UPDATE: Face Time is part of my exhibit, Salley Mavor: Social Fabric, at the Upcoumtry History Museum in Greenville, SC, April 3 – Sept. 5, 2021.
This post was first published in 2015.
About a year ago, my newest piece, Face Time started taking shape. I took pictures along the way, during the many months that its collection of little heads occupied my work table. The piece was completed this past winter after about 6 months of work.
I’m often asked how long it takes to make a large piece like this (24″ x 30″). It’s hard to say for sure, because my days are interspersed with so many other activities (and distractions) having to do with the business side of being an artist. Of course, I’d rather be stitching every day in my studio, but I fear that would lead to an obscure life, without a presence beyond my studio walls. I’d guess that at least 50% of my work time is spent promoting my art in some way; e-mails, interviews and other publicity, Etsy Shop, editors and publishers, social media, entering and arranging exhibits, etc. OK, that’s enough of a reality check–shall we stick with the romantic notion of spending all day stitching in a window seat?
I’d like to take you through the making of Face Time, so you can have a sense of what’s involved. If you’ve read my post, When to tell how and when not to, you’ll know that I don’t always show my process, but this is one of those instances when I’ve taken enough photos to warrant a 3 part series. I’m excited to share the new direction my work has taken!
For Face Time, I started in the usual way, thinking about the idea for a long time before jotting down tiny drawings in my sketch book. While I work, the concept remains strong and constant, while the overall design changes with time. I also consider how the parts will be rendered in embroidery and 3 dimensional needlework.
I wanted to show different people from all over, evolving through time, from long ago civilizations at the bottom, to present day people at the top. I wasn’t so interested in making a personal family tree, but a depiction of the world’s collective heritage. I envisioned a group of faces from a variety of backgrounds and cultures peeking out of the greenery, all linked to a tree-like form.
Researching fashion history was very fun! Online, I found pictures of hair styles, beards, hats and garments. In addition to wigs and painted facial features, each wooden head had a bit of clothing showing at the neck and shoulders. They expand on the wee folk doll projects from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. Wire glasses were something new, which I thought contributed to the individuality of some characters.
Over a period of many weeks, the heads grew in number, filling my modest work table.
There ended up being 41 heads in all, covering many centuries. Here they are, in a group shot, before they were separated by leaves and branches in the finished piece. I will show more about that in part 2.
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