About Salley Mavor

About Salley Mavor

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. What I make and how I do it requires letting go of preconceived notions about needlework, fiber art, dolls, illustration, and even political art.


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.

My work is decorative and detailed, full of patterns and found objects, all bound together with stitching. 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.


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.


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 from the book will tour the United Sates beginning in Sept, 2020. The current schedule is here. Inquiries from museums are welcome – please contact me for information about hosting the show.

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.


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:


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

MY BED is officially launched!

I’m happy to finally report that MY BED is officially released today, Sept. 8th! Thank you to all of you who pre-ordered signed copies of the book. Please be patient while I process 500+ orders and make a gazillion trips to the post office. I hope to get most of them out this week. Some of you may have received yours already, as I jumped the gun a bit and sent out some ahead of schedule. (Don’t tell my publisher!)
You can order signed copies in my shop here.

The book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World takes the viewer on an international journey, showing where children sleep in varying cultures and living environments around the world. I like to think that it will help both children and adults view the world as a good place.

In creating the illustrations for My Bed, I feel as if I’ve gotten to visit all the children in the places they live around the globe, even though I stayed home. Author Rebecca Bond wrote a poem that celebrates our differences, while also bringing us together through the universal theme of children sleeping in their safe little beds. When making the artwork for each of the featured locations, I thought about what makes each child’s bed and home unique, as well as warm and welcoming. My aim was to portray a distinct sense of place for each culture, using architecture, furnishings, and landscapes as guides. I researched the different regions, looking at photos of children and their living situations, both inside and out, now and in the past.

I started working on the illustrations over 4 years ago, but after the 2016 election I put it aside for a year and a half and delved into political satire with the Wee Folk Players and the stop-motion animated film, Liberty and Justice. Looking back, this period has been the most trans-formative, both personally and professionally. Through the twists and turns of the past few years, I’ve learned that sharing my vision, whether it be in a precious, poignant or provocative way, is important.

Liberty and Justice – stop-motion animated film

Many of you have followed along through the process of making the scenes for the book. And there’s more to come! Throughout the fall, I will be posting stories and pictures about different aspects of the illustrations. Up until now, I haven’t posted images of the whole scenes, just details and process photos. But now that the book is out, I’ll show a few. For a full list of posts about making each scene, click here.

Click here to find out how I made the scene from Afghanistan.

Click here to see posts about how I made the Dutch scene.

Click here for a peek at making the South American scene.

Click here to see how I made the Indian scene.

And there’s more exciting news! Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches, the touring exhibition of original embroidered artwork for the book debuts at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, MA. The exhibition will be there from Sept. 11 – Dec. 22, 2020. To ensure a safe and welcoming experience when you visit, please pre-register for timed entry. Masks will also be required. For those of you who live too far away to come see the show in person, the museum will be sharing the exhibition on their website as much as possible. To see other locations for Bedtime Stitches, go here.

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. bed book peek – Mongolia (part 3) 8 Replies
  2. Bed book peek – Mongolia (part 2) 4 Replies
  3. Bed book peek – Mongolia (part 1) 8 Replies
  4. Library community art project 5 Replies
  5. bed book peek: crocodile 4 Replies
  6. Hand-painted wee folk faces 4 Replies
  7. bed book peek: Ghana (part 4) 6 Replies
  8. bed book peek – Ghana (part 3) 4 Replies
  9. bed book peek – Ghana (part 2) 9 Replies