Closeups (grapes)

I smelled grapes this morning. Wild Concord grape vines strangle the trees along the bike path and their dark purple fruit is ripening. Women were picking low growing grapes and filling plastic bags. Here are some closeups of grapes in my artwork over an almost 50 year span.

crayon on lined paper, 1960 (age 5)

This pin was made by covering red beads with sheer lavender fabric. Read the story of my pins here.

pin, 1978

The grapes in this fabric relief piece were made the same way as the pin, but about 1/2 the size. I used real curly grape vines. See another detail from “Vineyard Family” here.

detail from “Vineyard Family” 1985

Here’s one from my kitchen faux tiles, which you can see here.

faux tile, 1991

Here’s a scene from Mary Had a Little Lamb, when the lamb was following Mary to school. See other closeups from the book here.

detail from “Mary Had a Little Lamb” 1995

And this is a felt pin from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects.

felt pin from “Felt Wee Folk” 2003

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.

Closeups (summer trees)

Before summer passes us by, I’ve gathered a group of trees from my artwork to show. The first one is a crayon drawing on lined paper from 1963, when I was 8 years old.

crayon on lined paper, 1963, age 8

Jumping ahead 20 years, this tree is from an early fabric relief picture called “Jumping Girl”. My obsession with embroidering leaves was underway!

detail from “Jumping Girl” 1985

This is from my first children’s book, The Way Home, published in 1991. By this time, I’d started making branches with thread wrapped wire. Read the story of the making of the book here.

detail from “The Way Home” 1991

Here’s a faux tile I made for my kitchen in 1990. See the other tiles in an earlier post here.

Faux Tile, 1990

About 10 years ago, I started using more felt and appliqued this tree trunk to the dyed cotton velveteen sky in my book, The Hollyhock Wall.

detail from “The Hollyhock Wall ” 1999

Now, I’m using felt almost exclusively. The next 2 details of trees are from my picture book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes.

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

I incorporated many found objects in the “Posies” book and here’s a glimpse of  driftwood and bark buildings, with a tree between.

detail from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.

Close-ups (rabbits)

“Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”  Zen saying

With spring comes hope and eggs and rabbits. This series begins with a childhood drawing of a rabbit hauling an Easter egg in a wagon. Then there’s a wool tweed rabbit from a 1986 piece called “Picking Peas” (see on earlier post) and a painted faux tile that’s in my kitchen. See all the faux tiles in another post here. A rabbit tucked in bed from my book, In the Heart, comes next. Two projects from Felt Wee Folk appear; a felt pin made with a rabbit button and an appliqued felt purse.

crayon drawing by Salley, age 6

crayon drawing by Salley, age 6


detail from "Picking Peas" 1986

detail from “Picking Peas” 1986


from faux tile

faux tile 1993

detail from "In the Heart" 2001

detail from “In the Heart” 2001


felt pin from "Felt Wee Folk" 2003

felt pin from “Felt Wee Folk” 2003

felt purse 2003

felt purse from “Felt Wee Folk” 2003

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.

Close-ups (snow)

In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan,   

Earth stood hard as iron,   

Water like a stone;   

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,   

Snow on snow,   

In the bleak midwinter,   

Long ago.   

by Christina Rossetti, English poet (1830 – 1894)   

drawing by Salley. age 6

 With snow falling and lingering in many parts of the country this winter, I’ve found some  snow pictures to show you. First, here’s a crayon drawing saved from my childhood by my mother. Then we skip ahead to 1995, with a detail from the title page of the 32-page edition of Mary Had a Little Lamb. It’s the scene where Mary, her brother and her father are trudging through the snow to visit the lamb in the barn.  

detail from "Mary Had a Little Lamb" 1995

 The next scene is from the illustration for the poem “Snow”, which is in the poetry anthology, You and Me: Poems of Friendship. The snowman is made of felt, painted with an acrylic based bumpy liquid medium. In the background is an old linen tablecloth.  

detail from "You and Me: Poems of Friendship" 1997

 Here are some wee folk dolls that were brought out to play in the snow. 

Wee Folk in the Snow 2002

 This snowflake covered bed spread is part of an illustration from Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. The bed frame is made from some hollow dried plant parts, maybe thorns, with the sharp points cut off. I bought them a long time ago in a bead store. The original illustrations will be shown in a traveling exhibit when the book is released next September. Find out about it here.  

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.

Pink House

I can still remember how much fun The Pink House was to make, even though it’s been almost 15 years. I had finished the 2 year project of making  illustrations for Mary Had a Little Lamb and was ready to burst out with something bold and unplanned. I sorted through boxes of objects that I’d been collecting, selecting parts to use.PinkHouselowWM

The hair pins and costume jewelry were from grandmother’s things.  The key and New York subway token were found in her desk drawer. I try to find things that can be sewn. Even the shells used for the breasts were earrings with convenient holes already drilled, making it easier to sew them down. I prefer to sew things in place and not use glue, which is messy and unpredictable. With stitches, if somethings doesn’t work, you can always rip it out and try again.

hair pins

pinkhouse2detailWM Some of the objects I’ve sewn on include a miniature silver lock, man and dog buttons, a girl with umbrella charm and a bakealite flower button. The woman”s headdress is a pin made of a cluster of shells.

sketch for “The Pink House”


The Pink House  was one of the first pieces I made with wool felt. The red felt is from an old maternity top my late mother had from the 50’s.  The woman is holding a doll house sized plastic frying pan from my childhood. Queen With Duster is another piece I made with my grandmother’s found objects during the same period. You can see it on this post here.


I’m so glad that my mother saved some of her children’s artwork. I don’t remember this childhood drawing and just found it when I was cleaning my parents’ house.  I can’t help notice some similarities between this drawing done when I was seven and The Pink House. They both have a bold central figure in a dress, with arms raised, gesturing hands, a head-piece and circle cheeks.

drawing by Salley at age 7

Close-ups (winter houses)

Houses appear so frequently in my artwork that I’ve divided them up into categories to show you in this Close-ups series. When you think about it, the shape is just a square with a triangle on top that can be depicted in any color and style to bring mood and stability. And houses are strong symbols of security that I seem to want in my pictures. This collection of winter houses starts with the winter section of a 4 seasons drawing I made at age 7. Then there’s a detail from a fabric relief piece called “Skating”. The next three are from the books, You and Me: Poems of Friendship, The Hollyhock Wall and Pocketful of Posies, which will be published in Sept., 2010.

by Salley at age 7

detail from “Skating” 1986

from “You and Me: Poems of Friendship” 1997

detail from “The Hollyhock Wall” 1999

from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.

Close-ups (Winter Trees)

This group of trees starts with a paint and crayon picture I made as a child of 7. Next is a detail of a painting I did in art school and then part of an early fabric relief winter scene. The last two are taken from my book, Pocketful of Posies

snowman and trees, 1963

from “Laplander Mural” 1977

detail from “Skating” 1987

from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

from “Pocketful of Posies” 2010

Note: See other posts in the Close-ups series archive here.