making Face Time (part 3)


FaceTimeWMThis is Part 3 in a series about making my newest piece, Face Time. It picks up where I left off in Part 2, which covers the embroidered felt wreathlike frames. Part 1 explains the concept of the piece and shows the making of the heads.

UPDATE: Face Time will be part of my exhibit, Hanging by a Thread: Needle Art of Salley Mavor at Gallery 65 on William in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The show will be there until April 1st, 2017. Gallery open hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 – 5:00.

After all 41 frames were finished and each bust was safely sewn inside its own personal cameo, I arranged the characters according to time period. It was like putting together a puzzle, fitting the pieces in chronological order. Characters from the past were rooted at the bottom of the tree and others cascaded upward through time to contemporary folks at the very top.


Tree branches were formed with felt covered wire. Embroidery floss seed stitches on the felt created a bark-like texture. The smaller branches are made of floss wrapped wire. I sewed the branches to the back of the “cameos”, extending the wire around the frame to give each little portrait some structure, like bendable bones.


With this piece, I tried out a new kind of border/frame. Instead of putting fabric on top of and around the sides of a wooden stretcher, I stapled the background fabric to the back, creating a space inside for the 3-d tree. I padded the stretcher bars with cotton batting and covered it with fabric, like upholstering furniture. It required quite a bit of fussing and hand stitching to make the corners look good. This way the finished piece can be hung with or without another outside frame or shadow box.


I made felt covered wire leaf forms for the corners, first embroidering the strips of felt with seed stitches.


And then filled in some gaps with floss wrapped wire doodles.


Face Time is currently being shown in Entangled as you see here, without a glass covered frame. But that is temporary, as Rob will make a frame to protect the artwork from curious fingers and dust.


Thank you for following along through the process! As with Birds of Beebe Woods, I am not selling Face Time and will be entering it into juried shows around the country. Please visit the events page from time to time to see where my original work is on display.

For those of you interested in making your own characters, please refer to my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, for basic guidance.

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.





12 thoughts on “making Face Time (part 3)

  1. You’ve done a really beautiful job with this project, Salley. I particularly like the open frame that the tree appears to float within, and the amazing amount of work in creating the branches, and how it all comes together, so beautifully finished, into a completed piece.


  2. Salley, I sent my a picture of my little dolls – modeled after your method – they are replica’s of Iroquois dress and there are a few pieces of art that I want to make and have a question. How do you get the felt to have a scalloped edge as you do in the picture frames and the other pieces.? Also I hope I’m not being presumptuous but I’d like to send a picture of the quilt I did with the dolls I make. thanks helen

    • Hi Barbara-Helen, your little Iroquois dolls are quite wonderful. Yes, please a picture of the finished quilt. As for the scalloped edge, it is cut with scalloped shears, which are like pinking shears. Mine are made by Fiskars. Unfortunately, they don’t make them anymore. Thanks for checking in.

  3. Hi Salley,

    Another fascinating post. I love your process and willingness to share. I notice the wire you use looks like it is covered with plastic. Can you tell me what that is? It holds up so well in your work.

    Warm regards,


  4. Thank you SO much, Salley. I do appreciate you sharing just a part of all you have invented and developed, by simply continuing to do the one thing you – in so many different ways.

    One result is that we can all understand how dedicated your life has been to hand work – slow work – and what SATISFYING results the time, patience and skill such work can attain. I love seeing how the idea comes, and is developed, over a lovely long period of time immersed in the manifestation of the idea. And with so much evident love for the craft, and enjoyment of the process.

    You are an utter delight. Bless you for being.

  5. Very, very, VERY impressive, Salley! Yet another amazing work of art of yours! Congratulations! So neat to see the whole process too! Love and hug, Maria

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Sally, your skill and generosity takes my breath away. I am going to have a go at making our family. With our grand babies makes 11, I think it would be great fun! Hehe. Thankyou for your inspiration. Susie

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