Closeups (baskets)

I love baskets and have included all kinds in my artwork since the beginning, like this Easter basket crayon drawing from my childhood.

crayon drawing, age 7

The elephant mother in my first picture book, The Way Home (1991), needed a way to carry bananas, so I made tiny (1/2″) wire baskets, wound in embroidery floss. Read my story about the making of The Way Home here.


Here is Mary, from Mary Had a Little Lamb, holding a basket of clay strawberries. This basket is also made with thread wrapped wire, but a little bigger at 1 1/4″. Real stones are glued in the garden.


This egg basket appears in Pocketful of Posies, in the illustration for the rhyme, Higgety, pickety, my black hen. It’s made by coiling and wrapping wire with embroidery floss. You can see glimpses of the green florist wire through the thread. I can’t for the life of me remember how I did the pattern on the top and bottom.  The original is about 2 inches long and filled with 1/2 inch wooden eggs.


Also from Pocketful of Posies, Daffy Down Dilly’s 3/4″ basket is made the same way.


This detail from Jerry Hall is enlarged quite a bit, with the original basket being less than 1″.


Closeups (shoes)

JUST POSTED! Read my interview at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Blog here.

The shoes in this series of closeups are made of leather or  felt, with a wooden one at the end. Mother and Child (1983) is from my transitional period, when I was moving from sculpture in the round to a bas relief format, which I later named fabric relief sculpture.

Mother and Child, 1983

In Jumping Girl (1985), I strove to bring a sense of movement to the figure. That’s a piece of Chinese embroidery sewn onto the bottom.

Jumping Girl, 1985

This shows off the girl’s shoes from my picture book “In the Heart” (2001). The leather came with the checked pattern stamped onto it and there was barely enough to make all of her shoes in the book.

detail from “In the Heart”, 2001

Jill’s felt shoes are about 3/4″ long.

detail from “Jack and Jill”, 2006

I made this shoe for the rhyme, One, Two, buckle my shoe in Pocketful of Posies. It’s modeled after those cute mary jane style chinese shoes. While I was working on it, I noticed that my watch band had the perfect sized buckle, so I took off my watch, cut off the buckle and added it to the illustration.

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

This wooden shoe sign is hanging over the cobbler’s shop in the picture for the rhyme, Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe, which is also in Pocketful of Posies. I used a jig saw to cut out the shoe and made the cobbler’s work apron from leather.

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Closeups (music)

AWAY with funeral music – set
The pipe to powerful lips –
The cup of life’s for him that drinks
And not for him that sips.

by Robert Louis Stevenson

The first image in this Closeups series about music is from an embroidered scene I made for an illustration class assignment in 1974. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to fill in with a chain stitch! The lute player’s hairdo appeared years before Princess Leia’s coiled braids in the 1977 Star Wars movie.


The harpist is a detail from a lithograph I made in art school at RISD in 1977. (see other lithographs here) I transferred a xerox copy of a harp image onto the limestone surface.

detail from lithograph 1977

This fiddler is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father, who appears along with his family on a CD cover I made for “A Little Music on the Prairie” in 1994. And yes, I did cut out the wooden violin, with the help of a jig saw. The tuning pegs are seed beads. See another closeup from this illustration here.

from “A Little Music on the Prairie” CD cover, 1994

Here’s Little Tommy Tucker, who sang for his supper, from my book of nursery rhymes, Pocketful of Posies. Autographed copies are available from my Etsy Shop.


detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

This is one of Old King Cole’s fiddlers three , whose felt fiddle is about an inch long.


detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

And the cat and the fiddle play on.


detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Closeups (castles)

The first image is a detail from an embroidered illustration I made for a class in 1974.  The assignment was to make an album cover for a made-up band. Mine pictured a kind of folk/rock/ renaissance musical group with a landscape and castle in the background. I think this was the first totally stitched scene I made. I found a stitching how-to book at the library and followed the directions. Before this all of my embroidery was embellishment on blue jeans and other clothing.


A couple of decades later, I made this sand castle for the book, You and Me. The beach sand is made from raw silk that I dyed with a spray bottle. And yes, those are real beach stones glued to the fabric.

detail from “You and Me” 1997

Here’s George reading a fantasy story with my favorite castle design on the cover. I got out my old stack of Color Aid paper to make the book. 

detail from George's Chair 1998


This castle is from a royal scene I made for a doll magazine in 2000.  The fleur-de-lis on the castle door is a nail head. The project was in The Cloth Doll, Volume 14, number 2.


The next 2 closeups are from my newest picture book, Pocketful of Posies.


In this one from Old King Cole, I use a combination of clay beads and wool felt to make the stone wall. And the fiddle is made from felt.