bed book peek: elephant and goldfish

Now that our movie LIBERTY and JUSTICE is finished and being entered into film festivals, I’m resuming work on MY BED. It’s a picture book about children’s sleeping places around the world that will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Sept. 2020. A touring exhibition of my original embroidered artwork for the book will travel around the United States. Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches will debut at the Cahoon Museum Of American Art in Cotuit, MA from Sept. 11 to Dec. 22, 2020. The tour schedule is listed here.

It will be a crunch to get the artwork completed by the deadline, so I’ll have to work even more obsessively than usual, if that’s at all possible! In addition to creating 3/4 spread illustrations, I’m making a series of animal icons that’ll be spot art, appearing on the adjacent text panels throughout the book. The miniature stuffed animals relate to the geographic area of each corresponding scene. Other animals in the series that I’ve written about so far are, parrot and sheeprooster, cat, duck, bunny, giraffe, crocodile, cow, dog and camel.

Update: Signed copies of My Bed can be ordered in my shop here. Watch this 8 minute documentary about how I created the illustrations for the book.

The page set in India will show a little elephant.

To get ideas, I researched traditional decorated elephants from India. After cutting the elephant shape out of grey felt, I embroidered a blanket with cotton floss and metallic thread. I just love the Indian sense of color and pattern!

The trunk has a wire inside to help it curl.

For the eye, I cut a slit in the felt and stitched it like a button hole for the bead to fit inside. Then, I chain stitched a head covering and added a tassel.

To make the legs, I rolled strips of felt into tubular shapes and embroidered toes onto one end.

The wrapped wire tail came last.

The Japanese scene will have a goldfish icon.

Beside all the yellow and orange tones, the fish needed just a hint of glimmer, so I added some metallic thread to its scales.

To see other animals and illustrations I’ve made for the book, click here.

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17 thoughts on “bed book peek: elephant and goldfish

  1. They are so TINY !!! (check Salley’s thumbnail width as a measurement tool).
    So sweet.
    But this also means the stitching is minute.
    What master craftsmanship you have, Salley (am I supposed to call that craftswomanship, or craftspersonship? – I’m sticking to craftsmanship). Like a master jeweler … And what fun, to be that up close and personal with the different colour palettes of various nations. I thank you.

  2. I love the elephant and fish — those are wonderful! How on earth did you make the tiny tassel on the elephant’s head?

  3. As someone who makes decorative felt animals for Christmas ornaments, I love your animals for their inspiration! Well worth the extra details and effort!

  4. Hi Sally, I have a large collection of elephants and I want this one!! ❤️ Nawrie

    Nawrie Meigs-Brown 508 274 9580 Box 33 Woods Hole, MA 02543


    • Thank you for your interest, Judy. I made this elephant and the other animals to use in illustrations for my children’s book, MY BED. I do not sell patterns or teach how to make them.

  5. Your embroidered elephant is wonderful! I wish I could embroider as well as you do. Your new book, MY BED sounds lovely. I would love to read it!

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