Studio news

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As the busy fall gets underway, I thought I’d point out some upcoming events and remind you about shows and other opportunities to see my original artwork, meet me in person and take a chance to win a wee folk family.

Please note: My Etsy Shop will be closed for a bit and reopened in time for holiday shopping on Nov. 8th, 2016.

There is only one more week to see…
Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor ~ The exhibit includes several new pieces, including Displaced and Self Portrait – A Personal History of Fashion (images below). The last day of the show is Sunday, Oct. 30th. Museum Hours – Thursday – Sunday, 1-4 pm
Bristol Art Museum – 10 Wardwell Street / Corner of Hope Street  |  Bristol  |  RI.

I was delighted to get this message from Kate Percival, who was visiting New England from the UK. “Saw the show yesterday, an absolute delight. Thank you. My husband was so impressed, he said he now realised why I wanted to do a detour from our holiday route to see it. He also bought a Birds poster, he loved it so much.” 

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Displaced, 24" H x 22" W, 2016

Displaced, 24″ H x 22″ W, 2016

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BOOK SIGNING
Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm ~
I will talk about my artwork and sign books at A Children’s Place, Portland, Oregon. Polly and her wee folk friends will be there, too!

POSIES TREE and BIRDS OF BEEBE WOODS
Nov. 25 – Dec. 4, 2016
 ~ Birds of Beebe Woods and A Pocketful of Posies themed tree decorated with ornaments made by Salley will be on display during Holidays at Highfield at Highfield Hall and Gardens, Falmouth, MA.

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FROST FAMILY RAFFLE
Mom, Dad, brother, sister and baby Frost are doll-house sized, from 4.5” to 2.5”, with hand embroidered wool felt outfits and acorn capped painted wooden heads. The Frost family will be raffled to benefit the Waldorf School of Cape Cod, where they are on display until the raffle drawing, which will be during the school’s popular Holiday Faire on Sat., Nov. 19th. The raffle is open to all world-wide and the prize will be sent to the winner. Raffle tickets may be purchased online here. Good Luck!

Displaced posters are here!

Since first sharing images of my newest piece, Displaced a few weeks ago, I have been overwhelmed by the response from all over the world. The photos and video spread quickly throughout the internet and have been viewed by thousands on this blog, FacebookInstagram and Pinterest. I cannot tell you how touched I am by the outpouring of appreciation in so many different languages! Many people from varied backgrounds said it resonated with them personally and reminded them of their own family’s struggles generations ago. Nancy Taylor expressed her reaction so well, “I often feel despair listening to the radio stories about the experience of refugees around the world. Having the ability to express this in such a beautiful and meaningful way must be profound on a personal level. And it helps the rest of us understand, be more aware and have compassion too.”

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Detail of Displaced, 2016

I was asked if this piece could be made into a poster, so I’m pleased to say yes, 18″ x 24″ posters (beautifully designed by my sister Anne) are now in my Etsy Shop. The plan is to exhibit Displaced for the next few years, instead of selling it, so that as many people as possible have the opportunity to see the original fabric relief piece. Even though a printed reproduction cannot duplicate the experience of seeing the real thing, the poster captures the detail and emotional impact of the piece. And poster sales will help defray the cost of shipping the artwork to different parts of the country.

The premiere showing of Displaced will be this fall at my exhibit in Bristol, RI. Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016 ~ Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor – Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI.

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Poster – Displaced

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Sketch for Displaced

All winter long, while I sat and worked on this new piece, I listened to news stories on the radio about the people who are fleeing their home countries amid war and conflict. Even though Displaced is inspired by current world events, it could very well represent the universal and timeless plight of refugees throughout history.

I often think in terms of creating miniature shallow stage sets and with this one, I envisioned a highly dramatic scene. It was important to me that the piece evoked a strong emotional reaction, much like an opera.


The heavily burdened figures are a chorus of characters making their way through a black and ominous landscape. To help create tension in the design, I thought of antonyms, such as dark/light, general/personal, despair/hope, trapped/escape, harsh/tender, sharp/soft and horror/beauty.

With fiber art, much attention is paid to materials and techniques, as well as the labor intensive process. My intention was to make a work of art that transcends the amount of work invested, and the methods and skill involved in the expression.

Displaced, 24" H x 22" W, 2016

Displaced, 24″ H x 22″ W, 2016

Its premiere showing will be this fall at my show in Bristol, RI. Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016 ~ Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor – Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI.

UPDATE: 18″ x 24″ Posters of DISPLACED are now in my Etsy Shop here.

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Poster – Displaced

Here are some details of the piece, along with a glimpse behind the scenes in my studio.

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The ups and downs of exhibiting your work

Let’s be honest. Finding places to exhibit your work can be challenging and frustrating. I’ve been entering juried group shows for decades and still wonder if it’s worth the hefty jury fees, the shipping costs, the steep odds of being accepted, and having to hold artwork in reserve until the results come in. And they usually only want new work, so your pieces time out after 3 years. I’m not talking about art and craft fairs where you set up a booth, but art exhibits hung in a gallery space.  I ask myself, “Is this a worthwhile way to promote my work and participate in the art world?” Despite my doubts, I keep trying, even though my pieces are not accepted into the majority of shows I enter. One happy exception this summer is Fiber Innovations II at the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, in Colorado, which includes Face Time.

I got the idea to write about this subject after talking with an art quilter at a recent SAQA opening, who was surprised when I told her that my work didn’t get into the show. I wasn’t complaining, just trying to explain the reality of the situation. I realized that only sharing positive news on this blog may give the impression that it’s always a smooth path forward. Continually painting a rosy picture can be deceiving, as well as annoying, and may not be helpful of those of you who also face rejection of your work.

Leading the life of an artist is full of struggles, both personally and professionally, and I’ve had my fair share. When you put your art out there to be judged, it isn’t always admired, no matter how established you are. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that what I do doesn’t easily mesh with what jurors and curators are looking for. It must not be easy to curate a cohesive grouping of pieces by different artists, especially with the variety of styles and methods in the fiber art world. Each juror has their own tastes and vision, which should be respected. If they’re attracted to more abstract, conceptual or edgy work, I’m out in the first round. I can also imagine there being a problem if dolls give them the creeps or they don’t like work that’s framed under glass. There’s no way of really knowing because there’s no feedback, just a simple “accepted” or “rejected”.

And you can’t always tell by the show’s prospectus, guidelines, and juror bios if your work has a decent chance of getting in. You just use your instincts to pick the shows, submit your highest quality photos, fill in all of the requested info and hope for the best. One good thing is that most juried shows are blind, so that everyone’s work is judged without bias toward or against an artist’s name. So, we’re all given an equal chance to have our work seen by a wider audience. Even though I’m very comfortable being an outsider, I plan to continue applying to juried group shows because I want to influence and contribute to today’s seemingly impenetrable and illusive art world as much as I can.

Despite all of this grumbling, there is some good news on the exhibit front. I’ve been invited to show my work at a few places (listed below), so I’m happy to say that there are opportunities to see my pieces in person this summer and fall. There may even be some more juried shows this coming fall and winter to add to the exhibits page!

Displaced, 24" H x 22" W, 2016

Displaced, 24″ H x 22″ W, 2016

In a productive year, I can make 2 large (24″ x 30″) pieces, so it takes several years to accumulate enough work to hang together in a solo show. That’s why I’ve held off selling my new pieces. I just finished Displaced (shown above), which will have its premiere showing at the Bristol Art Museum in Rhode Island this fall.

So, how do I continue supporting the work I do, without selling new pieces? I depend on sales of printed reproductions in books, posters and cards to subsidize the costs associated with making and showing the originals. Shipping the framed pieces can be expensive, so I request reimbursement from hosting venues whenever possible. Of course, I can deliver the work by car to places in southern New England. I hope to exhibit these new pieces in other locations in the future, so that more people can see the real thing. Lately, I’m more focused on making new work than the promotional side of things, like sending out show proposals, but inquiries from museums and art centers with funding for shipping costs are always welcome!

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June 2, 2016 – Jan 8, 2017 ~ Selected wee folk dolls, houses and props, plus 2 original fabric relief illustrations from Pocketful of Posies are being shown in the Geometry Gallery display case at the Providence Children’s Museum, Providence, RI.

FiberInnovII_postcardfrontJune 2 – July 10, 2016 ~ Fiber Innovations II at the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, Parker, CO. Face Time is included. Fiber Innovations II is a fiber arts show that focuses on surface design. Material options are varied and part of the adventure!  How these materials are used and the forms that are created are part of each artist’s inspired design process.

June 6 – August 5, 2016 ~ Shaping Lives: The Transformative Art of the Figure at the Reece Museum, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. The exhibit focuses on the doll’s unique form or figure. It features artists that use this art form to create a visual voice – to tell a story, initiate a debate, make a statement or simply carry a message that helps educate, empower and/or change the life of another. 3 of my pieces, Whiskers, Cover Up and Molly My Sister and I (from Pocketful of Posies) are included.

Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016 ~ Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor
Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, Rhode Island. Several new pieces will be shown, including Whiskers, Cover Up, Face TimeBirds of Beebe Woods and the premiere showing of Displaced .

Feb. 28 ~ April 1, 2017 ~ Hanging by a Thread – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at Gallery 65 on William, New Bedford, Massachusetts. New and old pieces will be shown.

Cover Up Poster Giveaway winners

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Poster – Cover Up

Congratulations to the 3 winners in the Cover Up poster Giveaway! Thank you to all of you who wrote about a style or fashion in a particular time period or region of the world that interests you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the descriptions of your favorites, which were as varied as the world we live in. Not surprisingly, the common theme was attire that emphasizes detailed needlework, embellishments, color, and texture.

The winners are Stacy Shrader, Wendy from Splendiferous Fiber and Avis Withers from Annie’s Needlearts. They will each receive a Cover Up Poster in the mail. The 12 x 17 poster featuring of a selected group of portraits from Cover Up sells for $12.00 and is available in my Etsy Shop here.

Read posts about making the piece in the Cover Up Series: (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), (Part 4) and (Part 5).

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Cover Up (part 5) & Giveaway

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This is final part in a series of posts about my new embroidered bas-relief piece Cover Up. In Part 1 and Part 2, the collection of “covered” women are introduced and discussed. Part 3 shows how I made the pieced felt background and Part 4 is about the felt covered wire border. To enter the Giveaway, please see the information at the end of this post.

Before sewing all of the heads in place, I added squares of 1/4″ thick felt in between the holes. That way, the pieced felt background would lay flatter. I then stitched the heads so that they peeked out of the holes and covered the entire back with a piece of neutral colored fabric.

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I pinned the heads inside the openings and shuffled them around quite a bit to get an arrangement that balanced color and contrast. It just took a few stiches at the hole rim to attach the portraits.

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My husband Rob took photos of the finished piece downstairs. I hope that you have enjoyed this series of posts. You can receive notice whenever I publish a new post by subscribing to this blog (at the top of the right column on the home page). Rest assured that I will not share your information.

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12 x 17 posters featuring of a selected group of portraits from Cover Up are available in my  Etsy Shop here. Information about entering the Giveaway is at the end of this post.

Poster - Cover Up

Poster – Cover Up

 Cover Up is part of a series that includes Face Time and Whiskers, which focus 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 AdventuresThese 3 pieces will be included in my exhibit Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016.

Read the other parts in the Cover Up Series: Part 1), (Part 2) and (Part 3) and (Part 4).

GIVEAWAY offer: 3 posters (pictured above) will be given away (US residents only). To enter, please write a comment about a style or fashion in a particular time period or region of the world that interests you.  It doesn’t have to be from Cover Up – I want to hear your ideas. The winners will be picked at random on Sunday, April 24th. Good luck!

Cover Up (part 4)

CoverUp_lowresWMThis is part 4 in a series of posts about my new embroidered bas-relief piece Cover Up. In part 1 and part 2, the collection of “covered” women are introduced and discussed. Part 3 shows how I made the pieced felt background.

The next phase in the project involved making a felt covered wire border, which is a new technique I’ve developed over the past few years. The idea originated with a desire to form and stitch lines that have a 3-dimensional quality. I’ve used wire in my work for many years, but mostly in miniature scale. With larger gauge wire, covered in strips of embroidered felt, I have been able to incorporate bolder, linear patterns and designs into my work, like in the pieces shown below; Birds of Beebe Woods, Face Time, Whiskers and Rabbitat.

coverupsketch3Cover Up’s border started with a sketch of a vine-like pattern. As usual, plans changed once my hands began the process of forming and articulating the wire lines. It ended up looking more like a lattice topped pie or a chain linked fence.

I sewed strips of felt to lengths of insulated electrical wire and embroidered the felt with pastel shades of variegated floss. Straight lines seemed too rigid and unwelcoming, so I wiggled the wire and arranged them in a diagonal grid.

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This video shows close-ups of me covering and stitching wire with my non-manicured fingers.

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For the lattice pattern, I used many worm shaped lengths of covered wire. I joined the wire ends in a way that’s hard to explain. Let’s just say that it involves poking wire through felt, with lots of fussy sewing to keep the wire from pulling out.

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Here I am, working on the border downstairs, all cozy and warm in front of the wood stove, with snow outside.

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When the border was finished, I spent a long time repositioning the doll heads until I was satisfied with the arrangement. I then secured each portrait inside their hole with a few stitches on their shoulders.

Perhaps I should mention the time commitment, because people are always curious. This size (24″ x 30″) piece usually takes 3 or 4 months of solid work. But, I must add that I believe time alone doesn’t give a piece of art its value. Like other artists who do labor intensive work, I am not deterred by the prospect of spending countless hours on a single piece, as long as it holds the promise of transcending the effort involved. I hope that you are enjoying this series of posts as much as I relished the process of making Cover Up. Stay tuned for one more post in the series! By the way, you can receive notice whenever I publish a new post by subscribing to this blog (at the top of the right column on the home page). Rest assured that I will not share your information.

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Poster - Cover Up

Poster – Cover Up

12 x 17 posters featuring of a selected group of portraits from Cover Up are available in my  Etsy Shop here.

Cover Up is part of a series that includes Face Time and Whiskers, which focus 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 AdventuresThese 3 pieces will be included in my exhibit Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016.

The next post (part 5) will show the end of the process, with the finished piece. Read Cover Up (part 1), (part 2) and (part 3).