Behind the Glass – part 1


An original embroidered illustration from “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in a private collection.

This is the first post in a series that will show what my artwork looks like Behind the Glass. I’ve had to accept that UV glass is a necessary barrier that protects my embroidery from dust, bugs, light, and probing fingers. But, since these loaned pieces were temporarily removed from their frames in preparation for my upcoming exhibition, I was able to get up close to take photos from different angles.


Mary Had a Little Lamb

For the past few weeks, I’ve been gathering my embroidered artwork from local collectors who are generously loaning their pieces for my upcoming exhibition, Salley Mavor: Once Upon a Thread at the Cape Cod Museum of Art (Dec. 12, 2019 – Jan. 16, 2020). The retrospective exhibition will include original illustrations from my picture books, from the first (The Way Home,1991) to the latest (Pocketful of Posies, 2010).  Between the borrowed ones and others that I’ve kept, there will be lots of original pieces on display, with a dozen titles represented. This show will be an opportunity for visitors to see the detail and 3-dimensional quality of my artwork in person and also view pieces from private collections that are rarely shown in public.

Close-up photos of illustrations for my first 3 books are shown in this post: The Way Home (1991), Come to My Party (1993) and Mary Had a Little lamb (1995).


Luckily, many of the collectors who bought pieces in the early days live nearby, so it’s fairly easy to round up enough work to display. At this point, I should have 4 spreads from Mary Had a Little Lamb, the most that have been together for over 20 years.

People ask how I can sell my originals, because of the amount of work that goes into them. The simple answer is – it’s not hard to let them go. For me the joy comes from making more than having. It’s good to spread them around! There are practical considerations as well. Selling originals is how I’m paid for my work, since book royalties aren’t much. I also need to clear space to fill with new art, both physically and mentally. That said, I’ve kept pieces that have a special meaning and I’m holding onto some of my newer pieces, so that they are available to exhibit. The original illustrations for my upcoming picture book, My Bed: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World will eventually be offered for sale, after the touring exhibition, Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches.


Mary Had a Little Lamb


Mary Had a Little Lamb


Mary Had a Little Lamb


Mary Had a Little Lamb


Mary Had a Little Lamb


Mary Had a Little Lamb

Judy Richardson loaned me her 2 pieces, one from each of the 2 books she wrote and I illustrated: The Way Home and Come to My Party. Read the series of posts about our adventures in children’s book publishing here.


The Way Home


Come to My Party


The Way Home

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“The Way Home” found

I am pleased to announce that a carton full of my first book, The Way Home has been discovered in storage! This is good news for those of you who have been searching for a copy, only to come across old beat up ones, plastered with library stamps. Like most children’s books, The Way Home was only in print for a few years, so it is very hard to find. A limited number of copies are now available for purchase through my Etsy Shop. 

The Way Home was published by MacMillan in 1991 and helped pave the way for other three-dimensional illustrators in the children’s book publishing world. The disarmingly simple story of Savi the elephant is a favorite with young and old alike. The hard cover books are in pristine condition and will be autographed. Custom inscriptions are welcome. Full color illustrations, dust jacket, 32 pages, 8. 5″ x 10.25″.

To find out about how the author, Judy Richardson and I came to do a book together, read this 5 part story.

Judy and Salley with an elephant at the Barnstable County Fair, 1991

“A delightful romp through the jungle… Mavor’s creative, unique collage illustrations make this picture book distinctive. [They are] a combination of soft sculpture and embroidery… The variety of textures is a feast for the eye.” — Starred review, School Library Journal

“Mavor’s three-dimensional fabric collage pictures are charming… they beg to be touched by little fingers as the story unfolds.” — Booklist

Book – The Way Home

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The Way Home is 25!

25 years ago this spring, Judy Richardson and I released our first book, The Way Home. Just last week, I saw Judy and we marveled at how young we were in a 1991 publicity photo with an elephant (see below)! Having this book published was quite an exercise in perseverance  and I thank Judy for not only writing such a great story, but her unwavering belief that we were a team!

The Way Home 1991

The Way Home 1991

In 2010, while recuperating from a broken my wrist, I put my energy into reflecting on the past and sorting through photos. As you can imagine, not being able to manipulate a needle and thread for 4 months was torturous. This predicament forced me to dive into my blog, where I could type stories and use the computer mouse with one hand. I decided to tell the 8 year saga of this first adventure in publishing, from inception to completion, which turned into an in-depth series of posts about The Way Home. Those of you who’ve been following my blog from the start will be familiar with the series, but I think newer subscribers will enjoy the story too! Links are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.



Close-ups (foliage)

This series of close-ups shows the progression of my stitching technique and style over 20 years of illustrating children’s books. The first picture shows a detail of the banana trail that Savi the elephant follows through the jungle in The Way Home (1991). Read the story about making The Way Home here.

from "The Way Home" 1991

I made a stencil and painted grass on the velveteen background in The Way Home‘s sequel, Come to my Party (1993).

from "Come to My Party" 1993

Jump ahead a dozen years and I’m embroidering blades of grass and sewing glass beads to a wool felt background in the board book, Hey! Diddle, Diddle.

detail from "Hey! Diddle, Diddle" 2005

And still obsessing over french knots in Jack and Jill.

detail from "Jack and Jill" 2006

This one shows a small section of the illustration from the song One misty moisty morning in my most recent book, POCKETFUL OF POSIES . If you are having difficulty finding a copy of the book, it’s because the first printing has sold out. My local bookstore, Eight Cousins, stocked up, so they might still have some (508.548.5548). The situation will soon be remedied, as the second printing will arrive from Hong Kong in mid-January.

detail from "Pocketful of Posies" 2010

Eight Cousins bookstore & more wee folk centerpiece

Carol Chittenden from Eight Cousins bookstore asked me to come in and sign another box of books. She sold out of the copies of Pocketful of Posies I signed last week, so I was more than happy to sign some more. To order autographed copies call Eight Cousins at (508) 548-5548. Judy Richardson and I went by this morning after our dance aerobics class at the Rec center. 19 years ago, Judy and I celebrated the publication of  our book, The Way Home. Read about the making of our book on earlier posts starting here. We gathered in the back room at Eight Cousins.  

Carol Chittenden, Judy Richardson and Salley

 I signed a book for Judy’s relatives, a family with a boy and twin girls.


Out front, my book was in good company, next to a card board display of David Wiesner’s new book, Art and Max. David and I were both illustration majors at RISD, class of ’78. He was quiet and serious, but had a bold, determined side. I remember a mural he painted on the wall in the house he shared with some friends of mine. It was a huge copy of one of Henri Rouseau’s fantasy jungle scenes. I saw David at a RISD reunion a few years ago and was happy to see that he was still as kind and friendly as he’s used to be.  

In the recent post about my book release party at Highfield Hall (see here), I said that I hadn’t taken any pictures of the wee folk centerpiece. Well, Carol from Eight Cousins was thinking clearly enough to take some, so here are her photos of the me setting up refreshments in the dining room. 


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.

Mushroom houses

These mushroom house have been packed away for over 30 years and earlier this spring I brought them outside and took some pictures. I made them for a story that was included in an elementary school text book. This was my first real illustration job after graduation from art school. I recently wrote about the project  in a post about my first picture book, The Way Home, here.

The Great Cleanup was a story about some ecologically minded insects who organized a recycling effort to reuse the trash that was dumped on their neighborhood. I’ll show some pictures of the insects in a future post.

I was still using my Singer Featherweight back then, which was good for top stitching and maneuvering around tight corners. There was plenty of hand stitching, too, around the mushroom cap roofs and front landings.

The houses are 8 ” to 9″ tall and the stems are hollow, with walls of 1/2″ foam rubber. The caps are filled with fiber fill stuffing.

I can remember picking out textured and knobby fabric for the stems, caps and chimneys. It was good to dust them off and display them in the grass.

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.