I am happy to show pictures from a story about my work that has just come out in the March issue of Cape Cod Magazine. Last week, a woman showed me her copy, after I gave a lecture down Cape to the Bayberry Quilters. She had the magazine because there’s an article about her roller derby club in the same issue, which I think is pretty cool. A couple of women from my Zumba class this morning mentioned seeing the article, so I tried again and found some copies at the drug store. The photographer, Dan Cutrona took the photos in my studio last fall when I was working on doll projects and setting up scenes for the revision of Felt Wee Folk. I think he did a good job of capturing the essence of my artwork and work place.
Rob and I are spending every spare moment in my studio, taking photographs for the revised edition of Felt Wee Folk. We need hundreds of pictures for the new book and we’re making good progress! There’s barely enough room for all of light stands, wires and equipment. The light box creates an even, pleasing light, so once it was set up, we spent a few days taking overhead shots of the dolls and step-by-step samples. I just started writing the new chapters and directions, which I find requires a different kind of discipline than stitching. So, if I don’t post for a while, I may be absorbed into the world of words, telling instead of showing.
We have another, larger light box that is good for the scenes. We’ve been taking pictures of the dolls all grouped together in a crowd, thinking that it would make a good book cover photo. Rob raised the tripod up really high to get the right angle. I wish you could see their little faces all looking up and waving, but that’ll have to wait until the book comes out in 2015.
With the cold of winter upon us, it’s been easy to get into the spirit of my next scene for the 2nd edition of Felt Wee Folk, which will be published in 2015. The set-up includes a snowy hillside and an icy pond made of paraffin. I built the hill with chicken wire and wood. Then, I covered it with old-fashioned fluffy “snow” fabric that drapes in a convincing snow-like manner. I sprinkled on a product called Buffalo Snow Flurries, which looks like plastic bag material chewed up into really small pieces. It falls and glitters like snow, but feels nasty and gets over everything. I added old fake pine trees that my husband’s family had and some real bayberry branches that look like miniature trees.
We’ve moved the photography operation into my studio and used a light box for the first time. With flood lights shining on the outside of its white walls, a softly lit space is created inside. Rob set up his computer on my ironing board and monitored the shots.
The dolls in the scene are skiing, skating, sledding, tobogganing and making a snow man. Even Jack Frost makes an appearance!
My circa 1975 dollhouse is getting spruced up for the holidays. I was asked to bring it over to Highfield Hall and have it on display during their 10 day Holidays at Highfield event (Nov. 29 – Dec. 8, 2013). It’s been a while since the house has been out in public, so I thought I’d fix it up for the occasion. I added some green shutters and trim and decorated the plain pink triangle under the roof with a painted foliage design.
I made this dollhouse one summer vacation, between years in art school. Following a plan in a book, I cut the wood pieces and constructed it in my father’s workshop in our basement. I can remember being so engrossed in the project that would lie in bed at night thinking about how I would decorate the rooms. I remember feeling guilty, because I thought I should be focused on finding a boy friend, instead of dreaming about a dollhouse! Years later, I’m still dreaming about making art.
It was so much fun to make back then and it’s still fun to work on now. The doll house family is new–they will be included in my new version of Felt Wee Folk. As I’ve written before, I can’t show detailed photos of the dolls until 2015, when the book is published and my designs are protected by registered copyrights.
I’ve added evergreen garlands and Christmas lights to the house and the Small family is busy decorating their tree, cooking and wrapping presents. To keep little (and big) hands away, the rooms will be covered with Plexiglas. To see more decorations and who’s come to visit, scroll down to the end of this post.
I just wanted to show that I am indeed working in my studio these days, a lot. Every day, if I can manage it. I’m so tempted to show what I’m making in detail, because it’s exciting and fun, but that will have to wait until 2015, when my updated version of Felt Wee Folk will be published. With design pirating in the news (see Mimi Kirchner’s post about the Cody Foster situation here), I have to be more protective of my ideas, so I’m showing pictures with the dolls at a good arms length. The book’s deadline is only a few months away and I have so much to do before then! There are more new projects to make, rewriting and adding more directions, constructing scenes for photographing finished dolls, as well as getting good photos. Phew! I’m getting nervous, just typing these words.
I recently put together a set to display a group of new dolls for the book. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what’s involved. As you can see, the domed hill top is an upside down wooden bowl, which is raised up with blocks of wood and covered with pieces of green felt. I brought the whole scene outside to have it’s photo taken. We had a short window of time to do the photography. The day before had been so windy that chairs were knocked over on our patio. Yesterday’s calm, cloud filled sky gave us even light, so I rushed to set everything up. It took about an hour to cover the hillside with moss and position the dolls.
I propped up a foam core board with felt attached for the background sky. Rob took photos of the scene.
Here are some more photos taken at a respectable distance. I’m reusing the precious moss in several scenes. As long as I keep working at this pace, I’ll get the book done in time.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting photographer Dan Cutrona. He was sent over to my studio by Cape Cod Magazine, which will have an article about my work in March 2014. I’m not sure which issue, but I’ll announce it this blog and Facebook. Dan knows how to put you at ease and we had a great time trying out different ways of showing me at work. I dressed a little nicer than usual and even wore jewelry and lip gloss. Rob took these pictures while Dan was setting up the lights and clicking away on his camera.For the occasion, I borrowed my Self Portrait from its semi-permanent home at the Woods Hole Public Library and hung it on the wall above my work table. Other than that, I didn’t rearrange or clean up my studio, since I wanted it to be showed in its naturally cluttered state. When the magazine issue comes out, I’ll announce it (hopefully with a link) on this blog.
Yesterday, I witnessed the sight of real children playing with my doll house! Some friends came over to my studio with their grandchildren, who immediately engaged with the dolls and miniatures in and around the house. You may wonder why I find this so remarkable, especially since I constructed and decorated it almost 40 years ago. For most of those years, the house has been packed away or displayed behind glass. My sons weren’t interested in playing with it, so I offered to have it shown in the children’s room at the Falmouth Public Library. It stood there for several years in a case near the check out desk, out of reach of children’s hands. When the library was renovated and didn’t have a space for the house, I took it back and it has since been gathering dust in a corner of my studio.
I loved watching the children manipulate and position the dolls with their small hands.
The house has been out on my center table lately, because I’ve been fixing it up for a photo shoot of some projects that will be in the 2nd edition of Felt Wee Folk (2015 release date). I’m also sprucing it up for display at the Holidays at Highfield event later this year at Highfield Hall in Falmouth. The 10 day event will feature a tree decorated with Pocketful of Posies ornaments that I made for the Family Trees exhibit at the Concord Museum last year (see posts here).
Nov. 29 ~ Dec. 8, 2013, Original embroidered artwork, a tree full of ornaments and a doll house all handmade by Salley Mavor will be on display at The Holidays at Highfield. Highfield Hall, Falmouth, MA. Open daily 12 pm ~ 4 pm
Last week, I had a delightful visit with Bronwyn Malicoat and a carload of girls, who drove to my studio in Falmouth, from Provincetown, which is at least a 1 1/2 hour ride from the other end of Cape Cod. It’s common knowledge that people from our different poles rarely visit each other (especially in the summer), because there is no direct route and the traffic can be a pain. But, I’m really glad that they came, bursting out of the car with their little fairies in hand. The girls are enrolled in Bronwyn’s summer craft program, which includes a good dose of fairy projects.
When they arrived, Rob and I were just finishing a photo shoot out on our patio.
Here, the girls are looking at the scene, which includes some of my doll projects. They’ll be in the 2nd edition of my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. Sorry, but I can’t show any details until the book is published in 2015.
They were so proud of their fairies that they made earlier in the week.
They played with them the whole time they were outside.
They ate what was left of the blueberry crop and took photos of their fairies in the blueberry bushes.
Then, they looked around my studio and took more pictures.
It was a treat to spend time with Bronwyn and her students. Being the mother of sons, I have not been around young girls very much and being in their company brought back childhood memories of playing with my sister and friends. We would spend hours making things and setting up scenes to play with. Come to think of it, I still do that now!
Last week, students from the Prudence Island School came to visit. The school’s teacher, Eliza grew up in Woods Hole and we’ve known each other since childhood. She asked if she could bring the children over to my studio as part of their day-long field trip to Woods Hole.
The island school currently has a total of 8 students from the early grades to teenagers. I was struck by how well the 6 girls and 2 boys of such varying ages interacted. They were inquisitive and appreciative as they looked around my studio and they easily identified all of the birds in my Birds of Beebe Woods piece.
The students are even learning to embroider! Thank you for a delightful visit!
For those of you who might think that my neat little stitches come from a tidy person, these photos tell otherwise. During a project, I never clean up. One thing leads to another, so it can be a year or more before I feel the need to start with a clean slate.
I recently finished Slow Work… Fine Work, which you can see and read about here. It seemed like a good time to pack away all of the floss, beads and little do-dads that are pulled out of hiding while I’m working. This year I’ll be making some things that I can’t talk about or show yet. So, I’ll have to come up with other ideas for this blog for a while.
My work area is pretty small and I usually lay out parts on an ironing board within reach. Whatever I’m sewing is in my hands and the table fills up with materials. There are still piles of stuff which I can’t figure out how to organize, so they are pushed aside.
This is where I paint faces on wooden beads and carve wooden shapes. It won’t be clear for long. One thing’s for sure– I’m horizontally challenged!