Glancing back, looking forward

All year, I’ve been in full making mode, creating art for no reason other than the pure joy of it. You may ask, “Shouldn’t that be its purpose all along?” Maybe so, but the motivation to make art can take many forms. Throughout my career, I’ve made art to express emotions, shed light on issues and to connect with an audience, as well as more practical reasons, like making money and honoring contracts. This year was going to be less pressure-filled and more spontaneous. And it was, mostly, but it took fending off the strong impulse to assign a purpose to what I was making.

One of the advantages of hand stitching is that it forces you to to slow down and take notice of where you’ve been and where you’re going, artistically speaking. The goal isn’t so much to get it done, but to be immersed in the process, to respond to cues and make adjustments along the way.

4 Seasons Series: Last January, I set out to work solely on a group of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. I’ve completed 2 pieces in this series, Frosty Morning and Mossy Glen, which I’ll write about in 2022. I’ve begun a new fall scene and hope to have all 4 seasons finished before 2023. As always, you can follow along and see their progress in real time on Facebook and/or Instagram. 

Frosty Morning and Mossy Glen will be on view in my upcoming retrospective, WHAT A RELIEF: The Art of Salley Mavor at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, ME (June 4 – Sept. 11, 2022). The exhibition will feature a large selection of my artwork, spanning over 40 years, from early on to the present day. Rarely seen works on loan from private collections, as well as pieces I’ve held onto, will fill multiple galleries on the museum’s entire first floor.

See the series of Frosty Morning Posts:
Frosty Morning: Overview
Frosty Morning: Part 1 (trees)
Frosty Morning: Part 2 (branches)
Frosty Morning: Part 3 (shelters)
Frosty Morning: Part 4 (stone wall)
Frosty Morning: Part 5 (sparkles)
Frosty Morning: Part 6 (wee folk)

Heirloom Collections: In keeping with the theme of doing things for no other reason than the joy of it, I spent a good part of the winter going through my collections of spools, buttons, lace and souvenir dolls. On Valentine’s Day, I made a heart shaped assemblage with old wooden spools of thread. Gathering the spools and arranging them took an afternoon, which is a fraction of the time it takes to create a stitched piece. It seems that I either work quickly like this or laboriously over a period of months. Nothing in between. Each way feeds a different part of my creative soul. Even though it wasn’t my intention, the heart image brought out my entrepreneurial spirit and I couldn’t resist having cards and a poster made, which are available in my shop.
Heirloom Collection: Wooden Spools of Thread
Heirloom Collection: Buttons

Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition: This past year, the Bedtime Stitches exhibition was shown in Illinois and Massachusetts.
Bedtime Stitches exhibition opens in Illinois
Bedtime Stitches on view at the New England Quilt Museum
In 2022 it will travel to Nebraska, Maine and Minnesota. See the exhibition schedule for the next 3 years here. I’m excited to learn that a fan from Winnipeg, Canada is planning to come south to see the show when it goes to Moorhead, MN in the fall! Please note that those of you from the PNW and western Canada will be able to see my work in Washington State in early 2023. Even though I’m not seeking additional locations by sending out proposals, I’m open to extending the tour beyond 2024. Inquiries from museum curators and directors are welcome.

Bedtime Stitches at the New England Quilt Museum

MY BED Scavenger Hunt: Visitors to the Bedtime Stitches exhibition, as well as those of you at home with a copy of My Bed, can hunt for details in the artwork using the downloadable sheet below. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the book and the hunt are just for kids!

During the summer, lots of folks went to see the Social Fabric Exhibition in Greenville SC. The Upcountry History Museum is turning out to be a great centrally located destination for my southern fans! I’m happy to say that they will be hosting more exhibitions in 2023 and 2024.

Bed Book Peeks: Over the past few years, I’ve published over 50 posts about making the illustrations for my picture book MY BED. This past year, the following posts were added:
Bed Book Peek: Giraffe
Bed Book Peek: Pony
Bed Book Peek: Dog
Bed book Peek: Title Page
My Bed: Night Sky – Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4
My Bed : Home – Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 , Part 5

Wedding Banner: Katherine and Basil I really enjoyed making this wedding banner for family friends. Next year, I will be making cake toppers for a wedding in the family!

Making My Bed: Rob and I released a short documentary film about creating MY BED. Here’s Rob editing the 8 minute film, which I wrote about here. Watch the film on YouTube.

Coming in 2022! One fun project to come out of this more spontaneous year are the Stitch Minute Videos. They show a minute’s worth of me stitching, so that people can have a close up view of the process. Rob and I have produced a bunch of these little snippets, which I’ve shared on Instagram and Facebook.

Stitch Minute – Chain Stitching Leaf

We arranged a table in the basement, with lights and a camera stand with an extension arm, so everything is set up and ready to go when there’s something new to film. It’s so simple compared to stop-motion animation. And since each video is edited down to 60 seconds or less, the filming is pretty fast. The part I like best is that all I have to do is stitch, without the pressure to explain anything. During the coming year, I’ll be including Stitch Minute Videos when describing various aspects of my work.

Happy New Year and thank you for coming along on my artistic journey. I look forward to sharing more stuff I’m working on, just for the joy of it!

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Frosty Morning Overview

Since January of this year, I’ve been in full making mode, creating art for no reason other than the pure joy of it. It’s something I regularly promise myself at the end of long involved projects like illustrating a book or animating a film. I’m taking this year to work solely on a group of seasonal pieces that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined.

Frosty Morning, which is the first completed scene in the series, was inspired by what I saw early one January morning, when every bare branch sparkled with ice crystals. I’m one of those rare people who loves winter so much that it never seems to last long enough. I think it’s because I like long periods of time to work without the distraction of warm weather.

If all 4 seasons are completed in time, they will be included in my upcoming retrospective, WHAT A RELIEF: the Art of Salley Mavor at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, ME (June 4 – Sept. 11, 2022). The exhibition will feature a large selection of my artwork, spanning over 40 years, from early on to the present day. Rarely seen works on loan from private collections, as well as pieces I’ve held onto, will fill multiple galleries on the museum’s entire first floor.

Right now, I’m working on the spring scene, which you can see documented in photos and videos on Instagram and Facebook. My followers are so excited about the mossy landscape that it’s all I can do to fend off their questions about how I did this or that. I tell them, “I know you’re curious, but I’m in pure making mode right now and don’t want to dispel the magic by turning on the explaining part of my brain yet. That will come later when the piece is finished and I write about it on my blog.”

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I operate outside of the mainstream, in a different needle and thread universe. It’s been a struggle to find my place in the technique-driven model ingrained in the needle arts community. In the essay, To Teach or Not to Teach, I discuss in detail my approach to making art and my personal philosophy about sharing knowledge.

So, with all of that in mind, I’m preparing to turn on the explaining part of my brain, at least enough to say something to go along with the photos. Over the summer, I will be telling the story of making Frosty Morning in a series of posts that focus on different aspects of my working process. My aim is to inspire more than instruct, to give a peek behind the curtain that may spark your own kind of creativity.

I took lots of photos along the way, so there’s enough material to delve more deeply into several areas including making trees, snow and ice, cozy little shelters, a stone wall and the ubiquitous wee folk characters. The following photos are just a sampling of what’s to come.

Frosty Morning Part 1 – trees, Part 2 – branches, Part 3 – shelters.

For those of you who need a blast of cold air in the heat of summer, Frosty Morning note cards are available in my Etsy shop here. It would also make a fun Christmas card 6 months from now!

See the series of Frosty Morning Posts: Part 1 (trees), Part 2 (branches), Part 3 (shelters), Part 4 (stone wall), Part 5 (sparkles) and Part 6 (wee folk).

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Making My Bed video

My husband Rob and I are pleased to announce the release of our new 8 minute documentary about making the artwork for my picture book, MY BED. It’s an inside view into my process and motivations, showing in words, video, and photos how I approached the project from start to finish. I hope that you enjoy the film! Please feel free to share it with your family and friends.

8 minute documentary about how Salley Mavor made the artwork for her picture book, MY BED.

We had planned to produce the film earlier, to coincide with the publication of the book in September. But, there were so many other pressing things to do, such as prepare for the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition, which included building frames for the artwork. Now that the exhibition has started traveling for the next few years, we could concentrate on the film.

Thank goodness for the quiet of winter! I don’t know how I would survive without the pace of the external world slowing down for a few months every year. Over the past several weeks, we focused our attention on writing and recording the script and sorting through a gazillion photos and videos. Our good friend Bonnie Simon, who produces Maestro Classics: Stories in Music kindly agreed to help edit the script and be the narrator.

We had about 3 years of material to review. I’ve documented the process in photos from the beginning and Rob took videos during the last year or so. I constantly pestered him to stop what he was doing and come take a video of me working on different stages of the process. He had to set up lights and other equipment, so it was no simple task. Even though it was a nuisance, he filmed some good shots that added a lot to the movie. The following photos appear in the movie at different parts of the storytelling.

To make the animated title sequence, we set up a camera facing down at a table top. We were a stop-motion animation team – I moved the pieces of thread little by little, while Rob snapped the camera.

We also filmed an arrangement of found objects from my collection. It was a simple slide, not stop-motion animation this time. That would be whole other movie!

Rob did a marvelous job editing the movie on his computer. He started with the speaking parts to set the timing and then added photos and videos that corresponded with the narration. After he had completed a draft of visuals and sound, we sent it to Matthias Bossi at Stellwagen Symphonette for the musical underscore. They wrote the music and sound effects for our film Liberty and Justice and we were thrilled to work with them again.

Rob and I are excited to share the fruits of our labor with you! The Making My Bed video can be watched and shared on YouTube here.
Autographed copies of the book, MY BED are available in my shop 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

Looking back at 2020

As we bid adieu to 2020 and look ahead to a hopefully brighter 2021, let’s review the posts published here during this most unusual year. They are grouped by topic, including a miscellaneous category at the end. I wrote about a variety of subjects, including how to make cloth face masks, a wee folk tribute to RBG, and a series of stories about refurbishing my dollhouse. A big focus of the year was the publication of my new picture book MY BED and the debut of “Bedtime Stitches”, the touring exhibition of original artwork for the book. Over the past few years, I’ve shared the process of making the illustrations for the book. There’s more to show, so I’ll continue the series into 2021.

One thing I’ve noticed about life during the pandemic, is that it is more socially acceptable to exhibit introverted tendencies. It’s become quite normal to do as I’ve always done – stay home and basically keep to myself. I hear that people miss going to bars. For me, going to a crowded bar is more of an endurance exercise than an enjoyable activity. Why did it have to take all of this disruption, hardship and tragedy on a world-wide scale for me to fully realize my potential as a semi-reclusive eccentric grey-haired stitching lady?

Even extroverts are feeling awkward these days. An entertaining New York Times article talks about how even extremely outgoing people are feeling uncomfortable socially, “like eighth graders attending a school dance for the first time.”  The article’s author has some insights on the subject, if you can get past the rampant name dropping of fashion world personalities that a clueless baby boomer like me has never heard of.

Winter, especially January has always been my favorite time of year, when the hubbub around us slows down and we are free to move inward, with fewer distractions. Come to think of it, this year of Covid has felt kind of like January all year long.

For the past few years, I’ve been very busy promoting my new book, MY BED and its touring exhibition and I’m anxious to get back into making mode. During the cold months ahead, I’ll be working on a new piece with a winter theme. If it goes well, I may do more scenes that reflect the other seasons — spring, summer and fall. This project isn’t for any purpose other than to celebrate the natural cycles of life on our planet. I’m looking forward to becoming so totally engrossed in the process, that time stands still.

2020 in Review

A Virus Free World
This Little Piggy Stayed Home
DIY Cloth Face Mask Video
Introverts Have the Advantage (includes “Confessions of a Homebody”)

Doll House Stories
Doll House Stories (part 1) History
Doll House Stories (part 2) Wallpaper
Doll House Stories (part 3) Kitchen
Doll House Stories (part 4) Re-upholstery
Doll House Stories (part 5) All Moved In

Celebrity Tribute Dolls
The Greta Effect

Polly Doll
Polly Travels Close to Home

Cape Cod Museum Exhibition – Once Upon a Stitch
A Few More Weeks
Scavenger Hunt
Lace Bombing

My Bed Book
Bed Book Peek – Cow
Bed Book Peek – Back Cover
Bed Book Peek – Ghana (part 1)
Bed Book Peek – Ghana (part 2)
Bed Book Peek – Ghana (part 3)
Bed Book Peek – Ghana (part 4)
Bed Book Peek – Crocodile
Bed Book Peek – Mongolia (part 1)
Bed Book Peek – Mongolia (part 2)
Bed Book Peek – Mongolia (part 3)
My Bed Is Officially Launched!

Bedtime Stitches Exhibition
Bedtime Stitches at the Cahoon Museum
Bedtime Stitches Tour
Play Village

Greta Cards Are Here
Hand-Painted Wee Folk Faces
Shop Update

To Teach or Not to Teach
The Red Chair
Library Community Art Project

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.

Moving forward, looking back

Happy New Year! Thank you for coming along on my artistic journey. You come from all corners of the globe, from Croatia to Australia and from Brazil to South Africa, helping to link the wee folk world with the big wide world. It’s been such a pleasure doing “show and tell” with you for 10 years now! Choosing images and writing about different projects and goings-on not only connects my artwork with the world outside my studio, it’s helped me develop a clearer sense of purpose. Through this forum, I can share my own needle and thread universe in a free and independent way. When what you make doesn’t easily fit into any category, it’s nice to have a place to call home.  

From time to time in this wee folk world, the not-so-docile fairies stir things up on Facebook, Instagram and this blog, delighting most of my followers, while upsetting a few who wag their fingers in disapproval. The feisty fairies have taught me so much. They’ve given me a voice that will not be scolded into silence. As Rep. John Lewis says, “Get into good trouble.” The images I share are precious and poignant for the most part, but sometimes they are provocative. I am aware that calling attention to the angst around us can be jarring to those who don’t expect it, but I don’t see mixing it up like this as incongruous. It reflects both the beauty and the struggle of life in these tumultuous times. And that is the story I wish to tell. Every now and then, when things get to the point when the fairies can’t hold back any longer, they’ll shake a little hot pepper into the sweet sauce. So, with that in mind, I invite you to join the fairies and me as we venture into a new decade. May we all face the New Year with brave hearts and undaunted spirits!

To help review the year, I’ve organized a list of posts published on this blog in 2019. They are grouped by topic, including a miscellaneous category at the end.
But first, I want to mention a special event that I will participate in very soon:

Film Screening and Presentations:
Thursday, Jan. 9th at 5:30 pm at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, MA:
“Liberty and Justice” – Three presentations on the role of civil disobedience in a healthy democracy.
There will be a screening of my politically satirical animation, “Liberty and Justice: A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free” as well as a reading of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and A First Hand Account of the Hong Kong Protests by Cole Silva. Discussion to Follow. The event is not intended for young children.

Screen shot from “Liberty and Justice” animation

Links to blog posts from 2019:

More is More
Once Upon a Stitch
The Art of Cute
finding my voice
The stitching lady speaks!
Liberty and Justice exhibit in Cotuit
Migration exhibit
3 upcoming exhibits

My Bed: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World” will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Sept. 2020. The following posts give behind the scenes peeks at the process of illustrating the book. For information about the upcoming touring exhibition of the original art from the book, please go to this page.

Bed book peek: Duck
Bed book peek: Camel
Bed book peek: Bunny
Bed book peek: North America part 1, part 2, part 3
Bed book peek: Scandinavia part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
My Bed is made
bed book delivered

Wee Folk:
Euphoria Ltd. Edition Fairy
Judy Sue in miniature
Polly dresses for the seashore
Wee Folk playing cards

shifting focus
Self Portrait poster is back
Studio goings-on
create your own wee world
Behind the Glass – part 1
Behind the Glass – part 2

baby banner for Xavier
Wedding Banner: Shawn & Max

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Studio goings-on

After being almost exclusively in making-mode for the past few years, I now wake up every morning with a different agenda. Besides paying attention to my husband Rob and having lunch with friends, I’m photographing my work, organizing exhibitions, and preparing lectures. Making art is one thing, but if you want to share it with the world, you have to figure out ways get it out there. It’s a different creative exercise that not all artists can or want to take on. Although I would rather be stitching right now, I know that doing the promotional part is worth it down the road.

Before showing what’s happening in my studio, I’d first like to invite those of you in the Boston area to an Artist Talk I’ll be giving in Watertown, MA. It’ll be at the Quilters’ Connection, on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 7:00 PM at St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA. $10.00 guest fee for non Quilters’ Connection members.

I will share the joys and challenges of making art that ranges from precious to poignant to provocative, as well as explain where this doll-infested needle and thread universe comes from. I’ll also bring along some original pieces, including Birds of Beebe Woods (pictured left) and books to sell. I look forward to meeting you!

Over the past few weeks, Rob and I have been photographing a lot of older artwork. My pieces are displayed in cherry wood shadow-box frames that Rob makes. Glass protects the bas-relief embroidery from dust, bugs and curious fingers.

The process includes removing each piece from its frame, taking its picture and then putting it back in the frame. So, why didn’t we take photos before framing them behind glass? It’s a long story involving deadlines, a broken wrist, and consequently being behind schedule. So, here we are, doing the job years later. Many of these pieces will be part of a solo exhibition this coming winter at the Cape Cod Museum of Art.

The family-friendly exhibition, SALLEY MAVOR: Once Upon a Stitch, will feature a wide selection of original embroidered artwork from my 25 year career illustrating children’s books. You can see them here. Several pieces will be on loan from private collections. These are rarely seen by anyone other than the owner’s friends and family. This is a unique opportunity to see the detail and 3-dimensional quality of my artwork in person.
SALLEY MAVOR: Once Upon a Stitch
Dec. 12, 2019 – Jan. 26, 2020
Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, MA
Opening Reception: Friday, Dec. 13 – 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm ~ Artist Galley Talk at 4:00 pm

To photograph the art, we set up the equipment in the spare room, with a light box to minimize harsh shadows. The room’s sky light affected the light balance, so we covered it with another defuser. The camera was propped up on a tripod, facing straight down. To counteract the weight of the heavy camera lens, we hung a bag of stones at the other end of the extension pole. When I asked why the camera had to be so far above the art, Rob told me that the long 100 mm focal lens maintains the correct perspective. I’m glad that he understands this stuff!

For closeup shots, we lowered the camera.

The closeup photos will be used for a treasure hunt for kids (and adults) that I’m putting together for the Once Upon a Thread exhibition.

An advantage of taking high resolution close-up is that the photo quality isn’t lost when they are blown up big. For the exhibition, I’m playing with scale by juxtaposing extra large details with my miniature artwork.

This week, we had a storm and the power was off for 3 days. So, instead of working at the computer, I settled in near a window and stitched, like a character in a Jane Austen novel. Although I’m glad to have electricity back, so that I can write and publish this post, I’m missing the simple pleasure of making things by hand by the light of the sun. That and a cup of tea is my idea of heaven!

To keep up with new posts, subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

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 (salley at 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).

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

Studio news


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.” 


Displaced, 24" H x 22" W, 2016

Displaced, 24″ H x 22″ W, 2016


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!

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.


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!