Birds of Beebe Woods: bluejay

Birds0001blogWMUpdate: The Birds of Beebe Woods  poster is in my Etsy shop .

Now that the piece is finished, I can spend time reviewing how I made some of the parts. Opportunities to see the original piece are listed at the end of this post. The bluejay (life size) was one of the first birds I made, after the crow, because it’s on the large size and I wanted to make sure it would fit. The birds’ arrangement wasn’t set until the very end and I kept moving the critters around. That’s why I like to create separate elements–it’s very much like a collage that way. I have kind of an idea of how it will be, but I want room to maneuver the pieces. Tweaking is good because it brings surprises!


After looking at photos of bluejays, I picked a pose and cut the body shape out of matt board. Then I cut a piece of white felt and stitched a textured pattern on the breast. I cut a whole in the felt for the bead eye, too.


Oh dear, looking at these photo’s, the sequence of steps is not clear to me. You’d think I’d remember, but every time I make a new character or animal, I try different approaches. When I sew, I’m not analyzing what I’m doing, which makes it hard to explain later.

But, I can tell you this much, the bluejay’s wings are made of layered blue and white felt, all embroidered with a few simple stitches, in this case the fly and blanket stitch.

The tail stripe pattern is mostly blanket stitched.


To see other posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, go to the archives here.

2015 UPDATE:
Since many people have asked if the original is for sale– not now, as I will be holding onto it for a few years, so that it can be displayed in public exhibitions. The next showing is May 15 – Sept. 15, 2015 at Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth, Massachusetts. I am also curating the outdoor exhibit of 32 fanciful fairy houses, Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall, which will be on display June 28 – August 31, 2015.

And later in the year, the “birds” will be in Winconsin. Oct 21. 2015 – January 10, 2016 ~ Insects to Elephants at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.


27 thoughts on “Birds of Beebe Woods: bluejay

  1. I just loved seeing these birds up close at your Mahopac Library talk. Honestly, they are so life like it is amazing and the fact that you made them life size adds to their realistic appearance.
    I enjoyed your talk so much and want to thank you again for taking the time to sign my “Pocketful of Posies” with the adorable drawing of my granddaughter Lily. What a treasure!

    Happy Sewing and continued success.

  2. Thank you for showing how you created your birds. The stitching is so beautiful and I love seeing your choice of colors. What a joy!!!

  3. Salley, I have a question for you. Do you put up a tree at Christmas? Because I would love to see it. I can only imagine how beautiful it is. I know it would be full of memories and would inspire us all to possibly make an ornament a year to add to our own trees. Last year I got started making mini trees. The base tree comes from Wal-Mart for around $9.00, is about 20″ tall,prelit, and I obsess over what to put on them. Little birds, tiny picture frames, trim turned into garland…. etc… so if Salley Mavor of Beebe Woods would consider sharing that portion of her life, well,…. we (your adoring fans) would be so grateful. Thank you again. Your talents are a gift to us all. Nancy Cooper

    • Nancy, your Christmas tree sounds charming and I’m sure that mine would disappoint you. We always cut a cedar from our woods and they are getting more and more thin and homely, as the pickings are few. And the decorations are ornaments I’ve collected or inherited, not anything I’ve made. But, I will be making lots of dolls, etc. this fall, because I’ll be decorating a Pocketful of Posies themed tree for the Family Trees event at the Concord Museum this winter. You can find out about it on the shows and events page:

  4. How I wish I lived in the northeast so I could see these masterpieces in person. You are so talented and creative. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  5. Salley, I just love this piece. The birds are so life-like that I almost expect them to take flight. It is so interesting to see how you create the birds. I’ve never tried to embroider on felt and after seeing your work, I think that I’m going to try it very soon. Thank you so much for sharing your time and talent.
    Happy stitching,

  6. Salley, How Creative to use the “matte gold, tapestry like” fabric for the background. It gives the piece more dimension and a look of more hand stitching. Also the gold colors gives you that “earthy, woodsy, Autumn” feel. Very Beautiful..Very Well Done!

    Salley, do you use wool felt for all your projects? And also if you hand dye your felt or do you have a supplier?
    Oh sorry, one more thing..
    I have ever considered taking up needle felting? I can only imagine how this same work would look if the birds were needle felted.
    Overall Salley, I cannot Thank you enough for sharing your work with us each and every week. I feel like now I can “hob nob” with the rich and famous and say.. “I know people in the art world”
    I look forward to owning a “signed copy” of your print…(fingers crossed) yes??

    GOD Bless,

    • Rebecca,
      I like your description of the upholstery fabric in the background. The felt question is answered on the FAQ page: I have tried a little needle felting, but not enough to get sucked in. I enjoy the process of stitching and embroidering pattern so much that I’m not looking for anything new right now. Maybe down the road…

  7. I sit in awe at each tiny stitch you make to bring your critters to life. Such patience and eye for color changes. Great work of art, Salley 🙂

  8. Your birds are amazing! I love them all. Just curious, what are the eyes on the bluejay made of and how are the eyes sewn on the face? It is soon beautiful and so life like.

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