Wee Folk centerpiece

In the last post, I mentioned making a centerpiece for the Pocketful of Posies book release party at Highfield. Since I forgot to take pictures of the finished setup, here are some shots taken during the construction phase. Many of the dolls were models for projects in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects and were unearthed for this event.

I arranged driftwood and logs that the wee folk could sit on and climb up. Old, dried up bayberry bushes, with their compact spread of small branches make good wee folk scale trees.

I drilled holes in the wood for small screw eyes, which served as anchors for the dolls. I felt like a prison guard, shackling their tiny ankles and tying their waists to the screw eyes with wire. But, it was to protect them from easy escape into the hands of big folk.

One vertical log needed a rope ladder, so I gathered some possible materials; jute rope and twine, old fishing line, a woven wooden slat place mat .

I selected the fatter jute rope and pulled out a wooden slat from the place mat. To make the rungs, I fed broken off wood sections through the rope and lashed them in place with an improvised knot. I wished we had learned knot tying in girl scouts. You never can tell when you’ll need outdoor survival skills!

Here’s Jack climbing up the finished rope ladder. See Jack climbing the bean stalk here.

Here are some characters from Felt Wee Folk.

Princess from “Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects”

Jester from “Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects”

Hansel & Gretel and the Witch from “Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects”

And a grandpa with his grandchildren. It sure was fun playing with these dolls again and bringing them on a short outing to my exhibit at Highfield.

“Posies” book party at Highfield

Yesterday’s “coming out” party at Highfield for Pocketful of Posies was a big success! My husband Rob took pictures, as it was too hard to talk, sign books and photograph the event. I was so busy and involved with setting up the refreshments, that I forgot to take pictures of the cookies or my centerpiece, which was a tangle of driftwood covered with wee folk dolls. I took pictures during its construction in my studio, so I’ll write the next post about putting the scene together. Here I am, sitting at the desk, signing books. People kept coming, so I didn’t get a chance to walk around and show off my fancy Ojai pants, which were bought during my trip last spring (see Ojai posts here and here). 

All 51 original illustrations from the book are on display at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, Mass. until Oct. 31st. Then half (25 pieces) of the collection will travel to the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Mass. from Nov. 13th – Jan. 6th. To see updates on the traveling show schedule, visit the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit page.

Eight Cousins Bookstore had a table set up and they gave away posters to the first 50 customers. I was touched by the number of men who told me how much they enjoyed the illustrations.  My artwork involves so much “women’s work” with a needle and thread, that I’m especially pleased when men are impressed.

There was a constant line for signing books, which has never happened before in almost 20 years of illustrating books! So, this is a welcome change, as  I’m usually sitting alone in a corner of a book store, twiddling my thumbs, wondering if the drive was worth the gas money.

So many friends came, including my neighbors Sheila and Joy. There were some guests who mentioned visiting this blog!

The piece this woman is photographing, “Molly my sister and I”, was taken down after the party. It will be sent to the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Original Art 2010 is a juried exhibit of children’s book illustration published in 2010 and will run from Oct. 21- Nov. 24.

Pocketful of Borders: Jack Sprat & My son John

All of the borders from Pocketful of Posies are finished and the artwork is hung at Highfield for the first leg of the tour. The book release party will be held at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA on Sunday, Sept. 26, from 4 to 6pm. I hope to see some of you there!  

I still have some photos which show the border making process for a few more illustrations. This one incorporates two different rhymes, Jack Sprat (who ate no fat) and Deedle, deedle dumpling, my son John (who went to bed with his trousers on).   


The gray of the driftwood house is too monochromatic for me, so I added a favorite color combination of orange and blue to the figures and props. I used cool colors on the felt border, allowing the warmer browns and oranges to pop out visually. Jack Sprat and his wife are holding doll house utensils.   


I embroidered the border pieces with variegated thread.   


The driftwood beams and floor boards are sewn onto the felt background through tiny drilled holes. No dreaded glue! Now that I think of it, I did use some glue on the furniture.   


But sewed son John’s bed in place.   


I can remember really liking the process of building the house, which was so different from sewing. There was sawing, sanding, drilling, carving and whittling. Sawdust mingled with threads on the floor.   

Jack Sprat from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

Note: See other posts from the Pocketful of Borders series here.

Dolls from Istanbul

A family I know from Woods Hole went on a trip to Turkey this summer. Deb sent me this series of photos of a doll shop in Istanbul. Here is her daughter Celeste standing alongside the amazing display of felt dolls. Among the conservatively dressed female figures, I can see some whirling dervish dancers in white as well as some pretty wild-looking felt caps.

Please Note: Mara from Ankara, Turkey just wrote a comment and said, “These are actually made in Central Asia — in Uzbekhistan, if I remember correctly — but they are sold quite widely in Turkey”.

There are dressed up rabbits, mothers with babies hanging on, and moustached short squat men. Thanks for sharing these, Deb!

Close-ups (cottages)

I’m a hopeless homebody and have been putting cottages and other cozy shelters in my artwork forever. This first yellow house is from the back cover of  the first edition of Mary Had a Little Lamb.  The board book version shows a portion of the picture that doesn’t include the house.


This one from You and Me: Poems of Friendship has a ribbon porch roof decorated with tatting.


I used cloth-covered wire to make the gingerbread edging along the roof line in this cottage from The Hollyhock Wall. Looking more closely, there is a lot of cloth wrapped wire in this scene: tree branches, hollyhock stems wicker furniture and straw hats. The dolls are about 1 1/4″ tall.


This is the Russian grandfather’s  house from Peter and the Wolf. See the whole illustration in an earlier story about the CD here.


This quintessential  thatched cottage is from the rhyme, “One, two, three, four, Mary’s at the cottage door”, which is in my new book, Pocketful of Posies. Find out about the book and the traveling exhibit of original artwork here.  Also, see the whole double page spread in another post here.


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

nursery rhyme cookies

My friend Terry and I made nursery rhymes themed cookies ahead of time for the Pocketful of Posies book release party on Sept. 26th at Highfield.  We had a fun time picking shapes that would go with the book from our collections of cookie cutters. Terry is always game for anything to do with cooking or sewing. We’ve worked on many projects together including the Woods Hole Village Quilt, which I wrote about here.

We made sugar cookies…

and gingerbread cookies.

This tree cookie cutter was from my grandmother’s kitchen stuff. It looks like some of the embroidered felt trees in the book.

from Jack & Jill in “Pocketful of Posies”

I especially liked decorating the little houses with squiggles which reminded me of the embroidered doodles on the felt borders I’ve been making for the past few months. We had a lot of cookies to cover with icing, so I squirted quickly and loosely, not worrying about perfection.

There are many houses in the book. This one is from the rhyme “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day”.

Rain, rain go away, from “Pocketful of Posies”

At about midnight, we stopped and loaded the cookies into the freezer, to keep until the party.

Giveaway winner & Highfield Hall Show

It’s been a busy day. First, the book giveaway winner is Ann Irvin! I’ll be contacting Ann via e-mail and will send her an autographed copy of Pocketful of Posies. It is also the first day of the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit  at Highfield Hall

This is the back room at Eight Cousins Children’s Books, where I signed a stack of books today. They will take orders for inscribed books at 508-548-5548.

Here is Historic Highfield Hall in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where the exhibit is showing through Oct 31st. The opening reception and book release party will be on Sunday, Sept. 26th from 4 to 6pm. Eight Cousins will be selling books and I’ll be on hand to meet you and autograph copies. To add to the festivities, Eight Cousins will be giving away posters to the first 50 customers. All are welcome.

I’m really pleased with how the show looks at Highfield and the people have been just great to work with. It’s such a warm, homey setting for the artwork.