Cover Up (part 5)


This is the final part in a series of posts about my new embroidered bas-relief piece Cover Up. In Part 1 and Part 2, the collection of “covered” women are introduced and discussed. Part 3 shows how I made the pieced felt background and Part 4 is about the felt covered wire border.

Before sewing all of the heads in place, I added squares of 1/4″ thick felt in between the holes. That way, the pieced felt background would lay flatter. I then stitched the heads so that they peeked out of the holes and covered the entire back with a piece of neutral colored fabric.



I pinned the heads inside the openings and shuffled them around quite a bit to get an arrangement that balanced color and contrast. It just took a few stiches at the hole rim to attach the portraits.





My husband Rob took photos of the finished piece downstairs. I hope that you have enjoyed this series of posts. You can receive notice whenever I publish a new post by subscribing to this blog (at the top of the right column on the home page). Rest assured that I will not share your information.


12 x 17 posters featuring of a selected group of portraits from Cover Up are available in my  Etsy Shop here. Information about entering the Giveaway is at the end of this post.

Poster - Cover Up

Poster – Cover Up

 Cover Up is part of a series that includes Face Time and Whiskers, which focus on bringing to life different people from around the world, using themes of history, style and cultural identity. In each piece, head and shoulder busts peek out of “cameo” framed holes. Their faces are painted 20mm wooden beads, with wigs and adornments, similar to the doll heads in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New AdventuresThese 3 pieces will be included in my exhibit Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016.

Read the other parts in the Cover Up Series: Part 1), (Part 2) and (Part 3) and (Part 4).

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

35 thoughts on “Cover Up (part 5)

  1. Watching Downton Abbey sparked an interest in me for the evolution of woman’s hairstyling through the early 20th century. It was fascinating to see depicted the way in which American ideals and fashion drove British fashion after the first world war.

  2. What an interesting question. I am not sure I have ever given it a thought. I’ve never been one to follow trends, so one style of fashion doesn’t stand out for me. I have an eclectic sense of style i guess, but if I just have to pick a time period the roaring twenties would be my pick. I am particularly drawn to the assessories, i.e. Long beads, hats, bangles and loose fitting dresses!😏

  3. I am fascinated with the southern USA and the church ladies with their Crowns (elaborate hats).
    Possibly because I have become a wash and wear hair person. Their joyful music also lifts my mood.

  4. All of it is interesting to me, but I guess I’d like to know more about the cultures that keep heads (and faces) covered. If I win, I’d give the poster to my son’s high school, which is very diverse. Thanks for sharing your artistic process!

  5. I love seeing the female costuming of Scotland/France currently showing on the show Outlander. The stomachers and corsets remind me of working on tutus for my daughter’s dance company! The richness of the fabrics and decoration are fabulous!

  6. I have enjoyed following your process! There is not just one covered head that I like best. However I do like the attention to the finest of details you paid to every head. I wish the poster had all the heads depicted!

    • I’ve enjoyed your posts on Cover Up immensely and have shared on Facebook knowing my sisters would love it too. I love all the women depicted and to me it is the incredible variety of all of them (women the world over, really) that makes the work so powerful. If I had to choose one I guess the French woman with the hair piled high and the elaborate outfit she wears is the most intriguing. I’m so glad I can choose to wear jeans and a shirt!
      I would love to donate the poster set to my local library in Shakopee Minnesota where we have a wonderful diversity of cultures and styles walking through our doors every day.

  7. There are so many beautiful traditional dresses of the various cultures. Bolivian traditional dress, so colorful. Western dress styles from about 1914-1930’s very fun. I have loved seeing this series of your work. My girls and I are HUGE fans.

  8. Hi Salley, Enjoyed your blog as usual! Am entering your “contest” with the following, maybe not quite original, thought: you talked about and compared the totally covered face by material/cloth in some cultures to the heavily made-up faces in the west (neither actual face can be seen) – this made me think of the bound feet in China and the super high-heeled and pointy shoes here. Both can’t run away fast…!!! Hope you had a fun rest of your birthday! Love, Maria

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Have really taken an interest in “Asian” costumes in history…the fabrics used and embellishments. Following the process you use to create these images has helped to keep the old brain thinking! Thanks!

  10. The woman with the curlers in her hair might have been one of my Aunties back in the 60’s. I’m fascinated with the Cover Ups from the cultures about which I know the least, the Middle East and African. I would like to have been inside your brain during the planning process. I appreciate the way you’ve kept us posted on the step by step process. Last summer my partner of 25 years and I were married and I made wee folk models of us as cake toppers. Thanks so much for all your inspiration.

  11. The Saudi woman in black who only shows her eyes brings me back to a time when we lived and worked in Saudi Arabia (1982-1986). They were fascinating women and if you were lucky enough to get to know one, you would realize that behind the “veil” is a very strong woman. They loved to get together and sit around on rugs on the floor and drink tea and eat very sweet candies and treats. I’m not sure what they thought about us American Ex-Pats, but I know I found them so intriguing. I am truly amazed that you captured the essence of all of these ladies….we all know they are the strength that binds our families and our futures. Hugs!

  12. I love the colorful fabrics and intricate head wraps of the central Africa region. They are truly beautiful and vibrant!

  13. I saw an exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, of pina textiles from the Philippines, with a video showing how the cloth was made from pineapple fibers. So labor intensive, and one of those things that make you wonder, “how did someone figure out how to do this?!”. Lovely, gauzy fabric, and there were examples of delicate, beautifully embroidered antique dresses, shawls, and shirts for men. I’ve been involved with fabric all my life, and this was a new one for me.

  14. I love the style of dress during WWII. In spite of shortages and rationing, woman were so resourceful and creative. My grandmother made gorgeous suits for my mother and aunts by recycling/repurposing my grandfather’s old suits.

  15. I had the opportunity to see the beautifully dressed women of Senegal and think that this might be of interest to you. Also, the traditional dress of the women of Guatemala along Lake Atalan had striking embroidery and color.

  16. I just love this piece. You have really nailed the looks and feeling of the many cultures. I am interested in the fashions of the 1920s. My grandmother, who was a master seamstress, lived through that time and told me so much about it; the speak easys , styles, etc. A time period that really has fascinated me since 9th grade world history class is the medieval period; the fashions, the knights, the castles…..

  17. Your work is fascinating to me! Art, dolls, and beautiful stitching! Mirror work in Indian clothes and fabric intrigues me. The fine stitching that goes into placing each mirror – and the beautiful stitching you use to create your dolls and this art piece are inspiring.

  18. I am intrigued by the mirror work used in Indian fabrics and clothes. The fine stitching used to hold the mirrors in place and your beautiful stitching creating the clothing and decorations on this (and your other pieces and dolls) inspire me to get busy!

  19. I am recalling that, growing up in the 50s, both my mother and the mother of my best friend donned kerchiefs (small triangles of bright printed fabrics) whenever they cleaned house. Presumably, they were protecting their hairdos from…what? Or maybe these kerchiefs were simply part of their cleaning costumes. Whenever my friend and I saw her mother with her kerchief on, we disappeared into the closet of her room because we were terrified of the vacuum cleaner, a big old Hoover or Kirby or whatever that made a very, very loud noise. We somehow believed there was a possibility that we could get a foot caught in the vacuum just like we could get an arm caught in the wringer of the washing machine.

  20. Great Question.. I love all cultures and all peoples. As a child and adult I love collecting dolls and paper dolls featuring costumes from around the world. Currently, I am fascinated with the indigenous handiwork of South American women in countries like Peru, Mexico, Chile..I wish I had their time and talent to create such beautiful crafts…GOD Bless, Rebecca

  21. Love your work. All the portraits are interesting, so it is hard to pick just one. If I have to pick one it would be Denmark, European.

  22. I enjoy the dress from many time periods & cultures, but especially India, with beautiful silk saris and kurtas. I also appreciate the ethnic Mexican clothing that Frida Kahlo wore and incorporated into her work.

  23. I am fascinated by the resurgence of 1960’s American patterns and colors in fabrics. Neons, horozontal stripes, chevrons – saw it all before and wore a lot of them.

  24. Sally I love your work, and so enjoy the way you depict women of all nations and races and religions so beautiful. I am drawn to hand created items with texture, and with the two wee one granddaughters I am so excited to be learning how to make your wee folks dolls. With grandchildren who homeschool, I am excited about this endeavor you have taken on and how as a grandmother I can encourage their learning. My husband and I so enjoy early American history, especially those who traveled West on the wagon trains.
    Thank you Sally for your work and inspiration

  25. I just discovered your blog and new book. I LOVE your work! Fashion that I find fascinating is the Elizabethan time- late Tudor…all the fancy lacy, pomp and circumstance! Look forward to learning more about what you do and your processes. I am a quilter who has recently discovered needle felting and wet felting.

  26. I’ve been a fan for years – there are several fairies here made from your kits, and a Wee Folk book waiting quite some time for me to make more. I’m in awe of this latest creation which speaks volumes about women while exhibiting your unique talents — well, there are no words for it. I live in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country where my Amish lady friends never appear outside their home without a head covering. The Mennonite ladies, too, wear them, different styles according to their church denominations. Their dress certainly can’t be called “fashion” but they surely are an inspiration to the rest of the world in their simplicity and “less is more” way of living. Thank you Salley for this kind opportunity.

  27. I saw a tv show called “Tudor Monastery Farm,” and I liked they way the women’s dresses were layered. I’ve enjoyed the pieces you do featuring a variety of outfits, because when I make a wee folk, that’s my focus.

  28. Hello Salley,
    What wonderful work! I have been fascinated by the embroidery used on clothing in many cultures including my Hungarian heritage. It is all such intricate, beautiful work by many talented women.
    Thank you for you inspiration. Sherry

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