the Greta effect


Ever since learning about Greta Thunberg, the 17 year-old Swedish environmental activist, I’ve wanted to make a wee folk version of her. But, the idea of making such an inspiring public figure into just a cute little doll with braids didn’t seem like enough to do her justice. Greta symbolizes the upcoming generation who will experience climate change much more profoundly than people my age and they must be heard. I kept thinking that the real Greta would not like being turned into a passive fetish object, without her strong message and a call to action. So, I figured out a way to both depict her likeness and quote her, while also supporting the issues she is calling attention to.

After making the Greta doll, I set out to photograph her outside in a natural setting. The aim was to take a photo that would have room to incorporate one of her famous quotes. So, on a recent beautiful day, Rob and I went around the corner to Woodneck Beach. The conditions were perfect! The low tide created an interesting landscape and the late afternoon sun gave off the kind of warm glow that photographers can only wish for. The result was the image below, which we are making into prints to sell as a fundraiser for climate science research.

8.5″ x 11″ archival print for sale to benefit climate research

The image of Greta Thunberg with her quote is available for sale in my shop HERE. All profits will go to the Woods Hole Research Center, a leading source of climate science that drives the urgent action needed to solve climate change.
Set of 4 Note Cards – $10.00 – Buy here.
Set of 10 Postcards – $10.00 – Buy here.
8.5″ x 11″ Archival Print – $15.00 – Buy here.

Woods Hole Research Center is an organization of renowned researchers who work with a worldwide network of partners to understand and combat climate change. They have been focused on climate change since it first emerged as a pubic policy issue 35 years ago. Headquartered in Falmouth, MA, they currently work in more than twenty countries around the globe – from the Amazon to the Arctic. World-class science is the foundation of everything they do. They share their learning with scientific colleagues, lawmakers, private sector leaders, and the public in order to turn knowledge into far-reaching action. For more information, visit

The Greta Effect Animation
During the process of making the Greta doll, the partially made pipe cleaner body sat on my work table, looking at me in an intense way. I thought, we have to film her doing just that! So, Rob and I made this short animated film, “The Greta Effect”.

The following photos show the process of making the Greta doll and the video:

To paint a likeness on the round wooden bead, I referred to photos of Greta. In this small scale, I was limited to a few brush strokes to make her face recognizable.


With the exception of a few added details, the Greta doll is made with the same basic techniques that are taught in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.
After painting the face, I glued a felt wig to the bead head and let it dry. Then, I stitched embroidery floss hair to the felt, which provided something for the needle to grab onto. It was fun to make her tell-tale braids.


This photo gives you an idea of how her hands were made.


Partway through the process, we filmed the Greta doll sitting on my work table, turning her head to look straight out at the viewer, as if to say, “I’m looking at you!”.


It took 2 tries to do the animation because I messed up the first attempt by kicking the tripod. We started over the next day.


Even though the scene is only 11 seconds long, it took all day to animate. In addition to my turning the doll’s head incrementally, Rob manually rotated the camera and moved it along the slider, one frame at a time (24 frames per second). It brought back memories of our year in the basement, filming Liberty and Justice.


Then it was time to make her clothing. I made her pants and shoes and…


a zippered anorak out of pink felt….


sewing it in place, so that it’s never coming off!


Who knows if the real Greta will ever see this, but if she does, I hope that she approves of using her image and quote to support climate science research. Again, prints and not cards may be purchased in my shop HERE.


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29 thoughts on “the Greta effect

  1. Just love this, Sally….you do exquisite work that is timely. It’s also a great way to show us older folks supporting the younger ones who are making themselves heard. Thank you ma’am😊

  2. Your Greta is stunning. Please do offer notecards! They would make powerful personal stationery and a good gift as well.

  3. was there a link to The Greta Effect? I didn’t find anything to click on. It’s almost magic how you captured her intensity in, what, 8 brushstrokes? Fewer? Thanks for sharing the process.

  4. Once again, your work is wonderful. Does Greta know about the doll? ( I might have missed that in my reading). If she doesn’t know about it, obviously she should. I continued to be amazed at how you capture a likeness in a few lines!

  5. I think it’s wonderful that you are doing this fundraiser in Greta’s name!!! I was wondering if you had asked Greta or had run the idea by her?

  6. Thank you, Sally, for this brilliant connection of your work and Greta’s. You have captured her courage and determination with just a few strokes and many stitches. Thank you, too, for your efforts to salvage our dear world.

  7. I would definitely purchase the image in notecard format as I would love to share the image in such a functional way.
    Well done, once again!
    Thank you!

  8. Salley Mavor, of all the beautiful things that you have created with your talented fingers this is my favorite! This is Greta Thunberg! Since late 2018 when Greta first came to my attention my now 6 year old Grandson and I have followed her closely. I am in awe of this young woman and am inspired by her dedication. YES, please do make note cards available and I will definitely purchase them. I cannot thank you enough for this entire post, but I shall try. Thank-YOU!

  9. Hi Salley,
    I think the note cards are a great idea. I found Greta socks which I gave to Vicky Lowell.
    Is there a way to meet you at Coffee O to pick up a poster. It would save on mailing.
    You are amazing!
    Susanne Goodman Hallstein

  10. Thank you Salley. I hope Greta will learn of your contribution to her efforts and bravery. I would be interested in notecards.

  11. Gosh Sally….love the Greta Effect photo and animated short. You and Rob do the most wonderful work. As folks from “down Under” say: Good on ya!!!!

  12. She is just so like the real Greta! I wonder if you’d consider using the exact same image with other quotes from her? I think my students would be inspired by one that referred directly to combatting climate change.
    As ever, I really appreciate your craftspersonship, sense of whimsy, and connection to important stuff going on in the world.

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