small things around the studio

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I wrote this post 2 years ago and don’t know why it stayed in the drafts folder all that time. It was clearly written during a period of procrastination or when there was a gap in my work schedule, because it mentions cleaning my studio, which rarely happens. Right now, I’m engrossed in the process of working on a new children’s book, which you can follow here. It’s a calming break from earlier this fall when my Liberty and Justice exhibit caused a ruckus because of its political satire. So, let’s take a little detour and visit some small things around my studio!

But first an UPDATE on last week’s offer of special discontinued cards. Even though they sold out quickly, there are other designs available, like this 8 card sampler of wee folk babies and fairies.

— While cleaning up my studio, I came across the elephant pictured above. Her name is Savi and she is the main character in The Way Home, my first book. This attempt at an elephant wasn’t up to my standards (I think the bumpy trunk bothered me), so she never made it into an illustration. She’s been hanging out in my studio for 25 years. I took her picture and posted it on Instagram and Facebook.

Since then, I’ve found more small things to photograph and post. I’m holding some of them, so you can see the scale in relation to my hand. There’s Humpty Dumpty, 1 inch wee folk characters, a house and leaves that were used as spot illustrations in Pocketful of Posies. There’s a chipping sparrow that wasn’t included in the finished Birds of Beebe Woods. And at the end is a yellow telephone I made while in art school over 40 years ago.

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram

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Posies goes to Lexington, MA

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I am pleased to announce that, after a few month’s pause, the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit has resumed and will be shown in several venues this year. Just yesterday, Rob and I drove to Lexington, MA, to deliver and hang 33 original embroidered illustrations from the book. Luckily, it wasn’t snowing that day, but there were tall walls of snow lining every street and sidewalk around town!

My artwork is on display at the Lexington Public (Cary Memorial) Library, Lexington, Massachusetts from now until March 30th. The exhibit is in the meeting room gallery, so I recommend contacting the library ahead to find out when the room is not being used for an event. It would be disconcerting to make the trip and find out that there’s a meeting going on in the room. I’ll be giving an Artist Talk and book signing on Wed., March 4th @ 7:00 pm. A collection of wee folk dolls from my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures will make a special appearance!

This exhibit came about because someone came into the library last year looking for my work. When she found out that the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit  was actually in Lexington, Kentucky, she suggested that the library get in touch with me to see if it could come here, too. Well, I’m happy that they did and we arranged to have a show this month.

The next stop on the tour is April 2 – 29 at the Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts, with an Artist Talk on April 21 @ 7:00 pm.

Then the artwork will go south to these locations:

August 17 – Sept. 25, 2015 at the Harford County Public Library, Bel Air Branch, 100 E. Pennsylvania Ave, Bel Air, Maryland.

Oct. 17, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016 at the Upcountry Museum – Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. Artist talk to be announced.

Will there be any more shows after this? Perhaps.The artwork has been touring for 5 years, and at this stage, I’m involved with other projects and am too busy to search out for more locations and send out proposals. But, I’m always willing to discuss the idea with interested venues who contact me.

Closeups: leaves

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With autumn quickly approaching and the leaves close to falling from the trees, I thought I’d put together a group of leaf closeups. These images are all details from Pocketful of Posies illustrations. If you already have the book, you can have some fun picking out which pages they come from. The first image is about life size, but the others are blown up so you can see the stitching better. And yes, it’s all hand done. I’ve also got a leaf theme going on my Facebook page this month.

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Close-ups (women)

The women in my artwork are usually busy doing something. They’re harvesting, teaching, doing handwork, cooking, washing and talking, etc. I use arm gestures to bring my figures to life in an otherwise static medium. And I like the keyhole shape that a woman in a skirt makes.

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detail from “Picking Peas” fabric relief 1986

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detail from “Mary Had a Little Lamb” book published in 1995

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detail from “Mary Had a Little Lamb” book published in 1995

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detail from “The Storyteller” fabric relief 1995

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detail from “In the Heart” book published in 2001

The mother in the kitchen is from my book, In the Heart and the last 2 close-ups are from my book, Pocketful of Posies.

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Close-ups (birds)

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I’ve been using bird imagery to my artwork for a long time. The most recent is last year’s Birds of Beebe Woods piece, which has its own page here.

Let’s go way back. I embroidered the piece shown above in art school in 1974, when I was teaching myself different stitches. The little red bird below is from my first picture book, The Way Home (1991).

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This swimming duck felt pin is one of many projects in my 2003 how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.

feltpinsduckWMThis goose climbs up and runs down the hill in my board book, Jack & Jill (2006).

JJgoose2WMThe last three close-ups are from Pocketful of Posies (2010). Check the tour schedule for the exhibit of original fabric relief illustrations here.

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Close-ups (beds)

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The first image in this series of bed pictures is an illustration for a poem called Tumbling, which is included in my 1997 poetry anthology, You and Me:Poems of Friendship. Then there’s a page from my 2001 picture book In the Heart, which was written by Ann Turner. Copies of In the Heart are available in my Etsy Shop.

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My book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes has many different scenes with beds. After his fall, Jack took to bed and wrapped his head with vinegar and brown paper. And Hush-a-bye-baby rocks in a walnut shell.

Here are more unconventional sleeping places in my Wee Willie Winkie board book.
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And here’s “my son John, went to sleep with his trousers on” from Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. I offer autographed copies in my Etsy Shop.

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“Go to bed first, a golden purse” from Pocketful of Posies.

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And here’s Elsie Marley, who won’t get up to feed the swine, which is also from Pocketful of Posies.

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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

Close-ups (emotion)

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One of the fun and challenging parts about illustrating for children is showing emotion and action, especially in fiber art, which tends to be static. To counter-act the stiff blandness, I like to bring forth emotion by exaggerating the poses and facial expressions of my characters. But there’s a fine line between evoking believable feeling and creating a grotesque appearance, much like the difference between acting well and over acting. I’ve seen some doll faces that are downright scary and bizarre. My goal is to portray emotion with a subtle firmness, without being too disturbing.

Nursery Rhymes are full of emotional and physical activity, so I had lots of opportunities to experiment with poses and facial expressions in my book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. Here are a selection of close-ups from the book.

Do you want to see the original embroidered illustrations from the book? There are still several locations scheduled for the Pocketful of Posies Traveling Exhibit, which has been touring the country since 2010.

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