About Salley Mavor

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.

WGBH (1 of 1)

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.

Subscribe to this blog (top right column of Home Page).

  • 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:


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.


Poster – Self Portrait



Recent Posts

Harvest Time – part 4 (embroidered plants)

In Part 4 in the series about making Harvest Time, I share photos and commentary about embroidering plants to fill in around the 3-D felt leaves shown in Part 3. When planning out this piece, I wanted to come up with a way to separate the above ground front yard from the underground cutaway portion. I ended up embellishing gardens on pieces of felt that overlap the soil, roots, and stones below.

Harvest Time is the fall scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Note cards and jigsaw puzzles of the this and other scenes in the series (Frosty Morning and Mossy Glen) are available in my Shop.

Harvest Time Jigsaw Puzzle

I use a combination of flat embroidery and 3-D forms in my artwork because I think it’s more dynamic and eye catching that way. I also like the process of doing both, so I mix it up to keep myself interested.

This part of the process was more free form and reminded me of the simple embroidered foliage I made in the illustrations for Hey, Diddle, Diddle.

Hey, Diddle, Diddle! board book, 2005

To stabilize the floppy pieces of felt, I stitched and wrapped wire along the outside edges and then embroidered blades of grass.

Then I doodled stems with chain stitches and added French knot seeds.

This kind of work is portable, so I carried around all of the parts and supplies wherever I went…

…and did most of the stitching in front of the wood stove.

The orange and red leaves are chain stitched with DMC flower thread, which unfortunately has been discontinued. It’s thicker and not as shiny as regular embroidery floss and has a sturdy feel that I find satisfying. I treasure my supply of flower thread and have enough to last my lifetime.

Glass beads make great berries.

I glued a piece of driftwood to the top of one section to make a perch for a wee folk forager to sit on. Doesn’t the whole thing look like a shoe!

I also created a mossy patch of front lawn to go just below the doorway with hundreds, if not thousands of French knots.

I padded the back of the embellished pieces with layers of thick felt so that they would stick out and float above the cutaway underground portion, which I’ll get to later in the series.

In future posts, I will focus on different aspects of making Harvest Time, including the toad stool mushroom, wee folk figures, storage containers, needle felted tunnels and cold cellars, roots, and stones.

The overview introduces the series.
Part 1 features moss making.
Part 2 is about making the turkey tail mushroom.
Part 3 shows the construction of felt leaves.

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram

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