In the Heart

detail from page 16, “In the Heart”

In the Heart 2001

On this Valentines Day, I thought it would be fun to show some details from my 2001 picture book In the Heart. Even though it isn’t a valentine story, the poetry (written by Ann Turner) expresses what is in the heart of a child’s day from morning until bedtime.

I chose this project because the words offered an open-ended view into a world full of belonging and wholeness. And the heart theme was too much to resist! Every page is an I Spy game, with hearts hidden throughout, in the kitchen, the yard, the classroom and in the night’s sky.

from “In the Heart” 2001

I used wood and old lacy pieces to decorate the interior scenes. The background fabric is dyed with a spray bottle.

In the heart

detail from “In the Heart” 2001

from “In the Heart” 2001

In the Heart, 2001

The father’s sweater used to be one of my favorite socks. The little fox in this night scene is 1″ from nose to tail.

detail from the book, “In the Heart”, 2001

The book ends with these words:
“and comes back to me–
deep in the pillow,
deep in the bed,
deep in the heart of the house.”

In the Heart

Of course, this and my other books are not just for kids and can be enjoyed by all ages. Autographed copies of In the Heart are available from my Etsy Shop.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page).

In the Heart 2001

Bed book peek – India (part 3)

Welcome to the neighborhood, in this 3rd part of the series about making an illustration set in India for my new picture book My Bed Rocks on the Water. The story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world was written by Rebecca Bond. It will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020.

In this scene, the boy’s house takes up 2/3 of the spread and the surrounding village is pictured in the left 1/3. I used a lighter colored background to separate it from the darker house in the foreground. And since the house is blue, I thought, why not offset the sky with green?

Making little dwellings is a favorite diversion, so working on this part of the illustration was a total indulgence!

Roof tiles emerge in rows of fly stitches…

and tube beads strung with wire stack up to make a front porch post.

There’s always seams to be an area that needs tree and leaf embellishment.

This story focuses on children, with adult figures off in the distance, so they have to be really tiny.

She may be one of the smallest wee people I’ve put in an illustration. I loved making her outfit and braiding her hair.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little peek behind the scenes. To see the whole piece, please go to Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page).

Bed book peek – India (part 2)

It’s all about the front stoop in this 2nd part of the series about making an illustration for my new picture book. My Bed Rocks on the Water, written by Rebecca Bond, is a story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world. It will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020.

In this scene set in India, the front steps are just another opportunity to embellish and decorate. Some patterns are flat and others are sculptural. The railing is made of wire wrapped in embroidery floss.

Leaves for a potted plant are edged with wire for more flexibility when it comes time to position them.

I sculpted some of the foliage with wire, beads and floss…

and embroidered other plants to felt.

More will come in part 3. You can see part 1 here.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page).

 

Bed book peek- India (part 1)

In between animating scenes for Liberty and Justice, I’ve been working on a new picture book that explores varied cultures from around the world. The deadline for handing over the finishes is a year from now, so there isn’t a minute to spare! My Bed Rocks on the Water, written by Rebecca Bond, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020. To see posts about other illustrations for the book, go here for South America and here for Japan.

Months ago, when I starting working on the book, I made a whole collection of children’s heads that would be used in different scenes. There’s something intimate about painting faces and stitching hair that helps connect with the characters. Getting to know the children is the first step in committing to a couple of years of work creating the environments they live in.

This illustration, set in India, uses the boy on the top right of the pile.

To create characteristically Indian architectural detail, I used beads that have been in my stash for decades, waiting for the right opportunity to show their stuff.

I loved researching Indian houses, so full of luscious colors. It felt wonderful to indulge my love of patterns, after exercising restraint in the Japanese scene.

The boy slept on my work table until his bedroom was available.

I built a 3/4″ deep box that will be inset, so the viewer can look inside the window and see the boy sleeping.

The hanging decorations were made to scale.

There is so much to share from this scene, that I’ve divided it into 3 parts, with many more photos coming in the future. See part 2 here.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page).

“Liberty and Justice” in process

Screen shot from “Liberty and Justice” animation

In this new year, I thought it would be a good time to bring you up to date on the stop-motion animation my husband Rob and I have been working on for most of 2017. I introduced the project a while back in this blog post. Yes, we’re still inching ahead, spending every spare hour filming in the basement. We’ve recorded 8 minutes of a 10 to 12 minute video and hope to have the filming part finished later this winter. Then, there’s the soundtrack, which is especially important for a wordless story like ours. For that, we’re commissioning an original score and sound effects from musicians and sound artists.

The movie, Liberty and Justice, a political take-off of Hansel and Gretel, is a cautionary tale about what happens when a pair of lost citizens wander in search of a leader. So, when will it be finished? Honestly, we don’t know, but we’re estimating that it’ll be ready to show sometime in the summer of 2018. Don’t worry, I will announce any particulars about where it can be seen, once it’s completed.

To give an idea of our process, here’s a video made up of several filming sessions from last summer. Rob set up a separate camera to take time-lapse photos while we worked in the basement. It looks funny to see our actions sped up into hyper mode, when in reality our movements are painstakingly slow and deliberate. I’m animating figures, using wire rigs anchored to black blocks, which are visible to you behind the set. The monitor near where I’m sitting shows the camera view, so I can check how the scene looks on screen. You can barely see Rob with his magnifying headset behind the camera slider, as he turns on a flash light to see the measurement for each photo.

Keeping in mind that this post could be a spoiler, I’ve selected a group of still photos that don’t give away too much of the good parts. You will surely pick up on some of the themes, though. Most images show our animation stage during the last month or so. At this point in their journey, the characters (who’ve just been through a lot of challenges) enter a kind of candy land.

It was so much fun setting up the scenes, which had to be adjusted according to the camera angle and movements of each shot. How do you make water for animation stage? Shiny blue fabric, jumbo glitter and mini LED lights, of course. It looks so cool when the swans move along!

When starting the filming process all those months ago, we knew that stop-motion animation takes a long time. And we’ve since learned that it requires many forms of patience. Not only do we need the capacity to deal with all the fussy parts pertaining to animation, we have to be patient with each other. This is the first large joint artistic/technical venture we’ve undertaken in almost 40 years together. Even though we’re used to working solo most of the time, working side by side has been an overall positive experience. We’re both meticulous workers and neither of us has a problem  concentrating for long stretches of time. It’s not unusual to spend a 5 hr. stretch filming a 12 second scene. At 24 frames per sec., that’s 288 photographs, each taken separately, with camera motion and moving up to a dozen figures and props in between shots. Crazy? Yes, but it’s all worth it when you play back the movie and see the characters come to life!

I got carried away making props – searching for jelly beans, gum drops and small scale sugary treats to decorate with. As a rule, I don’t use hot glue because it’s messy and stringy, but in this case it was an effective solution. I like how actual candy with sparkling sugar crystals adds a realness to the fantasy world.

I lopped off the stems of mini sugar canes with a knife, saving the curved ends to build a border wall. Handling all of this sticky candy was so unappetizing that it felt toxic, like working in a sugar Super Fund site.

So far, no little critters have come out at night to nibble the edible set. This little campaign motorcade zooms along in the movie. I’m looking forward to hearing the sound effects!

It was a relief to get back to needle and thread for this sheep character.

He joined the brown and rainbow sheep for a cameo scene. I manipulated their heads, ears and tails during the filming process.

While doing the animation, I refer to a monitor (top, center) that projects the camera view. It’s tricky to move the bodies in small enough increments to make their movement look natural.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who take an interest in my work and read this blog, whether you’ve followed for years or just subscribed. Your support means a lot to me and it is an honor to connect with you and the world outside of my studio!

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

 

bed book in progress – Japan

Today, I’d like to give a little behind-the-scenes peek at a recently completed scene for my “bed book”. Over the next year, I will continue to work on illustrations for the book, which will feature sleeping places in different cultures around the world.

This double page spread has children sleeping on futons in a traditional Japanese interior. To represent a spare and ordered Japanese aesthetic, I deviated from my usual style, which tends to be busy and curvy. I can’t remember the last time I made so many straight lines and right angles!

The tatami (floor mat) is made with some 75 yr. old linen fabric from my grandmother. The texture and age stains make the floor covering look woven and worn. I loved figuring out what items to display in the tokonoma (alcove).

Here’s a video of stitching French knot blossoms on the ikebana (floral arrangement).

 

I researched Japanese buildings for this roof section…

and made a fence out of real bamboo shoots.

Outside, the cherry tree provided a welcome opportunity for curves and repetitious little stitches.

To make a bed covering, I found some blue cotton in my stash…

and embellished it with chain stitching.

Her pajamas also got some extra yellow thread accents.

The book, My Bed Rocks on the Water is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020. To see a peek at an illustration set in South America click here.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page).

Self Portrait set to music

Self-Portrait detail, 2007

Eight years ago, I started this blog with the intention of sharing my creative life with the wider world. Back then, I couldn’t have predicted how the regular discipline of writing posts would help me form a personal narrative about my life as an artist. For me, this blog has become much more than a place to publish images of my artwork and show process photos. Over the years, I’ve developed a clearer understanding of why I do what I do, which is to communicate through making things. This platform offers an opportunity to articulate what I think and care about and I thank you for listening and following along!

Today, I am very excited to share a video of my Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion, which is set to music in chronological order. Like the dolls’ outfits in my embroidered piece, the sound track reflects my upbringing and personal taste. Some of what you see and hear may even overlap with your memories, especially if you were born in the 1950’s. I hope you enjoy the film – be prepared for a nostalgic experience! Please note that a complete list of songs will scroll by at the end of the video.

 

 

In mid-November 2009, the introductory Wee Folk Studio blog post featured my Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion. I made the self portrait for an invitational show 10 years ago in 2007. It shows a spiral of little dolls, one for each year, starting with my birth date and a baby in the center, up until age 52 when I made the piece. Each figure is dressed in an outfit I would have worn that year, taken from memories, family photos or my imagination. My husband Rob appears the year we were married and my sons, Peter and Ian, are included through the years when they were little and physically connected to me. Through the progression, you can see my hair gradually graying over time. The wool felt spiral is mounted on upholstery fabric, which I embellished with multicolored french knots. The tatting around the outside of the circle was made by my late grandmother over 100 years ago.

The original framed piece is on semi-permanent display at the Woods Hole Public Library, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page).

MavorSelfPortraitblog

Self Portrait: a personal history of fashion, 2007