About Salley Mavor
“My aim is to breathe life and emotion into embroidery, an art form that is often perceived as purely decorative.”Salley mavor
A needle is my tool, thread is my medium and stitches are my marks. For over 45 years, I’ve created 3-dimensional hand-stitched artwork that ranges from precious to poignant to provocative. In addition to stand alone pieces, my work is applied in many ways, including children’s books, editorial illustration and stop-motion animation.
There is a certain over-the-top quality to my work that is unmistakable. I like to think that a combination of storytelling imagery, the use of familiar, yet intriguing materials, and fervent craftsmanship set it apart.
I am interested in universal, playful narratives that address social and cultural issues. My objective is to transcend the fiber medium by and of itself and make art that is valued for its message and emotional resonance as well as its workmanship.
What I make today and how I do it, is a culmination of a life-long search to find ways of translating what I feel and imagine into something real to share. My wish is for people of all ages to connect with my artwork in personal and meaningful ways.
Where did this doll-infested needle and thread universe come from? It began at the height of the baby boom, in a family of introverts who were either making things or staring into space. You could say that we excelled at parallel play.
Manipulating materials in my hands was so much more satisfying than rendering with a pencil or brush. Instead of trying to keep in step using traditional mediums, I discovered that with stitching, I could dance the fandango! I found that my hands would direct me in a compelling way and I could communicate ideas more clearly. For most of my career I have followed this path, creating sculptural scenes in bas-relief, much like miniature, shallow stage sets, with figures imposed on embellished fabric backgrounds.
Some of my embroidered pieces are photographed and reproduced in children’s books, including the 2010 award-winning Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. My bestselling how-to book of doll projects, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures continues to inspire creativity. Personally autographed books, cards, jigsaw puzzles and posters with printed reproductions of my embroidered scenes are available in my Etsy Shop.
My new work moves away from the land of innocence and into real world issues and current events. I strive to find the beauty within the struggle and strife, as in my 2016 piece Displaced.
After the 2016 presidential election, I formed a satirical wee folk drama troupe, The Wee Folk Players (they’re a stitch). Also, my husband Rob Goldsborough and I made a short stop-motion animated film titled Liberty and Justice : A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free.
My solo exhibit Liberty and Justice was abruptly cancelled in 2018 at its original venue due to its political content. The show was generously picked up by the New England Quilt Museum and the Cotuit Center for the Arts and portions were included in The Art of Cute at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine. You can watch my interview about the Liberty and Justice exhibit on WGBH TV and read the post Finding My Voice, which includes an excerpt of my talk about making art that is both precious and provocative.
To see a schedule of upcoming exhibitions of my original bas-relief artwork, including the Bedtime Stitches national tour, please visit the Exhibitions Page.
My new book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September 2020. You can see blog posts showing the book’s progress here. SALLEY MAVOR: Bedtime Stitches, an exhibition of the original bas-relief artwork for the book began touring the United Sates in Sept, 2020. The current schedule is here. Inquiries from museums are welcome – please contact me (salley at weefolkstudio.com) for information about hosting the show.
See how I made the illustrations for my new picture book, MY BED in this 8 minute documentary.
I live and work on Cape Cod, in Falmouth, Massachusetts. For answers to frequently asked question, please go to the FAQ Page. Contact me (salley at weefolkstudio.com) or write to P.O. Box 152, Woods Hole, MA 02543.
The Zoom talk, “An Afternoon with Salley Mavor”, is now available for all to see! The video includes an interview, slide show and Q&A section.
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- Posters, puzzles, notebooks, cards and autographed books are available in my Etsy shop.
- Contact me via e-mail (salley at weefolkstudio.com) or write to P.O. Box 152, Woods Hole, MA 02543
- Visit my Facebook Page. Follow me on Instagram.
Rabbitat is a short documentary video about my work:
- To find out about my foray into political satire, please read this interview
- Read my thoughts about artistic privacy and when to tell how and when not to.
- Watch WGBH OPEN STUDIO interview
- Read my acceptance speech for the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
- Read an interview with Create Whimsy
- Hear Abby Glassenberg’s podcast interview with Mimi Kirchner and me
- Read an interview with Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
- Watch a 2016 Interview with Falmouth Community TV
Book trailer for Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures
- Posters, cards and autographed books are available in my Etsy shop.
- To see a list of all of my books, go to My Books.
- Watch videos about my work: Videos Page
- For info about upcoming exhibits, talks and book signings, visit the Events Page.
- Frequently asked questions: FAQ Page
Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion (pictured below) is on semi permanent display at the Woods Hole Public Library. Posters of the piece are available in my Shop here.