About Salley Mavor

I make 3-dimensional fabric relief pictures that are photographed and used to illustrate children’s books. I sew together different materials to create fanciful scenes in relief, much like a miniature stage set, with figures imposed on an embellished fabric background. My work is decorative and detailed, full of patterns from nature and found objects, all sewn together by hand with a needle and thread.

Ireland 2017: doorways

As promised, here is a series of “still life” photos taken on our recent trip to Ireland. Wherever we travel, the colors, textures and geometric patterns found in doorways and building facades seem to characterize the aesthetic culture of a place. I love how bold paint hues contrast with whitewash and stone in Ireland. The following pictures are from Clifden, the island of Inishbofin and Galway.

“The Way Home” found

I am pleased to announce that a carton full of my first book, The Way Home has been discovered in storage! This is good news for those of you who have been searching for a copy, only to come across old beat up ones, plastered with library stamps. Like most children’s books, The Way Home was only in print for a few years, so it is very hard to find. A limited number of copies are now available for purchase through my Etsy Shop. 

The Way Home was published by MacMillan in 1991 and helped pave the way for other three-dimensional illustrators in the children’s book publishing world. The disarmingly simple story of Savi the elephant is a favorite with young and old alike. The hard cover books are in pristine condition and will be autographed. Custom inscriptions are welcome. Full color illustrations, dust jacket, 32 pages, 8. 5″ x 10.25″.

To find out about how the author, Judy Richardson and I came to do a book together, read this 5 part story.

Judy and Salley with an elephant at the Barnstable County Fair, 1991

“A delightful romp through the jungle… Mavor’s creative, unique collage illustrations make this picture book distinctive. [They are] a combination of soft sculpture and embroidery… The variety of textures is a feast for the eye.” — Starred review, School Library Journal

“Mavor’s three-dimensional fabric collage pictures are charming… they beg to be touched by little fingers as the story unfolds.” — Booklist

Book – The Way Home

Polly – Ireland 2017

Polly Doll just returned from a fabulous week in western Ireland. Here she is having her photo taken in Cannemara National Park. The view from the cairn atop Diamond Hill was awesome!

She enjoyed staying in Clifden

with its many pubs…

and fuchsia growing along the side of the road.

Polly walked along the quay…

and crawled through a trap.

Polly met peat…

and heather.

She visited a castle ruin…

and took a side trip to the island of Inishbofin.

Polly felt most at home in the moss. Her Aran knit sweater was warm and cozy in the nippy air. See how her outfit was made here. More pictures of the trip will be coming soon, including the customary doorways.

Polly steps out

Polly is almost packed and ready to travel again. As you can see, she’s been temporarily staying at the Grate Hall Fairy House.

For months, she stoically observed the goings on in the studio with nary a peep out of her painted lips. From her vantage point atop the display case, she could see other characters and projects taking shape. 
She watched as new talent was brought in for the American Drama Series, including child stars for a stop-motion animated movie about the 2016 election, which seems like it’s been in production forever. It’s been hard for her stand in the sidelines as a whole new cast of characters acts out her preferred genre – political satire.

Also in the works is a new children’s book about beds around the world (to be published in 2020), which makes Polly think about travel even more!

But, Polly’s patience has been rewarded and she will be going back to Ireland, which she enjoyed visiting in 2013. Despite the last minute decision to travel, she was able to put together a new wardrobe for the trip. A fisherman’s knit sweater was the obvious choice!

First, she had a new plaid skirt fitted. Then it was time to “faux knit” the sweater, using off-white wool felt and tapestry yarn.

Polly prefers a button down style, so she doesn’t muss up her hair pulling the sweater over her head.

A little tam with a pom pom completes the look.

I think Polly will be prepared for all kinds of Irish weather. She looks forward to posing in her new outfit and sharing photos of the trip. UPDATE: See photos of Polly’s trip to Ireland here.

Honesty the fairy

Honesty flower

Please meet HONESTY, the newest Blossom Fairy! She is 3 3/4″ tall, with long black tresses, acorn cap hat, embroidered wool felt tunic and petal skirt. I don’t sell one-of-a-kind dolls, but every once in a while I offer a ltd. edition of 25 dolls similar to the ones in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. You see, I only work on them outside of my studio, while traveling, so there’s no predicting when a set will be finished. This is my way of controlling the impulse to make them all the time. That isn’t such a bad thing, but then, I would be less inclined to make new, more involved pieces or get myself into the political fray! To see previous ltd. editions in the archives, click here. Information about purchasing HONESTY is at the end of this post.

Each doll has a signed and numbered name tag.

I put the finishing touches on the tunics in my studio, but most of the embroidery was done in airport waiting rooms, on board planes and in the car on long drives.

Mass production of heads.

Sometimes they look like a flock in uniform, preparing for a mass take off.

I make sure in advance that there are enough petals to make 25 petticoats.

Information about purchasing a fairy: In an effort to be fair to everyone, I am announcing on this blog, Facebook and Instagram that 25 “HONESTY” fairies will be listed for $75.00 each, in my Etsy Shop on Saturday, September 2 at 10 AM, eastern US time. That gives more of you a chance to read about it in advance, so you can plan on being ready to shop. I’m sorry if this hour isn’t convenient for other time zones around the globe, but I can’t figure out how to accommodate everyone. The last edition sold out very quickly, so if you really want one, act fast! Sorry, no reservations ahead of time. The dolls will be sold on a first come first served basis and can be shipped anywhere in the world.

Honesty-4WM

And don’t miss a chance to win the FAIRY FAMILY RAFFLE to benefit of Highfield Hall and Gardens.  Tickets ($5.00) may be purchased online here. The winner will be picked on Sept. 4th and the Fairy family will fly to their new home!

FairyFamily2017WM

Visual Storytelling

This summer, while organizing and hanging my retrospective exhibit at the Falmouth Art Center (Aug. 1- 31), I’ve thought about children’s picture books and reflected on the wonderful opportunity they present to visual artists. The story book structure provides a unique opening to the imagination, with both writers and artists doing their part to interpret and articulate the human experience into something tangible and accessible.

It’s a great responsibility to connect with children through picture books and create their first introduction to art. I want to show the reader something they can care about and attach to. Adults call attention to my labor-intensive and inventive approach to illustrating; children respond directly to the emotional gestalt of a story with pictures. I try to keep that in mind while I stitch and stitch, translating the images in my head into something real.

On Tuesday, August 15th at 7:00 pm, I will participate in the presentation ~ Meet Our Local Picture Book Creators at the Cataumet Schoolhouse , Cataumet, MA. The writer/illustrator team of Jim & Deb Bowen will also talk about their work.

For those of you from far away, I’ve taken some short video tours of my exhibit, Salley Mavor: 25 Years of Picture Books. More videos are at the end of this post. Reflections on the glass make it a challenge to photograph the framed artwork, but I think the videos help give a sense of the show.


VISUAL STORYTELLING

Lately, I’ve been describing myself as a visual storyteller because the term “illustrator” just doesn’t seem to fit anymore and adequately encompass what I do. All of my work is narrative, but not necessarily illustration. And as for terms to describe how I make things — I don’t even try to define it anymore. I make picture books, how-to books and stand alone fabric relief pieces like Displaced. There are also fairy houses, wee folk dolls and sculpture. This past year, political satire and stop-motion animation from the Wee Folk Players – They’re a Stitch were added to the mix. By the way, if you’re missing the Players, they are busy filming on location in the basement. My husband Rob and I are making progress with the animation and have made about 2 minutes into a 10 minute movie.

NEW BOOK
After taking 3 years to complete Pocketful of Posies (2010), I needed a break from the all consuming process of making a book, so I could be free to develop other ideas that have been tugging at me for a long time. I’m glad I spent the last few years experimenting with new subjects, but I’m happy to say that the picture book bug has returned. It’s too early to say much about the new project, but I can tell you that it’s about beds, has an international theme and will be published by HoughtonMifflin in 2020. I’m not sure how much if anything I can show, because this is the first time I’ve worked on a book while also keeping up a blog about my artwork. I figure it’s OK to show details of the process, but not the whole pieces. So, if you want a more frequent inside glimpse, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

S.America (1 of 1)-5

Here are a group of detail shots I took of some fabric relief originals in the show, while cleaning the frames and glass.

 

 

 

a backwards glance

Last year, it occurred to me that it’s been 25 years since my first children’s book, The Way Home was published. Reaching the quarter century mark seemed like a good excuse to gather a representational selection of original illustrations from my 10 books and display them together. So, I’ve been cleaning glass and spiffing up a number of framed pieces to show. Some of the illustrations are on loan from private collectors, some are ones I’ve kept and others will be for sale.

The exhibit, Salley Mavor: 25 Years of Picture Books, will be on display August 1 – 31, 2017 at the Falmouth Art Center, in their upstairs gallery. The opening reception is Friday, August 4th from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the first copies of The Way Home arrived in the mail. I remember bringing the book in to read to my son Ian’s kindergarten class. He claimed a spot on my lap, not sure if he liked the idea of sharing me with the other children. No sooner had I held up the book and started reading the opening lines, than he reached up and covered my mouth with his tiny hand. Usually quiet and undemanding, he sure knew how to get his point across! Fast forward to now — Ian is a talented artist in his own right, who will be working toward a Master’s degree in painting this fall. Here we are in 1991, setting up for the book party at the Woods Hole Library.

setting up for the book party, 1991

The retrospective exhibit at the Falmouth Art Center will include original fabric relief illustrations from the following list of titles. For reference, a copy of each book will be available to look at in the gallery. If you make a trip to Falmouth (on Cape Cod) to see the show, make sure to visit our wonderful book store, Eight Cousins, which has autographed copies of Pocketful of Posies and In the Heart. And while you’re in town, don’t miss the Storybook Fairy Houses Exhibit at Highfield Hall and the Fairy Family Raffle.

POCKETFUL OF POSIES: A TREASURY OF NURSERY RHYMES published by HoughtonMifflin, 2010, ISBN 978-0-618-73740-6, Order autographed copy from my Etsy shop. A complimentary copy of In the Heart is included with purchase.

WEE WILLIE WINKIE Board book published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006, ISBN 0-618-49640-8, Out of print.

HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE! Board book published by Houghton Mifflin 2005, ISBN 0-618-49638-6, Out of print.

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, Board book published by Houghton Mifflin 2005, ISBN 0-618-49637-8. Out of print.

JACK AND JILL, Out of print, Board book published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006, ISBN 0-618-49639-4. Out of print.

IN THE HEART written by Ann Turner, artwork by Salley Mavor, published by HarperCollins in 2001, ISBN 0-06-023730-9, Hardcover edition, out of print, Order autographed copies from Etsy Shop 

THE HOLLYHOCK WALL, Out of Print, written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Salley Mavor, Hardcover edition published by Candlewick Press in 1999, ISBN 1-56402-902-6, Paperback edition published by Walker Books in 2000, ISBN 0-7445-7732-2.

YOU AND ME: POEMS OF FRIENDSHIP, Out of print, published by Orchard Books in 1997, ISBN 0-531-30045-5 Hardcover edition

MARY HAD  A LITTLE LAMB, Out of print, published by Orchard Books in 1995, ISBN 0-531-06875-7 Hardcover edition, ISBN 0-531-07165-0 Paperback edition.

COME TO MY PARTY, Out of Print, Published by MacMillan in 1993, ISBN 0-02-776147-9 Hardcover edition

THE WAY HOME, Out of print, published by MacMillan in 1991, ISBN 0-370-31 645-2 Hardcover edition, ISBN 0-689-71790-3 Aladdin Paperback edition, Read the 5-part story about making The Way Home here.