Favorites (Christmas)

From time to time, I’ll be posting a group of photographs of my favorite things. These Christmas decorations are from my husband’s family in Pennsylvania. My mother-in-law would set up scenes on the mantle piece and window sills around the house. I love the way one of the Santas has a kid leather beard, instead of the traditional cotton.

There are seven metal reindeer left in the set, some with bells and some so lame that they need help standing.

These glass ornaments are so delicate and are still stored in what looks to be their original box. 

This wooden angel candle holder is about 3″ tall.  I love her little head wreath.

And there’s a flock of sweet sheep and lambs, with their wooden legs worn and exposed. 

Fall Friends

Fall Friends was made in 1995, in between book projects.

Fall Friends, fabric relief by Salley Mavor 1995

During this period, I used cotton velveteen quite often for the back grounds. In this case, I dyed the fabric for the sky and hillside. The clouds were made by painting on a rice based resist liquid that I can’t remember the name of, but I think it is Japanese. You get a softer look than batiking with wax, which can have a cleaner edge.

Detail from "Fall Friends"

The bush trunk is wool covered wire and the smaller wire branches are wrapped with embroidery floss. The border is made of upholstery fabric, with all of the embroidered edging done by hand. I used to do a satin stitch with the sewing machine, but found it to be too flat and mechanical looking.

Detail from" Fall Friends"

This is a drawing I did as a student at RISD in 1977. It’s pencil on layered pieces of tissue paper, which has yellowed over time from rubber cement. I think of it as an early example of  my interest in experimenting with different working surfaces. Soon after this, I started combining materials and doing more and more 3 dimentional work.

Drawing by Salley as a RISD student, 1977

Woods Hole Village Quilt

A few years ago, my friend Terry McKee and I designed and organized the making of a community quilt for the Woods Hole Public Library.

Center square of the Woods Hole Quilt

We asked local quilters to make squares depicting buildings and scenes from our Cape Cod village. I was honored to make the center square of the library, a familiar sight with a distinctive round stone exterior.  My family has lived here since the 1920’s when my scientist grandfather, James Mavor Sr., came to set up a lab at the Marine Biological Laboratory. As a child in the 60’s, I remember walking with my class the short distance to the library from the Woods Hole School (one of the quilt squares).  Today, the library is still a central part our community, one that reflects the unique charm and character of our village.

Woods Hole Public Library

In the process of making the library square, I found some stone wall fabric that looked remarkably like the building. I decided to liven up the scene with appliqued bushes and vines made with batik fabrics.  About twenty women worked on the quilt in 2006 and 2007, and it was hung in the Library stairwell in early 2008. Come and see our beautiful quilt! For those of you who travel on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, the library is just up the hill from the dock.

Detail of quilt center square

Stitching rope letters to the banner

The Woods Hole Community Quilt is now featured in a 2010 Calendar, which was made to celebrate the centennial year of the Woods Hole Public Library. Find out about the calendar here.

Terry McKee (left) and Salley Mavor with the framed Woods Hole Quilt

Close-ups (Cats)

Today, I’m starting a regular series called Close-ups, which will feature detailed images taken from my artwork. I’m having fun grouping different subjects for future posts. There will be close-ups from my childhood drawings, student work, sculpture, illustrations and fabric relief pieces, all presented in somewhat chronological order. The following cats are from my books, The Hollyhock Wall, Felt Wee Folk, Wee Willie Winkie and the upcoming book Pocketful of Posies.


feltpinscatWM For a tutorial on how to make this cat pin, see another post here.


from “Wee Willie Winkie”

detail from Pocketful of Posies


from “Pocketful of Posies”

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.

Block Island Retreat

A few weeks ago, some friends, my husband and I visited Block Island  for the first time.

 The ferry we took from Point Judith, Rhode Island was practically empty this time of year. We were struck by the pastoral beauty and quiet calmness of the island, especially now, in the off-season. In the busy summer season, the island population grows from 1,000 to 15,000. We are thinking of going again next summer, but will travel in our own boat from Woods Hole across Buzzard’s Bay. This selection of photos were taken by our friend, Keith von der Heydt.

Mimi’s pin cushions

Mimi Kirchner’s Tiny World pin cushion

Mimi Kirchner inspired me start a blog because she makes it look so creative and fun. We first met in the 80’s at the Christmas Store, a seasonal cooperative  in Cambridge, Mass., which is now named Sign of the Dove. At the time she was making wonderful hand painted ceramics. A few years ago, Mimi asked me to be a part of an exhibit she was putting together in Arlington, Mass. called “Still Playing with Dolls”. We’ve been in frequent contact ever since and I’ve been following her blog, Doll, regularly. She is constantly coming up with delightful new designs, never the same thing over and over again. One thing we have in common is the almost obsessive compulsion to make things. Am I right, Mimi?

Snowy Hill by Mimi Kirchner

Rapunzel by Mimi Kirchner

Mushroom House by Mimi Kirchner

In a recent conversation, Mimi mentioned that she remembers seeing some pin cushions that I had made to sell in the coop store decades ago. Here are some pictures of a house and lion I made in 1980, along with some pages from my sketchbook of that time. Now, with her Tiny World pin cushions in tea cups, she has taken the concept and made it her own, producing new beautiful designs at an incredible rate. I agree with Mimi, who says, ” I am a believer that there is nothing new in the world and we are all inspired by each other.”

Mimi has taught Tiny World pin cushion classes in her studio in Arlington, Mass. and now has a pattern for sale in her Etsy shop.

House Pin Cushion by Salley, 1980

pin cushion ideas from Salley’s sketchbook 1980

from Salley’s sketchbook 1980