Fairy Christmas in Plymouth

from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Yesterday, I dropped off artwork at the Hedge House Museum in Plymouth, MA, for their Fairy Christmas celebration. Two originals from Pocketful of Posies and Birds of Beebe Woods will be on display during the 2 weekend event (Dec. 1,2,7,8,9, noon to 7pm). I kicked myself because I forgot my camera! First of all, the museum has a spectacular location, with a view of Plymouth Harbor and the 1809 house is full of antique charm. Plymouth Antiquarian Society Director Donna Curtin has gone all out for this affair, with  fairy houses, precious woodland scenes and fairy decorations all over the historic mansion. There’s even a special Crystal Throne Room set up for the Fairy Queen to receive visitors. I heartily recommend this event to anyone who is open to enchantment, young or old. It’s all done in a genuine, beautiful way, so leave plenty of time to take in all of the detail.

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Birds of Beebe Woods, fabric relief, 2012

Polly is going to Antarctica!

Congratulations to quilt designer Erin Russek, who not only answered correctly that Polly is going on a cruise to Antarctica, but was the first person to write in an answer! She will be getting a personally autographed copy of Mary Had a Little Lamb. There were some great guesses for places all over, including several countries along the Andes. I hope that Polly’s new outfit keeps her warm in Antarctica–she insisted on wearing her skirt, though!  We will be going through South America and stopping in warm Santiago, Chile for a night on the way to the tip of Argentina, where we will board a ship. We’ll try to send pictures from down under, depending on internet excess. If not, see you in a few weeks!

Where is Polly Doll going next?

Polly Doll is going on a trip next month and her regular outfit will not do! She loved Oregon (see here) and San Francisco (see here), but missed the flight to Ireland. For this next excursion, she is determined to go along. She will need to bring  some warm clothes to wear. Can you guess where she’s going?

She’ll be leaving her straw hat at home and will wear her new red coat and hat, warm mittens and Ugg style boots (size 3/4″).

This is a clue: Polly will be heading south from her home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The first person to answer correctly (on this blog) before she leaves in a week, gets a prize. International contestants are welcome!

The prize is…

an autographed paperback copy of my book, Mary Had a Little Lamb. Good Luck! Oh, and I will be tagging along, too. That means my Etsy shop will be on vacation from Dec. 6 to 20, so order early for Christmas!

Family Trees: Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…in a Christmas tree? This was one of the first ornaments I made for the Family Trees event at the Concord Museum. And, it is one of the few that I remembered to photograph during the process. The tree is covered with decorations based on my picture book Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. This sketch of Humpty Dumpty is originally about 1 inch tall.

While working on it, I figured out how to make a wooden shelf for the wall to sit on. Every thing is covered in stitched felt, including the wood shelf, wall and the teardrop shaped wire frame. I bought an egg sized wooden egg at a craft store, painted it and dressed the round body in embroidered striped felt “pants”. A white belt made of antique trim finished off the waste band.

I drilled holes for the arms and legs and wrapped the wire hands and pipe cleaner limbs with thread. A bow tie seemed appropriate for this dandy!

I sewed some wee felt shoes onto his feet, with chain-stitched soles.

I’ve had the little brown metal bowler for ages and decided it would be a perfect hat for Humpty. White glue holds it aloft his pointy head. I made the stone wall from an appliqued felt covered piece of wood.

Humpty Dumpty waves cheerfully from his stone perch, unaware of his impending fall! See all of the posts about the Pocketful of Posies tree here.

A total of 38 decorated trees inspired by classic and contemporary children’s books are on display at the Concord Museum until January 1, 2013.

Family Trees: setting up the tree

This is what the Pocketful of Posies  tree looked like in my studio before it was taken all apart and transported to its next destination, the Family Trees exhibit at the Concord Museum in Concord MA. See blog posts about making the Posies book  here.

On Monday, I drove up to Concord, through morning rush hour traffic on Rt. 128 with my Subaru full of  artificial tree limbs and Pocketful of Posies felt ornaments. By the time I arrived at the Concord Museum, dozens of volunteers were already setting up their trees for the Family Trees exhibit. There will be over 30 decorated trees throughout the museum, all based on classic and new children’s books.  The museum describes itself as the gateway to Concord’s remarkable revolutionary history. I was led through a maze of narrow, winding hallways, past the Emerson Room and the Thoreau Room, to my assigned location, the blue room.

I got right to work, assembling the tree and hanging the larger parts, including the thread spool garlands and felt-covered wire book title. A volunteer was nice enough to take my picture during the process. Below is a page from my sketch book from last spring, when I started jotting down ideas for the tree. I wanted to make vignettes, that would act as hanging stages for the different nursery rhymes.

I hung dolls and felt purses that I had made years earlier, too.  Some were sample projects from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. I also scattered yellow painted wooden stars around the tree. Many other tree decorators came by to see what I was doing. They couldn’t believe that I had made everything by hand. One woman asked, “Are you crazy?” To tell the truth, I think working this way prevents me from going crazy.

I really like the way the tree looks in the blue room with the antique furnishings and bright museum lighting. It also has a security fence, so I don’t have to worry about ornaments walking away.

If you live in the Boston area, go see this exhibit! It opened on Nov. 21st and will run through January 1, 2013.  All ages will enjoy a visit to Family Trees this holiday season (it’s held every year). If you want to see more about the tree on my blog, stay tuned, because I’ll be writing several posts, with close-ups of the individual ornaments.

Sunday’s Open Studio

I had an inkling that yesterday’s Open Studio would be well attended, so I set out to expose as much floor space as possible. Clearing boxes off the floor was the biggest chore. The many piles of stuff that have been accumulating over the past few years were in the way.  (It’s been awhile since I’ve invited in the public) Driftwood, mailing tubes and boxes of “interesting” fabric were hauled off and temporarily absorbed into the main house.  In the above photo, you can see boxes stored under the table. On Sunday afternoon, there was a steady stream of people climbing up the stairs to my studio. There were lots of locals, along with several people who drove down to the Cape from the Boston area. I was glad to see Cathy,  who  was unable to attend my workshop last month, due to illness. When she read about the open studio in this blog, she convinced her husband Dave to bring her down from Wayland yesterday!

Many friends showed up, including Betty and Jay, which was a treat. The Pocketful of Posies tree is in the background.  Terry, who has helped me with sooo many projects (cake decorating, costumes, and community quilts, to name a few), handled sales of posters, books and cards (same items are in my Etsy shop). Thanks, Terry! I wish I had more pictures to show, but I was so busy talking to people that the camera sat unused through most of the afternoon. It was lovely to see so many folks! It takes an event like this to make me clean up. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to reabsorb the stuff I cleared out of the studio, without ruining the much improved Feng shui.

Family Trees: thread spool garland

I’ve just about finished decorating the Pocketful of Posies tree for Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature at the Concord Museum. Early Monday morning, I’m driving everything up to Concord, the day after my Open Studio, which you can find out about here. I have to remove my decorations and take the tree apart on Sunday night and reassemble it again in the museum. There will be over 30 trees set up around the museum, all representing different children’s books. All of the trees, except for mine and another illustrator’s,  are being decorated by museum volunteers, who have been preparing for months.  So the museum will be swarming with industrious volunteers. They’ve promised lunch for us all!

My tree is dotted with little vignettes  that serve as stages for the nursery rhyme doll characters. I added a garland strung with old wooden thread spools and beads. I used some J&P Coats and Star brand cotton thread that my grandmother had about 50 years ago. To supplement my supply, I bought some empty wooden spools and wound them with yarn.

Hung in loops on the tree, the spool garland breaks up the space, almost like doodles in a notebook.

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