my favorite dress pattern

philandjudy-1-2

It all started with this photo from a recent post about wedding dolls. My sister Anne wrote to say that she liked my dress. I told her that I made it years ago and asked if she’d like one. While I waited for the fabric she picked out to arrive from Portland, OR, I decided to make another one for myself. After all, you can never have enough cotton dresses to wear in the summer heat. I think it’s my favorite dress style, simple and timeless, with just the right amount of fitted detail at the neck and waist. And there are large side pockets, which I can’t live without!

I first made a dress from this pattern over 30 years ago and it’s stood the test of time, at least in my world. I’ve resisted giving in to the ubiquitous black wardrobe in favor of color and pattern. To me, wearing black seems to lack imagination and looks more like the uniform of the grownup sophisticated set. Teenage Prom goers may crave this look, but I feel more myself in something comfortable and colorful.

I searched all over my studio for the pattern, but couldn’t locate it. Luckily, I still had a white dress from the same pattern that I’d made to wear for Scottish dancing eons ago. I cut open the seams, which included a fair share of top stitching and used the pieces as a pattern. It wasn’t until after I’d made the 2 new dresses that I found the pattern, Simplicity 8922, from 1979.

dress-1-5

dress-1-8

dress-1-6

I’ve already worn mine enough times to have to wash it.

dress-1-2Anne’s fabric of choice was 2 different blue batiks, which worked out really well. She sent a photo of her wearing the dress.

I really enjoyed the process of sewing the dresses, which was so fast and easy compared to my other work. It made me think about how revolutionary the invention of the sewing machine must have been in the mid 1800’s. This doesn’t mean I’m giving up hand stitching, though. Most of what I want to do can’t be mechanized and the slow methodical approach helps me work out my ideas. It’s just fun to hear the sound of a sewing machine as it wips together a piece of clothing every once in a while.

dress-1

dress-1-3

Oakley family RAFFLE

OakleyFamily-1WM

Come and meet the five members of the Oakley family; Mama, Papa, Sister, Brother and Baby. They’re a folksy dollhouse sized acorn-capped family, who will feel right at home in any environment. Every once in a while I make a group of related wee folk and offer them as a fundraiser for a local non-profit organization. Last summer, I made a Fairy Family for Highfield Hall, which you can see here.

This time, Raffle ticket sales will benefit the Falmouth Art Center, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer. My mother, Mary Mavor was one of its early members and supporters and I’m proud to continue the tradition.

If you visit this blog regularly, you’ll know that I don’t sell one-of-a-kind dolls, so this is a rare chance to have a unique family of wee folk, all hand-stitched by yours truly. At the end of this post, you’ll find information about purchasing tickets for a chance to win the Oakley Family. But first, I want to show you some behind the scenes photos.

OakleyFamily-1-2

I brought the family outside for a little fresh air and took a short video with my phone camera.

The Oakley family has extra sturdy armatures, which hold up better to changing poses and play.You can make your own dolls using the patterns and directions in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures.

Oakleys-1

Oakleys_process

Oakleys-1-2

The Oakley Family is on display at the Falmouth Art Center in Falmouth, MA (on Cape Cod) all summer. The winner will be announced on September 1, 2016. Tickets for a chance to win may be purchased from the Falmouth Art Center by calling (508) 540-3304. Information about the Raffle is here.

OakleyFamily-1-3

Remembering Turkey

Five years ago, when we visited Turkey, the world was different. The news of violent clashes and turmoil in the country is upsetting, especially since I had the fortune of experiencing its astounding beauty and the gracious warmth of the Turkish people. I’ve taken this opportunity to review my photos of the trip and have selected a group of my favorites. You can see all of my posts about Turkey here.

 

Displaced posters are here!

Since first sharing images of my newest piece, Displaced a few weeks ago, I have been overwhelmed by the response from all over the world. The photos and video spread quickly throughout the internet and have been viewed by thousands on this blog, FacebookInstagram and Pinterest. I cannot tell you how touched I am by the outpouring of appreciation in so many different languages! Many people from varied backgrounds said it resonated with them personally and reminded them of their own family’s struggles generations ago. Nancy Taylor expressed her reaction so well, “I often feel despair listening to the radio stories about the experience of refugees around the world. Having the ability to express this in such a beautiful and meaningful way must be profound on a personal level. And it helps the rest of us understand, be more aware and have compassion too.”

Displaced-1-12

Detail of Displaced, 2016

I was asked if this piece could be made into a poster, so I’m pleased to say yes, 18″ x 24″ posters (beautifully designed by my sister Anne) are now in my Etsy Shop. The plan is to exhibit Displaced for the next few years, instead of selling it, so that as many people as possible have the opportunity to see the original fabric relief piece. Even though a printed reproduction cannot duplicate the experience of seeing the real thing, the poster captures the detail and emotional impact of the piece. And poster sales will help defray the cost of shipping the artwork to different parts of the country.

The premiere showing of Displaced will be this fall at my exhibit in Bristol, RI. Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016 ~ Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor – Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI.

displacedposterEtsy

Poster – Displaced

A family of Wedding dolls

MaryandDavid-1

It seems like every summer, someone I know is getting married or celebrating a big anniversary and this year is no exception. My good friends Judy and Phil Richardson had a small gathering to celebrate the recent marriage of their daughter, Mary to David. And Mary orchestrated a 50th anniversary surprise for her parents at the same time!

This was an opportunity for Terry McKee and me to partner up again for a cake and doll project. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might remember some other creative adventures that Terry and I have embarked on in the past. We’ve teamed up for so many cooking and sewing projects that we have a special category here.

My part was constructing 2 sets of wedding dolls, one of Mary and David and the other of Phil and Judy. It helped to have reference photos to make likenesses in face and clothing. They were based on the patterns and directions in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk-New Adventures.

philandjudy-1-9

Terry made a delicious lemon bundt cake with a stand for the dolls in the center hole. She devised a paper New York Skyline to surround the couple, complete with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

philandjudy-1-6

Judy and Phil, on the other hand, needed a vessel to ride in, since they would be floating in a sea of ice cream, glazed with blueberry compote.

philandjudy-1-7

philandjudy-1-8

philandjudy-1-4

Terry came up with the idea of adding a shortbread depiction of Vinalhaven, Maine, where they were married 50 years ago. Here are Terry and I, enjoying the results. It was another successful collaboration indeed!

philandjudy-1-2

Displaced

CoverUp-1

SHMdisplaced20160228_17414945

Sketch for Displaced

All winter long, while I sat and worked on this new piece, I listened to news stories on the radio about the people who are fleeing their home countries amid war and conflict. Even though Displaced is inspired by current world events, it could very well represent the universal and timeless plight of refugees throughout history.

I often think in terms of creating miniature shallow stage sets and with this one, I envisioned a highly dramatic scene. It was important to me that the piece evoked a strong emotional reaction, much like an opera.


The heavily burdened figures are a chorus of characters making their way through a black and ominous landscape. To help create tension in the design, I thought of antonyms, such as dark/light, general/personal, despair/hope, trapped/escape, harsh/tender, sharp/soft and horror/beauty.

With fiber art, much attention is paid to materials and techniques, as well as the labor intensive process. My intention was to make a work of art that transcends the amount of work invested, and the methods and skill involved in the expression.

Displaced, 24" H x 22" W, 2016

Displaced, 24″ H x 22″ W, 2016

Its premiere showing will be this fall at my show in Bristol, RI. Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016 ~ Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor – Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI.

UPDATE: 18″ x 24″ Posters of DISPLACED are now in my Etsy Shop here.

 

Displaced_Detail3WM

Displaced_Detail2WM

Displaced_Detail1WM

Displaced-1-3

Displaced-1-4

Displaced-1-5

The ups and downs of exhibiting your work

Let’s be honest. Finding places to exhibit your work can be challenging and frustrating. I’ve been entering juried group shows for decades and still wonder if it’s worth the hefty jury fees, the shipping costs, the steep odds of being accepted, and having to hold artwork in reserve until the results come in. And they usually only want new work, so your pieces time out after 3 years. I’m not talking about art and craft fairs where you set up a booth, but art exhibits hung in a gallery space.  I ask myself, “Is this a worthwhile way to promote my work and participate in the art world?” Despite my doubts, I keep trying, even though my pieces are not accepted into the majority of shows I enter. One happy exception this summer is Fiber Innovations II at the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, in Colorado, which includes Face Time.

I got the idea to write about this subject after talking with an art quilter at a recent SAQA opening, who was surprised when I told her that my work didn’t get into the show. I wasn’t complaining, just trying to explain the reality of the situation. I realized that only sharing positive news on this blog may give the impression that it’s always a smooth path forward. Continually painting a rosy picture can be deceiving, as well as annoying, and may not be helpful of those of you who also face rejection of your work.

Leading the life of an artist is full of struggles, both personally and professionally, and I’ve had my fair share. When you put your art out there to be judged, it isn’t always admired, no matter how established you are. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that what I do doesn’t easily mesh with what jurors and curators are looking for. It must not be easy to curate a cohesive grouping of pieces by different artists, especially with the variety of styles and methods in the fiber art world. Each juror has their own tastes and vision, which should be respected. If they’re attracted to more abstract, conceptual or edgy work, I’m out in the first round. I can also imagine there being a problem if dolls give them the creeps or they don’t like work that’s framed under glass. There’s no way of really knowing because there’s no feedback, just a simple “accepted” or “rejected”.

And you can’t always tell by the show’s prospectus, guidelines, and juror bios if your work has a decent chance of getting in. You just use your instincts to pick the shows, submit your highest quality photos, fill in all of the requested info and hope for the best. One good thing is that most juried shows are blind, so that everyone’s work is judged without bias toward or against an artist’s name. So, we’re all given an equal chance to have our work seen by a wider audience. Even though I’m very comfortable being an outsider, I plan to continue applying to juried group shows because I want to influence and contribute to today’s seemingly impenetrable and illusive art world as much as I can.

Despite all of this grumbling, there is some good news on the exhibit front. I’ve been invited to show my work at a few places (listed below), so I’m happy to say that there are opportunities to see my pieces in person this summer and fall. There may even be some more juried shows this coming fall and winter to add to the exhibits page!

Displaced, 24" H x 22" W, 2016

Displaced, 24″ H x 22″ W, 2016

In a productive year, I can make 2 large (24″ x 30″) pieces, so it takes several years to accumulate enough work to hang together in a solo show. That’s why I’ve held off selling my new pieces. I just finished Displaced (shown above), which will have its premiere showing at the Bristol Art Museum in Rhode Island this fall.

So, how do I continue supporting the work I do, without selling new pieces? I depend on sales of printed reproductions in books, posters and cards to subsidize the costs associated with making and showing the originals. Shipping the framed pieces can be expensive, so I request reimbursement from hosting venues whenever possible. Of course, I can deliver the work by car to places in southern New England. I hope to exhibit these new pieces in other locations in the future, so that more people can see the real thing. Lately, I’m more focused on making new work than the promotional side of things, like sending out show proposals, but inquiries from museums and art centers with funding for shipping costs are always welcome!

—————————————————————————————————————————–

June 2, 2016 – Jan 8, 2017 ~ Selected wee folk dolls, houses and props, plus 2 original fabric relief illustrations from Pocketful of Posies are being shown in the Geometry Gallery display case at the Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI.

FiberInnovII_postcardfrontJune 2 – July 10, 2016 ~ Fiber Innovations II at the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, Parker, CO. Face Time is included. Fiber Innovations II is a fiber arts show that focuses on surface design. Material options are varied and part of the adventure!  How these materials are used and the forms that are created are part of each artist’s inspired design process.

June 6 – August 5, 2016 ~ Shaping Lives: The Transformative Art of the Figure at the Reece Museum, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. The exhibit focuses on the doll’s unique form or figure. It features artists that use this art form to create a visual voice – to tell a story, initiate a debate, make a statement or simply carry a message that helps educate, empower and/or change the life of another. 3 of my pieces, Whiskers, Cover Up and Molly My Sister and I (from Pocketful of Posies) are included.

Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016 ~ Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor
Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, Rhode Island. Several new pieces will be shown, including Whiskers, Cover Up, Face TimeBirds of Beebe Woods and the premiere showing of Displaced .

Feb. 28 ~ April 1, 2017 ~ Hanging by a Thread – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at Gallery 65 on William, New Bedford, Massachusetts. New and old pieces will be shown.