Sam and Louisa’s wedding dolls

This summer, both my son Ian and Sam, his best friend from childhood, got married. Here they are at age 3 and at Sam’s wedding last weekend. So, I had the pleasure of making personalized cake toppers for 2 wedding couples! You can see the post I wrote about Ian and Liz’s dolls here.

Sam and Louisa hosted a heart-felt and whimsical ceremony and reception, full of do-it-yourself touches, at their home in Falmouth, MA. Sam is a radio announcer and reporter for WCAI, our local NPR station and Louisa teaches ballet and is also the handwork teacher at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod.

A few weeks before the wedding, Sam and Louisa sent photos of their wedding attire and accessories, including their shoes. As I teach in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk, the figures are constructed from the feet upward.

I also asked them to send head shots, specifically with closed mouths – no toothy grins, which are difficult to paint. When depicting real people, I like to paint their likenesses way in the beginning of the process. That way, I feel attached to them. They aren’t just dolls, but individuals with unique characteristics who are dressing up for a special occasion.

After forming the bride’s limbs with pipe cleaners and wrapping the arms and legs with embroidery floss, I sewed felt around the torso and stitched on boob beads.

Then, I covered the torso and boob beads with a layer of cotton batting and stitched more embroidery floss onto the upper chest area. Dressing bride dolls is a challenge because so often they wear skimpy gowns that show a lot of exposed skin. It’s so much easier to make the groom’s suit out of wool felt!

To make Louisa’s hair, I stitched embroidery floss onto the felt “wig”, which I’d previously glued onto her wooden bead head (see photo above). I should mention that at this point, her head is not yet glued onto the neck. That came at the end, after her clothing was finished. I popped her head on and off throughout the process to check how it looked.

I found some white silk (or silk-like) fabric in my stash to make Louisa’s gown.

I formed Sam’s pipe cleaner body and he lay on my work table in his underwear, while I waited for photos of his suit.

Using photos of Louisa’s family heirlooms, I fashioned her veil and pearl necklace.

With Sam still in his underwear, I pressed forward and made the platform that they would stand on, which is basically a piece of wood covered with felt. I chain stitched their wedding date in orange and outlined the numbers in purple to make them more prominent.

I used a spider web technique to embroider ribbon roses, which I learned on YouTube.

I added more ribbon embroidery and bead embellishments.

I glued a piece of felt to the bottom of the wooden platform and stitched the embellished felt top piece to it around the outside edge. Then I edged the base with twisted memory wire and braid.

As soon as the photo of Sam in his black velvet jacket appeared on my phone, I got to work creating its wee version.

To make Sam’s floral bow-tie, I decorated silk ribbon with markers and stitched it to his shirt.

It didn’t take long to sew his jacket onto the pipe cleaner body, and glue his head on top. Now, he was all ready to get married!

For her bouquet, i weeded through my collection of miniature flowers, guessing what it might look like. In reality, it turned out that she held a bouquet of dahlias in a very similar color scheme.

Before covering the wooden base with felt, I had drilled holes for sewing their feet in place. I had marked the location of the drill holes on the felt, so it was easy to anchor their feet with a few stitches using a long sewing needle.

Here they are, atop their lemon poppy seed wedding cake, which was homemade by the bride’s sister. Congratulations and best wishes to Sam and Louisa!

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

Mossy Glen: Part 7 – Violets and Berries

In this Part 7 of the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen, I share photos, videos and commentary about how I created violets and berry bushes. Part 1 is all about stitching a moss-like texture, Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees, Part 3 is about the stone walls, Part 4 shows how I made the forsythia blossoms, Part 5 features wire and felt leaves and Part 6 is about chain-stitching leaves.

winding wire stems with embroidery floss

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.


While I write this post, I’m in the midst of preparing for my upcoming retrospective exhibition in Kennebunk, Maine at the Brick Store Museum. Even though I’ve hardly picked up a needle and thread this spring, I’m still being creative, but in a different way. My approach to curating this show is similar to how I imagine and labor over my artwork. It’s all about taking a lot of small details and arranging them in a way that contributes to the story. The exhibition, What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor will tell the story of my evolution as an artist, from childhood to today. Just like my art, this exhibit will be very busy, with a ton of original 3-dimensional pieces to eye as closely as you like. As my husband Rob says, “With Salley’s art, more is more.”

Early work from the 80’s and 90’s on loan for the exhibition, What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor.

What a Relief: The Art of Salley Mavor at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine, (June 7 – Sept. 11, 2022). I will be there on Sat., June 25th from 1 – 3 pm for a meet and greet and book-signing event.

The retrospective exhibition will feature a large selection of my artwork, spanning over 40 years, from early on to the present day. Over 100 pieces from my collection and rarely seen works on loan from private collections will fill walls a cases in multiple galleries on the museum’s entire first floor. Original picture book illustrations, including the entire series from my most recent book, MY BED will also be shown.

Now back to the patch of violets, which appear in the lower left foreground of Mossy Glen. I chose violets because I thought a dark leafed plant would bring some weight to the bottom of the composition. I also wanted something larger scale, to offset all of the itty bitty berries and leaves.

I constructed the leaves out of wool felt and wire and embroidered the veins.

You can see the process of making the leaves in this Stitch Minute video.

After sewing the leaves to the background fabric, I stitched flowers with silk ribbon.

I created stems with wire, silk ribbon and embroidery floss.

The silk ribbon was so fun to use that I couldn’t resist adding some “grass” to the bottom edge.

Scattered throughout Mossy Glen are berry bushes, which I make with wire, glass beads and embroidery floss.

You can see how I form wire and bead berry bushes in this Stitch Minute video.

Wire and glass bead berry bush

At this stage of the project, I picked out some upholstery fabric from my stash and used it to cover the stretcher frames. It hurts my brain to try to explain why and how it’s done, but the process involves cotton padding and lots of contorted hand sewing, kind of like upholstering a piece of furniture. In putting the covered stretcher on top, I’m basically freeing up an extra 1/2″ of depth that would normally be wasted behind the stretched fabric.

I then stapled the background fabric to the back of the covered stretcher and started assembling the pieces on top, inside the upholstered border frame.

Stay tuned for a final post about making the wee folk characters in Mossy Glen.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)
Part 4 (forsythia)
Part 5 (wire and felt leaves)
Part 6 (chain stitched leaves)

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

Mossy Glen – part 4: forsythia

In this Part 4 of the series about making the spring landscape, Mossy Glen, I share photos and commentary about how I created the sweeping forsythia bush that arches above the hillside. Part 1 is all about stitching a moss-like texture, Part 2 gives a glimpse at how I made the cherry trees and Part 3 is about how I incorporated stone walls into the scene.

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.

Before we escape into Mossy Glen’s land of innocence, I want to acknowledge what’s happening in the real world. The shocking and merciless attack on Ukraine by the Russian military is just too horrible to ignore. At times like this, I find it helpful to channel my distress into art. In this case, I already had images to work with. All I had to do was rearrange the photos and present them in context. So, this past week, on International Women’s Day, I posted the following image in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The response on Facebook and Instagram was immediate and heartfelt, so I’m sharing it here as well. The group of portraits, featuring a Ukrainian in a traditional folk costume in the center, are some of the 48 women from around the world in my 2016 piece, Cover Up, which you can see and read about here.

In Solidarity with Ukraine

Forsythia
One of the first signs of spring around here, besides snowdrops and daffodils are the telltale splashes of yellow forsythia bushes. They’re only noticeable for a few weeks, before leafing out and blending in with every other nondescript mass of leggy branches along the roadside. When forsythia are in full blossom, though, they are an important marker of the changing season.

Once I decided to make a forsythia bush, I had to figure out how to construct the different parts. The wire branches would be straightforward, but the flowers needed a new approach. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to replicate them perfectly, so I thought of ways to give the impression of delicate blossoms.

After experimenting with different threads and yarns and finding the flowers too droopy and clumsy, I tried silk ribbon. The petals perked right up and held their shape!

The process of forming the flowers was quite fussy. It’s much easier to show than tell how, so here’s a Stitch Minute video to give you the basics.

Forsythia

The silk ribbon I used is from Silk Road Fibers. They have a ton of different colors.

I filled the wire branches with about 100 flowers and buds.

Then I wrapped brown embroidery floss around the branches, covering the messy wire stems.

The stems were still a bit bumpy, so I wrapped more layers with 2 or 3 strands of floss, until they were smooth like this.

Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Other parts in the series will focus on the leaves, embroidered embellishments and the wee folk characters.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)

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

Mossy Glen: Part 1 (moss)

Wouldn’t it be nice to step out your front door onto a mossy carpet every morning?  In this Part 1 of the series about making Mossy Glen, I share photos, videos and commentary about how I created just that for the wee folk who live there.

Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen and the winter scene, Frosty Morning are available as note cards in my shop here.

I always start a project with an image in my head. In this case it included a forsythia bush overhanging a neighborhood made up of stone walls and doorways nestled into moss covered mounds. I drew a thumbnail sketch of the basic composition and printed it out in full scale using Block Posters. Over the 5 months working on Mossy Glen, I used the enlarged drawing as a general guide, not as an exact template.

Faux Moss
About 10 years ago, I fell in love with stitching moss while making my piece Rabbitat, which you can learn about in this film.

Rabbitat 2011

I can’t believe it’s taken so long to get back into embroidering moss. The simple idea of stitching multiple French knots side by side to form a naturalistic ground cover isn’t a new concept, but it reached a heightened level of obsession with Mossy Glen. It’s one of those repetitive activities that has you totally mesmerized.

Out of curiosity, I calculated that each square inch of faux moss contains an average of 144 knots, depending on the thickness of the thread, number of strands and the density of the stitches. That means that Mossy Glen is covered with several thousand knots.

If you follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram, you’ve gotten a preview of the process of making Mossy Glen. Last summer I shared photos and videos of whatever part I was working on that particular day. One constant question was, “How do you stitch on wood?” Back then, I was immersed in the act of creating and didn’t want to switch on the explaining part of my brain. Now, I’m ready to talk about it.

So, how do I stitch onto wood? It helps to think of art is an illusion, that the goal is to make the viewer perceive something in a way that suspends disbelief, like magic. The thing is, people who make stuff are super curious and aren’t satisfied until they can make sense of how something is done.

Here’s the simple rundown – 1. find interesting pieces of wood, 2. glue pieces of felt to the wood, 3. stitch onto the felt. As long as there is something to catch a needle with, you can make stitches. I usually shy away from using glue because it’s messy and unpredictable, but decided to try it for this purpose. Aleene’s glue makes a variety of fabric embellishing adhesives that all work well. Do I use hot glue? No, because it’s stringy, messy, shoddy looking and I don’t trust its holding capabilities.

French knots/Colonial knots
It’s been pointed out by people who know such things, that I’m actually making a Colonial knot, not a French knot. It has something to do with the twist at the end. Being self-taught, I’ve never paid attention to the names of different stitches or doing them the “right” way. I just use the basics in combinations that work for me. Here’s a Stitch Minute video that shows how I stitched the knots.

Stitch Minute – Moss

Thread
To make the moss, I used all kinds of thread, from silk to cotton floss, depending on what kind of look I was after. The naturalistic appearance comes from combining different shades of green in groups of 3 or 4 strands. I used these threads: DMC cotton floss, Vineyard Silks and Watercolours by Caron,

This 2 minute video gives a further glimpse into my process.

Stitching Moss with Salley Mavor

Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Future parts in the series will focus on the stone walls, the cherry trees, the forsythia bush, the embroidered embellishments and the wee folk characters.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)
Part 4 (forsythia)

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 – Home: Part 5

PART 5 – Rooster, Cow, Parrot, Camel, Bunny, Crocodile, Duck, Cat, Pony and Sheep: Today’s post finishes up the “Home” series about making the illustration in My Bed, where all of the animal icons featured throughout the book come together in a child’s bedroom at the end.
Part 1 gives an overview of the page.
Part 2 focuses on the outside architectural details of the cut-away house.
Part 3 takes a peek inside at the furniture and the sleeping child.
Part 4 shows how I made the elephant lamp and goldfish lampshade.

Signed copies of My Bed are available in my shop here. Watch this 8-minute documentary about making the artwork for the book.

First, I want to remind those of you in the New England area that there’s only a short time left (through Dec. 31st, 2021) to see Bedtime Stitches at the New England Quilt Museum! The touring exhibition of original bas-relief embroidered artwork for the book will then travel to the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE, Jan. 25 – April 10, 2022. See the the full schedule of participating museums here.

Bedtime Stitches exhibition at the New England Quilt Museum

It was so much fun to find ways to cram all of the animals into the child’s bedroom – overhead and underfoot, hanging on the wall, resting on the windowsill and crowding the bed. I like to think of these mini versions as souvenirs from the places around the world where the book travels. As you can see, my interior design style is anything but minimalist.

Some of the animals are depicted in portrait form, such as the rooster and the cow.

The parrot took flight…

and the sheep emerged through french knots and chain stitches.

I shrunk the crocodile to about half it’s size. You’d think it would be tedious, but I relish this kind of thing. I like figuring out how to reduce the scale, while preserving what makes something or someone identifiable.

The crocodile was a last minute addition due to some editorial adjustments, but luckily there was room to fit him on the bed.

We filmed this little animation before the crocodile was added.

There were other changes, too. Both the larger and mini versions of the camel had to undergo plastic surgery, when a follower pointed out that African camels are the dromedary or one-hump type, which shows sloppy research on my part. So, I transformed this guy’s two-humps into one! Luckily this all happened while I was still making the illustrations, so it could be fixed before the artwork was photographed for the book.

The cat and bunny look like they’re dressed in Halloween costumes! I made them using a scaled down version of the wrapped wire method I teach in Felt Wee Folk.

This sweet little Mongolian pony completes the 5 part series about making the “Home” page for MY BED. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes at my process.
Part 1 gives an overview of the page.
Part 2 focuses on the outside architectural details of the cut-away house.
Part 3 takes a peek inside at the furniture and the sleeping child.
Part 4 shows how I made the elephant lamp and goldfish lampshade.

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 – Home: Part 3

PART 3 – Furniture: This series is about making the illustration at the end of my picture book, My Bed, where all of the animal icons from around the world come together in a child’s bedroom. Part 1 gives an overview of the scene and Part 2 focuses on the outside architectural details of the cut-away house. Today’s post will take a peek inside, at the furniture and the sleeping child. Coming up next in Part 4, I’ll show how I made the elephant lamp and fish lampshade.

Signed copies of My Bed can be ordered in my shop here. Watch this 8-minute documentary about making the artwork for the book.

The giraffe on the text panel found its way here after it was bumped from the Ghanaian page. To read about the giraffe gaffe which caused the switchover, go to this previous post.

For this scene, I rendered the giraffe in a different form, as a chain stitched image “painted” on the side of a chest of drawers.

To make the chest look like a wood paneled piece of furniture, I created layers of felt, including a cut out frame and a backing piece of a slightly lighter shade of green. Then, I outlined the frame with blanket stitching and basted the 2 pieces on top of one another.

I chain stitched a simple outline of a giraffe and filled it in with more chain stitches and satin stitched spots. For eyes, I combed through my glass bead supply until I found 2 of the tiniest black ones

After adding a branch and leaves, I sewed wire around the outside edge to give the panel more structure. And for extra emphasis, I went over every edge and corner with a darker shade of green embroidery floss.

To help visually anchor the corners, I sewed on jump rings, covering the metal with embroidery floss. I added a felt top, bead drawer pulls and bead legs.

Creating a side view of the bed frame came next. It’s made with carved bone beads from Africa that I found at a bead show years ago.

Because I wanted every child looking at the page to feel a connection to the character in the illustration, I intentionally made them non-specific by gender or race. I also wanted the house and bedroom to convey a warm and playful sense of “home” that could be imagined anywhere.

Since the child was going to be tucked under the covers, I only had to make the top half of their body. The figure is based on the dolls in my in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk.

While picking out colors and patterns for the child’s clothes and bed spread, I was keenly aware of how easy it is to fall for pink = girl and blue = boy stereotypes. After much consideration, I chose striped orange pajamas and a starry purplish night sky bed covering.

I embroidered the stars with gold metallic thread, which for me is a material of last resort. Even though synthetic thread is icky to work with, it provided the shine I wanted.

Once the child was safely tucked into bed, I started making the different renditions of the animal icons featured throughout the book. Coming up next in Part 4, I’ll show how I made the elephant lamp and fish lampshade. After that, I’ll write about the other animals in the room.

Bedtime Stitches, the touring exhibition of original 3-dimensional artwork for the book is at the  New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA through Dec. 31, 2021 and will be at the International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, NE Jan. 25 – April 10, 2022. See the the full schedule here.

Bedtime Stitches at the New England Quilt Museum

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

Frosty Morning: part 3 (shelters)

Part 3 in the Frosty Morning series is about making these curious looking rounded structures. Part 1 showed how I made the tree trunks and Part 2 gave a close look at how I formed and wrapped the wire tree branches, from the inside out.

This year, I’m working on a group of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Frosty Morning is the first completed scene in the series. Spring, summer and fall will come later.
Note cards are available in my Etsy Shop.

From the start, I knew that the scene would include little characters who needed places to take shelter from the cold. So, I constructed cozy homes for them, like a wee folk housing development nestled in the trees.

Each shelter was custom made to fit between tree limbs. I first cut out pieces of wool felt in the basic shapes. Then, I cut out rounded doorways and trimmed them to conform to the surrounding branches.

To give the shelters a nest-like appearance, I stitched a random cross-hatched pattern onto the felt, using fingering weight Merino wool from Flying Finn Yarns.

As I worked, the spiral around the doorway grew larger, creating a shallow entrance, with an overhanging rim. On top, I added a bit of snow cover with white metallic thread and clear glass beads.

Each shelter was made to be different in shape and color.

This one was built to fit under a piece of driftwood.

In the back, I added layers of felt to make the walls puff out a bit.

Sometimes I drill little holes in wood to sew it in place, but in this case I glued the wood to the back layer of felt.

At this point, I wasn’t sure who would be moving into the neighborhood, but there was much more to finish before they started showing up, anyway

Stay tuned for Part 4 in the Frosty Morning series, which will zero in on the stone wall and its surroundings.

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: part 1 (trees)

Are you ready for a blast of cold air in the heat of summer? I hope so, because today, I am giving a behind the scenes peek at how I made the tree trunks for Frosty Morning. Part 2 in the series will concentrate on how I formed and wrapped the wire branches. As the summer progresses, I will share other features of the winter scene, including snow and ice, cozy little shelters, a stone wall and the ubiquitous wee folk characters dressed in warm winter outfits.

This year, I’m working on a group of seasonal pieces that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Frosty Morning is the first completed scene in the series. Note cards are available in my Etsy Shop.

I’m currently deep in making mode, working on a completely different piece – the spring scene, which you can follow on Instagram and Facebook . So, writing this post requires switching my brain into explaining mode. You see, when I’m engrossed in making something, I don’t think about the actual process. I’m focused on bringing my vision to life.

So how did this vision develop? I started by picturing a winter scene in my mind, with expressive branches and sparkling ice crystals. When I sketched out some ideas, rounded shelters showed up, all nestled in the thicket of trees. The original drawing also included a line of little figures climbing high along a branch. The details changed along the way, but the basic thrust and curve of the center tree remained. Over the 4 months that I worked on Frosty Morning, I used the drawing as a guide, but never a template.

Because the center tree is the main focal point of the piece, I constructed it first. The photo below shows how I used matte board and wire to form the structure of the tree trunk.

The concept of using matte board as a base actually began over 40 years ago, when I designed a line of stuffed pins. You can follow the story of my pins here.

i still have the patterns for the various shapes, including the cat. The board inside gave a nice flat backing to stitch the pin fastener onto.

For the tree, I glued a piece of felt (the cheap stuff) to the back of the matte board. That way there is something for the needle to catch onto. Then, I wrapped a piece of felt (the good stuff) around the trunk, covering the front side and stitching it in place on the back.

Then, I stitched a zigzag pattern on the font side with variegated pima cotton made by the Caron Collection.

I used insulated wire of different gauges, sometimes stripping off the rubber/plastic coating to reveal multiple wires inside. It’s the kind of supply that can be found at hardware stores The skinnier wire inside became the finer limbs as the tree branched out.

I searched through my old lace collection until I found something that would evoke snow cover on the center tree’s outstretched branch.

I made the purple tree a little differently.

Being smaller in diameter, the purple tree didn’t need a board backing, so i just wrapped the wire armature with strips of cotton batting until they were the right thickness. I have no logical explanation as to why this tree is purple. I just wanted to cheer up the scene with something besides drab browns and grays.

Part 2 in this series, will be devoted to forming and wrapping the branches.

Frosty Morning note cards are available in my Etsy shop here.

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.

Bed book peek: Pony

Today, I’m happy to give a behind the scenes peek at how I made this pony, which is used as a spot illustration on the Mongolian spread in my new picture book, MY BED. The story about children’s sleeping places in different cultures around the world was published in Sept. 2020.

The pony is also pictured with all of the other animal icons on the book’s end-papers. If you’d like to see posts about making the other animals, please follow the links below: RoosterCamelParrotElephantGoldfishCatDuckSheepRabbitCow,
 Crocodile, Giraffe, Dog.

A touring exhibition of my original embroidered artwork for the book is traveling around the United States. Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches will next be shown at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA, Sept. 15 – Dec. 31, 2021. Then, the the exhibition will head to the Midwest, to the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE, Jan 25 – April 10, 2022 . The five year tour schedule is listed here.

Signed copies of My Bed are available in my shop here. Watch this 8 minute documentary about how I created the illustrations for the book.

I’ll start off by showing this video, which brings you through the different steps of the pony making process, complete with Mongolian zither music in the background.

Making the Mongolian pony for the book, MY BED

in this series of still photographs, I’ll try to explain what I’m doing. As I’ve said before, I work intuitively, so it can be a challenge to describe the process in exact terms. For most of the animals in the book, I bent a pipe cleaner to form an outline shape. Then, I wrapped the legs, using the same technique that’s taught in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk,

This part is all about building up the body with layers of felt. First, I sewed on a back piece and used scraps of felt to fill the cavity until it was a good thickness.

This is the point where I “upholster” the front of the animal with a piece of felt. There isn’t a supporting photograph because I consistently forget to take a picture of this part. It must be because I’m always consumed in the heat of battle. Just imagine the back as a maze of crisscrossing threads, all working to get rid of any bumps or folds.

Well, after the animal shape looked the way I wanted it to, I sewed on a seed bead eye and embroidered a mane.

I can’t remember how I made the top of the mane where it sticks up, but it could have been several rows of blanket stitching.

To make the tail, I covered the pipe cleaner with embroidery floss.

Research was an important and fun part of illustrating this book. To make an accurate representation, I looked at photographs of real Mongolian ponies, with their colorful, decorative saddles.

It took a while to make the right placement of the ear.

With its bridle in place, the pony was almost ready to go.

All it needed was a brass bead stirrup, which you can see in the last photo.

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: night sky – part 4

This is the 4th and final part in the series about making the night sky illustration for my new picture book, My Bed. In this spread, all of the children are tucked in bed, hovering among the stars in the night sky. Today, I will show how I made the miniature versions of the children and beds from Russia and North America.

But first, I have some GOOD NEWS on the exhibition front! A new museum has just confirmed that they will be hosting the Bedtime Stitches touring exhibition in 2024. The Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany, NY will show Bedtime Stitches, as well as Social Fabric, a collection of other pieces I’ve made over the past 20 years. This all came about because a longtime fan contacted the museum in her home town of Albany about showing my work. Thank you Janny! This proves that the combination of your enthusiasm, along with local connections can get results.

Bedtime Stitches is currently at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, IL through May 30th, 2021. To see the tour schedule, please visit the Exhibitions Page.

Signed copies of My Bed can be ordered in my shop here. Watch this 8 minute documentary about how I created the illustrations for the book.

For the night sky scene, I made a smaller version of the traditional “stove bed” ” like the one in the Russian scene. Besides its use for domestic heating, people slept on top of the masonry to keep warm.

To start, I cut felt in the shape of the stove and embroidered the details. The fire box door is appliqued black felt, with a metal hook for the handle and black seed beads for the hinges. I edged the stove and bed platform pieces with blanket stitches and sewed them together. To keep it from being too floppy, I stitched wire all around the outside edges. You can’t see the wire because it’s wrapped with thread.

I made a mini version of the sleeping girl, braids and all.

Then, I created a snug place for the girl to lie down. The back wall and curtain are made of felt and the scalloped edge along the top is thread wrapped wire. Then, I added a wire curl of smoke coming out of the chimney top. The last touch was a stack of seed beads “logs” inside the wood box.

I also replicated in miniature the bed and child from the North American scene. For comparison, you can see how I made the full size illustration here.

i simplified the quilt pattern into a grid of squares made with 4 or 5 horizontal or vertical stitches.

As with the other sleeping dolls, I only had to make the top portion of the child’s body.

The bed posts are tube beads topped off with round beads. I glued wire inside the beads to hold them together. The head and foot boards are made of felt.

Here she is, ready to join the other children!

I hope that you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes at how I made some of the tiniest beds in MY BED. The other posts in the night sky series are:
Part 1 – North Africa and Holland
Part 2 – Scandinavia and Japan
Part 3 – India, South America and Afghanistan

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.