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 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.

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 I made the illustrations for my new picture book, MY BED in this 8 minute documentary.

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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  • 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

Mossy Glen overview

On this cold January day, I’d like to transport us all to springtime in the Mossy Glen. I began making this new piece in my 4 seasons series last May, just when light green buds started appearing on the maple trees. While I worked on it all summer and into the early fall, I took photos of different stages of the process. As with last year’s winter landscape, Frosty Morning, I will be posting several stories about how I created the different parts for Mossy Glen, from the plants and moss to the little characters frolicking about.

To do that, it’s going to take some adjustment on my part. First off, I’m going to have to turn on the explaining part of my brain, which has been dormant for quite a while. Writing this introductory post and sorting out which photos to include is a way to ease the transition from doing to talking about doing. While I’m in the middle of a project, I give myself over to whatever I’m envisioning and trust that it will work out. I solve each problem as it appears, always keeping the big picture in mind. I don’t try to explain the process, even to myself, for fear of dispelling the magic.

Throughout the months that I was making Mossy Glen, I shared glimpses of my work table on Facebook and/or Instagram. Understandably, my followers were curious about how this or that was made. I gave brief and evasive answers, like “I’ll explain later when it’s finished.” and “Let’s just call it magic.” It’s a tease of sorts, but true to my experience. Now that the piece has been finished for a while, I’m free to go back and review the process with a more analytical eye.

There’s a lot to show and I’m still figuring out how to organize the parts. I’ll be sharing several Stitch Minute videos that give closeup views of me working on different sections of the piece.

I’ll be covering moss-making and stone wall building…

and forsythia blossoming…

and views of constructing the little figures living in the hillside.

I’ll show how I made the cherry trees…

and violets…

and even a mini clothes line.

Please stay tuned for more photos, videos and explanations in the coming weeks.

Mossy Glen and Frosty Morning note cards are available in my Etsy shop.

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

  1. Glancing back, looking forward 3 Replies
  2. MY BED – Home: Part 5 7 Replies
  3. MY BED – Home: Part 4 Leave a reply
  4. MY BED – Home: Part 3 Leave a reply
  5. MY BED – Home: Part 2 3 Replies
  6. MY BED – Home: Part 1 2 Replies
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  8. Bedtime Stitches on view at the New England Quilt Museum 2 Replies
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