new book cover

feltweefolknewcoverWarning: this a shameless teaser! I’m so excited about this new book cover that I couldn’t wait to share it with you. The book is still in production and the technical editor and I have been going over the text and photos, making sure that the information and instructions will be as easy to follow as possible. Ann Haley at C&T Publishing has been remarkable in her ability to find errors and point out details that might need clarification. Now the latest edited version is off to the book designer and in September I’ll have another chance to check it through, before it’s sent off to the printer.

I’m so pleased that this crowd scene was chosen for the cover. I submitted a bunch of different images populated by figures that represent the doll projects in the book and this is the most animated. Rob took the shot from a high angle, with each waving doll’s head pointed upward, toward the camera.To see how the scene was photographed, go here. My goal was to give a hint of the fun inside by showing a wide range of wee folk, including, but not limited to fairies.

Pre-order autographed copies of Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures: 120 Enchanting Dolls from my Etsy Shop. They will be sent after the book is released in late February, 2015. Each book purchased from my shop will include faux flowers to make 2 fairies and a Felt Wee Folk winter scene poster.

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Editing Felt Wee Folk manuscript

Once Upon a Thread

henna handWM One thing leads to the next and before you know it, you have enough pictures and information to fill a blog post. It all started with the photo above, which was meant to show my henna decorated hand that was done at the local arts festival last weekend. The doll heads scattered on the table are from another long term project, which I’ll write about in the future.

When Rob took the picture, I was sewing letters on left over paintings from Waldorf School projects. The words are part of a new title image for my slide talk, Once Upon a Thread. I really enjoy giving lectures about my work to quilt and embroidery groups, as well as the general public. The next scheduled talk will be during the opening event for my exhibit at Museums on the Green in Falmouth, Massachusetts. “Tea at the Museum” is from 1:00 – 3:00 pm on Sat., July 19th.

OnceUponaThreadshoot This is a teaser of sorts,  because the dolls in the scene are some of the models in my upcoming book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures (Spring 2015), the long-awaited follow-up to Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects. Rob took the photo of them holding up the stitched signs, like a group at a rally. I’ll use the photo in my power point show and Facebook cover banner.

This summer, there will be an opportunity to see many more of the new dolls up close and personal. My talented and ever helpful husband, Rob is also building a special display case that will hold dozens of new characters. The case full of dolls will be included in my exhibit, Salley Mavor: Expressions in Stitches, Then and Now, at Museums on the Green, July 4 – August 16, 2014. I hope that many of you will come see the show. It will be chock full of work from the past and present! Once Upon a ThreadWM

Felt Wee Folk revision sent off!

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Yes, it’s finished and sent off to C&T Publishing in California, two weeks ahead of the deadline! Here I am, mailing the box in the Woods Hole Post Office. It’s full of necessary parts that make a book; patterns, CD of manuscript, thumb drive of digital photos, slides, 4 x 5 transparencies and a photo log.

The revised edition of Felt Wee Folk should be out in the world about a year from now, in the Spring of 2015. After months and months of designing and stitching new projects, writing directions, making how-to models, compiling lists of materials, drawing out patterns, constructing scenes and taking photographs, it feels strange to come into my studio without the pressure of working on the book. I had forgotten about the amount of fussy details that need to be taken care of, like labeling photos and inserting codes into the manuscript. I hope I didn’t forget anything!

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Now, it’s time to catch up on business, speak to quilt groups and make Polly Doll a new outfit for our upcoming trip. I’ll reveal the location later, when Polly’s ready. I couldn’t find her anywhere and thought she’d gone AWOL, but then I remembered that she’s been locked up in a case at the Cape Cod Museum of Art  for the past few months. I’ll be picking her and the “Posies” artwork up next Tuesday.

Wee Folk coming into the home stretch!

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Just a quick post to let you know that I’ve got almost everything for the new Felt Wee Folk compiled and ready to send off to C&T publishing by the March deadline. Rob and I keep thinking of more still life setups to photograph, so I predict we’ll be busy adding finishing touches up ’til the last minute. This scene in the light box shows an array of project materials, along with a helpful cast of characters doing laundry.

hunkered down in my studio

Rob and I are spending every spare moment in my studio, taking photographs for the revised edition of Felt Wee Folk. We need hundreds of pictures for the new book and we’re making good progress! There’s barely enough room for all of light stands, wires and equipment. The light box creates an even, pleasing light, so once it was set up, we spent a few days taking overhead shots of the dolls and step-by-step samples. I just started writing the new chapters and directions, which I find requires a different kind of discipline than stitching. So, if I don’t post for a while, I may be absorbed into the world of words, telling instead of showing. IMG_8330 We have another, larger light box that is good for the scenes. We’ve been taking pictures of the dolls all grouped together in a crowd, thinking that it would make a good book cover photo. Rob raised the tripod up really high to get the right angle. I wish you could see their little faces all looking up and waving, but that’ll have to wait until the book comes out in 2015.

Update: See the book here.

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wedding cake prop

I’ve recently finished making a group of wedding couples (see photo at the end of post) for the new edition of Felt Wee Folk (2015 pub date). While I was working on them,  I imagined that the dolls would be photographed on a cake, lined up on tiered layers. As a prop, the cake didn’t have to be real, but I wanted it to look realistic. My friend Terry McKee provided technical assistance and moral support as we spent 2 afternoons in my kitchen working the problem. A few years ago, we made a real wedding cake, which you can see here. cake9 We quickly found out that the sharp edges of the styrofoam cake forms tear through the fondant, so we changed our approach.  We padded the sharp edge with fondant and abandoned the by-the-book instructions that called for draping the cake over the top and sides with one piece of fondant. We decided that a top and collar would work better, since we would be able to cover any seams with frosting later. cake7 Here’s Terry rolling out the fondant collar. cake6It took most of the afternoon to cover both tiers and the base.  cake8 cake5

I lined up the dolls to see if they would all fit. After Terry went home, I spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the cake with pieces of fondant that I cut out with leaf and moon shaped cookie cutters.

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On day 2 we resumed work on the cake. Terry put her piping skills to work as she applied frosting around the edges.

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I piped out some squiggles on top and voila, a wedding cake! Terry was a big help and it’s always more fun to work together as we tackle these new and unfamiliar projects. The cake should last a bit, being just sugar and styrofoam. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it after we photograph the scene.

cake1Rob and I set up the cake in the light box, with a silk curtain behind and took photographs for the book. Sorry about the teaser, but this is as much as I can show of the dolls. I still have a lot to do for the book, but I can feel it getting closer!
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another scene from Felt Wee Folk 2

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With the cold of winter upon us, it’s been easy to get into the spirit of my next scene for the 2nd edition of Felt Wee Folk, which will be published in 2015. The set-up includes a snowy hillside and an icy pond made of paraffin. I built the hill with chicken wire and wood. Then, I covered it with old-fashioned fluffy “snow” fabric that drapes in a convincing snow-like manner. I sprinkled on a product called Buffalo Snow Flurries, which looks like plastic bag material chewed up into really small pieces. It falls and glitters like snow, but feels nasty and gets over everything. I added old fake pine trees that my husband’s family had and some real bayberry branches that look like miniature trees.

We’ve moved the photography operation into my studio and used a light box for the first time. With flood lights shining on the outside of its white walls, a softly lit space is created inside. Rob set up his computer on my ironing board and monitored the shots.

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The dolls in the scene are skiing, skating, sledding, tobogganing and making a snow man. Even Jack Frost makes an appearance!

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dollhouse decorated for Holidays at Highfield

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My circa 1975 dollhouse is getting spruced up for the holidays. I was asked to bring it over to Highfield Hall and have it on display during their 10 day Holidays at Highfield event (Nov. 29 – Dec. 8, 2013). It’s been a while since the house has been out in public, so I thought I’d fix it up for the occasion. I added some green shutters and trim and decorated the plain pink triangle under the roof with a painted foliage design.

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I made this dollhouse one summer vacation, between years in art school. Following a plan in a book, I cut the wood pieces and constructed it in my father’s workshop in our basement. I can remember being so engrossed in the project that would lie in bed at night thinking about how I would decorate the rooms. I remember feeling guilty, because I thought I should be focused on finding a boy friend, instead of dreaming about a dollhouse! Years later, I’m still dreaming about making art.

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It was so much fun to make back then and it’s still fun to work on now. The doll house family is new–they will be included in my new book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures. As I’ve written before, I can’t show detailed photos of the dolls until 2015, when the book is published and my designs are protected by registered copyrights.

I’ve added evergreen garlands and Christmas lights to the house and the Small family is busy decorating their tree, cooking and wrapping presents. To keep little (and big) hands away, the rooms will be covered with Plexiglas. To see more decorations and who’s come to visit, scroll down to the end of this post.

My Pocketful of Posies tree (see a post about it here) will also be on display during the 10 day event. I hope that some of you will be able to join the festivities at Highfield this season! 

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Studio peek-a-boo

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I just wanted to show that I am indeed working in my studio these days, a lot. Every day, if I can manage it. I’m so tempted to show what I’m making in detail, because it’s exciting and fun, but that will have to wait until 2015, when my updated version of Felt Wee Folk will be published. With design pirating in the news (see Mimi Kirchner’s post about the Cody Foster situation here), I have to be more protective of my ideas, so I’m showing pictures with the dolls at a good arms length. The book’s deadline is only a few months away and I have so much to do before then! There are more new projects to make, rewriting and adding more directions, constructing scenes for photographing finished dolls, as well as getting good photos. Phew! I’m getting nervous, just typing these words.

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I recently put together a set to display a group of new dolls for the book. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what’s involved. As you can see, the domed hill top is an upside down wooden bowl, which is raised up with blocks of wood and covered with pieces of green felt. I brought the whole scene outside to have it’s photo taken. We had a short window of time to do the photography. The day before had been so windy that chairs were knocked over on our patio. Yesterday’s calm, cloud filled sky gave us even light, so I rushed to set everything up. It took about an hour to cover the hillside with moss and position the dolls.

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I propped up a foam core board with felt attached for the background sky. Rob took photos of the scene.

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Here are some more photos taken at a respectable distance. I’m reusing the precious moss in several scenes. As long as I keep working at this pace, I’ll get the book done in time.

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Wee Folk photo shoot

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We woke up this morning to a hazy, cloudy day, which made me very happy. You see, I’ve been constructing a scene with dolls for my new book, the 2nd edition of Felt Wee Folk (2015 pub. date) and we were hoping to do a photo shoot outside with natural light. The conditions were perfect! The sun was just behind the clouds, shining a defused light that created soft shadows on the dolls’ little faces. We also used a reflector (that large white disk) to shine more light to the subject. It’s my job to hold the reflector at the right angle, but Rob held it while I took this picture. When I showed him this photo, he said, “Oh my, I look like a certified nerd.” I said, “Yeah, that’s my guy!”.

I had to resist the temptation to post closeups of the dolls, but it’s too early to show projects from the book, which isn’t scheduled to come out until 2015. It is not in my nature to hide what I’m up to, but I have to protect my ideas, until the time is right. I know that whatever goes out in cyberspace will be shared, often without regard for the source of origin. So, I’m giving a little peak, quite literally into the camera’s view screen. Hint: Mary Had a Little Lamb.

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