This is a list of the most frequently asked questions about my work. Several subjects come up again and again in the comments on my posts, so I thought I’d devote a whole page to answering them as best I can.
When did you start making fabric reliefs?
I named my work “fabric relief” in about 1980, when people kept asking what it was called. Before this, I made dolls that were photographed in scenes. In an effort to have my work recognized as art, I decided to convert to a relief format which is displayed under glass, in shadow-box frames. The Way Home, my first children’s book illustrated in fabric relief, was published in 1991.
How did you learn this technique?
I am self-taught in embroidery and fiber art and have developed my style and working methods through years of experimentation and practice. I am inspired by 17th century English “stumpwork” or raised embroidery and have figured out my own way of achieving a 3-dimensional effect. I learned about color and design as an illustration major at the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA 1978).
Do you teach classes?
In the past, I have taught doll making classes based on my how-to book Felt Wee Folk. I will probably not be giving more workshops in the future. My schedule is full of making art, working on books, organizing exhibits and traveling.
Do you give lectures about your work?
Yes, I enjoy speaking to groups of adults and have given presentations to quilt and embroidery guilds as well as the general public. My illustrated lecture shows the development of my work from early on until the present day, touching on my process and philosophical approach to making art. Please contact me if you would like more information about my fee and availability.
Do you sell your fabric reliefs?
I sell the fabric relief pieces, including original illustrations. I usually handle sales myself and am not represented by a gallery. Prices range from $2,500. to $6,500. Please contact me if you would like a current list of available artwork.
How long does it take to make a fabric relief piece?
It takes about a month to sew the original fabric relief pictures for my children’s books, depending on the size and detail of the illustration. I construct one piece at a time, stitching until it is completed. The characters are made specifically for each piece and not reused multiple times. I spent 3 years making the illustrations for my most recent picture book, Pocketful of Posies. Larger pieces, such as Birds of Beebe Woods take 4 months to stitch.
How many hours a day do you work?
I don’t keep track of the hours, but I work in my studio as much as I can, including the evenings. My husband teases,”When Salley’s not sleeping or eating, she’s working in her studio.” Of course that’s not entirely true, I do get out to exercise, work in the garden, meet friends, cook dinner and sometimes even pay attention to my husband.
Do you use a sewing machine?
I only use a sewing machine to make clothes, curtains or pot holders–that kind of thing. My fabric relief pieces are all hand stitched.
Do you have any Blossom fairy kits for sale?
No, I’m sold out of kits, which I made and sold for 10 years, from 1998 – 2008. However, I recently began offering faux flower petals for making fairy skirts and wings in my Etsy Shop.
Will you write any more how-to books?
After saying for years that I will not write another how-to book, I have agreed to put out a revised edition of Felt Wee Folk, which was first published in 2003. The popular 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 more pages than the first edition. It 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. The book, titled Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures will be published in March, 2015. You can pre-order the book from Amazon here.
What kind of felt do you use?
Most of the felt in my recent fabric relief pieces is plant-dyed wool felt produced by Heavenly Hues Wool Studio. They have recently changed ownership and their online Etsy shop was empty the last time I checked. A Child’s Dream sells a nice selection of wool felt.
May I make and sell dolls from your how-to book, Felt Wee Folk?
Many people make and sell fairies and dolls based on my designs at craft fairs and online at sites like Etsy. I cannot give official permission, but It is alright with me if individuals sell the dolls on a limited basis and prefer that the profits go to charity. Please give me credit on a tag or in the online description of the dolls.
A note about my upcoming book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures:
I am interested in protecting the copyright of new techniques and patterns that will be included in this follow-up edition.
Do you sell your dolls?
No, I no longer make dolls to sell.
Will the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit come to my area?
I would love to send the show all over the country and have extended the tour beyond the original completion date of Dec. 2013. Presently, the calendar has exhibits scheduled through February 2016, but there are windows of time open. Prospective hosting venues will need to cover insurance and shipping expenses. The current schedule is listed here and new locations will be added as they are confirmed. Venues which are interested in hosting an exhibit can contact me for more information.