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.

MY BED – Home: Part 4

PART 4 – Elephant Lamp and Goldfish Lampshade: Today’s post shows how I made the elephant lamp and goldfish lampshade in the child’s bedroom at the end of my picture book, My Bed.
Part 1 gives an overview of the page.
Part 2 focuses on the outside architectural details of the cut-away house.
Part 3 takes a peek inside at the furniture and the sleeping child.
Future parts will be about all of the other animal icons represented in the scene.

Signed copies of My Bed are available in my shop here. Watch this 8-minute documentary about making the artwork for the book.

My original idea for this illustration was to show a universal child sleeping in bed, surrounded by stuffed toys that looked like the animal icons featured throughout the book. I soon realized that the bed and floor around it wouldn’t accommodate all of the animals, so I came up with other ways spread them around the room.

The sturdy elephant turned into a lamp base and the goldfish ended up swimming around a sea blue lampshade. The goldfish icon first appears on the text panel in the Japanese spread in the book.

To make the lampshade, I appliqued an embroidered felt goldfish head and tail onto a piece of blue felt.

I added a felt back piece and edged the front and back with wire on the top and bottom. That way, it would stick out and stay curved like a real shade.

For the lamp base, I shrunk the elephant down to about 1/2 the size of the spot illustration on the text panel on the Indian page of the book.

To make the armature, I bent a pipe cleaner and threaded one end through a wooden bead. The bead would become the head and the pipe cleaner extension would form the trunk.

Then I wrapped the pipe cleaner trunk with embroidery floss, covering the fuzzies like the dolls’ arms and legs are made in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk.

I sewed pieces of felt inside the body to fill in the void and give it bulk.

I then covered the bead head and body with pieces of felt. It’s been a few years, so I can’t remember exactly how this part was done, but I remember that it was rather fussy. I probably used 2 separate pieces for the front and back of the body and the head.

You can see the difference in scale between the 2 elephants in the photo of my work table below. They’re like the mother and baby elephant in my first children’s book, The Way Home.

Replicating the blanket at 1/2 size was also fussy, but at least it was flat!

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a full size version of this lamp, with the elephant made out of clay or wood and a painted goldfish swimming around the shade?

Stay tuned for more posts about the other animals in this scene.

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

MY BED – Home: Part 3

PART 3 – Furniture: This series is about making the illustration at the end of my picture book, My Bed, where all of the animal icons from around the world come together in a child’s bedroom. Part 1 gives an overview of the scene and Part 2 focuses on the outside architectural details of the cut-away house. Today’s post will take a peek inside, at the furniture and the sleeping child. Coming up next in Part 4, I’ll show how I made the elephant lamp and fish lampshade.

Signed copies of My Bed can be ordered in my shop here. Watch this 8-minute documentary about making the artwork for the book.

The giraffe on the text panel found its way here after it was bumped from the Ghanaian page. To read about the giraffe gaffe which caused the switchover, go to this previous post.

For this scene, I rendered the giraffe in a different form, as a chain stitched image “painted” on the side of a chest of drawers.

To make the chest look like a wood paneled piece of furniture, I created layers of felt, including a cut out frame and a backing piece of a slightly lighter shade of green. Then, I outlined the frame with blanket stitching and basted the 2 pieces on top of one another.

I chain stitched a simple outline of a giraffe and filled it in with more chain stitches and satin stitched spots. For eyes, I combed through my glass bead supply until I found 2 of the tiniest black ones

After adding a branch and leaves, I sewed wire around the outside edge to give the panel more structure. And for extra emphasis, I went over every edge and corner with a darker shade of green embroidery floss.

To help visually anchor the corners, I sewed on jump rings, covering the metal with embroidery floss. I added a felt top, bead drawer pulls and bead legs.

Creating a side view of the bed frame came next. It’s made with carved bone beads from Africa that I found at a bead show years ago.

Because I wanted every child looking at the page to feel a connection to the character in the illustration, I intentionally made them non-specific by gender or race. I also wanted the house and bedroom to convey a warm and playful sense of “home” that could be imagined anywhere.

Since the child was going to be tucked under the covers, I only had to make the top half of their body. The figure is based on the dolls in my in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.

While picking out colors and patterns for the child’s clothes and bed spread, I was keenly aware of how easy it is to fall for pink = girl and blue = boy stereotypes. After much consideration, I chose striped orange pajamas and a starry purplish night sky bed covering.

I embroidered the stars with gold metallic thread, which for me is a material of last resort. Even though synthetic thread is icky to work with, it provided the shine I wanted.

Once the child was safely tucked into bed, I started making the different renditions of the animal icons featured throughout the book. Coming up next in Part 4, I’ll show how I made the elephant lamp and fish lampshade. After that, I’ll write about the other animals in the room.

Bedtime Stitches, the touring exhibition of original 3-dimensional artwork for the book is at the  New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA through Dec. 31, 2021 and will be at the International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, NE Jan. 25 – April 10, 2022. See the the full schedule here.

Bedtime Stitches at the New England Quilt Museum

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MY BED – Home: Part 2

PART 2 – Architecture: This series is about making the illustration at the end of my new picture book, My Bed. It’s a cut-away view of a sleeping child, surrounded by souvenir animals from the places around the world that the book travels through. Looking at it now, the child’s one room house filled with animals reminds me of a favorite children’s book character, Pippi Longstocking, who lived an exciting self-sustaining life with a monkey and a horse. Of course, My Bed is a completely different kind of story, but those kind of connections make perfect sense to me.

Signed copies of My Bed can be ordered in my shop here. Watch this 8-minute documentary about the book.

Today, the focus will be on how I put together the outside architectural elements of the house, including the doorway and the roof. Everything was made with wool felt, with wire reinforcements.

As always, I blanket stitched around the outside edge of each felt piece. My motto could be, “When in doubt, blanket stitch.” The little dashes all lined up make the different parts stand out, like crosshatching with a pen. I added a layer of wire around the outside, giving the felt some stability, so it wouldn’t be too floppy. You can’t see the wire because it’s covered with brown whip stitches. Then, I decorated the felt “board” with a chain stitched curvy line.

This is the roof section, which I built up to about 1/2″ with layers of felt. I wanted to create a 3-dimensional structure that clearly separated the outside from the inside space.

To make roof tiles, I sewed together a line of rough cut shell beads.

Then, I sewed the string of beads along the rooftop and crowned the top with a clay bead.

The door is made with 2 layers of felt, all blanket stitched. My goal was to soften the hard edges and make the building parts look sturdy and wobbly all at the same time.

The door knocker is a hook and a bead and the door knob is button and a bead.

I made the light out of a hook, a bead and some kind of bobble I’ve had for ages.

Now that we’ve looked at the outside, let’s take a peek inside next time, shall we?

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MY BED – Home: Part 1

PART 1 – Overview: For the past few years, I’ve shared the process of making the 3-dimensional embroidered illustrations for my newest picture book, MY BED. The book has been out for a year and the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition of the original artwork is well underway. So, I’d like to pick up where I left off last year and continue to show what goes into doing this kind of work. Posts I’ve written in the Bed Book Peek series so far are listed here.

The Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition is at the  New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA through Dec. 31, 2021 and will be at the International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, NE Jan. 25 – April 10, 2022. See the the full schedule here. Visitors often ask, “How did she make all of this in one year?”. It’s confusing because all of the pieces are consistently embroidered with the date 2020 on the border. Even though I worked on it over a 3 year period, the project was completed when it was published as a book in 2020.

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.

HOME – Near the end of the story, the illustration shows a child in bed, when it’s almost time to go to sleep. All of the animal icons from the different places featured throughout the book are gathered together in a snug little bedroom. I felt it was important to depict a universal child, who wasn’t clearly identifiable by gender or race, whom any child being read to could identify with. I also wanted the house to convey a warm and playful sense of “home” that could be imagined anywhere.

You can find out more about the Animal Icon spot illustrations in these previous posts – Rooster, Camel, Parrot, Elephant, Goldfish, Cat, Duck, Sheep, Rabbit, Cow, Crocodile, Giraffe, Dog, Pony.

To begin, I enlarged the thumb nail sketch to full scale and used it as a template. The drawing provided a general layout of the house and tree, but once I started making the animals, they took over and pretty much determined what the interior arrangement would be.

I worked on one double-page spread at a time. The background and parts accumulated on an old ironing board that served as an extra working surface. When I needed to press a piece of felt, the iron was right there.

Rob set up a camera and lights on top of the table, so we could make a little animated film before I sewed all of the parts together.

This is what it looks like when you compress 6 weeks into 9 seconds.

There’s is so much to show about making this scene that I’m going to write several posts focusing on different parts, including the animals, the child and architectural details. Stay tuned for more!

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

Heirloom Collection – Buttons

Heirloom Collection – Buttons note card

Earlier this year, I took a break from stitching, focusing instead on making assemblages with some of the sewing related objects I’ve collected throughout my life. As I rummaged through old boxes, grouping like things together, I realized that the quantities of spools, buttons and other vintage items I’d accumulated had reached a critical mass, where the whole was more interesting than the sum of its parts. My mind exploded with ideas for how to turn these collections into art that’s as ephemeral as sand painting.

18″ x 24″ Poster

THREAD SPOOLS

It started on Valentine’s day, when I felt inspired to gather all of the old wooden spools of thread that I’d accumulated and arrange them in a heart shape, which I wrote about here. Since then, the thread heart image has been made into a note card and a poster, which are available in my Etsy shop. And I’m especially excited that it’s being made into a puzzle by C&T Publishing sometime next year!

BUTTONS

After Rob took a photo of the thread heart, I cleared the table and put the spools back in boxes. Then, I separated by color the hundreds of buttons I’ve saved for no particular purpose. There were a lot of old white pearl buttons as well as quite a few blue and red ones. It was a mixture of old and new, from shell to plastic.

I wanted to make a simple homey scene, like a child’s drawing, so I formed the house first and built the design around it.

The button landscape took a few days to complete, which is nothing compared to the months I usually spend stitching just one piece. I put down wooden boards to provide a framework to work inside. My supply of blue buttons was limited, so I filled in large areas of the sky with white pearl “clouds”. It felt kind of like making a mosaic, without having to worry about gluing the buttons down.

Once the house, sky and sun were formed, I improvised in the area around the house, using browns and greens for the ground and other colors for flowers.

When the scene was almost finished, I removed the frame so it wouldn’t cast a shadow when the photo was taken. The Buttons image is printed on a note card, which is available in packs of 4 or in mixed sets with the thread spool heart in my Etsy shop

4 Card set of Thread and Button assemblages

The Thread Spools Poster is perfect for a sewing/craft room. It fits easily into a standard 18″ x 24″ frame, which you can see hung in my studio. The poster and cards are available in my Etsy shop.

18″ x 24″ Poster – Heirloom Collection: Thread Spools

After the thread spools and buttons, I made assemblages with other vintage items, including lace and souvenir dolls, which I’ll share more about in future posts.

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.

Bedtime Stitches on view at the New England Quilt Museum

I’m happy to announce that the touring exhibition, BEDTIME STITCHES, is on view through Dec. 31, 2021 at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA. This is an opportunity for people in southern New England to experience the detail and 3-dimensional quality of the original artwork for my book, My Bed: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World .

Rob and I recently drove up to Lowell to take photos and videos of the show to share with you. In addition to snapping still photos, Rob filmed some impromptu conversations in the gallery, which are included later in this post.

My bas-relief embroidered book illustrations have 2 lives. The easiest and most accessible way to enjoy them is by looking at the reproductions on the printed pages of the book, My Bed. Another way to experience the artwork is to go to an exhibition of the originals, where the scenes are presented behind glass in shadow-box frames hung on the wall. Either way, you can get lost in the stitched miniature worlds full of characters, props and scenery.

Personally signed copies of My Bed are available in my shop here. Watch this 8 minute documentary about how I created the illustrations for the book.

The BEDTIME STITCHES exhibition has been traveling for the past year and is booked at museums around the country through 2024 (see schedule below). I’m open to extending the tour, so if you’d like to see the exhibition come closer to where you live, please reach out to museums in your area and tell them about the opportunity to show my artwork. Interested museums are welcome to contact me for information about hosting the exhibition.

BEDTIME STITCHES Tour Schedule

Sept. 14 – Dec. 31, 2021New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA
Jan 25 – April 10, 2022International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, NE
June 3 – Sept. 11, 2022,  Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, ME, (Bedtime Stitches will be included in the retrospective exhibition, What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor)
Oct. 15 – Dec. 31, 2022Historical and Cultural Center of Clay County, Moorhead, MN
Feb. 1 – Apr. 30, 2023Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, La Conner, WA
Fall 2023Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester, VT. (Bedtime Stitches and Social Fabric will be displayed together)
Feb. – May 2024Upcountry History Museum, Greenville, SC
July — Dec. 2024Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY. (Bedtime Stitches and Social Fabric will be displayed together)

Pam Weeks – New England Quilt Museum’s curator

Pam Weeks, the museum’s curator greeted us when we got there. She did a beautiful job hanging my artwork in a cozy corner gallery, where visitors can spend time viewing the pieces up close.

A series of information panels describe different aspects of my working process, including making sketches, stitching and using wire and found objects.

While we were there, we had the good fortune to meet 2 very interesting women – artist Laura Petrovich-Cheney, who’s remarkable Wood Quilts are also on display and Janet Elwin, who helped found the New England Quilt Museum in 1987. Here we are conversing at the museum.

Here I am signing a copy of My Bed for Laura Petrovich-Cheney.

BEDTIME STITCHES will be on view at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA through Dec. 31, 2021. The next stop on the tour is the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska (Jan 25 – April 10, 2022).

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.

Wedding Banner: Katherine & Basil

We had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a family friend earlier this month in Boston. As with many couples during these Covid times, Basil and Katherine had to postpone their wedding by a year. It was a lovely event and we felt happy to be a part of their special day and to see old friends. For the past decade or so, I’ve been making personalized wedding banners as gifts. They combine two of my favorite things, hand embroidery and handwriting. You can see this and other banners by scrolling through the archives here.

This post includes three Stitch Minute videos, which give closeup views of my process in action. The idea of making a series of short snippets of different aspects of my working methods came about when I saw the overwhelming response to a simple cell phone video of me stitching French knots that I posted on Facebook and Instagram. Since then, Rob and I have set up a filming studio in the basement, where we can control the lighting and camera positioning. Everything is ready to go, so it’s easy to bring whatever I’m working on in my studio into the basement and film a little bit. Of course, Rob has to be available, so I work around his schedule. In sharing these videos, my aim isn’t to instruct, but to inspire, by offering a glimpse over my shoulder. 

Whenever I begin a project like this, I choose a color scheme and pick out materials that I might use.

I wrote Katherine and Basil’s names in cursive handwriting on paper and using that as a template, I made a 3-dimensional copy with memory thread.

In this video, you can see how I wrapped embroidery floss around memory thread and formed cursive letters..

Then I cut out a felt background with my customary wavy edge; I tend to resist straight sides and sharp angles.

After choosing 2 shades of green embroidery floss to contrast with the red letters and lavender felt background, I blanket stitched around the outside edge and slits.

You can watch a minute’s worth of blanket stitching in this video.

Then I pinned and sewed the letters to the felt background.

Throughout the process, I brought out various threads, beads and doodads, to see what to include in the design. Not everything ended up in the finished piece and through a process of elimination, many potentially interesting items were put aside.

For this banner, I settled on a heart shaped vine for the featured decoration, which incorporated glass leaf beads and tiny seed beads.

Watch this video to get a close up view of making the wire vine.

Next, I wrote out their wedding date in blue letters and numbers and made a separate contrasting background.

I blanket stitched all around the outside edge of the blue banner with variegated pima cotton (Watercolours by Caron). Then I sewed the different pieces onto the banner and added dangling shells to the 3 bottom flaps.

I looked through my driftwood collection and found the right sized stick that would work as a hanging bar.

I drilled holes to thread beads through.

Then I attached a leather strap to hang the banner from.

Congratulations on your wedding Katherine and Basil. We are so happy for you!

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.

Frosty Morning – part 6 (wee folk)

This 6th and final part in the Frosty Morning series is about making the wee folk characters who live in the winter landscape. All of the other stuff, the trees, the icy snow cover and the sparkling sky are just meant to set the stage for the little people to frolic in. While I worked on this piece, I thought about what the wee folk would look like and what they would be doing. Adding a narrative element with human (or animal) faces helps me fall in love with what I’m making. The scenery may be lovely, but without play actors, there is no story. And without that, what’s the point?

This year, I’m working on a group of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Frosty Morning is the first completed scene in the series. Note cards are available in my Etsy Shop. 

You can follow the progress of the other 3 seasons on Facebook and Instagram.

The full figures are about 2″ tall, with smaller ones peeking out of the holes in the shelters. To make them, I used the same basic techniques that I teach in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk, with some adjustments in the armature material and clothing.

I used wool tapestry yarn or mending wool to stitch and wrap their winter clothing. Whenever I share photos showing dolls wearing sweaters, people actually think I knit them! For something this small it’s much easier to create the allusion of knitting with rows of chain stitches. For other examples of faux knitted outfits, see Polly Doll‘s Irish knit sweater here and her Fair Isle vest here.

When making people, I always start by painting their faces on wooden beads. Then, after meeting them, I feel motivated to bring them to life.

I’ve been saving some really small acorn caps for just this kind of project.

Instead of pipe cleaners, which would be too bulky, I formed the body armature out of 24 gauge jewelry wire. The bead heads were glued to the wire neck at the very end, when the clothing was finished. I glued small pieces of felt onto the top of the bead heads, in a kind of Mohawk. Later, when I added yarn hair, the felt gave the threaded needle something to catch onto.

Miraculously, this old mending wool from my collection of deceased relatives’ ephemera escaped being eaten my moths. It was the perfect weight with which to stitch miniature clothing.

In this sequence of photos, you can see how I wrapped and stitched yarn around the wire arms and legs and then made a separate faux knitted coat to go on top. I completed the look with French knot buttons, striped leggings, wool hair, and a glued on acorn cap.

The group of little people grew and grew until there seemed to be the right amount.

The sled is made from a pod I found so long ago that I can’t remember where it came from. An image search identified it as a coming from a Foxglove tree.

With just a few stitches, I sewed the characters in place – pulling the sled, looking out from shelters and climbing along tree branches.

When all of the parts were finished, it was time to mount the piece.

I made a border frame by padding and covering a wooden stretcher with upholstery fabric. I then hand sewed the layered background fabrics to the back of the stretcher, making it as taught as possible. After that, I sewed the different landscape sections to the background surface, starting with the lace snow cover, stone wall and driftwood house and ending with the trees.

To help prop up the tree limbs, I sewed beads to the back and stitched them to the background fabric.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this close look at the process of making Frosty Morning. When the Spring scene is finished, I’ll write about it as well.

Part 1 shows how I made the tree trunks.
Part 2 gives a close look at how I formed and wrapped the wire tree branches. Part 3 is about constructing the rounded shelters.
Part 4 is about making the stone wall and the ice covered bush in front of it.
Part 5 is about adding sparkle to the scene.

Frosty Morning and the other 3 yet-to-be finished pieces in the 4 Seasons series will have their premiere showing in my retrospective exhibition next year.
What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor
June 3 – Sept. 11, 2022.
Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, ME

There will be more opportunities to see the 4 Seasons series in 2023. They will be included in the following exhibitions:
Salley Mavor: Once Upon a Stitch
Feb. 18 – June 4, 2023, Upcountry History Museum, Greenville, SC
Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches and Social Fabric
Fall 2023, Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester, VT

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Frosty Morning – part 5 (sparkles)

Part 5 in the Frosty Morning series is about adding sparkle to the winter scene. This piece was inspired by what I saw outside our front door this past January. That morning, the frozen landscape shimmered like a Las Vegas show costume, with the tips of every branch glittering with crystalline ice drops. I was so dazzled that I decided right then to try to recreate the scene, even though it would mean venturing into more glitzy territory than I was accustomed to.

This year, I’m working on a group of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Frosty Morning is the first completed scene in the series. Note cards are available in my Etsy Shop. I’m working on the Spring scene now and you can follow its progress on Facebook and Instagram.

In the same way that it’s challenging to capture the true to life iridescence of any winter landscape in photographic form, I’m finding that this piece is so much more sparkly and engaging than I’m able to convey here. That said, there will be opportunities to see Frosty Morning and the other yet to be completed scenes in the series in person. I’m hoping to have all 4 seasons finished by next year, so that they can be included in my retrospective exhibition, What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor, June 4 – Sept. 11, 2022 at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, ME.

I rummaged through my stash looking for anything transparent and shiny and found strings of different sized vintage glass beads. Most of these were given to me years ago by an old family friend who was cleaning out boxes of misc. stuff she inherited.

Looking to recreate the ice crystal droplets I saw that January morning, I sewed glass beads to different points along the wrapped wire branches (see part 3).

I must have sewn hundreds of beads onto all of the the branches. It seemed like I couldn’t add too many!

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I don’t really subscribe to the less is more theory. More is more would be more accurate.

I made some of the branches completely white with frost, with both clear ice drops and red berries.

I wanted the sky to shimmer, too, so I used blue tulle that came spattered-painted with shiny spots. It was fun searching through the girly tutu isle of the fabric store, an area I’ve never had a reason to explore before.

A single layer of the mesh looked too dull, so I made 3 layers, transitioning from light on the top, to dark at the horizon. Behind the tulle fabric is the wrong side of a piece of blue upholstery fabric with a subtle floral pattern.

For the snowy spots on the tree limbs. I used the dreaded metallic thread. Even though it’s the most frustrating material I’ve ever worked with, it provided the sparkle I wanted.

Stay tuned for the 6th and final part in the Frosty Morning series, which will be all about making the wee folk characters who live in the winter landscape.

Part 1 shows how I made the tree trunks.
Part 2 gives a close look at how I formed and wrapped the wire tree branches. Part 3 is about constructing the rounded shelters.
Part 4 is about making the stone wall and the ice covered bush in front of it.

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.

Frosty Morning: part 4 (stone wall)

Part 4 in the Frosty Morning series is about making the stone wall and the ice covered bush in front of it. Part 1 shows how I made the tree trunks, Part 2 gives a close look at how I formed and wrapped the wire tree branches and Part 3 is about constructing the rounded shelters. Yes, I will eventually get to the wee folk characters!

This year, I’m working on a group of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Frosty Morning is the first completed scene in the series. Spring, summer and fall will come later.
Note cards are available in my Etsy Shop.

To begin, I cut stone shapes out of a special piece of wool felt that I’ve kept just for this kind of thing. It’s from a bunch of unevenly dyed “seconds” that I was lucky enough to purchase years ago. That source has since dried up, so I guard my stash very carefully. After blanket stitching the felt shapes 2/3 of the way around, I slipped another layer or two of felt inside the pockets and then finished stitching around the outside edges. That way, they puffed up a bit and looked more 3-dimensional.

I’ve used this felt to make stone walls in other pictures, such as Rabbitat and the Netherlands scene in MY BED.

I then outlined the stones and filled in the gaps with chain stitches.

To create the look of snowfall on top the the wall, I blanket stitched a few rows with white metallic thread.

Then I bent and twisted wire to form branches, which I wrapped with white metallic thread. I don’t know about you, but I find stitching with metallic thread frustrating and frankly, a yucky experience! No matter what you do to lubricate the thread, it’s a rough ride. Even though metallic and other synthetic threads are frustrating to work with, I suffered through because I wanted the glittery, magical look that comes with it.

I sewed the wire branches in place…

and embroidered smaller offshoots onto the felt background.

It was such a relief to thread my needle with cotton floss and stitch the curly-cues at the bottom.

To help add a little accent, I dotted the tips of the branches with silver french knots.

Now, with the lower half of the composition sufficiently grounded, I could move on to other more fantastical areas of the piece.

Stay tuned for Part 5 in the Frosty Morning series, which will be all about adding ice and snow and sparkly touches to the winter landscape.

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.