Today, I’m happy to give a behind the scenes peek at how I made this pony, which is used as a spot illustration on the Mongolian spread in my new picture book, MY BED. The story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world was published in Sept. 2020.
The pony is also pictured with all of the other animal icons on the book’s end-papers. If you’d like to see posts about making the other animals, please follow the links below: Rooster, Camel, Parrot, Elephant, Goldfish, Cat, Duck, Sheep, Rabbit, Cow,
Crocodile, Giraffe, Dog.
A touring exhibition of my original embroidered artwork for the book is traveling around the United States. Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches will next be shown at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA, Sept. 15 – Dec. 31, 2021. Then, the the exhibition will head to the Midwest, to the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE, Jan 25 – April 10, 2022 . The five year tour schedule is listed here.
I’ll start off by showing this video, which brings you through the different steps of the pony making process, complete with Mongolian zither music in the background.
in this series of still photographs, I’ll try to explain what I’m doing. As I’ve said before, I work intuitively, so it can be a challenge to describe the process in exact terms. For most of the animals in the book, I bent a pipe cleaner to form an outline shape. Then, I wrapped the legs, using the same technique that’s taught in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk,
This part is all about building up the body with layers of felt. First, I sewed on a back piece and used scraps of felt to fill the cavity until it was a good thickness.
This is the point where I “upholster” the front of the animal with a piece of felt. There isn’t a supporting photograph because I consistently forget to take a picture of this part. It must be because I’m always consumed in the heat of battle. Just imagine the back as a maze of crisscrossing threads, all working to get rid of any bumps or folds.
Well, after the animal shape looked the way I wanted it to, I sewed on a seed bead eye and embroidered a mane.
I can’t remember how I made the top of the mane where it sticks up, but it could have been several rows of blanket stitching.
To make the tail, I covered the pipe cleaner with embroidery floss.
Research was an important and fun part of illustrating this book. To make an accurate representation, I looked at photographs of real Mongolian ponies, with their colorful, decorative saddles.
It took a while to make the right placement of the ear.
With its bridle in place, the pony was almost ready to go.
All it needed was a brass bead stirrup, which you can see in the last photo.
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absolutely amazing work and such fine details
Fascinating as always. I’m curious why you did the tail with a pipe cleaner rather than thinking of it as you would hair on a doll, say. Is this so you can control the placement more precisely, whereas a bunch of thread would maybe be harder to secure in place as you wanted?
Yes, I think you got it. Having a floppy tail would be harder to control.
I had the opportunity last week to visit your current exhibition at the Upcountry Museum here in Greenville, South Carolina. It exceeded my expectations, and I look forward to viewing the My Bed collection when it arrives in 2024.
Best of all, my copy of your Felt Wee Folks book is due to arrive today! I can’t wait.
Thank you for sharing your talent,
Barbara Neiswender Greenville, SC
Thank you for your kind words, Barbara. Just a warning though, about making dolls from Felt Wee Folk – it can be habit-forming!
I love seeing your behind the scene pictures, it so validates my art process. Thank you
I love seeing how you make the different characters.