On Halloween

There’s a poem by Aileen Fisher about Halloween in my 1997 book, You and Me: Poems of Friendship (see on my books page).

We mask our faces/and wear strange hats/and moan like witches/and screech like cats/and jump like goblins/and thump like elves/and almost manage to scare ourselves.

The book is long out of print, but used copies can be found on the internet. For the On Halloween illustration, I made a double page spread with children in costumes, holding trick or treating bags.

illustration from "You and Me:Poems of Friendship"

It’s pretty shocking to see the difference between the book’s printed illustration and the original 4×5 transparency below. The night sky is dyed velveteen, with the moon remaining white with the aid of painted hot wax. The poem’s title is hand embroidered in white on the dark blue velveteen. I don’t know why the brilliant blue didn’t reproduce on the printed page, or why I didn’t kick and scream about it.  At the time, I wasn’t even disappointed and recognized the limitations of translating my artwork into a printed book. Maybe it’s because of experiences like this, that I can appreciate how well the photos appear in my new book, Pocketful of Posies. The production team at Houghton Mifflin really did an excellent job!

On Halloween from "You and Me: Poems of Friendship"

This sketch shows how different the final piece turned out. Originally, I had a Dad with a large group of costumed children approaching a porch.

sketch for Halloween illustration

I simplified the scene by taking out the Dad and reducing the number of trick or treaters.

An owl was added and the house was put in the distance with a lit window. The pumpkin is made of felt, with embroidered features in yellow.

I stitched a bark texture of embroidered dots and dashes to the silk tree trunk.  All of the branches are made from thread wrapped wire. The background fabric is dyed with a spray bottle. See other fabric dyed this way in a blog post about my Noah’s Ark piece. I hope you all have a fun Halloween!

11 thoughts on “On Halloween

  1. Needless to say, I ADORE the darker colors–so atmospheric. You did a wonderful job dyeing the velvet. I can only imagine your amazement when you saw the book illustration.

    BUT, if one never knew, one would still love the book photo!

  2. i have to say i have only recently discovered your blog and each and every visit brings new and amazing treasures….i am ashamed to admit i had previously not seen your work and was the poorer for it! you must realize what an astonishingly wonderful artist you are, but it never ceases to amaze me to see creative genius…well done….i am loving your work.

  3. I think there needs to be a Salley Mavor Museum. There are bound to be boxes and boxes of treasures – like this one – that we would all just love to see.

  4. Sally-
    From experience, I know that the blues – especially brilliant blues – were the hardest to represent in old printing technologies. Now things have improved with digital presses and other advances.
    So they probably just had those limitations back then.
    Hurray for the new possibilities!

  5. I recently found you web site by chance. I love your work and enjoy viewing each and everything thing you do. Thank you so much for sharing your goodies on line!
    Blessing,
    Rhonda in Texas

  6. Dear Salley,
    I have been a collecter and lover of your beautiful books for a long time. I fell in love with them many years ago. Even after my daughter stopped reading them I would collect them and take them back to my studio for inspiration. It is because of your fabulous work that I am doing what is in my heart to do. I am a children’s book illustrator and doll maker. When I have time off from working I like to do a little embroidery nothing at all like yours though he he he he! I wanted to let you know how special I think you are! You have been a great influence on me and my work. To keep it colorful and exciting. Your latest book will be added to my already large and growing collection of children’s books. I saw the cover and told myself that I have to have it NOW!!!! I wish you so much joy and peace and creativness. Truly your work is outstanding and amazing, I have never seen anything that can touch it! It’s out of this world magnificent.
    Best to you always,
    Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    • Vanessa, I have been quietly working and stitching all these years, rarely hearing any feedback, not really knowing if or how my work effected people. Since starting my blog, I have been overwhelmed by the response. So, thank you to all who have written!

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