Birds of Beebe Woods

Printed reproductions are available as 18″ x 24″ posters or note cards in my Etsy shop

About the artwork: Birds of Beebe Woods was made for a fiber art exhibit celebrating a beloved forest in my home town of Falmouth, Massachusetts in 2012. The finished dimensions are 30″ h x 24″ w x 1.5″ d.  In my piece, I wanted to feature wildlife as well as convey the natural environment of the woods. I chose to portray birds, making them realistic enough to be recognized, but patterned and abstracted in a way that made them fun to stitch. When planning the birds piece, I started with a simple sketch  and then got to work on the woodsy border, with its felt-covered wire filigree stage curtains. The crow came next and then the other birds common to our area of New England, making a dozen total. Listed clock-wise, they are female cardinal, nuthatch, black-throated green warbler, male cardinal, wren, downy woodpecker, blue-jay, robin, goldfinch, cedar waxwing, American crow and chickadee.

Many people have asked if the original is for sale. No, it isn’t, as I will be holding onto it, so that it can be displayed in public exhibitions. The next best thing (and affordable, too) is to get the poster in my Etsy shop.

Detail images from Birds of Beebe Woods are printed as note cards, too. They’re also available in my Etsy Shop.

Before I sewed everything onto the background, my husband Rob took a photo of the felt covered wire border suspended in front of the woods around our house. Then my sister, Anne used her graphic design skills to disappear the fishing line and make an announcement for the 2012 Intimate Woods exhibit at Highfield Hall in Falmouth.

Archives: To see posts about the making of the birds in the piece, go to these links: crow here, goldfinch, nuthatch and chickadee here, blue jay here, cedar waxwing here, cardinals here, robin here, wren 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

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Bed book peek: giraffe

Shall we start the year with something cute to counteract the fact that everything in the world seems to be spiraling out of control? Good, now that we agree on a diversion, I will show how I made the giraffe for my new book, My Bed.

Signed copies of My Bed can ordered in my shop here. 40 pages, 9″ x 9″, words by Rebecca Bond, pictures by Salley Mavor, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Bedtime Stitches, an exhibition of the original artwork for the book is travelling to museums around the country. See the tour schedule here.

I’d originally picked a giraffe to go with the illustration set in Africa. But, then we narrowed it down to the country of Ghana, which doesn’t have giraffes. It was my good fortune to sit next to man from Ghana in a restaurant, who told me about wild life in his home country, including crocodiles. So, I switched to a crocodile instead. My ignorance about the African continent almost caused a gaffe similar to what Delta Airlines went through when they chose an image of a giraffe to represent Ghana in a tweet about the World Cup in 2014!

I was able to use the giraffe on another page, though. It appears with the other animal icons on the end-papers and as a spot illustration on the text panel in the second to last spread in the book, which isn’t set in any particular part of the world.

To start, I drew a simple sketch of a giraffe and bent a pipe cleaner to form the legs. Then I wrapped them with embroidery floss, using the same techniques I teach in my how-to book of doll projects, Felt Wee Folk.

From there, I built up the body and neck with felt and more thread wrapping.

While studying photos of giraffes. I noticed that their spots are made up of a complex combination of shapes and patterns, that fit together like paving stones on a garden path.

I used chain stitching to make the spots, which has become my favorite way of filling in areas. I sewed the spot covered piece of felt to the giraffe’s body and neck. I covered the back with a mishmash of stitches, which stretched across to hold the front piece tightly in place. There was no need to make the back look pretty. After all, art is an illusion.

To make the mane, I sewed a length of wire along the giraffe’s neck and wrapped it with thread.Then, I blanket stitched a few rows of “hair” along the wire mane.

It took several attempts to make the giraffe’s head, which had a combination of funny looking, yet endearing features. Not only do giraffes have horns and long ears, they have prominent eyes, an oddly shaped nose and a smiling mouth. That all had to be reduced to a few stitches, beads and wire.

For the tail, I sewed on a looped section of wire, which I wrapped with thread.

When I sewed on the head, it actually looked like a giraffe!

If you’d like to see posts about making the other animal icons for the book, please follow the links below:
Animals – Rooster, Camel, Parrot, Elephant, Goldfish, Cat, Duck, Sheep, Rabbit, Cow, Crocodile

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.

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