shifting focus

This past summer, I emerged from an intense 3 year stitching marathon just in time to put in a garden. The plot had laid fallow for a few years, while I grew art instead. I was so happy to dig in the dirt again! Maybe it was good to rest the soil for a while because I don’t remember it producing such a generous bounty before!

I also made the switch from total making mode to marketing mode, where I let the world know that my art exists. This internal/external dynamic isn’t new for me and I actually like both parts, but I find that it requires a major shift in mindset. Sure, I can write blog posts periodically and fill orders from my Etsy Shop while also being immersed in creating artwork, but some “public relations” tasks use a different part of my brain and call for all of my attention. And my approach is careful and methodical, just like my stitching, so it takes a lot of time and effort!

Making art is so much easier than writing about it, so I have to set aside time to concentrate on giving interviews, setting up future exhibitions and generally promoting my work. I try to think of these activities as creative undertakings, too. They can be crafted and honed into something that reflects who I am and what I think. It just feels more like work than making art does. Here are a couple of results:

  • Interview with Create Whimsy, which you can see here. I describe my journey as an artist and share thoughts about the challenges of making art in the face of long standing attitudes that needlework is just a woman’s hobby, with lots of accompanying photos.
  • Guest writer on C&T Publishing‘s blog, which you can see here. In addition to announcing C&T’s new Felt Wee Folk playing cards, I introduce my traveling companion, Polly Doll to a whole different audience.

I’ve mainly concentrated on writing and sending out proposals for the upcoming touring exhibition, Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stories, which will be shown in museums around the country for several years. The exhibition will be a unique opportunity to see the detail and 3-dimensional quality of the original sculptural embroideries from my next picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World (Houghton Mifflin, Sept. 2020). To find out more about the exhibition and to see the schedule, visit this page. New locations will be added as they are confirmed.

The switch from one mindset to the other didn’t happen all at once. Between the Bed Book project and the escapades of the Wee Folk Players, I’ve been in making mode for more than 3 years straight. When the book’s illustrations were delivered to the publisher, I started the transition by paying more attention to my husband Rob and cleaning my studio.

Besides putting all the materials away in boxes and baskets, I completely cleared my nature and ephemera table, dusting and washing each object before returning it to it’s place among the other treasures. I took some delight in thinking of how horrified Maria Kondo would be by my cluttered aesthetic sense! I know that she says, “Keep what gives you joy.”, but it all gives me joy!

I also reorganized some things I made long ago – these pins, for example. You can read their story here.

The other day, this 40 year old cat pin was spied out in public. I didn’t keep many of these, so it’s nice to capture them in photos whenever possible.

I’ve also had time to meet other artists like Jodi Colella, who was in the area for her exhibition at the Cahoon Museum in Cotuit, MA, which is on display until Oct. 31, 2019. Jodi is an innovative mixed media artist who uses many different methods and materials in her work. Her beautifully evocative Unidentified Woman series is part of the 3 person show, Look This Way. She uses a process where she crops and enlarges old tintype photographs, then prints them on aluminum and embellishes with needle and thread. We had a great time chatting in my studio about making art with a clear vision that pushes the boundaries of needlework. We could have talked for a long time and I hope that we can get together in the future!

Soon, I will get back into making mode, threading my needle and diving into a new project. I’m not exactly sure what it will be, but several ideas are swirling around in my head.

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 delivered

Before delivering the finished illustrations for MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World to the publisher in Boston, I cleaned up the studio and invited friends and neighbors for an impromptu “Show and Tell”. It felt good to pack up my supplies, which had become a huge mess during the past 3 years of working non-stop on either the book or the Liberty and Justice animation.

This was a good opportunity to organize my felt by color and size. A frequently asked question is, “Where do you get your felt?” The felt I use for much of my work is a thick, plant dyed wool/rayon mix. Unfortunately, the source for this most extraordinary product disappeared a few years ago. I could tell that it wasn’t going to be available forever, so I hoarded enough to last me into old old age. The closest thing that you can buy now is sold through A Child’s Dream, which has all kinds of felt and supplies. Some people dye their own felt to get those gentle soft colors, but I’m more interested in making things out of it than producing it. But, if I didn’t have this stash, I could be motivated to get out the dye pots.

For the “Show and Tell”, I set up the illustrations around the big center table in my studio, saving space by propping up a row of stretchers, back to back. It was risky to display the pieces unframed and exposed, but my “Do Not Touch” signs kept fingers at bay. Right now, the artwork has raw edges overflowing onto a stretched white background fabric. That’s so that the photographer can shoot the images with extra room for cropping later. When the pieces are returned next winter, I’ll add fabric borders and Rob will make frames, making them presentable for exhibition.

It was so nice to see friends and meet younger family members. They really loved seeing the detail and 3-dimensional quality of the artwork, which is totally different than looking at the printed pages of a book. Even with excellent photography, there is no way to replace the experience of seeing the real thing. That is why I’m organizing a touring exhibit of the originals, which will begin after MY BED is published in the Fall of 2020. The exhibit, “Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches” will premiere at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, MA in Nov. 2020 and travel to a dozen or more venues in the United States. As locations are confirmed, I will add them to the Exhibits and Events page. Museums that are interested in hosting the show can contact me for information and a shipping cost estimate. If you want to have the exhibit shown near you, please let your local museum know about this opportunity!

Last week, I packed up the artwork into 4 huge plastic bags and delivered it to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Boston.

The publishing production team and other staff members came out of their cubicles to see the scenes, which we spread out in the conference room. They mentioned that since artists work digitally so much these days, they don’t often get to see “real” art. It was wonderful to see their excitement about sending this book out into the world. I’m excited, too!

The next step is very important: photography. The publisher has hired Rick Kyle, of 5000K, who also took the photos for Pocketful of Posies. We met in his home studio and talked about lighting the pieces. I also had a chance to look over everything, removing lint and making sure wires didn’t get bent during packing and unpacking. I enjoyed seeing Rick again and have full confidence that he will do an excellent job!

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 – India (part 3)

Welcome to the neighborhood, in this 3rd part of the series about making an illustration set in India for my new picture book. The story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world was written by Rebecca Bond. It will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020.

In this scene, the boy’s house takes up 2/3 of the spread and the surrounding village is pictured in the left 1/3. I used a lighter colored background to separate it from the darker house in the foreground. And since the house is blue, I thought, why not offset the sky with green?

Making little dwellings is a favorite diversion, so working on this part of the illustration was a total indulgence!

Roof tiles emerge in rows of fly stitches…

and tube beads strung with wire stack up to make a front porch post.

There’s always seams to be an area that needs tree and leaf embellishment.

This story focuses on children, with adult figures off in the distance, so they have to be really tiny.

She may be one of the smallest wee people I’ve put in an illustration. I loved making her outfit and braiding her hair.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little peek behind the scenes. To see the whole piece, please go to Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

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

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!

wee affirmation

Open Studio-2Last Thursday, we returned from a wonderful trip to Prince Edward Island, which I’ll write about in future posts. The timing was tight, but I managed to get everything ready for an Open Studio this past weekend. Of course, I tidied up the studio earlier this summer and made cheese straws before the trip to PEI.  I tend to open my studio to the public maybe every 4 or 5 years, when there’s a new body of work to show.

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I really enjoyed meeting the people who came, many of whom were artists and craftspeople themselves. Several remarked at how affirming it was to connect with other people who like doing small scale needlework and creating things in miniature. They shared how they sometimes feel odd around people who don’t understand their interest in making and collecting small things. I told them that there are lot of us out there and not to be concerned with those who don’t “get it”. Having a desire to develop your own vision in a world that may see some creative pursuits as strange and weird is something to celebrate. If dreaming of, conjuring up and the act of doing creative work generates happiness and satisfaction, then it has great value and is worth pursuing.

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Needle felt artist, Lyn Slade shared her impressive piece, “Come to the Dance”.

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These girls and their family traveled all the way from Bangor, Maine! They look like they’re having a thoughtful discussion about the women pictured on the Covered Up poster.

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There was a constant flow of visitors both Saturday and Sunday, with a combination of locals and visitors from off Cape. I wish that I took more photos, but the quiet moments were few.  It was a pleasure to see familiar faces as well as meet new folks. Thank you to all who took the time to venture into my world! studio-2

Open Studio labor day weekend

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All are welcome to visit my private work space on Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sept. 3rd and Sunday, Sept. 4th, from 10 AM to 4 PM, both days. The address is ahead, in the next paragraph. It’s been a few years since I last opened my studio to the public and I thought it would be nice to share some of my newer pieces (shown below) before they are delivered to the next show. My exhibit, Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor will be at the  Bristol Art Museum in Rhode Island, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016. The opening reception at the museum is Friday, Sept 16th, 6:30 – 8:30 PM.

My studio is an oasis, where I spend most of my time working alone, surrounded by collections of treasures. I look forward to meeting many of you who live close enough to visit on Labor Day weekend.

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Studio insights

Here’s a glimpse at some of the many photos I’ve been taking in and around my studio with my phone camera. It’s really an excuse to play with my toys! I love how quick and easy it is to snap close-up images and share them on Facebook and Instagram. But, since not everyone wants to be tethered to multiple social media platforms, I thought I’d show a recent selection of my daily photos on this blog, too.

There are pictures of old and newer pieces, from my collection of insects made 37 years ago, to original bas relief children’s book illustrations, to newer wee folk characters from Felt Wee Folk. These days, I’m pretty busy working on some exciting projects that I can’t talk about yet, so my blog posts will be less frequent. If you’d like to keep up with regular posted images, I invite you to “like” my Facebook and Instagram pages.