This is Part 2 in a series about how I made the Mongolian spread for my new picture book. Photographs of my stitched bas-relief scenes will be printed in MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. Here are links to posts about making other illustrations for the book: South America, Japan, North Africa, Ghana, Russia, Scandinavia, North America, Holland, Iran, and Afghanistan. To see a list of all my books, click here.
Art Exhibition: An accompanying national tour of the original artwork reproduced in the book will debut at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, Massachusetts from Sept. 11 – Dec. 19, 2020. Information about the exhibition is on this page.
Part 1 looks at the process of making the yurt or ger, sheep, and plants in the Mongolian scene. This Part 2 will focus on the creating the door.
When researching the yurts or gers in Mongolia, I was impressed with the bold and beautiful doors. They are made of wood panels painted with traditional geometric motifs in predominately primary colors. For my design, I referenced several doors I saw in photos, combining the squares and triangles to make a pattern I liked.
I don’t remember exactly how I transferred the design from paper to the felt, but it probably involved a ruler and eyeballing it with a chalk fabric pencil. The red basting stitches mark where panels will later be placed on top. I colored in the patterns with chain stitched rows of cotton flower thread. The yellow triangles are made with fly stitches.
Stitching patterns like this is the closest I get to doing old-style embroidery. It feels as calming as coloring in between the lines in a coloring book.
To replicate the wood panels, I cut strips of felt and outlined them with blanket stitches. To make them firm, I edged the panels with wire, which I covered over with stitches.
For the door’s hardware, I poured through my collection of hooks and eyes until I found some of the right scale.
I sewed them in place back to back, so they looked like door hinges.
In the research photos, I often saw red flags flying on poles near the doorways. To make mine, I cut the corner off of an old red hankie that had delicate white edging. I then finished off the other two sides. I added wire around the outside edge so that it could be bent to look like a flag flapping in the wind.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you will have noticed that besides fabric, thread and beads, wire is an essential component of my artwork. I use it as a structural framework to keep limp materials upright and to form free-standing shapes.
Another feature of the doors is a hanging rope-like pull. To make one, I braided strands of pima cotton.
Please stay tuned for Part 3 in this series, which will be about making the child and the interior of the Mongolian yurt or ger.
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