Hanging by a Thread exhibit

gallery65-1-of-1This month, Hanging by a Thread: Needle Art of Salley Mavor will be shown at Gallery 65 on William in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The owner, Nicole St. Pierre has graciously agreed to hang five large pieces in her gallery’s changing exhibit space. The show will be there until April 1st, 2017. Gallery open hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 – 5:00.

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 9th, 5:00 to 8:00 pm, during New Bedford’s monthly AHA! Night. This month’s theme is “All Sewn Up”, a celebration of the city’s rich textile history, as well as its current day love affair with the textile medium. The streets and venues of downtown New Bedford will be alive from 5 to 9pm with performances, art exhibits, lectures, and much more.

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The following works will be shown: (click on title to find out about each piece) Face Time, Whiskers, Cover UpBirds of Beebe Woods and Displaced.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you can also take in the Excellence in Fibers exhibit, which is at the New Bedford Museum of Art until March 19th.

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making Face Time (part 3)

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FaceTimeWMThis is Part 3 in a series about making my newest piece, Face Time. It picks up where I left off in Part 2, which covers the embroidered felt wreathlike frames. Part 1 explains the concept of the piece and shows the making of the heads.

UPDATE: Face Time will be part of my exhibit, Hanging by a Thread: Needle Art of Salley Mavor at Gallery 65 on William in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The show will be there until April 1st, 2017. Gallery open hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 – 5:00.

After all 41 frames were finished and each bust was safely sewn inside its own personal cameo, I arranged the characters according to time period. It was like putting together a puzzle, fitting the pieces in chronological order. Characters from the past were rooted at the bottom of the tree and others cascaded upward through time to contemporary folks at the very top.

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Tree branches were formed with felt covered wire. Embroidery floss seed stitches on the felt created a bark-like texture. The smaller branches are made of floss wrapped wire. I sewed the branches to the back of the “cameos”, extending the wire around the frame to give each little portrait some structure, like bendable bones.

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With this piece, I tried out a new kind of border/frame. Instead of putting fabric on top of and around the sides of a wooden stretcher, I stapled the background fabric to the back, creating a space inside for the 3-d tree. I padded the stretcher bars with cotton batting and covered it with fabric, like upholstering furniture. It required quite a bit of fussing and hand stitching to make the corners look good. This way the finished piece can be hung with or without another outside frame or shadow box.

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I made felt covered wire leaf forms for the corners, first embroidering the strips of felt with seed stitches.

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And then filled in some gaps with floss wrapped wire doodles.

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Face Time is currently being shown in Entangled as you see here, without a glass covered frame. But that is temporary, as Rob will make a frame to protect the artwork from curious fingers and dust.

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Thank you for following along through the process! As with Birds of Beebe Woods, I am not selling Face Time and will be entering it into juried shows around the country. Please visit the events page from time to time to see where my original work is on display.

For those of you interested in making your own characters, please refer to my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, for basic guidance.

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making Face Time (part 2)

FaceTime-19446FaceTimeWMThis is Part 2 in a series about making my newest piece, Face Time. It picks up where I left off in Part 1, which shows and talks about the painted and wigged wooden bead heads.

UPDATE: Face Time will be part of my exhibit, Hanging by a Thread: Needle Art of Salley Mavor will be shown at Gallery 65 on William in New Bedford, Massachusetts.  The show will be there until April 1st, 2017. Gallery open hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 – 5:00.

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I wanted each character to peek out of their own frame, like cameo portraits. I cut pieces out of felt with scalloped shears and embroidered the edges.

This, along with stitching the leaves and stems took many, many hours.

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I brought them with me on boat excursions near home…

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and far away on our canal trip in France. I got a lot done on the plane ride, too.

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Finally, all 41 busts had their own wreathlike frame.

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The heads are based on the wee folk dolls in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. This little lady’s bonnet is made with embroidery floss wrapped wire.

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After the wreaths were completed and the busts sewn in place, I figured out their arrangement on tree branches. They would be grouped according to time period, going from past at the bottom to present at the top.

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The tree branches were made of felt covered wire.

To be continued in Part 3

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making Face Time (part 1)

FaceTimeWMAbout a year ago, my newest piece, Face Time started taking shape. I took pictures along the way, during the many months that its collection of little heads occupied my work table. The piece was completed this past winter after about 6 months of work. I am pleased to say that Face Time will be on display this fall at Some Things Looming in Reading, Pennsylvania. Their fiber art exhibit, Entangled will run from Sept. 12th to Oct. 24th, 2015.

UPDATE: Face Time is part of my exhibit, Hanging by a Thread: Needle Art of Salley Mavor at Gallery 65 on William in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The show will be there until April 1st, 2017. Gallery open hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 – 5:00.

I’m often asked how long it takes to make a large piece like this (24″ x 30″). It’s hard to say for sure, because my days are interspersed with so many other activities (and distractions) having to do with the business side of being an artist. Of course, I’d rather be stitching every day in my studio, but I fear that would lead to an obscure life, without a presence beyond my studio walls. I’d guess that at least 50% of my work time is spent promoting my art in some way; e-mails, interviews and other publicity, Etsy Shop, editors and publishers, social media, entering and arranging exhibits, etc. OK, that’s enough of a reality check–shall we stick with the romantic notion of spending all day stitching in a window seat?

family tree-2I’d like to take you through the making of Face Time, so you can have a sense of what’s involved.  If you’ve read my post, When to tell how and when not to, you’ll know that I don’t always show my process, but this is one of those instances when I’ve taken enough photos to warrant a 3 part series. I’m excited to share the new direction my work has taken!

For Face Time, I started in the usual way, thinking about the idea for a long time before jotting down itsy bitsy drawings in my sketch book. While I work, the concept remains strong and constant, while the overall design changes with time. I also consider how the parts will be rendered in embroidery and 3 dimensional needlework.

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I wanted to show different people from all over, evolving through time, from long ago civilizations at the bottom, to present day people at the top. I wasn’t so interested in making a personal family tree, but a depiction of the world’s collective heritage. I envisioned a group of faces from a variety of backgrounds and cultures peeking out of the greenery, all linked to a tree-like form.

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Researching fashion history was very fun! Online, I found pictures of hair styles, beards, hats and garments. In addition to wigs and painted facial features, each wooden head had a bit of clothing showing at the neck and shoulders. They expand on the wee folk doll projects from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. Wire glasses were something new, which I thought contributed to the individuality of some characters.

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Over a period of many weeks, the heads grew in number, filling my modest work table.

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There ended up being 41 heads in all, covering many centuries. Here they are, in a group shot, before they were separated by leaves and branches in the finished piece. I will show more about that in part 2.

To be continued…

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Face Time premiere showing

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For the past 9 months or so, while working on it, I’ve been offering occasional peeks at Face Time. This new piece deals with themes that I continually return to; passage of time, patterns that show change and growth, and connections between living beings.

It’s finished now and I’ll bring it with me this Tuesday, April 21st, when I give a talk at 7:00 pm at the Newton Free Library in Newton, Massachusetts. Face Time has been tucked away in my studio and has not yet been exhibited publicly, so this will be its premiere showing. It’ll only be on view for a few hours, while I’m at the library.

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Face Time features a tree with a variety of embroidered felt wreath-like “cameos” with heads and shoulders representing a broad cross-section of humanity. The 41 individuals include a wide swath of characters that show changes in style over time. They branch out through history, from long ago civilizations at the tree’s roots, to present day portrayals at the tree top. It’s not my family tree, but a depiction of the world’s collective heritage.

In this piece, I’ve basically used the wig making techniques introduced in my new how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, but have added more period fashion details, like beards, hats and glasses.

I hope to meet some of you from the Boston area on Tuesday night at the Newton Free Library. My talk, Once Upon a Thread will be at 7:00 pm. I’ll bring along books to sell, too. The Pocketful of Posies Exhibit will be on display at the library until April 29th.

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Where can Face Time be seen in the future? I can’t say for certain, since I’m entering it in juried shows and won’t know for a while if, where and when it’ll be exhibited. I’ll be sure to include any showings on the exhibits page.

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