Heirloom Collection – wooden spools of thread

Do you have a collection of old wooden spools of thread? Perhaps they’ve been passed down in the family. You just can’t bring yourself to throw them out because they are a connection to people and places in your past. You wonder what to do with them. They are beautiful objects to look at. Mostly, the spools sit there unused, relics of a bygone era. Some people think the thread isn’t practical to use because it breaks easily, but others say it’s strong and of a higher quality than what you can buy today. A follower who saw my photo of the spools on Instagram summed it up this way, “I have a small collection. My husband asked me why I was keeping them…. well he just doesn’t get it.”

On Valentines Day, I decided to make an assemblage with my collection of cotton and silk thread. I put some spools on end and some sideways, separating the ones with paper labels from the stamped ones. It was so much fun that I surrounded the heart shape with just about every spool I could find hidden away in my studio.

I used my grandmother’s old bread board as a base. That way, I could move it without messing up the design. Doesn’t it look like a box of candy? Rob took a photo of the arrangement and viola, a piece of art!

I am happy to offer note cards of the spool heart image below my Etsy shop.

Note Card: Heirloom Collection – Thread

Gathering the spools and arranging them took an afternoon, which is a fraction of the time it takes to create a stitched piece. It seems that I either work quickly like this or laboriously over a period of months. Nothing in between. Each way feeds a different part of my creative soul.

Making the spool heart has sparked a new series of assemblage pieces made from vintage items that I’m calling the Heirloom Collection. I also made a homey scene with an assortment of old buttons (see below), which I’ll share more about in a future post. A note card of the button landscape (sold in a 4 card set combo with the spool heart or separately) is also available in my Etsy shop.

4 Note Cards Set – Heirloom Collection, 2 thread cards and 2 Buttons cards

Part of the appeal of working spontaneously is that I can come up with an idea, set up an arrangement, snap a photo and then take it apart in a relatively short period of time. I like making ephemeral art because I don’t have to think about mounting, framing and preserving it as a “thing”. The photo becomes the art. My head is exploding with ideas for other collections!

These vintage spools resonate with so many of us, especially sewers, quilters and fiber artists who are old enough to remember using them. This is what they’re saying on Facebook and Instagram:
“Omg I love this! I thought I was the only one who had a collection of vintage wooden silk spools sitting around.” and “I have a box of old thread, passed down through 4 generations. I treasure it. It’s like a magic box.”

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New cards in the shop

I am happy to announce that three new cards have just been added to my Etsy ShopSelf Portrait, Felt Pins and Cheese Straws (Recipe postcard). During 2020, more customers visited and purchased items from the shop than any previous year. It helped that my new book, MY BED came out and that an image of Birds of Beebe Woods went viral on Facebook and Instagram, sending flocks of fervent birders to my site.

After years of requests, I finally got around to designing a note card of Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion! It took so long because I couldn’t decide which portion of the spiral to zero in on. I knew that the figures would get lost if the whole image was printed on a small card. So, I cropped out a section with fashions that viewers consistently remark on – the peasant blouse, patched jeans, alpaca poncho and granny dress from the 60’s and 70’s, as well as the dolls that years when my children were physically attached to me.

To enter my Etsy Shop, please click here.

Self Portrait note card

The original Self Portrait will be heading south this spring, to the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville SC, where it will be included in my exhibition, Salley Mavor: Social Fabric. On display will be a variety of pieces I’ve made over the past 20 years that interpret the theme of social connectivity. The works explore cultural diversity, migration, fashion, the natural world, and a range of social narratives, from the everyday to topical subjects. The work will be at the museum for a nice long stretch, from April 3 – Sept. 12, 2021.

Another new card, Felt Pins shows a collection of pins I made out of felt, beads, buttons and wee folk dolls about 20 years ago.

Felt Pins note card

The felt pins were featured in the 1st edition (2003) of my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects, which had directions for both wee folk dolls and several felt items. if you’re interested in this earlier edition, C&T Publishing sells print-on-demand and e-book versions of the book here. The newer all-doll 2nd edition (2015) of the book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures is available (with extra goodies) in my Etsy shop.

There’s also a new 5 x 7 postcard version of Cheese Straws, which is available as a smaller note card as well. The scene pictured is from my newly refurbished doll house, which you can find out about on my blog here. Both the postcards and note cards have the recipe for making cheese straws on the back. I’ve written about the best cheese straws in the world on my blog here.

To order cards, please visit my Etsy shop.

Cheese Straws Recipe postcard

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Shop update

During this time of year, the big oak table in the center of my studio becomes a processing center for my Etsy shop. This is where I fill orders for signed books, cards, posters, and doll making supplies. 2020 has been the busiest year ever, which could have something to do with people spending more time at home because of the pandemic. There certainly has been a renewed interest in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk as well as doll making supplies (painted faces, faux flowers and fairy hair). Customers are also taking advantage of the opportunity to have my new picture book, My Bed personally inscribed to their friends and family members.

I’ve recently added 2 new cards, Reindeer Ride and Cheese Straws (includes recipe), which would make fun Holiday Greeting cards. They’re available in packs of 4 and 8.

Reindeer Ride – card
Cheese Straws – card

After a photo of “Birds of Beebe Woods” went viral among bird watchers on Facebook, my shop was practically cleaned out of bird cards! More are on the way and they’ll be back in stock Dec. 2. I’m happy to welcome this group of self-described bird nuts into the fold. They bought a lot of posters, too, which are in good supply.

There are many note cards with wee folk characters and fairies in a variety of scenes, which are sold in packs of 4 and 8, with different mixed sets available. Free shipping for cards and posters in the US.

For doll making supplies, I sell wool fleece fairy hair, faux flowers for fairy skirts and wings and hand-painted wooden faces. Please visit my Etsy shop!

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.

Hand-painted wee folk faces

Recently, I’ve felt an urge to paint doll faces on wooden beads. Not just a few, but lots and lots of them. Like stitching, I find the repetitive process calming. This compulsion, or meditation practice, depending on how you look at it, has led to a new offering in my Etsy Shop.

Many of you who’ve made fairies and other wee folk dolls from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk, mention how frustrating it can be to paint the dolls’ faces. Now, with the option of buying painted doll heads, you can relax and concentrate on the stitching and wrapping part.

Hand-painted wooden doll heads and acorn cap hats

It all started while tidying up my studio, when I found myself confronted by baskets brimming with acorn caps and bags full of wooden beads. I used to collect acorn caps by the thousands when my fairy kit business was going strong in the early 2000’s. It was always a rush every Fall to harvest enough of the right size and type to fit the different bead head sizes. Even though I stopped making kits years ago, I haven’t broken the habit of scanning the ground under oak trees and picking up acorn caps. Just because they could be the perfect size and shape to top off some little character. So, I figured that I’d paint wooden doll heads to sell along with the caps.

Some of you were introduced to my work through the kits, which I made for 10 years from 1998 – 2008. They were mostly available through catalogs and Waldorf School stores.

Bud & Ivy Kit

As I culled through piles of acorn caps, separating them by size and quality, I had flashbacks to the time of my life when every spare moment was devoted to designing, sourcing materials, mass-producing and marketing these kits. The memory gave me pause to think about what I was getting into.

So, before deciding to mass-produce painted heads again, I convinced myself that this time was different. I told myself that I’ll just paint heads until I don’t want to anymore or when the acorn caps are used up.

Wee Folk Studio Kits 1998 – 2008

Actually, designing and figuring out directions for the kits gave me the experience and ability to write my how-to book Felt Wee Folk. In the 17 years since the first edition came out, many of you’ve written to say how much pleasure you’ve gotten out of making these little dolls. You also mention how habit forming they can be, so maybe the book should come with a warning! I love seeing and hearing about how you’ve adapted the patterns to personalize your own wee worlds. It was always my intention to introduce projects that encouraged imaginative exploration and I’m happy that you are doing just that!

In addition to the Felt Wee Folk book, flower petal skirts & wings and wool fleece fairy hair, my Etsy shop now has hand-painted wooden doll heads for sale.

hand painted wooden doll heads and acorn cap hats

Wooden bead doll heads with hand-painted faces and fitted acorn cap hats are available in my Etsy shop. A range of skin tones are grouped together in different size assortments of 12mm, 14mm and 16mm beads.

I just restocked the shop with packs of flower petals, which you can watch me assemble in this time lapse video.

I’m also selling naturally dyed wool fleece fairy hair, which was left over from the kit making days.

Wool Fleece Fairy Hair

Blueberry Blossom Fairy was one of the most popular kits. She still lives on as a note card in my shop. I hope that you find these supplies useful. As for other wee folk necessities, such as wool felt, I recommend A Child’s Dream, which has a great selection.

Blueberry Blossom Fairy Note Card

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the Greta effect

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Ever since learning about Greta Thunberg, the 17 year-old Swedish environmental activist, I’ve wanted to make a wee folk version of her. But, the idea of making such an inspiring public figure into just a cute little doll with braids didn’t seem like enough to do her justice. Greta symbolizes the upcoming generation who will experience climate change much more profoundly than people my age and they must be heard. I kept thinking that the real Greta would not like being turned into a passive fetish object, without her strong message and a call to action. So, I figured out a way to both depict her likeness and quote her, while also supporting the issues she is calling attention to.

After making the Greta doll, I set out to photograph her outside in a natural setting. The aim was to take a photo that would have room to incorporate one of her famous quotes. So, on a recent beautiful day, Rob and I went around the corner to Woodneck Beach. The conditions were perfect! The low tide created an interesting landscape and the late afternoon sun gave off the kind of warm glow that photographers can only wish for. The result was the image below, which we are making into prints to sell as a fundraiser for climate science research.

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8.5″ x 11″ archival print for sale to benefit climate research

BUY PRINTS and NOTE CARDS and support CLIMATE SCIENCE RESEARCH:
The image of Greta Thunberg with her quote is available for sale in my shop HERE. All profits will go to the Woods Hole Research Center, a leading source of climate science that drives the urgent action needed to solve climate change.
____________________________________________________________
Set of 4 Note Cards – $10.00 – Buy here.
Set of 10 Postcards – $10.00 – Buy here.
8.5″ x 11″ Archival Print – $15.00 – Buy here.

Woods Hole Research Center is an organization of renowned researchers who work with a worldwide network of partners to understand and combat climate change. They have been focused on climate change since it first emerged as a pubic policy issue 35 years ago. Headquartered in Falmouth, MA, they currently work in more than twenty countries around the globe – from the Amazon to the Arctic. World-class science is the foundation of everything they do. They share their learning with scientific colleagues, lawmakers, private sector leaders, and the public in order to turn knowledge into far-reaching action. For more information, visit whrc.org


The Greta Effect Animation
During the process of making the Greta doll, the partially made pipe cleaner body sat on my work table, looking at me in an intense way. I thought, we have to film her doing just that! So, Rob and I made this short animated film, “The Greta Effect”.

The following photos show the process of making the Greta doll and the video:

To paint a likeness on the round wooden bead, I referred to photos of Greta. In this small scale, I was limited to a few brush strokes to make her face recognizable.

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With the exception of a few added details, the Greta doll is made with the same basic techniques that are taught in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.
After painting the face, I glued a felt wig to the bead head and let it dry. Then, I stitched embroidery floss hair to the felt, which provided something for the needle to grab onto. It was fun to make her tell-tale braids.

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This photo gives you an idea of how her hands were made.

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Partway through the process, we filmed the Greta doll sitting on my work table, turning her head to look straight out at the viewer, as if to say, “I’m looking at you!”.

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It took 2 tries to do the animation because I messed up the first attempt by kicking the tripod. We started over the next day.

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Even though the scene is only 11 seconds long, it took all day to animate. In addition to my turning the doll’s head incrementally, Rob manually rotated the camera and moved it along the slider, one frame at a time (24 frames per second). It brought back memories of our year in the basement, filming Liberty and Justice.

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Then it was time to make her clothing. I made her pants and shoes and…

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a zippered anorak out of pink felt….

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sewing it in place, so that it’s never coming off!

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Who knows if the real Greta will ever see this, but if she does, I hope that she approves of using her image and quote to support climate science research. Again, prints and not cards may be purchased in my shop HERE. If you live in the local Falmouth, MA area and want to avoid having the print sent in the mail, please contact me via e-mail so we can arrange a pick up time.

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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.

Self Portrait poster is back

I am happy to announce that a newly designed poster of Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion is available in my Etsy Shop. When the first edition sold out a few years ago, I thought that would be it. But, this piece continues to resonate with a lot of people and I regularly receive requests to reprint the poster. So, here it is, back by popular demand!

Self Portrait – 18″ x 24″ Poster

The 18″ x 24″ high quality reproduction is off-set printed on extra thick gloss cover 100 lb. paper. The poster will be rolled and shipped in a heavy duty mailing tube. As with most items in my shop, shipping is FREE within the United States.

Salley with her Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion in the Woods Hole Public Library

Here I am in 2007 at the Woods Hole Public Library, where the framed original bas-relief embroidered sculpture is on semi-permanent display. The Self Portrait is a time-line of my life from birth to age 52, with a spiral of dolls dressed in outfits I would have worn each year. When choosing the fashions, I relied on family photographs and personal recollections. Since the clothes are so tiny (the dolls range from 1″ to 3″), I had to embroider felt or find fabrics with prints that fit their small scale.

As well as clothing memories, we all have a personal soundtrack that goes with different times in our lives. This video is a nostalgic tour through fashion and music that my husband Rob and I put together. At the end, there’s a list of the music.

 

I’m glad to once again offer the Self Portrait in the poster section of my Etsy Shop. These affordable reproductions are the next best thing to seeing the original embroidered pieces. A customer just wrote a 5 star review about the Birds of Beebe Woods poster, saying “Absolutely excellent photo quality. Love it!”


For those of you in the Boston area, I will be speaking in Watertown in October. This event is open to the public, with a $10.00 guest fee for non-members of the Quilters’ Connection. I hope to meet you there!

  • Salley Mavor will give a lecture about her art at Quilters’ Connection
  • Date: Thursday, October 24, 2019
  • Location: St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA
  • Time: Doors open at 6:00 PM, meeting starts at 7:00 PM.
  • $10.00 guest fee for non Quilters’ Connection members

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.

Honesty the fairy

Honesty flower

Please meet HONESTY, the newest Blossom Fairy! She is 3 3/4″ tall, with long black tresses, acorn cap hat, embroidered wool felt tunic and petal skirt. I don’t sell one-of-a-kind dolls, but every once in a while I offer a ltd. edition of 25 dolls similar to the ones in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. You see, I only work on them outside of my studio, while traveling, so there’s no predicting when a set will be finished. This is my way of controlling the impulse to make them all the time. That isn’t such a bad thing, but then, I would be less inclined to make new, more involved pieces or get myself into the political fray! To see previous ltd. editions in the archives, click here. Information about purchasing HONESTY is at the end of this post.

Each doll has a signed and numbered name tag.

I put the finishing touches on the tunics in my studio, but most of the embroidery was done in airport waiting rooms, on board planes and in the car on long drives.

Mass production of heads.

Sometimes they look like a flock in uniform, preparing for a mass take off.

I make sure in advance that there are enough petals to make 25 petticoats.

Information about purchasing a fairy: In an effort to be fair to everyone, I am announcing on this blog, Facebook and Instagram that 25 “HONESTY” fairies will be listed for $75.00 each, in my Etsy Shop on Saturday, September 2 at 10 AM, eastern US time. That gives more of you a chance to read about it in advance, so you can plan on being ready to shop. I’m sorry if this hour isn’t convenient for other time zones around the globe, but I can’t figure out how to accommodate everyone. The last edition sold out very quickly, so if you really want one, act fast! Sorry, no reservations ahead of time. The dolls will be sold on a first come first served basis and can be shipped anywhere in the world.

Honesty-4WM

And don’t miss a chance to win the FAIRY FAMILY RAFFLE to benefit of Highfield Hall and Gardens.  Tickets ($5.00) may be purchased online here. The winner will be picked on Sept. 4th and the Fairy family will fly to their new home!

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Cover Up preview & poster

CoverUp_lowres

Over the past few months, I made Cover Up (24 x 30), the newest piece in an evolving portrait series. I’m in the process of writing more posts about the making of Cover Up, which will be published soon, but, I wanted to send out a preview first. It was an engrossing project that kept me busy all through the cold snowy days of winter. Cover Up depicts women wearing cultural, national, and religious forms of head coverings and tribal markings. The portraits reflect notions of female modesty, fashion, status and conformity from different times and places.

Because the many little portraits are hard to see, I decided that the finished piece (shown above) wouldn’t translate well into a reduced sized poster format. Instead, I chose to feature a selected group of women, with their photos juxtaposed in a grid. Each head is enlarged 200%, so that you can take in the details and essence of the person. The 12 x 17 poster (shown below) is available in my Etsy Shop here.

In this series, which includes Face Time and Whiskers, I’ve focused on bringing to life different people from around the world, using themes of history, style and cultural identity. In each piece, head and shoulder busts peek out of “cameo” framed holes. Their faces are painted 20mm wooden beads, with wigs and adornments, similar to the doll heads in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures

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Polly’s traveling again

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Polly is proud to show-off her new outfit, which she’ll be wearing during her next trip. She’s especially fond of her Glengarry bonnet! Polly will be visiting relatives in Scotland (my grandfather on the Mavor side was born in Glasgow) and hiking the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness. She’s sure to bring back lots of pictures and stories of her adventures!

etsywidgetlinkMy Etsy Shop is closed during our trip and will reopen June 16th.

Blueberry and Lavender notecards reprint!

 Lavender Fairy note card

Lavender Fairy note card

I am happy to bring back two note cards that I first introduced 15 years ago. Please note that the watermark will not appear on the cards. At one time, the Wee Folk Studio collection of Blossom Fairy cards included a couple dozen different depictions of fairies captured in all kinds of natural settings. While I don’t want to reprint them in that kind of scale, I thought I’d reprise two of the most popular cards, which feature blue fairies. The photos were taken as slides 15 years ago, back in the days of film cameras.

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I remember making the little basket for the Blueberry Fairy and setting her up in one of our blueberry bushes in the garden. And I found the lovely patch of lavender at a farm less than a mile from my house. The Lavender Fairy had to be balanced on the stem just right, while I snapped the picture. They were very good models who make a return appearance in my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures!

Blueberry and Lavender note cards are available in packs of 4 and can be purchased from my Etsy Shop. Wholesale inquiries form stores are welcome.

Blueberry Fairy note card