This is a week of waiting for delivery trucks to pull up into my driveway. Eleven boxes full of artwork from Pocketful of Posies are in transit from Iowa and a stack of UV Plexiglas is loaded in a truck barreling down some US highway between Illinois and Massachusetts. It seems that no matter how well one plans ahead, everything happens at once, at the last-minute.
I’m confident that by Sunday, July 10th, the artwork will have arrived, so I can display it at the Woods Hole Public Library reception as advertised. (Update: they’ve just arrived) The UV Plexiglas isn’t so important because I can always put a temporary piece of regular glass in Rabbitat’s frame. I ordered UV Plexi for every piece that will be in the show at the Brattleboro Museum and was hoping to replace all the glass before driving the artwork up to Vermont next Monday. Confused yet? Without boring you with any more logistical details, let’s just say that this is a very busy week with 2 events occurring back-to-back, with no time for breathing (or stitching) in between. I did manage to finish a wedding banner for my son’s friend, which I’ll show in a future post. Also, my friend Terry and I made cookies ahead and they’re in the freezer. The good news is that the 7.25 minute Rabbitat film is finished and ready for its premiere at the Woods Hole Public Library Reception.
And yes, I’ll eventually put the Rabbitat film on this blog and/or my website when I have time to figure out how. (Update: See the film and read related posts on this new page)
Here’s the schedule:
Sunday, July 10th 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Woods Hole Public Library, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Reception to celebrate the Boston Globe Horn Book Award and Golden Kite Award for Pocketful of Posies. Original illustrations from the book will be displayed and I’ll give a brief talk. A short film about the making of my newest piece, Rabbitat will be shown.
July 15, 2011 - February 5, 2012 - Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro, Vermont, Salley Mavor – Sewn Stories. (exhibit includes 8 original illustrations from Pocketful of Posies , 11 other fabric relief pictures and the Rabbitat film)
And later this fall:
October 15, 2011 – 3:00 pm, Brattleboro Literary Festival, Brattleboro, Vermont. I’ll give a slide talk about my work at the Brattleboro Museum.
Continued from Rabbitat - Part 1 (driftwood house)
Back in December, when I started making this new piece, I had no definite plan, but knew that the scene would include topiary of some kind. I had so much fun using animal shaped topiary in the Molly my sister and I rhyme illustration in Pocketful of Posies that I wanted to make more.
I thought about animals with distinctive forms that could be identified easily and envisioned a rounded, contained rabbit with ears poking upward. I cut separate parts out of dark green felt and started embroidering branches and leaves. The eyes, nose, mouth and whiskers are wire wrapped with embroidery floss. I also sewed wire along the scalloped outside edge, so that the pieces could be bent and shaped. Two glass leaf beads make the eyes.
The body, head and limbs are all constructed separately and stuffed on the back to raise them up.
While I was working on the topiary, I decided that rabbits rather than people would live in the driftwood house and started constructing a rabbit family.
I also decided to turn the scene into a vertical picture and enlarged the dimensions enough to create a yard in front. Since this is not an illustration with size and type placement specifications, I was free to change things around as I went along.
This is how the rabbit topiary looks in the finished piece.
To be continued.
Here are some opportunities to see the original picture:
Rabbitat will be hung in my show at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro, Vermont from July 15, 2011 to March, 2012.
Rabbitat will also appear at this reception before traveling to Vermont:
Woods Hole Public Library, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Sunday, July 10th 5:00 – 7:00 pm. Reception to celebrate the Golden Kite Award for Pocketful of Posies. Original illustrations from the book will be displayed and Salley will give a brief talk. A short film about the making of her newest piece, Rabbitat, will be shown. See the film here.
After working all winter long, I’ve finally finished Rabbitat! It’s large, compared to my book illustrations, measuring 24″ x 30″ , with a depth of 1 1/2″. I’m waiting for professional photographs of the finished piece, so for now I’ll just show pictures I’ve taken during the process. It’s got lots of parts, which I’ll be showing in several posts. This piece was unlike my book illustrations, which have to meet size and subject specifications and are planned out ahead. I let this project evolve by itself and just followed where it led.
To start, here are some drawings from my sketch book. My first ideas include a vine-covered house, which could be a topiary. A bunny showed up, too.
Then, the house became a structure made of driftwood pieces, with a rabbit topiary outside. I didn’t know who’d be living inside yet.
I combed through all of my driftwood and selected pieces which I could see as a roof and side beams and a doorway.
And carved them in spots, so that they fit together and lay down as flat as possible. I don’t know how the little chair appeared in this picture. Some of you may recognize it from another scene–the Driftwood Clan in my book, Felt Wee Folk.
I drilled holes at the joints and glued wire pins into the holes. That way the parts are held together, but the wire joints keeps the structure flexible. I don’t know if this description is clear, but I essentially use wire in place of dowel pins because I don’t want the joints to break while I’m manipulating and working on the house. I’m always adjusting things until the last-minute, so the joints need to be somewhat bendable.
I decorated the house walls with an embroidered chain-stitched vine pattern on felt. The green mossy patches have lots and lots of french knots.
At this point, I’d decided that rabbits live in the house, so I made a father and son to sit on the bench outside.
I told my husband Rob that I was making a habitat for rabbits and he immediately said, “Oh, it’s a Rabbitat!”
Continued at Rabbitat – part 2 (topiary)
See the Rabbitat film here.
See all of the Rabbitat posts here.
For the past 4 months, I’ve been working on Rabbitat, a large (24″ x 30″) fabric relief piece. It started as a simple driftwood house, then I added a rabbit topiary and over time it grew into a lush rabbit habitat. I’m not showing much yet, just peeks now and then, because I want to show it later, when it’s finished. Here are some detailed shots of some rabbit characters.
We want to show a time-lapse of Rabbitat being put together, so filmmaker Daniel Cojanu locked the camera and tripod in place with duct tape. He took a series of photos, one for each bush, tree, rabbit, or felt background piece that I added, until it was all put together.
Here are some parts laid out and ready to be set in place for the time-lapse photo shoot. Now that we’re finished with that, I can sew everything to the stretched upholstery fabric background and Rabbitat will be complete!
We want music in the film, so I asked local musicians Jan, Tom and Lisa to play some traditional Irish and Scottish tunes. We chose bouncy, rabbit-like music for them to play. I’ve known Jan since childhood and she is incredibly talented on the recorder, pennywhistle and concertina.
Elise and Daniel recorded them in my studio and what a treat to hear them play! Making this film has been so much fun and I can’t wait to see what they put together. We’re planning on having the film ready to show this summer at the Woods Hole Public Library. They’ve been kind enough to organize a reception to celebrate my Golden Kite Award for Pocketful of Posies on July 10th, from 5 to 7pm. Original illustrations will be displayed during the event and I’ll give a short talk. I hope that some of you can come. I’ll also figure out a way for everyone to see the film online. Stay tuned!
There’s been lots of activity in the studio since the valentine pilot gave an aerial tease of the new piece I’m currently working on. It now has a name, thanks to my husband Rob, who called it Rabbitat after I told him I was making a habitat for rabbits. This is not an illustration for a book, but a stand alone fabric relief picture. I’m still sewing parts of the scene, like this lilac bush.
I’m also working with some local filmmakers, the husband and wife team of Daniel Cojanu and Elise Hugus. I’ve hired them to make a 3 to 5 minute film about my artwork, with Rabbitat as the subject. Here they are, filming and recording the interview portion in my studio. See the finished film here.
The film will show my process of working, with a voice over of me explaining and describing what I do. It won’t really be a how-to, but more of a glimpse into what I think about art and the creative process. Here I am, setting up a shot with Daniel.
Not everything is sewn in place yet, so we played with the dolls. Here’s Daniel filming one of the rabbit characters.
We had fun twirling the rabbit around on the tripod, while the camera rolled. Daniel and Elise will come back and film some more when I’m finished making Rabitat. I hope to have the film finished in a few months, so I can show it on this blog and when I give presentations about my work. Until, then, I’ll give little glances of Rabbitat, but save the details for when the film is completed and ready to show.