Chin up bibs

30 years ago, a few years before I had babies of my own, I designed, sewed and sold CHIN UP BIBS. I found a box filled with left over seersucker bias strips, a stack of tags and one tuxedo bib–all that remains of my enterprise.

For a few years, I sewed hundreds of bibs of different styles, including tuxedos, shirt and tie, dress with pearls, clown, overalls, etc. They were backed with terry cloth and had liners cut out of shower curtains. A unifying feature was the bias edging, which I’ve since used for pot holders (see tutorial here).

In 1982, I asked the mothers of two Woods Hole babies to model the bibs for an advertisement. My art school friend, Carmine Fantasia took these wonderful B&W photographs of  Ben and Hannah wearing the bibs.

I later stopped adding bead necklaces to the girl’s style bib, because of the potential choking hazard. 

Ben and Hannah, who both turn 30 this year and are still friends, are delightful adults. Here’s a recent picture of Hannah at her sister’s wedding.

This is as close as Ben got to wearing a tie back in ’82.

And here he is, when he got all dressed up last month, in suit and tie, for the Woods Hole “mock” formal at the Capt. Kidd Restaurant.

The bibs were later in Better Homes and Gardens.

I also found some pattern pieces for the bibs in my file cabinet.

Thank you Ben and Hannah, for letting us dress you up and take your picture one morning in 1982!

61 years ago today

My parents, Mary and Jim Mavor, were married 61 years ago on March 25, 1950. This plate was a wedding gift and it’s now hanging in my kitchen. An artist and engineer couple, they were married for 55 years before my mother passed away, with my father dying the next year. Please let me indulge in nostalgia, while I show some favorite pictures.

They were married in my mother’s home in Providence , RI. I love these pictures of my parents as a young handsome couple. When my sons saw these pictures, they said, “Grandma was a Babe!”

What a handful we must have been, three children in 4 years. I’m on my Daddy’s lap, being grabbed by my younger (by 13 months) brother.

This is one of the last photos of them together.

Closeups (music)

AWAY with funeral music – set
The pipe to powerful lips –
The cup of life’s for him that drinks
And not for him that sips.

by Robert Louis Stevenson

The first image in this Closeups series about music is from an embroidered scene I made for an illustration class assignment in 1974. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to fill in with a chain stitch! The lute player’s hairdo appeared years before Princess Leia’s coiled braids in the 1977 Star Wars movie.


The harpist is a detail from a lithograph I made in art school at RISD in 1977. (see other lithographs here) I transferred a xerox copy of a harp image onto the limestone surface.

detail from lithograph 1977

This fiddler is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father, who appears along with his family on a CD cover I made for “A Little Music on the Prairie” in 1994. And yes, I did cut out the wooden violin, with the help of a jig saw. The tuning pegs are seed beads. See another closeup from this illustration here.

from “A Little Music on the Prairie” CD cover, 1994

Here’s Little Tommy Tucker, who sang for his supper, from my book of nursery rhymes, Pocketful of Posies. Autographed copies are available from my Etsy Shop.


detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

This is one of Old King Cole’s fiddlers three , whose felt fiddle is about an inch long.


detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

And the cat and the fiddle play on.


detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

“Posies” Traveling Exhibit update

Last week, 2 new venues contacted me about bringing the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit to their area.  It didn’t take long to work out the details, so, I’m happy to announce that the Mahopac Public Library in Mahopac, New York and Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, Illinois have been added to the schedule.

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

I’ll be giving a talk in Mahopac and we’re still working on a plan for my visit to Cedarhurst.  In the next month, all of the illustrations, except for “Molly My Sister and I” (it’s touring with the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show), will be packed and shipped to Muscatine, Iowa for a couple of months. Check the schedule for the exhibit dates and when I’ll be there for a doll making workshop and gallery talk. I already know that some my blog followers will be there for the workshop!

As mentioned in earlier posts, I’m arranging exhibits of the original artwork from Pocketful of Posies through 2013. If a suitable location is within reasonable driving distance from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I will consider delivering the artwork. Of course, a “reasonable distance” changes according to where and when. Otherwise, the hosting venue is responsible for shipping costs. Because of these limitations, I have not yet been able to find many organizations outside of New England with the funding for the transportation of my artwork. But, more and more people are finding out about the book and the show, so I’m hoping to send the show far and wide, so as many people as possible can see the originals! Please contact me at if you would like more information.

Bead Show

I recently went to a bead show in the Boston area and saw some of my favorite venders, like Funky Stuff (sorry, no website). They describe what they sell as an international selection of beads, jewelry, artifacts & oddities. I’ve bought interesting things from them over the past few years, including some bone beads and pendants. These bone filigree shapes show up in several illustrations from Pocketful of Posies.

They add an accent, without overwhelming the picture. This is a detail from the rhyme One, two, buckle my shoe.

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

And this is from The cock crows in the morn, to tell us to rise….

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

They had a strings of these bone beads hanging on the wall.

I used some 1 inch long bone tube beads in this clock from Hickory, Dickory Dock. The fabric covered rectangle is a belt buckle and the round clock is a curtain ring.

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

It’s tempting to buy all kinds of wonderful beads and objects, not really knowing how they will be used, if ever.

I bought these glass beads from a Czech couple who import from home. I’m always on the lookout for leaves, but don’t have any immediate plans for these. The polka dot red ones look like they would make a perfect necktie for some extroverted little character.

little standing animals

Update (June 2014): Things have changed in the 3 years since this post was published. After emphatically stating I wouldn’t write another how-to book, I surprised myself this past year by working on Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures, which will be released by C&T in the spring of 2015. Read posts about it here. These animals will not be included in the new book, but there will be lots of other fun dolls to make.

I made this group of animals about 10 years ago, when I was gathering ideas for my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. They didn’t make the book’s cast, so the little critters have been waiting behind the curtain ever since. I’ve pretty much decided not to write another instructional book (read ahead for more on that), so they can come out on stage, now.


They are made with wooden forms that have a simple dowel on the bottom, with a turned ball on the top. You can find the wood shapes here. At about 2 inches tall and similar to finger puppets, these can stand up by themselves.  The small wooden bead “paws” are a choking hazard, so they shouldn’t be added if a young child plays with them.


They look a bit like Halloween trick or treaters in felt costumes, with their hoods and painted faces.


It’s so wonderful to hear from readers who have enjoyed making the dolls and other projects in Felt Wee Folk and many have urged me to write another instructional book. The publisher is willing, too. So why can’t I say yes? I am clearly ambivalent, because I had a great experience working with C&T Publishing. It’s just that I’ve moved on to other things and don’t feel the same push to get it out of my system, like I did 10 years ago. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas for new projects, they’re just more complicated and personal. I’m resisting the pull to work on another book because I want to spend time exploring new ways of working, to experiment and grow as an artist. Just the process of formulating my thoughts for this post has helped me understand why I’ve been dragging my feet.

The trouble is, I know what it takes to produce an instructional book and I also know that I’m not up to it. It’s writing out those pesky directions that has me stumped. When I approached C&T with my proposal for Felt Wee Folk. I had a strong desire to share my ideas, enough to force myself through the quagmire of analysis and explanation. I’ve always had a problem with describing how to make what I do, even back in the days when I designed projects for Better Homes and Gardens. I know that I can do it, but I can’t bring myself to jump down that rabbit hole. I want to give myself over to the mysterious process of creating something without later having to give a detailed description of how I made it.

So, I’ll be sharing projects and ideas from time to time, but without patterns and instructions. Hopefully, my readers will feel inspired enough to want to try a hand at figuring out how to make something of their own!