About Salley Mavor

About Salley Mavor

“My earliest memories have to do with making things by hand and expressing myself through art. What I make today and how I do it, is a culmination of a life-long search to find ways of translating what I imagine into something real to share.”

A needle is my tool, thread is my medium and stitches are my marks. For over 40 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. All along my goal has been to share my vision in an intimate way, with a wider audience than is usually found in a gallery setting. 

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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.

Later, while studying illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, I rediscovered my childhood delight in sewing and creating miniature scenes.

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.

I am interested in universal, playful narratives that reflect the society we live in today. I want to transcend the fiber medium by and of itself and make art that is valued for its message and emotional resonance as well as the materials and techniques I use.

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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 and posters with printed reproductions of my embroidered scenes are available in my Etsy Shop.

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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, which was abruptly cancelled in 2018 at its original venue, due to its political content, 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.

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 for information about hosting the show.

See how Salley Mavor made the illustrations for her new picture book, MY BED.

I live and work in my home studio on Cape Cod, in Falmouth, Massachusetts. For answers to frequently asked question, please go to the FAQ Page. Contact me via e-mail or write to P.O. Box 152, Woods Hole, MA 02543.

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Originals for sale: Please contact me for a list of available artwork. The pieces are displayed under Plexiglas in custom-made cherry wood shadowbox frames. Prices range from $2,500 to $6,500.

  • Subscribe to this blog (top right column of Home Page).
  • Posters, cards and autographed books are available in my Etsy shop.
  • Contact me via e-mail 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:

Interviews

Book trailer for Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures

Information

  • 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.

 

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Poster – Self Portrait

 

 

Recent Posts

MY BED: night sky – part 3

This is part 3 in the series about making the night sky illustration for my new picture book, My Bed. In this spread, all of the children are tucked in bed, hovering among the stars in the night sky. Today, I will show how I made the miniature versions of the beds from India, South America and Afghanistan.

Update: Signed copies of My Bed can be ordered in my shop here. Watch this 8 minute documentary about how I created the illustrations for the book.

Rebecca Bond’s words say, “Can you see me in my bed? I fit so nicely, toe to head.” The open-ended nature of these 2 simple sentences is a picture book illustrator’s dream. They give the cozy feeling of a child in their bed, without any annoying descriptions. There’s just enough information to use as a jumping off point. Generally, with picture books, the words set up the trajectory of a story and the illustrator’s job is to provide the visual details. I can’t remember exactly how I came up with the idea of having all the beds float in space above a silhouetted night skyline. It just seemed like a good way to bring together all of the children from around the world, as well as make a fun eye spy game.

The Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition of the original artwork for the book is currently at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, IL. The exhibition will be there until May 2, 2021. To see the tour schedule, please visit the Exhibitions Page.

To make miniature versions of the beds featured throughout the book, I had to simplify the designs quite a bit. In the case of the child in India, who’s bed is partially seen through an open window in the illustration below, I reduced the scale of the bed and stylized the mosquito net.

I embroidered a geometric pattern on felt for the bed covering…

and fashioned the mosquito net canopy on felt, with wire and embroidery. What would I do without the blanket stitch?

The children sleeping in hammocks in the S. American scene are about 3 1/2 inches from head to toe.

For the mini version, I shrunk the girl down to about 1 1/4 inches tall.

I made a thatched roof for her little hammock to hang underneath. Luckily, I had some straw silk from Silk Road Fibers on hand.

It was a lot easier to replicate the child sleeping on a floor mattress from the Afghanistan scene.

The printed floral pattern was too large in scale for the mini quilt, so I reproduced the flowers and leaves with simple embroidery stitches on a piece of felt.

Here she is, already sleep.

The whole time I was making the children and their beds in miniature form, I thought back to re-imagining the full size outfits depicted in my Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion. By the way, a note card of this detail from the piece is available in my shop.

detail from Self Portrait : A Personal History of Fashion 2007

I hope that you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes at how I made some of the tiniest beds in MY BED. Please stay tuned for Part 4, which will feature more beds in the night sky scene. Previous posts in this series include Part 1 and Part 2.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be 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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