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.

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My Bed: night sky- part 1

This is the first in a series of posts that will show how I made the night sky illustration for my new picture book, My Bed. The spread appears near the end of the story, with all of the children from around the world sleeping in their beds, floating in a starry sky above a silhouetted town. By the time I made this scene, I was about 2 years into the project and had gotten used to taking photos of almost every little step along the way. So, there’s a lot of material to share, which is divided into several parts that I’ll write about over the next few weeks. You can see a list of posts about making the other illustrations for the book on this page.

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 Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition is currently at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, IL. This is an opportunity for those of you in the middle of the country to see the original bas-relief embroidered artwork for MY BED. The exhibition will be there until May 2, 2021. To see the tour schedule, please visit the Exhibitions Page.

Bedtime Stitches exhibit at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mt. Vernon, IL

Thank you to those of you who’ve reached out to museums in your area to tell them about the exhibit. This strategy has resulted in several bookings! In fact, I’m in the process of working out the details with a curator who heard about my show from a fan who’s eager to see my artwork in person. As soon as the dates are confirmed, this museum will be added to the tour schedule.

Way back in the beginning, I sketched out the pages of the book. For the finished illustration, I rearranged the beds at bit, keeping in mind not to loose any children in the gutter. That’s where the pages are bound together in the center, which is marked with a vertical line on the drawing.

First, I made houses and trees out of black felt for the silhouetted landscape. I found some shiny golden fabric in my stash and sewed it behind the cutout openings for the windows and doorways. To help define the buildings and trees, I stitched wire around the outside edges.

Then, I started making miniature versions of the characters and beds pictured throughout the book. Since they are so tiny, I simplified the designs to include important and recognizable features. This one represents the child sleeping on the roof in the North African scene.

To make these reduced scale versions, I had to substitute smaller parts such as red seed beads for the roof tiles.

The girl’s pink nightie is made out of the same old handkerchief that I used to make the larger version in the North African scene. As you can see, the sleeves are not fabric, but embroidery floss wrapped around her wire arms.

I made the head and foot boards of another bed with wire and tube beads.

This is a different interpretation of the child who appears several times in the book – on the title page and in the scene that shows a house full of animal icons. The orange pajamas and star covered quilt are the giveaway.

For the boy in the scene set in Holland, I didn’t even try to duplicate the houseboat in such small scale, but instead made a boat bed for him to sleep in.

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.

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.

Making My Bed video

My husband Rob and I are pleased to announce the release of our new 8 minute documentary about making the artwork for my picture book, MY BED. It’s an inside view into my process and motivations, showing in words, video, and photos how I approached the project from start to finish. I hope that you enjoy the film! Please feel free to share it with your family and friends.

8 minute documentary about how Salley Mavor made the artwork for her picture book, MY BED.

We had planned to produce the film earlier, to coincide with the publication of the book in September. But, there were so many other pressing things to do, such as prepare for the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition, which included building frames for the artwork. Now that the exhibition has started traveling for the next few years, we could concentrate on the film.

Thank goodness for the quiet of winter! I don’t know how I would survive without the pace of the external world slowing down for a few months every year. Over the past several weeks, we focused our attention on writing and recording the script and sorting through a gazillion photos and videos. Our good friend Bonnie Simon, who produces Maestro Classics: Stories in Music kindly agreed to help edit the script and be the narrator.

We had about 3 years of material to review. I’ve documented the process in photos from the beginning and Rob took videos during the last year or so. I constantly pestered him to stop what he was doing and come take a video of me working on different stages of the process. He had to set up lights and other equipment, so it was no simple task. Even though it was a nuisance, he filmed some good shots that added a lot to the movie. The following photos appear in the movie at different parts of the storytelling.

To make the animated title sequence, we set up a camera facing down at a table top. We were a stop-motion animation team – I moved the pieces of thread little by little, while Rob snapped the camera.

We also filmed an arrangement of found objects from my collection. It was a simple slide, not stop-motion animation this time. That would be whole other movie!

Rob did a marvelous job editing the movie on his computer. He started with the speaking parts to set the timing and then added photos and videos that corresponded with the narration. After he had completed a draft of visuals and sound, we sent it to Matthias Bossi at Stellwagen Symphonette for the musical underscore. They wrote the music and sound effects for our film Liberty and Justice and we were thrilled to work with them again.

Rob and I are excited to share the fruits of our labor with you! The Making My Bed video can be watched and shared on YouTube here.
Autographed copies of the book, MY BED are available in my shop here.

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Bed book peek: title page

For the past 3 years, I’ve shared the process of making the illustrations for my new picture book My Bed. Even though we all stayed home, it feels as if we’ve been on an international journey together, into the homes of children around the world. To date, I’ve written 45 posts about different aspects of how I made the book, including double page spreads and animal spot illustrations. Every time I write a post in this series, I think that we must being nearing the end. Then I discover more digital images in forgotten folders. So, it looks like there’s enough material to keep the Bed Book Peeks gong for for a bit longer. To see a complete list of posts in the series, please go to this page.

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.

Today’s post is about the title page. Unlike the lush scenes inside the book, which totally fill up a page and a half, this artwork was made to float on a white background. I thought of it as a minimal stage set, with a few props and a window suspended in space. That way, the book designer had the flexibility to adjust the positioning of the pieces to accommodate the type layout. I also requested an open area on the page for drawing a picture and signing the book.

BED: I built the bed’s head and foot boards out of beads and wire. To hide the shiny wire and make it blend in with the bead color, I covered it with embroidery floss. After making the basic frame, I sewed the bead rungs inside the wire.

I made a mattress out of felt, sewed the boards to the head and foot of the bed and added bead legs. The bed is foreshortened to give the illusion that the foot board is standing upright.

The foreshortened bed is easier to see in this side view.

I made a tiny child, who I tucked in bed, with a pillow and a star covered quilt.

Window: First, I constructed a window out of felt and beads. Then, I fashioned a valance style curtain out of wire wrapped with pink embroidery floss. I filled in the the curtain loops with cross hatched embroidery floss, which was like weaving a lattice topped pie.

Rug: I chain-stitched a smiling sun on a green felt rug, to contrast with the night sky in the window and the star covered quilt .

Lamp: In keeping with the celestial theme, I made a lamp out of a star button to put atop a bedside table.

After the bed, table, window and rug were photographed for reproduction, I needed to find a way to display the them in Bedtime Stitches, the exhibition of original artwork for the book. I decided to mount the bedroom set along with a larger star, which I made for a different part of the book.

I arranged the items on the green felt in the center of the back cover illustration. You can see how I made the border in another post here. I couldn’t just leave the open areas plain, so I doodled a bunch of chain-stitched curly cues.

The touring exhibition of original artwork for MY BED, SALLEY MAVOR: Bedtime Stories will next be at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mount Vernon, IL, Feb. 28 – May 5, 2021. This is an opportunity for the public to see up close the fine detail and 3-dimensional quality of my bas-relief sculptural embroideries. The show is currently booked at several museums through June 2023 with the possibility of being extended into 2024. The current tour schedule is listed on this page. Interested museums are welcome to contact me (salley at weefolkstudio.com) for information about hosting the exhibition.

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

Bed book peek: Dog

Today, I’m happy to give a behind the scenes peek at how I made this dog, which is used as a spot illustration 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. 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 Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, in Mt. Vernon, IL from Feb. 28 to May 5, 2021. The tour schedule is listed here.

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 dog joins all of the other animal icons on the book’s endpapers. If you’d like to see posts about making the other animal icons for the book, please follow the links below: RoosterCamelParrotElephantGoldfishCatDuckSheepRabbitCowCrocodile, Giraffe.

Forming the dog: After drawing a simple dog shape, I bent a pipe cleaner to match the outline. Then I wrapped the legs and tail with embroidery floss, using the same technique that I teach in my how-to book of doll projects, Felt Wee Folk.

Backing: I sewed a felt scrap to the back of the pipe cleaner, cutting the felt to fit as I stitched around the whole body.

Padding: I padded the inside of the body by layering and sewing small scraps of felt inside the pipe cleaner edge. It didn’t matter what color the backing and padding was since it’ll be hidden inside.

Body front: At this point, I must have been so engrossed in adding the top layer of felt that I forgot to take photos until the whole body was covered. So, I’ll try to explain what I did. I cut out a piece of felt that was about 3/8″ bigger than the dog shape. Then, I folded the felt over the pipe cleaner edge and stitched it to the backing. To make it nice and tight, I went around several times, until the head and body where clearly defined. I cut and stitched the felt closely around the legs and tail to make them fit.

Ears, nose, eyes: I stitched a mouth with embroidery floss and sewed on seed beads for an eye and nose. For the ear, I cut out a separate piece of felt, edged it with blanket stitches and sewed it to the head. I chain-stitched a collar and sewed on a bead for a dog tag.

Fur: The dog’s body looked rather plain, so gave it a furry texture using mending wool. I’m glad I kept a collection of vintage cards that were found in a relative’s dresser drawers. They’re from the days when people actually darned moth holes.

Tail: To make the tail look more tail-like, I covered the wrapped pipe cleaner with other stitches.

The dog appears on the back cover of the book. You can see a previous post about making the border here. Stay tuned for more peeks behind the scenes!

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.

Bedtime Stitches at the Cahoon Museum

Cahoon Museum of American Art, Cotuit, MA

For the past month, things have been very busy around here, with the publication of my new picture book, MY BED and the debut of the touring exhibition, Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, MA (through Dec. 19, 2020). To plan your visit and register for timed entry, go here. For those of you who live too far to visit, do not fret! The museum has put much of the exhibition on their website here. You can also scroll through this post and see many, many pictures of the show.

The Bedtime Stitches exhibition is booked through 2024, the the possibility of more locations being added. I wish I could wave a magic and send it all over the country, but I’m limited by how many years I want to keep the collection in circulation, as well as reliant on the interest and financial support of museums and curators. If you want the show to travel close to where you live, please talk it up with a museum in your area. Enthusiasm from local members of the community can make a difference. That’s how a few of the locations already on the tour heard about the opportunity. Museums are welcome to contact me (salley at weefolkstudio.com) for information about hosting the exhibit. To find out about the book and see the tour schedule, please go here.

Sarah Jonson – Director and Curator

Bedtime Stitches has been years in the planning and I feel so fortunate to have had the support and encouragement of the Cahoon Museum along the way. When the pandemic caused it’s closing earlier this year and the museum had to cancel its major summer exhibition, they remained committed to my show this fall, even lengthening its duration. I’m impressed by the staff’s professionalism, dedication and resourcefulness in carrying out the museum’s mission which states that it “celebrates American art in ways that expand knowledge, enrich the spirit, and engage the heart.” Museum Director Sarah Johnson was even able to secure the sponsorship of the Coby Foundation, which funds projects in the textile and needle arts field!

Annie Dean – Special Projects Consultant

Because of Special Project Consultant Annie Dean’s careful planning, we were able to get the show installed without a hitch. Michelle Law was brought in to hang the artwork and wall panels and expertly apply the title decals, which can be tricky to do.

Michelle Law – Art installation specialist

Since Bedtime Stitches opened a few weeks ago, I’ve heard from many locals who’ve been to see the show. Thank you for going! For everybody who lives too far, I’ve posted several slide shows with photos of the gallery, the artwork and the wall panels.

Slide Show of the main gallery at the Cahoon Museum:

MY BED original artwork
The touring exhibition features all 18 original bas-relief embroidered illustrations for my picture book, MY BED. The pieces are presented behind glass in cherry wood shadow box frames that my husband Rob made this past summer.

The scenes I made for the book have 2 lives:
1. As Illustrations: The original embroidered pieces were photographed and reproduced in the book, MY BED.
2. As Framed Artwork: I added fabric borders, signed and dated each piece and put them in frames.Then they were ready to be hung on the wall and exhibited, so that people could experience the detail and 3-dimensional quality of the “real thing”.

I am glad to be able to share my work in both printed and original form, so that it’s accessible to a variety of audiences, young and old, from near and far.

Slide Show of finished pieces with borders:

Wall Panels
This slide show includes an Introduction, Bio and a series of mounted boards that describe in words and pictures how I approached illustrating My Bed, from the initial sketches to the many stages of creating the 3-dimensional scenes that are reproduced in the book. The series of panels highlights different aspects of my working methods and gives glimpses into my thought process as I made choices along the way.

Only at the Cahoon Museum
In addition to showing the original artwork for MY BED and the information panels that comprise the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition, the Cahoon Museum has devoted space in the gallery to displaying rarely seen items from my studio. To give a historical context to the development of my art, they wanted to show work from my childhood to my art school days to the present day. Included are my doll house, fairy houses, self portrait and other 3-dimensional figures and scenes which you can see in this slide show:

You can also see my mini tributes to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (See how I made Ruth here.) and Climate Change activist Greta Thunberg (See how I made Greta here.)


The 40 page picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0-544-94906-5. It is available through booksellers everywhere. Autographed copies are sold at Eight Cousins Books, the Cahoon Museum and my Etsy Shop.

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

MY BED is officially launched!

I’m happy to finally report that MY BED is officially released today, Sept. 8th! Thank you to all of you who pre-ordered signed copies of the book. Please be patient while I process 500+ orders and make a gazillion trips to the post office. I hope to get most of them out this week. Some of you may have received yours already, as I jumped the gun a bit and sent out some ahead of schedule. (Don’t tell my publisher!)
You can order signed copies in my shop here.

The book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World takes the viewer on an international journey, showing where children sleep in varying cultures and living environments around the world. I like to think that it will help both children and adults view the world as a good place.

In creating the illustrations for My Bed, I feel as if I’ve gotten to visit all the children in the places they live around the globe, even though I stayed home. Author Rebecca Bond wrote a poem that celebrates our differences, while also bringing us together through the universal theme of children sleeping in their safe little beds. When making the artwork for each of the featured locations, I thought about what makes each child’s bed and home unique, as well as warm and welcoming. My aim was to portray a distinct sense of place for each culture, using architecture, furnishings, and landscapes as guides. I researched the different regions, looking at photos of children and their living situations, both inside and out, now and in the past.

I started working on the illustrations over 4 years ago, but after the 2016 election I put it aside for a year and a half and delved into political satire with the Wee Folk Players and the stop-motion animated film, Liberty and Justice. Looking back, this period has been the most trans-formative, both personally and professionally. Through the twists and turns of the past few years, I’ve learned that sharing my vision, whether it be in a precious, poignant or provocative way, is important.

Liberty and Justice – stop-motion animated film

Many of you have followed along through the process of making the scenes for the book. And there’s more to come! Throughout the fall, I will be posting stories and pictures about different aspects of the illustrations. Up until now, I haven’t posted images of the whole scenes, just details and process photos. But now that the book is out, I’ll show a few. For a full list of posts about making each scene, click here.

Click here to find out how I made the scene from Afghanistan.

Click here to see posts about how I made the Dutch scene.

Click here for a peek at making the South American scene.

Click here to see how I made the Indian scene.

BEDTIME STITCHES Exhibition
And there’s more exciting news! Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches, the touring exhibition of original embroidered artwork for the book debuts at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, MA. The exhibition will be there from Sept. 11 – Dec. 19, 2020. To ensure a safe and welcoming experience when you visit, please pre-register for timed entry. Masks will also be required. For those of you who live too far away to come see the show in person, the museum will be sharing the exhibition on their website as much as possible. To see other locations for Bedtime Stitches, go 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

bed book peek – Mongolia (part 3)

This is Part 3 in a series about how I made the Mongolian scene for my new picture book MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. I’m thrilled to say that the book will be published very soon – in 10 days! Thank you for following along during the past few years, while I shared bits and pieces of the process. For a full list of posts, go to this page.

Update: 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 Exhibition
And there’s more exciting news! Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches, the touring exhibition of original embroidered artwork for the book debuts at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, MA. The exhibition will be there from Sept. 11 – Dec. 22, 2020. To ensure a safe and welcoming experience when you visit, please pre-register for timed entry. Masks will also be required. For those of you who live too far away to come see the show in person, the museum will be sharing the exhibition on their website as much as possible. To see other locations for Bedtime Stitches, go here.

Along with the illustrations, additional artworks will be on view, including two fairy houses, many of my wee folk dolls, Polly Doll, as well as composition books and objects from my home studio. Also included is a doll house I built in 1975 while in college and which I’ve spent the past few months renovating and redecorating (photo below). These additional artworks will only be on view at the Cahoon Museum show.

Doll house built in 1975, renovated in 2020

Now, back to the Mongolian scene. Part 1 and part 2 are about making the little yurt, sheep, plants, door and flag. This 3rd and last part is about the yurt’s cozy interior that appears in the cutaway.

In my research, I found photographs of families inside their yurts, sitting on beautiful carpets, always with a stove in the center. I noticed painted red furniture, so I made a little chest decorated with a chain-stitched locking key pattern.

To keep the felt straight and firm, I edged the pieces with wire, which is stitched over so you don’t see the shiny metal.

For the stove, I used black felt and various hooks and eyes that look like mini hardware.

As with the red chest, the different pieces are edged with wire to keep them firm. For the feet, I sewed on square clay beads. The stove pipe is made with acid free card board covered with felt.

I made a little tea kettle of wood and wire. The lid is a button with a seed bead knob sewn on top.

A little metallic acrylic paint makes it look authentic.

I made a little rug using brocade upholstery fabric as a base and chain stitched a bold pattern around the border.

The child has a painted wooden bead head and wire hands.

He only need one arm because most of his body will be hidden under the covers.

For the bed covering, I embellished a piece of printed cotton that must be at least 50 years old. In fact, every piece of fabric and felt used in all of the illustrations for this book came from my collection. That goes for all of the found objects as well.

I used red leather strapping to represent the painted red slats that hold up the walls. Lengths of leather are folded over and sewn together and then sewn in rows.

And lastly, I sewed glass and metal beads on top of the chest, just to make it look homey. I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at making the Mongolian scene. For a full list of posts about My Bed, please refer to this page.

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.

Bed book peek – Mongolia (part 2)

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This is Part 2 in a series about how I made the Mongolian spread for my new picture book. Photographs of my stitched bas-relief scenes will be printed in MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. Here are links to posts about making other illustrations for the book: South America, JapanNorth AfricaGhana, Russia, Scandinavia, North AmericaHollandIran, and Afghanistan. To see a list of all my books, click here.

Update: 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. ISBN 978-0-544-94906-5

Art Exhibition: An accompanying national tour of the original artwork reproduced in the book will debut at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, Massachusetts from Sept. 11 – Dec. 19, 2020. Information about the exhibition is on this page.

Part 1 looks at the process of making the yurt or ger, sheep, and plants in the Mongolian scene. This Part 2 will focus on the creating the door.

My_Bed_Mongolia (1 of 1)-39When researching the yurts or gers in Mongolia, I was impressed with the bold and beautiful doors. They are made of wood panels painted with traditional geometric motifs in predominately primary colors. For my design, I referenced several doors I saw in photos, combining the squares and triangles to make a pattern I liked.
I don’t remember exactly how I transferred the design from paper to the felt, but it probably involved a ruler and eyeballing it with a chalk fabric pencil. The red basting stitches mark where panels will later be placed on top. I colored in the patterns with chain stitched rows of cotton flower thread. The yellow triangles are made with fly stitches.

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Stitching patterns like this is the closest I get to doing old-style embroidery. It feels as calming as coloring in between the lines in a coloring book. 

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To replicate the wood panels, I cut strips of felt and outlined them with blanket stitches. To make them firm, I edged the panels with wire, which I covered over with stitches.

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For the door’s hardware, I poured through my collection of hooks and eyes until I found some of the right scale.

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I sewed them in place back to back, so they looked like door hinges.

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In the research photos, I often saw red flags flying on poles near the doorways. To make mine, I cut the corner off of an old red hankie that had delicate white edging. I then finished off the other two sides. I added wire around the outside edge so that it could be bent to look like a flag flapping in the wind.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you will have noticed that besides fabric, thread and beads, wire is an essential component of my artwork. I use it as a structural framework to keep limp materials upright and to form free-standing shapes.

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Another feature of the doors is a hanging rope-like pull. To make one, I braided strands of pima cotton.

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Please stay tuned for Part 3 in this series, which will be about making the child and the interior of the Mongolian yurt or ger.

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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.

Bed book peek – Mongolia (part 1)

With its release date a month away, review copies of my new picture book, My Bed are being sent out by the publisher. It’s been so long since my last children’s book (Pocketful of Posies 2010) that I forgot about the anticipation and excitement of reviews. So, I was taken off-guard when my editor announced that My Bed was given a Kirkus Star, which described the book as “Ingeniously illustrated”. With many thousands of new children’s books entering the marketplace each year, publishers, authors and illustrators rely on reviews to help make their books stand out in the crowd. And a quotable review can make all the difference in a book’s success.

In addition to gearing up for My Bed’s publication, I’m preparing for the US tour of the original fabric-relief art for the book. The exhibition will debut at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, Massachusetts from Sept. 11 – Dec. 22, 2020. You’ll be glad to know that the museum is taking measures to make your visit safe by requiring face masks and scheduling time slots with a small number of visitors at a time. They will also be putting the show online for those of you from places too far away to visit.

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.

In creating the illustrations for My Bed, I feel as if I’ve gotten to visit all the children in the places they live around the globe, even though I stayed home. Rebecca Bond wrote a narrative that celebrates our differences, while also bringing us together through the universal theme of children sleeping in their safe little beds.  It was my job to bring these children to life and create their varying environments. Here are links to posts about making illustrations for the book: South America,JapanNorth AfricaGhana, Russia, Scandinavia, North AmericaHollandIran, and Afghanistan. To see a list of all my books, click here.

In this post, I will focus on making the yurt or ger, sheep and plants for the scene set in Mongolia.

Way back in the beginning, I laid out the whole book and made sketches for each page. The scenes fill up 3/4 of a double page spread and the text will be printed on the remaining 1/4 page, which will be to the left of the decorative border. The vertical line over the door is there to mark where the fold or gutter will be located.

For reference, I looked at many photos of authentic Mongolian yurts or gers and decided to show a cutaway of both the outside and inside. I loved the bold and bright patterns on the doors. They sometimes paint designs on the white cloth cover, too.

The grazing sheep needed to be pretty small to fit the scale. I painted their faces on oval wooden beads and formed the rest of their bodies with wire. Then I wrapped the ears, legs and tails with fine wool yarn.

I covered the bodies with cotton batting and stitched French knots all over.

After sewing the yurt and sheep in place on the felt background, I added a few stitches to look like tufts of grass.

To help separate the foreground from the background, I made stems with wire and wrapped the leaves and branches with embroidery floss.

Please stay tuned for more parts in this series. Future posts will be about making the door, the child and the interior of the scene from Mongolia.

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