Bed Book Peek: North America (part 3)

In this Part 3, I will describe making all the miscellaneous elements in the children’s bedroom. Part 1 was about the little girl and her bed and Part 2 showed the baby, the crib and the dog.

The scene will be included in My Bed, a book about where children sleep around the world, with each spread depicting a different culture and living environment. The story is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by HoughtonMifflin in 2020. Here are links to posts showing other finished illustrations for the book: 
Holland, South America, JapanIndiaAfghanistanRussiaNorth Africa and Iran.
To see a list of all my books, click here

Besides making the figures, my favorite part of creating an illustration is filling the artwork with elements that help develop the characters and tell their story. Most of the spreads in this book show the children’s environment both inside and out. In this one, the wholly interior scene was an opportunity to indulge my passion for miniatures, from the wall paper to the lampshade. Making objects in relief is a lot different than rendering mini replicas of furniture for a doll house, though. Since the maximum depth I have to work with is 1 inch, everything is pretty flat and is made to look more sculptural than it really is.

The lampshade is embroidered felt, with wire stitched to the top and bottom rims for structure. I added dangling seed beads to give it some personality. As you can see, the shade is just half a circle, with the flat back sewn to the wall. The lamp is a miniature turned wooden pot that I sawed in half and painted.

Even the kid’s drawings on the wall are embroidered on felt. Chain stitching is my go-to method for forming lines.

This is the first time I’ve made a basket with silk ribbon. In the past, I’ve woven them with thread wrapped wire, like the egg basket in Pocketful of Posies. Like the lampshade, it’s made in relief (about 1/2″), with a flat back. I really like the silk ribbon made by Silk Road Fibers. I used it other scenes for this book, including the palm fronds in North Africa.

I made blocks to fill the toy basket by coloring square wooden beads with different colored magic markers. It’s important to find parts with holes, so you can sew them in place. Just like with painting doll heads, I strung them on a pipe cleaner for support.

Then, I sewed the basket to the background fabric.

Through the window, you can see a thread wrapped tree branch. It’s inside a balsa wood box that I sewed in back, behind the background fabric. I’ve used this method in other scenes where I want to show receding depth. It’s a way to make use of the hidden space inside the stretcher.

This little toy car reminded me of the pins I used to make.

I may have reached my mini limit with this purple bear.

I hope you enjoyed taking an inside look at making this scene for My Bed.
Part 1 is about the little girl and her bed and Part 2 shows the baby, the crib and the dog.

I am happy to announce that the original illustrations for the book will tour the country after the book is published in the fall of 2020. The Cahoon Museum in Cotuit, Massachusetts will host the premiere exhibit and other venues will follow. Like with Pocketful of Posies, I am scheduling a traveling exhibit, so that more people can see the “real thing”, which is a totally different experience than looking at reproductions on the printed page. Interested museums and art centers are welcome to contact me (salley at for information about hosting the exhibit. You can help bring the show to a place near you by reaching out to your local venues and telling them about this opportunity. It would be wonderful to have the original illustrations make their way across the whole country! 

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

Update: Signed copies of My Bed can ordered in my shop here. 40 pages, 9″ x 9″, words by Rebecca Bond, pictures by Salley Mavor, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-544-94906-5

9 thoughts on “Bed Book Peek: North America (part 3)

  1. “I hope you enjoyed taking an inside look at making this scene”
    Hope fulfilled!
    I loved the link you felt (in felt!) with your pins way back at the beginning of your curve – I have been reminded throughout this book, of all the simpler books that have come from you before; thinking of these book pages being the mastery of your craft – you have, for example, found the limit of how teensy-tiny you can go, in the purple bear (but you never know, do you, what more there is within you …) – yet everywhere there remains the loveliness of the simple, that was right there, back at the very beginning of your life’s work. These elements that entice the makers amongst us, the individual little pieces that are more easily achievable by any of us who yearn to create for our own self-satisfaction even just one element of what you create; and so, so generously provide us with the means to do so, your little tricks and tips developed over a lifetime of constant creation and pushing the limits, exploring the possibilities.
    Yes, I did indeed enjoy taking an inside look at this scene, so familiar, being my own environment!

  2. Absolutely breathtaking. So much creativity and inspiration on just this page alone. I can’t wait for the book! You are an incredibly talented artist, Salley!!!

  3. It is a treat to see how you do your work. I always wish Ihad someone over my shoulder so I can say “Can you believe the detail and charm in this?” I will look forward to seeing the exhibit and buying the book for my grandkids.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing, Salley! Your work always makes me smile and feel wonderful. I, too, love miniatures. A friend and I had a very fun play date yesterday, making dolls using your Felt Wee Folk book. Never too late to have a happier childhood! Thank you!!

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