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.

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MavorSelfPortraitblog

Self Portrait: a personal history of fashion, 2007

 

America First lady

For the past 6 months, my husband Rob and I have been making a film starring characters in the Wee Folk Players theater troupe. We’re working in stop-motion animation, where you basically take a series of photos, moving figures and/or objects in between shots, in itsy-bitsy amounts. When the photos are played in sequence at 24 frames per second, it appears like fluid motion. This process has got to be one of the most time-consuming art forms out there. In some ways, it takes the same patience and attention to detail that embroidery work requires, with the added bonus of seeing your creations move!

I’ve wanted to breath life into my figures through animation for a long time, but felt unprepared to take on the task, especially the technical parts. Now, with Rob’s help, I am able to advance my art into a new realm. We are very happy with how it’s coming out and hope to have a 10 minute film some time next spring. It will be a wordless story exploring our current and very unique political environment. At the very end of this post, there’s a peek at our animation stage, with the scene we’re currently filming.

I can’t show you much yet, but HAD to share this latest member of the cast, who will have a cameo appearance alongside the leading man. Thread extensions were useful for her tri-colored hair and I had fun with her spiked heels.

After her shoes were sewn in place, she and her sole sister Barbi commiserated about foot ailments.

This is one of the final fittings for her custom made suit.

Here she is, flashing her rock, while waiting to perform.

The animation stage is set up in the basement, with lights and a camera on a slider. The scene bollow is made with real candy, so everything is pretty sticky. To give you an idea of the time involved, we’re currently filming a 10 second shot that totals 240 photographs. There’a a lot of action with many moving parts and I’ve already had to start over 3 times because of bumping props during the process. One could think of it as 6 hours of wasted effort, but every time I redo it, I learn something new and the results are more nuanced. Tomorrow, I will try again, being extra careful to move only the parts that need animating!

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New book underway

Sometimes it’s unclear how much to share of one’s project while it’s in the works.  In this age of social media, I feel a pull to share images and post updates about what’s going on because it’s fun and exciting and it’s happening right now! It was simpler in the past, when I would work for years on a children’s book, knowing that the illustrations wouldn’t be seen until they were released in a printed book. My books are listed here.

There has got be an approach that lands somewhere between instantaneous sharing and holding back for years. The book is scheduled to come out in 2020, so I’d rather not wait until then. After some thought, I’ve decided to zero in on the details and show closeups. I figure it’s like not seeing the forest for the trees. Hopefully the publisher will agree that showing peeks behind the scenes is OK, too. I’ve tried to document different stages along the way, to give you an idea of my process, while retaining a bit of mystery about the finished project. So, be warned that this is a teaser.

The “new book” is an exploration of varied cultures from around the world. This South American scene shows children sleeping in hammocks.

I devised the hammocks from a basic wire structure, with blanket stitching that looks like weaving. There were several prototypes before I figured out how to make it look right.

The background has embroidered bushes, with thread covered wire branches.

The scene features a lush environment with lots of opportunity to make felt and wire leaves and flowers.

Over the next year, I will share details from other illustrations, documenting the process with photos. These were all taken with my cell phone camera. I hope that you enjoy the upcoming round the world tour!

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Ireland 2017: doorways

As promised, here is a series of “still life” photos taken on our recent trip to Ireland. Wherever we travel, the colors, textures and geometric patterns found in doorways and building facades seem to characterize the aesthetic culture of a place. I love how bold paint hues contrast with whitewash and stone in Ireland. The following pictures are from Clifden, the island of Inishbofin and Galway.

“The Way Home” found

I am pleased to announce that a carton full of my first book, The Way Home has been discovered in storage! This is good news for those of you who have been searching for a copy, only to come across old beat up ones, plastered with library stamps. Like most children’s books, The Way Home was only in print for a few years, so it is very hard to find. A limited number of copies are now available for purchase through my Etsy Shop. 

The Way Home was published by MacMillan in 1991 and helped pave the way for other three-dimensional illustrators in the children’s book publishing world. The disarmingly simple story of Savi the elephant is a favorite with young and old alike. The hard cover books are in pristine condition and will be autographed. Custom inscriptions are welcome. Full color illustrations, dust jacket, 32 pages, 8. 5″ x 10.25″.

To find out about how the author, Judy Richardson and I came to do a book together, read this 5 part story.

Judy and Salley with an elephant at the Barnstable County Fair, 1991

“A delightful romp through the jungle… Mavor’s creative, unique collage illustrations make this picture book distinctive. [They are] a combination of soft sculpture and embroidery… The variety of textures is a feast for the eye.” — Starred review, School Library Journal

“Mavor’s three-dimensional fabric collage pictures are charming… they beg to be touched by little fingers as the story unfolds.” — Booklist

Book – The Way Home

Polly – Ireland 2017

Polly Doll just returned from a fabulous week in western Ireland. Here she is having her photo taken in Cannemara National Park. The view from the cairn atop Diamond Hill was awesome!

She enjoyed staying in Clifden

with its many pubs…

and fuchsia growing along the side of the road.

Polly walked along the quay…

and crawled through a trap.

Polly met peat…

and heather.

She visited a castle ruin…

and took a side trip to the island of Inishbofin.

Polly felt most at home in the moss. Her Aran knit sweater was warm and cozy in the nippy air. See how her outfit was made here. More pictures of the trip will be coming soon, including the customary doorways.

Polly steps out

Polly is almost packed and ready to travel again. As you can see, she’s been temporarily staying at the Grate Hall Fairy House.

For months, she stoically observed the goings on in the studio with nary a peep out of her painted lips. From her vantage point atop the display case, she could see other characters and projects taking shape. 
She watched as new talent was brought in for the American Drama Series, including child stars for a stop-motion animated movie about the 2016 election, which seems like it’s been in production forever. It’s been hard for her stand in the sidelines as a whole new cast of characters acts out her preferred genre – political satire.

Also in the works is a new children’s book about beds around the world (to be published in 2020), which makes Polly think about travel even more!

But, Polly’s patience has been rewarded and she will be going back to Ireland, which she enjoyed visiting in 2013. Despite the last minute decision to travel, she was able to put together a new wardrobe for the trip. A fisherman’s knit sweater was the obvious choice!

First, she had a new plaid skirt fitted. Then it was time to “faux knit” the sweater, using off-white wool felt and tapestry yarn.

Polly prefers a button down style, so she doesn’t muss up her hair pulling the sweater over her head.

A little tam with a pom pom completes the look.

I think Polly will be prepared for all kinds of Irish weather. She looks forward to posing in her new outfit and sharing photos of the trip. UPDATE: See photos of Polly’s trip to Ireland here.