Jigsaw Puzzles!

Birds of Beebe Woods jigsaw puzzle

I’m excited to share the news that jigsaw puzzles are now available in my Etsy Shop! For a long time, fans have suggested that my work would translate well into puzzle form. I thought so, too, but was too busy stitching to do anything about it. After years of searching for a high quality product and an economically feasible manufacturing arrangement, I’ve finally decided to test the market with two puzzle designs; Birds of Beebe Woods and Harvest Time.

Birds of Beebe Woods jigsaw puzzle

The 300 piece 12″ x 16″ puzzles are suitable for older children as well as adults. At this size, the puzzle pieces can easily spread out on a card table instead of taking over the dining room table. And it won’t take an interminable amount of time to piece together the image. Of course, some people love nothing more than to get sucked into a seemingly never-ending puzzle. I’m kind of like that and have to regulate my puzzle time, lest my obsessive nature takes over.

Birds of Beebe Woods jigsaw puzzle, box front and back

After our Thanksgiving meal, my family put together the Birds of Beebe Woods puzzle. It was more challenging than expected!

The puzzles are exclusively available through my Etsy Shop. They were just listed a few days ago and are selling so well that I’m having more made.
A note to my international fans: I’m really sorry, but due to the high cost of shipping overseas and unreasonable delays, I now only ship within the US and to Canada.

Is there a particular piece of mine that you would like to see in puzzle form? I’m planning to have more puzzles made and would love to hear your suggestions. Illustrations from my books MY BED and Pocketful of Posies can’t be reproduced, but other stand alone pieces are a possibility, if I have hires photos. Please leave a comment with your suggestions.

Harvest Time Jigsaw Puzzle
Harvest Time jigsaw puzzle, box front and back

BIRDS OF BEEBE WOODS is a hand-stitch tableau of birds common to North America. I made the piece to celebrate the town forest in Falmouth, MA. Birds pictured: cardinal, nuthatch, warbler, crow, wren, downy woodpecker, blue jay, cedar waxwing, gold finch and robin.

Birds of Beebe Woods jigsaw puzzle

HARVEST TIME is the fall scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. The piece is entirely stitched by hand and incorporates a variety of materials, including driftwood, wool felt, beads and wire.

Harvest Time jigsaw puzzle

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

Harvest Time – Part 2 (turkey tail mushroom)

In this Part 2 in the series about making Harvest Time, I share photos, commentary and a stitch-minute video about creating the turkey tail mushroom overhanging the doorway in the stump. In the coming weeks and months, I will post more stories that focus on different aspects of the process of making the fall scene, including the toad stool mushroom, wee folk figures, tunnels, roots, stones and foliage of all kinds. Part 1 featured moss making.

Harvest Time is the fall scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Harvest Time and 2 other scenes I’ve completed and written about, Frosty Morning and Mossy Glen, are available as note cards in my shop here.

Harvest Time Puzzles are available in my Etsy shop.

Turkey tail mushrooms or shelf fungi are found all over the world. They usually grow on dead hardwood stumps and downed hardwood trunks or branches.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

I love how Glen Carliss used shelf fungi for the roofs in “Glendell Towers”, which he made for The Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall, an outdoor exhibition that I curated in 2015. Glen told me that he’d been eyeing the mushrooms growing on trees along his road for years, imaging what to do with them.

Glendell Towers by Glen Carliss

I didn’t use actual mushrooms in Harvest Time, but I was inspired by their fanciful appearance. My photo search came up with multiple color combinations, from earthy hues to shades as garish as 1960’s fashion. I chose a more subdued mixture of fall colors for the mushroom roof.

To make the striped concentric pattern, I chain stitched rows and rows of different shades of green and orange DMC cotton flower thread to a piece of felt. It took two tries to get the shape and colors the way I wanted it.

In this Stitch Minute video, I demonstrate chain stitching the stripes and adding wire.

After we filmed it, I wasn’t happy with the overall shape and color combo, so I started over and made a new one that was more curvy and included orange and yellow.

I stitched wire around the outside edge and covered it with white embroidery floss.

Then I made a smaller mushroom and a really little one that looked like a pompom on top of a hat. It’s been a year since I started working on this piece, so my memory is a bit foggy. I can only guess at how I formed the layers into a roof shape and attached it to the driftwood. I do remember that the mushroom wasn’t very cooperative and I had to torture it into shape. Most likely, I glued felt to the wood and then sewed the mushroom to the felt.

During the process, I constantly measured the depth of the trunk to make sure that it would fit behind the glass when the finished piece was framed. After the mushroom roof was added, there was just enough clearance!

My use of found objects is mostly limited to individual items that are sewn in place and incorporated into embroidered scenes. This trunk was different because it was made up of several driftwood parts that created a fairly large mass that stuck out from the background. Its depth and breadth would determine how I created everything else in the landscape.

Now that the trunk was finished, I could start building the other parts of the scene, including the ground at its base.

Next time, I will show the process of making the felt and stitched foliage growing on the ground at the foot of the tree trunk.

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

Harvest Time – Part 1 (mossy tree trunk)

Do you ever see little hollow openings at the foot of trees and wonder who could live there? In this Part 1 of the series about making Harvest Time, I share photos, commentary and a stitch-minute video about how I created such a place. In the coming weeks and months, I will post more stories that focus on different aspects of the process of making the fall scene, including the turkey tail mushroom roof, the toad stool mushroom, wee folk figures, tunnels, roots, stones and foliage of all kinds.

Harvest Time is the fall scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Harvest Time and 2 other scenes I’ve completed and written about, Frosty Morning and Mossy Glen, are available as note cards in my shop here.

Harvest Time Puzzles are exclusively available in my Etsy shop.

A project like this generally begins with a concept in my head, where it germinates for a certain amount of time until the image is compelling enough to translate into something real. Sometimes I can visualize an idea right away, but other times it takes months to develop a thought into a clear picture in my imagination. I mulled over this fall piece for a while before hitting on the idea of creating a cross section of an underground root cellar. Then, I was ready to put something down on paper. I made a bunch of thumbnail sketches, which helped solidify the composition. At this stage I didn’t bother with the details. They would come later, when I formed the individual parts.

I enlarged the drawing on the lower right to full size (19″ x 24″), which gave me something to go by throughout the months-long process of making the scene. I thought of it as a guide more than a pattern or template because the design changed, depending on the objects I used and construction techniques I figured out along the way.

To make the tree trunk, I searched through my supply of driftwood and played around with the pieces until I came up with a plausible arrangement. Once I found a curved arch of the right size for the doorway, I could relax and build around it.

Moss covered trees
Last year, when I made Mossy Glen, the spring scene in this series, I devised a method of showing moss growing on wood. It involved using glue, which I don’t normally use because it’s messy and undependable. I also don’t use a glue gun because it’s stringy and shoddy looking and I don’t trust its holding capabilities. But, how else was I going to provide a surface that a needle could catch onto? So, out of necessity and with a fair bit of trepidation, I tried gluing pieces of felt onto the driftwood. And it did the job, without being visible! Aleene’s glue makes a variety of fabric embellishing adhesives that all work well. 

Now came the gloriously obsessive part, when I spent at least a month stitching moss “knots” onto the felt. It might appear tedious, but to me the act of repetitive stitching is heavenly! I’d also like to mention that no fingers or joints were harmed in the process. Here’s a Stitch Minute video that shows how I stitched the knots.

French knots/Colonial knots
It’s been pointed out by people who know such things, that I’m actually making a Colonial knot, not a French knot. It has something to do with the twist at the end. Being self-taught, I’ve never paid attention to the names of different stitches or doing them the “right” way. I just use the basics in combinations that work for me.

Thread
To make the moss, I used DMC cotton floss. The naturalistic appearance comes from combining different shades of green in groups of 3 or 4 strands.

I made doors out of an old wooden sail batten that had washed up onto the beach, sawing and sanding it to fit the opening. The doorknobs are beads sewn through drill holes. I glued felt to the back of the wooden doors and sewed them to a piece of felt. Then, I filled in the area around it with seed stitches.

To open the door a crack, so a little guy could peek out, I layered (glued or stitched, perhaps?) extra felt pieces behind the door. Then, I stitched moss to the felt on both sides of the door.

My work is made up of several parts that eventually come together, so the whole time I worked on the tree trunk, I planned ahead and thought about how it would merge with the other elements yet to be made.

I also wanted to create an inviting entrance for the wee folk to step onto when coming and going.

Stay tuned for more posts about making Harvest Time. Next time, I’ll share photos, commentary and a video about creating the turkey tail mushroom roof over the doorway.

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

Harvest Time – overview

Fall, the glorious time of year that reminds us it’s time to prepare for cold weather, has arrived in New England. Over the coming months, I will be sharing a series of posts with commentary and videos about making Harvest Time, which is a fall themed piece I finished earlier this year. Each story will focus on a different aspect of the process, from stitching moss to needle felting to creating the busy little characters. Part 1 – mossy tree trunk, Part 2 – turkey tail mushroom

I know that many of you refer to the season between summer and winter as “autumn”, but I’m partial to calling it “fall”. To me, saying “autumn” feels as if I’m trying to make a correction when none is necessary. Just saying.

Harvest Time is the fall scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Harvest Time and 2 other scenes I’ve completed and written about, Frosty Morning and Mossy Glen, are available as note cards in my shop here.

Harvest Time Puzzles are exclusively sold in my Etsy shop

From the start, I imagined the fall landscape as a cutaway view, showing both above and below ground. Future posts will give a close look at making the moss covered stump, the area around it and the earth underground, including the tunnel and storage areas.

I will show the process of making the industrious wee folk…

and the storage containers for them to transport their harvest.

There will be a whole post devoted to making this purple mushroom…

and another about creating the underground root cellar.

I’ll write about different ways I embroidered plants…

both flat and 3-dimensional.

I’ll explain how I covered driftwood with mossy French knots…

and filled the felt sky with delicate foliage.

I look forward to delving into this multi-part series with you. Right now, I’m sifting through about a gazillion photos I took along the way. Just like with Frosty Morning and Mossy Glen, there will be a lot of little details to cover!

Harvest Time posts: Part 1 – mossy tree trunk, Part 2 – turkey tail mushroom

Harvest Time was the newest piece to be included in my retrospective exhibition, What a Relief, this past summer. It, and the other landscapes in the seasonal series will be some of the artwork shown in two solo shows in 2023:

SALLEY MAVOR: Once Upon a Stitch
Feb. 18 – June 4, 2023
Upcountry History Museum, Greenville, SC

SALLEY MAVOR: SOCIAL FABRIC
Sept. 30, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024
Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester, VT

Harvest Time 2022

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

Mossy Glen: Part 8 – wee folk

This is the 8th and final part of the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen. All spring I’ve shared photos, videos and commentary about how I created the piece, from stitching moss to forming wire stems. I’ve saved the best for last – today’s post is about making the wee folk characters! 
Part 1 is all about stitching a moss-like texture, Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees, Part 3 is about the stone walls, Part 4 shows how I made the forsythia blossoms, Part 5 features wire and felt leaves, Part 6 is about chain-stitching leaves and Part 7 looks at the violets and berries.

Before delving into how I made the wee folk in Mossy Glen, I’d like to announce the opportunity to see a large selection of my work in person this summer. The exhibition, What a Relief, has been in the works for years and I’m happy to say that its doors are open to the public this week! For those of you who live too far away to come see the show, I’ll be sharing photos and videos of the exhibition in future posts.

WHAT A RELIEF: The Art of Salley Mavor
June 7 – Sept. 11, 2022
Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, ME
Meet the Artist on June 25, 1 – 3 PM

This is the first major retrospective exhibition of my artwork, spanning over 40 years, from early on in my career to the present day. Rarely seen works on loan from private collections fill multiple galleries on the Museum’s entire first floor. The show is laid out somewhat chronologically, so visitors can see the evolution of my style and techniques through the years. Over 150 framed pieces and sculptural objects are on display, including the series of original illustrations from my most recent picture book, MY BED.

What a Relief, Brick Store Museum
What a Relief, Brick Store Museum

Wee Folk in Mossy Glen
Now, let’s turn our attention back to the characters frolicking in the Mossy Glen. I’m never sure who is going to appear in these landscapes. They just show up one by one and claim their spots. After many months building places for the wee folk to live, it feels satisfying to finally meet them and let them take over.

The figures are similar to the acorn-capped dolls in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk, just smaller in scale. Instead of pipe cleaners, I made the armatures with 24 gauge jewelry wire. You have to wind a lot of thread around the wire to make the limbs look proportional and not too spindly. At least you don’t have to deal with pipe cleaner fuzzies poking out.

After wrapping the wire armature with either embroidery floss or tapestry yarn, I embellished the torso and arms with faux knitting. which is basically rows of chain stitching.

I first started experimenting with fake or faux knitting when I made Polly’s Irish sweater by embroidering patterns and textures on felt. I’m not very experienced with knitting or crocheting, so this seemed like a good solution.

Since then, I’ve left out the felt and stitched directly onto the thread wrapped bodies. It’s fussy for sure, but the clothing comes out looking the way I want it to.

Here’s a Stitch Minute video showing some of my faux knitting.

I know this fellow looks uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to hide what he endured for the sake of fashion.

I made this stroller out of wire, which I covered with embroidery floss. The wheels are beads. As usual, I was so absorbed in figuring out how to make it, that I didn’t think to take photos along the way. I’ll try better with the next scene.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series about making Mossy Glen. Here’s a list of the different parts:
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)
Part 4 (forsythia)
Part 5 (wire and felt leaves)
Part 6 (chain stitched leaves)
Part 7 (violets and berries)

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

Mossy Glen: Part 7 – Violets and Berries

In this Part 7 of the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen, I share photos, videos and commentary about how I created violets and berry bushes. Part 1 is all about stitching a moss-like texture, Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees, Part 3 is about the stone walls, Part 4 shows how I made the forsythia blossoms, Part 5 features wire and felt leaves and Part 6 is about chain-stitching leaves.

winding wire stems with embroidery floss

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.


While I write this post, I’m in the midst of preparing for my upcoming retrospective exhibition in Kennebunk, Maine at the Brick Store Museum. Even though I’ve hardly picked up a needle and thread this spring, I’m still being creative, but in a different way. My approach to curating this show is similar to how I imagine and labor over my artwork. It’s all about taking a lot of small details and arranging them in a way that contributes to the story. The exhibition, What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor will tell the story of my evolution as an artist, from childhood to today. Just like my art, this exhibit will be very busy, with a ton of original 3-dimensional pieces to eye as closely as you like. As my husband Rob says, “With Salley’s art, more is more.”

Early work from the 80’s and 90’s on loan for the exhibition, What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor.

What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine, (June 7 – Sept. 11, 2022). I will be there on Sat., June 25th from 1 – 3 pm for a meet and greet and book-signing event.

The retrospective exhibition will feature a large selection of my artwork, spanning over 40 years, from early on to the present day. Over 100 pieces from my collection and rarely seen works on loan from private collections will fill walls a cases in multiple galleries on the museum’s entire first floor. Original picture book illustrations, including the entire series from my most recent book, MY BED will also be shown.

Now back to the patch of violets, which appear in the lower left foreground of Mossy Glen. I chose violets because I thought a dark leafed plant would bring some weight to the bottom of the composition. I also wanted something larger scale, to offset all of the itty bitty berries and leaves.

I constructed the leaves out of wool felt and wire and embroidered the veins.

You can see the process of making the leaves in this Stitch Minute video.

After sewing the leaves to the background fabric, I stitched flowers with silk ribbon.

I created stems with wire, silk ribbon and embroidery floss.

The silk ribbon was so fun to use that I couldn’t resist adding some “grass” to the bottom edge.

Scattered throughout Mossy Glen are berry bushes, which I make with wire, glass beads and embroidery floss.

You can see how I form wire and bead berry bushes in this Stitch Minute video.

Wire and glass bead berry bush

At this stage of the project, I picked out some upholstery fabric from my stash and used it to cover the stretcher frames. It hurts my brain to try to explain why and how it’s done, but the process involves cotton padding and lots of contorted hand sewing, kind of like upholstering a piece of furniture. In putting the covered stretcher on top, I’m basically freeing up an extra 1/2″ of depth that would normally be wasted behind the stretched fabric.

I then stapled the background fabric to the back of the covered stretcher and started assembling the pieces on top, inside the upholstered border frame.

Stay tuned for a final post about making the wee folk characters in Mossy Glen.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)
Part 4 (forsythia)
Part 5 (wire and felt leaves)
Part 6 (chain stitched leaves)

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

Mossy Glen: Part 6 – stitched leaves

Before delving into Part 6 in the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen, Id like to give you a preview of Harvest Time, the fall landscape that I just finished making. For the past 6 months, I’ve documented its progress on Facebook and/or Instagram and I look forward to later sharing photos and videos about making the scene on this blog, too.

Harvest Time in my studio

The fall scene shows a cutaway view, with a tree stump dwelling above ground and tunnel storage spaces underground. It took way longer to make than I’d planned, which may have to do with the insane amount of mossy French knots on the stump.

Stump Dwelling for Harvest Time

The 3 seasons I’ve completed so far, winter, spring and fall, will be included in this summer’s exhibition, What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine, (June 7 – Sept. 11, 2022). I will be there on Sat., June 25th from 1 – 3 pm for a meet and greet and book-signing. The retrospective exhibition will feature a large selection of my artwork, spanning over 40 years, from early on to the present day. Pieces from my collection and rarely seen works on loan from private collections will fill multiple galleries on the museum’s entire first floor. Original picture book illustrations, including the entire series from my most recent book, MY BED will also be shown.

Wee Folk Forager for Harvest Time

Now back to Mossy Glen – In this Part 6, I share photos, videos and commentary about how I created the chain stitched leaves. Part 1 is all about stitching a moss-like texture, Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees, Part 3 is about the stone walls, Part 4 shows how I made the forsythia blossoms and Part 5 features wire and felt leaves.

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.

To rest the eye from all of the 3-dimensional busyness in this scene, I mixed in flat chain stitched designs. They’re also busy, but the overall effect is calmer. While I work on a piece, I’m constantly aware of how its composition, color, texture and depth direct the eye. Maybe that’s why I never get bored – there’s always something to consider about the next step in the process. I’m often asked if I listen to books on tape while stitching, as if it’s a mindless activity. There’s no way I could follow a story and give my artwork the attention it needs. There are too many decisions to make along the way!

I chain stitched the leaf shapes with cotton flower thread. Its matte finish is different from the glossy sheen of cotton embroidery floss, which I used to wrap the wire stem. DMC flower thread is no longer available, but if you’re interested, Dutch Treat Designs has some of the discontinued thread in stock. 

Watch how I chain stitched around and around the leaf shape with gradated colors in this Stitch Minute video.

Stitch Minute – chain stitching leaves

Sometimes I mark lines on the felt with a chalk pencil or basting, but mostly I eyeball the designs. Here’s another Stitch Minute video, showing the smaller chain stitched leaves.

Stitch Minute – chain stitching leaves

I also made ferns with strung together fly stitches.

To make the ferns pop, I underlined one side with a darker shade of green.

To see me stitching the ferns, including a fiddle head, watch this Stitch Minute video.

Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Other parts in the series will focus on other plants, embroidered embellishments and the wee folk characters.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)
Part 4 (forsythia)
Part 5 (felt and wire leaves)

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

Mossy Glen – part 5: Leaves

In this Part 5 of the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen, I share photos, videos and commentary about how I created the leaves. Part 1 is all about stitching a moss-like texture, Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees, Part 3 is about the stone walls and Part 4 shows how I made the forsythia blossoms.

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.

Spring is the season when nature shows its most attractive side, when every new leaf and bud is a delight to behold. The undergrowth is neat and tidy, with manageable mossy lawns and tiny plants just starting to emerge in the miniature landscape. It’s when I go scouting for places to photograph my wee folk characters outside, like Polly’s Washing Day, which is a note card in my shop here.

Polly’s Washing Day note card

When planning out Mossy Glen, I pictured hillsides in different shades of light green, punctuated with 3-dimensional leaves.

I made separate leaves with wool felt and wire, which you can watch in this Stitch Minute Video.

Stitch Minute – Leaf

I made branches of wire wrapped with embroidery floss, which I embellished with glass seed beads.

To add more stability to the larger leaves, I made the center vein with wire. All of the wire is covered with thread to hide the shiny metal.

I made long skinny leaves to go around the pond.

Even though the leaves had wire all around the outside edges and along the center veins, they weren’t rigid enough to keep them airborne and separate from the background pond fabric. So, I sewed blue tube beads to the undersides of the leaves, giving them the needed lift. Then, I sewed the beads to the pond fabric.

I also made bushes with felt leaves, wire branches and bead berries.

You can see the process of making the bush is this Stitch Minute Video.

Stitch Minute – Bush

This bush was one of the last parts I made for the scene and when it was finished, I eagerly sewed it in place. But every time I looked at the completed piece, I felt that something was off with the color and contrast of the bush. It blended in with the background and didn’t stand out enough. So, I did what I’ve done many other times when I’m not satisfied with how something looks, I snipped the thread holding the bush in place and figured out how to improve it.

In this case, I brightened the leaf edges with yellow thread, which created a vibrant striped effect. I also outlined the leaf veins with light green to heighten the contrast. It was fussy work because the threads kept getting caught on the branches and beads. But, in the end I was happy with the results, which is all that mattered.

Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Other parts in the series will focus on other plants, embroidered embellishments and the wee folk characters.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)
Part 4 (forsythia)

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

Mossy Glen – part 4: forsythia

In this Part 4 of the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen, I share photos and commentary about how I created the sweeping forsythia bush that arches above the hillside. Part 1 is all about stitching a moss-like texture, Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees and Part 3 is about how I incorporated stone walls into the scene.

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.

Before we escape into Mossy Glen’s land of innocence, I want to acknowledge what’s happening in the real world. The shocking and merciless attack on Ukraine by the Russian military is just too horrible to ignore. At times like this, I find it helpful to channel my distress into art. In this case, I already had images to work with. All I had to do was rearrange the photos and present them in context. So, this past week, on International Women’s Day, I posted the following image in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The response on Facebook and Instagram was immediate and heartfelt, so I’m sharing it here as well. The group of portraits, featuring a Ukrainian in a traditional folk costume in the center, are some of the 48 women from around the world in my 2016 piece, Cover Up, which you can see and read about here.

In Solidarity with Ukraine

Forsythia
One of the first signs of spring around here, besides snowdrops and daffodils are the telltale splashes of yellow forsythia bushes. They’re only noticeable for a few weeks, before leafing out and blending in with every other nondescript mass of leggy branches along the roadside. When forsythia are in full blossom, though, they are an important marker of the changing season.

Once I decided to make a forsythia bush, I had to figure out how to construct the different parts. The wire branches would be straightforward, but the flowers needed a new approach. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to replicate them perfectly, so I thought of ways to give the impression of delicate blossoms.

After experimenting with different threads and yarns and finding the flowers too droopy and clumsy, I tried silk ribbon. The petals perked right up and held their shape!

The process of forming the flowers was quite fussy. It’s much easier to show than tell how, so here’s a Stitch Minute video to give you the basics.

Forsythia

The silk ribbon I used is from Silk Road Fibers. They have a ton of different colors.

I filled the wire branches with about 100 flowers and buds.

Then I wrapped brown embroidery floss around the branches, covering the messy wire stems.

The stems were still a bit bumpy, so I wrapped more layers with 2 or 3 strands of floss, until they were smooth like this.

Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Other parts in the series will focus on the leaves, embroidered embellishments and the wee folk characters.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)

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Mossy Glen: Part 3 – stone walls

In this Part 3 of the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen, I share photos and commentary about how I incorporated stone walls into the scene. Part 1 is all about making moss and Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees.

Why did I use real stones instead of making them with felt, as I did for Frosty Morning, (which you can see here)? I’ve asked myself the same question and have no clear answer, besides a feeling that real stones somehow balanced out and matched the realness of the wooden doorways.

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.

I first time I used real stones in my artwork was in 1995 for the picture book, Mary had a Little Lamb. I can remember sitting on the beach, sifting through the sand for small flat stones to use in the garden scene. When it came time to glue them to the background fabric, I was a nervous wreck, afraid of dropping glue in the wrong place by mistake and ruining all my work.

This time, I found more stones than sand to sift through at the beach.

Woodneck Beach, Falmouth, MA

I came home with a varied selection of stones, ranging in size from 1/2″ to 1 1/4″. They needed to be thin so they wouldn’t be too heavy and flat on the back so the glue would have a surface to adhere to.

As I played around with their arrangement, I decided to add a mossy felt section to the composition, which I embellished with silk ribbon. This ribbon is made by Silk Road Fibers.

One downside of using glue is that once you’ve cemented something in place, that’s where it stays. I’d rather have the flexibility to move parts around, so I glued stones to individual pieces of felt. That way, I could make adjustments as I built the wall. It’s a lot easier to rip out a bunch of stitches than move a glued object.
Aleene’s makes a variety of fabric embellishing adhesives that all work well. Do I use hot glue? No, because it’s stringy, messy, shoddy looking and I don’t trust its holding capabilities.

Once the stones and their felt backings were sewn in place, I covered the felt and filled in the cracks with a gazillion french knots, making a carpet of moss.

As with the moss in other parts of the Mossy Glen (that you can see here), I combined different shades of green embroidery floss to give it a naturalistic appearance.

As I stitched french knots around the stones, I realized that the mossy wall was too plain and would look better with something growing in front of it.

So, I formed a vine out of wire, silk ribbon and embroidery floss. Even though I documented the process with photos, it’s hard to remember exactly how I made it. All I know is that the silk ribbon loopy leaves came first and then I covered the wire and ribbon with embroidery floss. In my head, can hear my mother’s voice saying that the floss covered a multitude of sins.

I sewed the vine in place in the spaces between the stones.

I expanded the Mossy Glen neighborhood to include another stony bank with 2 more doorways.

This time, I glued the stones directly to the background fabric because I was more confident about their placement.

When I stitched around the stones, I left some room between the knots, so the blue green felt showed through. Again, I thought the hillside was too plain, so I stitched a few plants with silk ribbon.

As I embellished around the stones, I periodically checked the positioning of the moss covered wooden doorways, to make sure that they fit OK.

Here’s a photo showing the back of the hillside, with a green felt strip along the top edge. It’s kind of like piping without a cord filler inside.

I added the green strip along the top of the mound to create a space for blades of grass. In contrast to the myriad of greens, I used bright warm colors to stitch the grass.

Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Other parts in the series will focus on the forsythia bush, leaves, embroidered embellishments and the wee folk characters.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 4 (forsythia)

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