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.

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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!

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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.

Bed book peek: Pony

Today, I’m happy to give a behind the scenes peek at how I made this pony, which is used as a spot illustration on the Mongolian spread in my new picture book, MY BED. The story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world was published in Sept. 2020.

The pony is also pictured with all of the other animal icons on the book’s end-papers. If you’d like to see posts about making the other animals, please follow the links below: RoosterCamelParrotElephantGoldfishCatDuckSheepRabbitCow,
 Crocodile, Giraffe, Dog.

A touring exhibition of my original embroidered artwork for the book is traveling around the United States. Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches will next be shown at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA, Sept. 15 – Dec. 31, 2021. Then, the the exhibition will head to the Midwest, to the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE, Jan 25 – April 10, 2022 . The five year tour schedule is listed here.

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.

I’ll start off by showing this video, which brings you through the different steps of the pony making process, complete with Mongolian zither music in the background.

Making the Mongolian pony for the book, MY BED

in this series of still photographs, I’ll try to explain what I’m doing. As I’ve said before, I work intuitively, so it can be a challenge to describe the process in exact terms. For most of the animals in the book, I bent a pipe cleaner to form an outline shape. Then, I wrapped the legs, using the same technique that’s taught in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk,

This part is all about building up the body with layers of felt. First, I sewed on a back piece and used scraps of felt to fill the cavity until it was a good thickness.

This is the point where I “upholster” the front of the animal with a piece of felt. There isn’t a supporting photograph because I consistently forget to take a picture of this part. It must be because I’m always consumed in the heat of battle. Just imagine the back as a maze of crisscrossing threads, all working to get rid of any bumps or folds.

Well, after the animal shape looked the way I wanted it to, I sewed on a seed bead eye and embroidered a mane.

I can’t remember how I made the top of the mane where it sticks up, but it could have been several rows of blanket stitching.

To make the tail, I covered the pipe cleaner with embroidery floss.

Research was an important and fun part of illustrating this book. To make an accurate representation, I looked at photographs of real Mongolian ponies, with their colorful, decorative saddles.

It took a while to make the right placement of the ear.

With its bridle in place, the pony was almost ready to go.

All it needed was a brass bead stirrup, which you can see in the last photo.

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The Way Home Giveaway

Book – The Way Home

30 years ago in the spring of 1991, The Way Home was published! It was the first picture book for either of us, the author Judy Richardson and me. To mark the occasion, I’m offering a Giveaway of 4 autographed paperback copies! Please find out the eligibility requirements and how to enter the contest at the end of this post.

UPDATE: Congratulations to the 4 Giveaway winners! – Melissa Hopkins, Gerry Bates, Nancy deVillers and Lisa Hunter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s comments about your favorite books from childhood. Out of the 363 entries, there was a wide range of books mentioned from well known ones to more obscure titles. Classics like The Secret Garden, Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows, The Borrowers, Pippi Longstockings, Madeline, and Black Beauty were popular. Several people shared their memories of the Little Golden Books, which were sold for 25 cents at the super market. I encourage you to read through the comments to get the true depth and breadth of the influence of children’s books. Thank you to all of you who participated!

The book has long been out of print, so this is a rare opportunity to have your own copy. I’ve previously written about our first adventure in children’s book publishing, from inception to completion, in an in-depth series of posts about The Way Home. Those of you who’ve been following my blog from the start will be familiar with the series, but I think newer subscribers will enjoy the story too! Links are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

in my studio with the finished illustrations from “The Way Home” 1990

This recent message from Chelsea spurred me on do something to recognize the 30 year mark. “I am still in awe of your work 30 plus years later. I grew up with the images of Savi the Elephant from The Way Home as one of the most magical children’s books I’ve ever seen. I’m actually expecting my first baby this fall. My beloved copy of The Way Home may be a bit worn but it will be a centerpiece for the theme of our little one’s room.”

Judy Richardson and I are still good friends and see each other often. Here we are in 1991 with Bella the elephant at the Barnstable County Fair and 30 years later.

Judy and Salley with Bella the elephant at the Barnstable County Fair, 1991
Judy and Salley 30 years later

Information about the book Giveaway:

Who is eligible? Residents of the United States of America. (Apologies to my international fans, but the cost of shipping is too dear.)
How do I enter? Leave a comment on this post that mentions a favorite children’s book from your childhood, by May 31, 2021. Comments on Instagram or Facebook will not be considered. Good Luck!

4 winners will be picked at random on June 1st. I will contact the winners and mail them the autographed paperback copies of The Way Home.

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.

MY BED: night sky – part 4

This is the 4th and final part in the series about making the night sky illustration for my new picture book, My Bed. In this spread, all of the children are tucked in bed, hovering among the stars in the night sky. Today, I will show how I made the miniature versions of the children and beds from Russia and North America.

But first, I have some GOOD NEWS on the exhibition front! A new museum has just confirmed that they will be hosting the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition in 2024. The Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, NY will show Bedtime Stitches, as well as Social Fabric, a collection of other pieces I’ve made over the past 20 years. This all came about because a longtime fan contacted the museum in her home town of Albany about showing my work. Thank you Janny! This proves that the combination of your enthusiasm, along with local connections can get results.

Bedtime Stitches is currently at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, IL through May 30th, 2021. To see the tour schedule, please visit the Exhibitions Page.

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.

For the night sky scene, I made a smaller version of the traditional “stove bed” ” like the one in the Russian scene. Besides its use for domestic heating, people slept on top of the masonry to keep warm.

To start, I cut felt in the shape of the stove and embroidered the details. The fire box door is appliqued black felt, with a metal hook for the handle and black seed beads for the hinges. I edged the stove and bed platform pieces with blanket stitches and sewed them together. To keep it from being too floppy, I stitched wire all around the outside edges. You can’t see the wire because it’s wrapped with thread.

I made a mini version of the sleeping girl, braids and all.

Then, I created a snug place for the girl to lie down. The back wall and curtain are made of felt and the scalloped edge along the top is thread wrapped wire. Then, I added a wire curl of smoke coming out of the chimney top. The last touch was a stack of seed beads “logs” inside the wood box.

I also replicated in miniature the bed and child from the North American scene. For comparison, you can see how I made the full size illustration here.

i simplified the quilt pattern into a grid of squares made with 4 or 5 horizontal or vertical stitches.

As with the other sleeping dolls, I only had to make the top portion of the child’s body.

The bed posts are tube beads topped off with round beads. I glued wire inside the beads to hold them together. The head and foot boards are made of felt.

Here she is, ready to join the other children!

I hope that you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes at how I made some of the tiniest beds in MY BED. The other posts in the night sky series are:
Part 1 – North Africa and Holland
Part 2 – Scandinavia and Japan
Part 3 – India, South America and Afghanistan

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.

MY BED: night sky – part 3

This is part 3 in the series about making the night sky illustration for my new picture book, My Bed. In this spread, all of the children are tucked in bed, hovering among the stars in the night sky. Today, I will show how I made the miniature versions of the beds from India, South America and Afghanistan.

Update: 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.

Rebecca Bond’s words say, “Can you see me in my bed? I fit so nicely, toe to head.” The open-ended nature of these 2 simple sentences is a picture book illustrator’s dream. They give the cozy feeling of a child in their bed, without any annoying descriptions. There’s just enough information to use as a jumping off point. Generally, with picture books, the words set up the trajectory of a story and the illustrator’s job is to provide the visual details. I can’t remember exactly how I came up with the idea of having all the beds float in space above a silhouetted night skyline. It just seemed like a good way to bring together all of the children from around the world, as well as make a fun eye spy game.

The Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition of the original artwork for the book is currently at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, IL. The exhibition will be there until May 2, 2021. To see the tour schedule, please visit the Exhibitions Page.

To make miniature versions of the beds featured throughout the book, I had to simplify the designs quite a bit. In the case of the child in India, who’s bed is partially seen through an open window in the illustration below, I reduced the scale of the bed and stylized the mosquito net.

I embroidered a geometric pattern on felt for the bed covering…

and fashioned the mosquito net canopy on felt, with wire and embroidery. What would I do without the blanket stitch?

The children sleeping in hammocks in the S. American scene are about 3 1/2 inches from head to toe.

For the mini version, I shrunk the girl down to about 1 1/4 inches tall.

I made a thatched roof for her little hammock to hang underneath. Luckily, I had some straw silk from Silk Road Fibers on hand.

It was a lot easier to replicate the child sleeping on a floor mattress from the Afghanistan scene.

The printed floral pattern was too large in scale for the mini quilt, so I reproduced the flowers and leaves with simple embroidery stitches on a piece of felt.

Here she is, already sleep.

The whole time I was making the children and their beds in miniature form, I thought back to re-imagining the full size outfits depicted in my Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion. By the way, a note card of this detail from the piece is available in my shop.

detail from Self Portrait : A Personal History of Fashion 2007

I hope that you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes at how I made some of the tiniest beds in MY BED. Please stay tuned for Part 4, which will feature more beds in the night sky scene. Previous posts in this series include Part 1 and Part 2.

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.

MY BED: night sky – part 2

This is part 2 in the series about making the night sky illustration for my new picture book, My Bed. It’s like a finale at the end, with all of the children and their beds hovering above the nighttime skyline. Today, I will give a behind the scenes peek at how I made the miniature versions of the Scandinavian children sleeping in their cubby style bunk bed and the Japanese child on his futon. Part 1 covered the mini children from N. Africa and Holland.

Update: 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.

The tiny beds floating in the night sky represent different children, beds and regions of the world that are featured individually throughout the book. To make the mini Scandinavian bunk bed, I simplified and shrunk down the bed frame to the point where it wouldn’t look too unwieldy next to the other beds. You can read about making the full size artwork (below) for the Scandinavian scene here.

Scandinavian scene in MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep Around the World

I painted their faces on really tiny (3/8″) wooden beads and added embroidery floss hair. I think these are some of the smallest braids I’ve ever made. The doll wigs in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures are larger and more manageable than this.

Scale-wise the figures were too big for the bed, but I was determined to fit them in their cubbies nonetheless. The absence of legs helped a lot.

I cut sections of the bed frame out of wool felt and pieced them together on top of a background layer. As usual, everything was edged with blanket stitching. To create depth in the frame, I stacked layers of felt.

I stitched wire around the outside edge to smooth out the bumps and give it a crisp, architectural look.

After making eiderdown quilts and polka-dot curtains, I put the children to bed.

To finish it off, I made a mini ladder with wire and covered it with embroidery floss.

Duplicating the Japanese futon in miniature was easy compared to the bunk bed. To see how I made the full size artwork (below) for the Japanese scene, click here.

I made the the top half of the child’s body and then a futon mattress and pillow for him to sleep on.

Because the scale was all off, I couldn’t use the same blue fabric to make the quilt, so I embroidered a reduced version of the pattern on felt.

I hope that you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes at how I made some of the tiniest beds in MY BED. Please stay tuned for more posts about different beds in the night sky scene. See Part 1 here.

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.