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.

Making MY BED

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.

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: 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.

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 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: giraffe

Shall we start the year with something cute to counteract the fact that everything in the world seems to be spiraling out of control? Good, now that we agree on a diversion, I will show how I made the giraffe for my new book, My Bed.


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.


I’d originally picked a giraffe to go with the illustration set in Africa. But, then we narrowed it down to the country of Ghana, which doesn’t have giraffes. I started researching other possible animals to go along with the scene. Fortunately, sat next to man from Ghana in a restaurant, who told me about wild life in his home country, including crocodiles. So, I switched to a crocodile instead. My ignorance about the African continent almost caused a gaffe similar to what Delta Airlines went through when they chose an image of a giraffe to represent Ghana in a tweet about the World Cup in 2014!

I was able to use the giraffe on another page, though. It appears with the other animal icons on the end-papers and as a spot illustration on the text panel in the second to last spread in the book, which isn’t set in any particular part of the world.

To start, I drew a simple sketch of a giraffe and bent a pipe cleaner to form the legs. Then I wrapped them with embroidery floss, using the same techniques I teach in my how-to book of doll projects, Felt Wee Folk.

From there, I built up the body and neck with felt and more thread wrapping.

While studying photos of giraffes. I noticed that their spots are made up of a complex combination of shapes and patterns, that fit together like paving stones on a garden path.

I used chain stitching to make the spots, which has become my favorite way of filling in areas. I sewed the spot covered piece of felt to the giraffe’s body and neck. I covered the back with a mishmash of stitches, which stretched across to hold the front piece tightly in place. There was no need to make the back look pretty. After all, art is an illusion.

To make the mane, I sewed a length of wire along the giraffe’s neck and wrapped it with thread.Then, I blanket stitched a few rows of “hair” along the wire mane.

It took several attempts to make the giraffe’s head, which had a combination of funny looking, yet endearing features. Not only do giraffes have horns and long ears, they have prominent eyes, an oddly shaped nose and a smiling mouth. That all had to be reduced to a few stitches, beads and wire.

For the tail, I sewed on a looped section of wire, which I wrapped with thread.

When I sewed on the head, it actually looked like a giraffe!

If you’d like to see posts about making the other animal icons for the book, please follow the links below:
Animals – Rooster, Camel, Parrot, Elephant, Goldfish, Cat, Duck, Sheep, Rabbit, Cow, Crocodile, Dog.

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. ISBN 978-0-544-94906-5

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: Ghana (part 4)

This is Part 4 in a series of posts about making the bas-relief scene set in the West African country of Ghana. A photograph of the piece will be reproduced in my upcoming picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. An accompanying US tour of the original artwork used to illustrate the book will begin in the fall of 2020. Information about the exhibition is on this page.

Part 1 shows the process of making the smaller house and background figure.
Part 2 is about making the child and his house in the foreground.
Part 3 shows how I made the shade tree and the bird.

Update: My Bed can now be pre-ordered in my shop here. The book’s release date is in Sept. 2020 and people have asked if they can pre-order autographed copies ahead. So, if you put your order in now, I’ll have a better idea of how many copies to get. The book will be shipped to you as soon as it arrives!

The book is about where children sleep around the world, with each spread depicting a different culture and living environment. The story is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Sept. 2020. Here are links to posts showing other finished illustrations for the book: South America, JapanIndiaAfghanistanRussiaNorth America, ScandinaviaHolland and Iran. To see a list of all my books, click here.

This post shows how I made the leaves, plants and woven fence. It completes the 4 part series about stitching and constructing the many parts in the Ghanaian illustration. Since the shade tree is a prominent feature of the scene (and the text), I wanted to make it as 3-dimensional as possible. Sometimes I embroider leaves to a background fabric, but this tree would stand alone as a separate object. That meant that each individual leaf had to be cut of felt, stitched around the outside and edged with wire. At the time, I didn’t pay attention to how many, but out of curiosity, I just counted 89 leaves.

I grouped them in branches of 3, 4 and 5 leaves and added fly stitches to look like veins.

The clusters accumulated on my work table over the course of a few days.

Then I joined the small branches to the larger branches of the tree (which I described in Part 3) and wrapped embroidery floss around the thick and thin wire.

The trick is to get a seamless transition between the felt and wire branches. Wire provides the flexibility to bend and arrange the branches this way and that, to evenly fill the gaps and overlap the leaves.

i also made felt plants with long thin leaves. For extra stability, I stitched wire both around the outside edge and down the center vein.

For the hanging plant, I made wire stems and attached glass bead leaves.

The planter is an acorn cap. I sewed the plant and 3 pieces of wire to a circle of brown felt. I rarely use glue, but figured it was the best choice for holding the felt/wire/plant inside the acorn cap.

I found a plant hook of the right size in my hook & eye collection, which has really come in handy for this book project.

I cut a piece of felt for the fence and stitched 2 rows of wire to the top edge to keep it from being too floppy. I found some small flat pieces of wood in my stash of misc. parts and sewed them to the felt. Then, I stitched silk ribbon in a diagonal square pattern to make it look like it was woven with plant fibers.

I hope that you enjoyed this series about making the Ghanaian scene. Over the past year or so, I’ve written about most of the illustrations in the book, but there are a few more to go. My Bed’s release date of Sept. 8th, 2020 is just around the corner! If you’d like to pre-order autographed copies, please go to my shop. To see a complete list of the “bed book peek” blog entries, please 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 – Ghana (part 3)

This is Part 3 in a series of posts about how I made the stitched bas-relief scene set in the West African country of Ghana. A photograph of the piece will be reproduced in my upcoming picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. An accompanying US tour of the original artwork used to illustrate the book will begin in the fall of 2020. Information about the exhibition is on this page.

Part 1 shows the process of making the smaller house and figure in the background and Part 2 is about making the child and his house in the foreground.

The book is about where children sleep around the world, with each spread depicting a different culture and living environment. The story is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Sept. 2020. Here are links to posts showing other finished illustrations for the book: South America, JapanIndiaAfghanistanRussiaNorth America, ScandinaviaHolland and Iran. 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

In this part, I’ll show how I made the shade tree and the bird. Please bear with me while I try to explain ways of working that don’t easily fit into a logical sequence. These are techniques I’ve figured out intuitively over many decades of manipulating materials in my hands and I will do my best to translate into words what my hands have taught me.

In the beginning, I made thumbnail sketches of all of the pages in the book and enlarged them to full size. I used the drawing of the Ghanaian scene to trace and cut out a template of the tree.

Using the template, I traced and cut the trunk shape out of acid-free mat board. Over the years, I’ve gotten more diligent about using archival materials that won’t deteriorate or stain over time. You can read how I learned my lesson in this post about repairing an older piece.

To give the mat board a stitch-friendly surface, I glued layers of thin quilt batting to the front and back of the mat board. That way, there was something to catch the needle onto. I built up the thickness of the trunk by sewing tapered layers of felt to the top.

To make thinner branches, I sewed insulated electrical wire to the top where the trunk divides into 3 sections. I covered the tree trunk and thicker branches with brown felt, using a gazillion stitches on the back to pull it tight around the front.

I stitched a zigzag bark texture to the front with variegated pima cotton (Watercolours by Caron). To make the knot in the tree, I cut out a donut shaped piece of felt and blanket stitched it to the trunk.

To make leaves, I cut out pieces of felt and edged them with blanket stitches. Then, I stitched jewelry wire around the outside edges and formed stems by twisting wire.

I attached clumps of 3 or 4 leaves to the tree branches by winding the thin jewelry wire around the thicker insulated electrical wire.

Then, I wrapped the thick and thin wire with embroidery floss, covering the bumps and lumps until it looked smooth.

The original sketch didn’t include a bird, but after watching the scene come together, I decided to add a third blue focal point to catch the eye. The other 2 are the boy’s blue shorts and the blue skirt worn by the woman in the doorway. They stand out in contrast with the overall orange, brown and green color palette. I researched birds in West Africa and found a spectacular bird called the splendid glossy-starling.

For the bird’s head, I painted a wooden bead blue and formed a beak out of jewelry wire, which I wrapped with embroidery floss. Then I stuck the wire through the bead hole and used the extra length of wire to make the bird’s feet.

I made the bird’s body out of felt and added a wire tail. This starling is really glossy, so I stitched some bling with purple metallic thread on its tail and underbelly.

After sewing the bird’s wire feet to a thick branch on the tree, I could almost hear it sing!

Please stay tuned for Part 4, which will cover how I made the plants and woven fence.

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bed book peek – Ghana (part 2)

This is Part 2 in a series of posts about how I made the stitched bas-relief scene set in the West African country of Ghana. The piece will be reproduced in my upcoming picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World.

Here are links to posts showing other finished illustrations for the book: South America, JapanIndiaAfghanistanRussiaNorth AfricaNorth AmericaScandinavia and Iran. 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

In Part 1, I showed the process of making the house and the small figure in the background. Now, I will concentrate on the house and child in the foreground.

Way back in the beginning, after my sketches were approved by Houghton Mifflin’s editorial team and before I started working on the finished scenes, I made heads of all of the children who would inhabit the pages of the book. I wanted to meet the children before embarking on what I knew would be at least a 2 year commitment. After falling in love with them, it didn’t matter how long it would take to make the places they call home.

Except for the fingers and toes, the children’s bodies are basically made the same way as the dolls in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. I painted their faces on wooden beads and made wigs by gluing on a piece of felt to the crown of the head, which acts as a needle friendly surface to sew on thread hair.

I dressed the Ghanaian boy in cotton shorts and a shirt.

He needed a woven sleeping mat, so I blanket stitched rows of “weaving’ on a piece of felt with variegated pima cotton thread.

To help make it look like the boy is inside the porch, I built a 1/2″ deep box out of balsa wood that I covered with felt. I’ve also used this method in other scenes for the book to create more depth, such as the inside of the house boat in the scene from Holland. It takes advantage of the space inside the stretcher, behind the background fabric. The box is inserted in a hole cut out of the stretched fabric. Objects recede (about 1/2″), as well as protrude (about 3/4′), making the piece more spatially dynamic.

To replicate the stone and mud texture on the house, I appliqued pieces of felt with blanket stitches. For extra structure, the window frame is outlined with wire.

I also chain-stitched spirals to look like stones in the wall and sewed a row of over-lapping bone bead shingles to the roof.

I stitched silk ribbon on felt to create the texture of a straw roof for the porch.

I made a mud and stone wall out of felt to go along the back of the property.

This photo gives an idea of how the box in the porch area recedes.

In future posts, I will show the process of making plants, the shade tree, the bird, and other parts of the scene.

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.