Bedtime Stitches tour

Japan

The first showing of the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition is coming to an end, with just 3 more weeks to go (through Dec. 19) at the Cahoon Museum in Cotuit MA. So, if you’ve thought about going, but haven’t yet, please get yourself over there before it’s shipped off to Illinois! (See the tour schedule later in this post). I recommend registering ahead, as the museum has protocols in place to ensure a safe and welcoming experience for their visitors, with timed entry in 1 hour intervals and required face coverings. Click here for hours, registration and Covid safely information. There’s a free Open House on Sunday, Dec. 6th from 10:00 – 4:00.

One visitor who made the trip from 2 hours away described her experience this way, “Having not been in a museum, post office, etc. since March 13, I debated coming down, but I felt very safe in that BIG room and with the COVID19 protocols and limited # of people allowed in per hour.”

The Falmouth Enterprise

Reviews of the exhibition have a similar theme, all pointing out the comforting and uplifting effect the artwork has on people. The headline of the Falmouth Enterprise article read, “Bedtime Stitches Provides Cozy Respite From Tumultuous Year”. And Artscope Magazine’s review starts off saying, “The genius of Salley Mavor’s meticulously realized imaginative worlds is just what we need right now.”

Russia

Some people have gone to the museum more than once, returning 2 or 3 times with family and friends. Visitors have left comments like these – “What beautiful sensitive artwork to soothe the soul.” and “It’s so beautiful, with such warm qualities, something we need so badly now.” Hearing these kind of reactions makes me feel that all those years of stitching were worth it.

The “Bedtime Stitches” exhibition features 18 original sculptural embroideries that were used to illustrate my new picture book, My Bed: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. The book is available wherever books are sold. Signed copies are in my shop here.

Before I framed each scene behind glass, I added fabric borders and signed them with my initials and the year 2020. I completed them all before 2020, of course, but that’s the date when the project was completed and the collection was published in a book.

Currently, the Bedtime Stitches exhibition is booked at 7 museums through May 2023 and more could be added. I wish I could wave a magic and send it all over the country, but I’m limited by how many years I want to keep the collection in circulation, as well as reliant on the interest and financial support of museums and curators. If you want the show to travel close to where you live, please talk it up with a museum in your area. Enthusiasm from local members of the community can make a difference. That’s how the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum in La Conner, WA heard about the opportunity and booked the show for 2023. Museums are welcome to contact me for information about hosting the exhibit. 

The exhibition includes a series of panels showing the process of making the artwork for MY BED.

BEDTIME STITCHES
A touring exhibition of original bas-relief embroidered illustrations by Salley Mavor for her new picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. 

Sept. 11 – Dec. 19, 2020 at the Cahoon Museum, Cotuit, MA.
Feb. 28 – April 25, 2021, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, Mount Vernon, IL
Sept. 14 – Dec. 31, 2021, New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA
Jan. 22 – May 8, 2022, Upcountry History Museum, Greenville, SC
June – September 2022, Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk, ME
Fall 2022, Historical and Cultural Center of Clay County, Moorhead, MN
Feb. 1 – Apr. 30, 2023, Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, La Conner, WA
Additional locations will be added when they are confirmed.

Home

The Cahoon Museum has published the sweetest little booklet that makes a nice keepsake of the exhibition. The Booklets are 6″x9″ soft cover, full-color, 16 pages. It’s full of photos and information about the exhibition, including images of works only on view at the Cahoon. Order the booklet here.

Animals

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Bedtime Stitches at the Cahoon Museum

Cahoon Museum of American Art, Cotuit, MA

For the past month, things have been very busy around here, with the publication of my new picture book, MY BED and the debut of the touring exhibition, Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, MA (through Dec. 19, 2020). To plan your visit and register for timed entry, go here. For those of you who live too far to visit, do not fret! The museum has put much of the exhibition on their website here. You can also scroll through this post and see many, many pictures of the show.

Currently, the Bedtime Stitches exhibition is booked at 7 museums through May 2023 and more could be added. I wish I could wave a magic and send it all over the country, but I’m limited by how many years I want to keep the collection in circulation, as well as reliant on the interest and financial support of museums and curators. If you want the show to travel close to where you live, please talk it up with a museum in your area. Enthusiasm from local members of the community can make a difference. That’s how a few of the locations already on the tour heard about the opportunity. Museums are welcome to contact me for information about hosting the exhibit. To find out about the book and see the tour schedule, please go here.

Sarah Jonson – Director and Curator

Bedtime Stitches has been years in the planning and I feel so fortunate to have had the support and encouragement of the Cahoon Museum along the way. When the pandemic caused it’s closing earlier this year and the museum had to cancel its major summer exhibition, they remained committed to my show this fall, even lengthening its duration. I’m impressed by the staff’s professionalism, dedication and resourcefulness in carrying out the museum’s mission which states that it “celebrates American art in ways that expand knowledge, enrich the spirit, and engage the heart.” Museum Director Sarah Johnson was even able to secure the sponsorship of the Coby Foundation, which funds projects in the textile and needle arts field!

Annie Dean – Special Projects Consultant

Because of Special Project Consultant Annie Dean’s careful planning, we were able to get the show installed without a hitch. Michelle Law was brought in to hang the artwork and wall panels and expertly apply the title decals, which can be tricky to do.

Michelle Law – Art installation specialist

Since Bedtime Stitches opened a few weeks ago, I’ve heard from many locals who’ve been to see the show. Thank you for going! For everybody who lives too far, I’ve posted several slide shows with photos of the gallery, the artwork and the wall panels.

Slide Show of the main gallery at the Cahoon Museum:

MY BED original artwork
The touring exhibition features all 18 original bas-relief embroidered illustrations for my picture book, MY BED. The pieces are presented behind glass in cherry wood shadow box frames that my husband Rob made this past summer.

The scenes I made for the book have 2 lives:
1. As Illustrations: The original embroidered pieces were photographed and reproduced in the book, MY BED.
2. As Framed Artwork: I added fabric borders, signed and dated each piece and put them in frames.Then they were ready to be hung on the wall and exhibited, so that people could experience the detail and 3-dimensional quality of the “real thing”.

I am glad to be able to share my work in both printed and original form, so that it’s accessible to a variety of audiences, young and old, from near and far.

Slide Show of finished pieces with borders:

Wall Panels
This slide show includes an Introduction, Bio and a series of mounted boards that describe in words and pictures how I approached illustrating My Bed, from the initial sketches to the many stages of creating the 3-dimensional scenes that are reproduced in the book. The series of panels highlights different aspects of my working methods and gives glimpses into my thought process as I made choices along the way.

Only at the Cahoon Museum
In addition to showing the original artwork for MY BED and the information panels that comprise the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition, the Cahoon Museum has devoted space in the gallery to displaying rarely seen items from my studio. To give a historical context to the development of my art, they wanted to show work from my childhood to my art school days to the present day. Included are my doll house, fairy houses, self portrait and other 3-dimensional figures and scenes which you can see in this slide show:

You can also see my mini tributes to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (See how I made Ruth here.) and Climate Change activist Greta Thunberg (See how I made Greta here.)


The 40 page picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0-544-94906-5. It is available through booksellers everywhere. Autographed copies are sold at Eight Cousins Books, the Cahoon Museum and my Etsy Shop.

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)

My_Bed_Mongolia (1 of 1)-15

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. 

My_Bed_Mongolia (1 of 1)-11

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.

My_Bed_Mongolia (1 of 1)-12

For the door’s hardware, I poured through my collection of hooks and eyes until I found some of the right scale.

My_Bed_Mongolia (1 of 1)-13

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.

My_Bed_Mongolia (1 of 1)-17

Another feature of the doors is a hanging rope-like pull. To make one, I braided strands of pima cotton.

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My_Bed_Mongolia (1 of 1)-33

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 – Mongolia (part 1)

With its release date a month away, review copies of my new picture book, My Bed are being sent out by the publisher. It’s been so long since my last children’s book (Pocketful of Posies 2010) that I forgot about the anticipation and excitement of reviews. So, I was taken off-guard when my editor announced that My Bed was given a Kirkus Star, which described the book as “Ingeniously illustrated”. With many thousands of new children’s books entering the marketplace each year, publishers, authors and illustrators rely on reviews to help make their books stand out in the crowd. And a quotable review can make all the difference in a book’s success.

In addition to gearing up for My Bed’s publication, I’m preparing for the US tour of the original fabric-relief art for the book. The exhibition will debut at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, Massachusetts from Sept. 11 – Dec. 22, 2020. You’ll be glad to know that the museum is taking measures to make your visit safe by requiring face masks and scheduling time slots with a small number of visitors at a time. They will also be putting the show online for those of you from places too far away to visit.

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 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. Rebecca Bond wrote a narrative that celebrates our differences, while also bringing us together through the universal theme of children sleeping in their safe little beds.  It was my job to bring these children to life and create their varying environments. Here are links to posts about making illustrations for the book: South America,JapanNorth AfricaGhana, Russia, Scandinavia, North AmericaHollandIran, and Afghanistan. To see a list of all my books, click here.

In this post, I will focus on making the yurt or ger, sheep and plants for the scene set in Mongolia.

Way back in the beginning, I laid out the whole book and made sketches for each page. The scenes fill up 3/4 of a double page spread and the text will be printed on the remaining 1/4 page, which will be to the left of the decorative border. The vertical line over the door is there to mark where the fold or gutter will be located.

For reference, I looked at many photos of authentic Mongolian yurts or gers and decided to show a cutaway of both the outside and inside. I loved the bold and bright patterns on the doors. They sometimes paint designs on the white cloth cover, too.

The grazing sheep needed to be pretty small to fit the scale. I painted their faces on oval wooden beads and formed the rest of their bodies with wire. Then I wrapped the ears, legs and tails with fine wool yarn.

I covered the bodies with cotton batting and stitched French knots all over.

After sewing the yurt and sheep in place on the felt background, I added a few stitches to look like tufts of grass.

To help separate the foreground from the background, I made stems with wire and wrapped the leaves and branches with embroidery floss.

Please stay tuned for more parts in this series. Future posts will be about making the door, the child and the interior of the scene from Mongolia.

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

Library community art project

Center square of the Woods Hole Quilt 2007

Every summer, the Woods Hole Public Library sponsors a community art project, inviting patrons of all ages to create a work of art, working separately and using a common medium. In previous years, materials such as discarded books, retired chairs from a local restaurant, outdated nautical charts and even horseshoe crab shells where used. The completed works are then auctioned off for the benefit of the library. A few years ago, I made “Paige Turner” (pictured below) using pages from an old book that was going to be thrown out. And this year, I’m offering 3 items for the auction.

(Find out about the Woods Hole Village Quilt (2007) pictured above here)

Paige Turner from a previous Woods Hole Public Library community art project

This year’s project features cards from the library’s now decommissioned card catalog. Remember those little wooden drawers that recorded each book in the library, along with their Dewey decimal classification? While combing through the thousands of cards, a volunteer came across the ones made for the 2 books that Judy Richardson wrote and I illustrated. She gave the cards to Judy who asked me if we could participate in the project.

Judy had the idea of decorating the library cards and offering signed copies of our books, The Way Home and Come to My Party for the auction. So, I got out a needle and thread and embellished the cards with stitches and beads. Here we are in a 1991 promo picture for The Way Home, posing with Bella the elephant at the Barnstable County Fair and more recent photos. I wrote about making the pink dress I’m wearing here.

Judy was kind enough to dip into her safely guarded supply and offer our books for the auction.These hard cover books are out of print and very hard to find, especially unused and in perfect condition. Both of us signed the library cards and the title pages inside the books.

The card for Pocketful of Posies was also found, so I decorated it, too. The auction will go live on Sat. July 25th and run for 2 weeks. You can link to the auction from the library’s website here.

The Woods Hole Public Library is a treasured institution in our village. They’ve adapted to the Covid 19 restrictions and are serving patrons via an outside window. When I dropped off the books, a writer’s workshop was being held outside, with everyone sitting 6 ft. apart in a circle.

Since libraries have gone digital, those old oak drawers need to find new homes and sometimes you can find them for sale. I love my set, which was passed down many years ago from my biology professor grandfather, who used it to catalog his personal library of science books. Now, they hold boxes of beads. So, if you have lots of little things to keep organized and accessible, I recommend getting a set!

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). 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: crocodile

Today, I’m happy to show how I made this crocodile, which will be used as a spot illustration in my upcoming picture book, MY BED. The story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Sept. 2020. A touring exhibition of my original embroidered artwork for the book will travel around the United States. Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches will debut at the Cahoon Museum Of American Art in Cotuit, MA from Sept. 11 to Dec. 22, 2020. The tour schedule is listed 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

For inspiration, I found this felt purse, which is a prototype for a kit I used to sell in the early 2000’s. The different animal kits came with plant dyed wool felt, thread, and beads for the eyes. The purse kits were mostly sold in catalogs and Waldorf School stores, along with my fairy kits.

Using its simple, stylized shape as a jumping off point, I drew sketches until I was happy with the overall pose and level of detail. I thought about how to translate the flat outline into a more 3-dimensional crocodile.

I bent a pipe cleaner and wrapped 2 front legs with tapestry weight wool yarn. I also located square green wooden beads for the crocodile’s eyes. They’ve been in my bead collection since the 70’s, when I made crocodile pins (see one at the end of this post).

I bent the pipe cleaner to form an outline of the animal’s basic shape and sewed on a backing of green felt.

At this point, I must have forgotten to take pictures, so we’ll have to skip the fussy part where I cover the front of the animal with felt. From the looks of it, I padded the inside of the body with extra layers of felt. My original plan was to put a haunch where the back legs go, but the one I made looked awkward, so I scrapped that idea and made 2 back legs to match the front ones. Then I sewed the beady eyes to the top and stitched rickrack along its back.

I did remember to take a picture of the back, which reveals an unsightly mishmash of stitches that hold the front piece tightly in place.

I formed the outline (or lips) of the mouth with wire and covered the shiny metal with embroidery floss. Then I “colored in” the mouth with an overlapping filler stitch.

Finishing touches included zigzag teeth, seed beads for nostrils and a fly stitched bumpy texture on the body.

The crocodile I made for the book is very much like pins I used to make over 40 years ago. As you can see, I’m reworking the same themes over and over!

To see other animals and illustrations I’ve made for the book, click here.

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). 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.

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.