all — the rabbit topiary.


To see more posts in this series and to view the Rabbitat film click here.