Cover Up (part 1)

CoverUp_lowresThis is the first in a multi-part series of posts about my new fabric relief piece, Cover Up. It’s the female counterpart to Whiskers, my previous exploration of men’s facial hair styles. Cover Up focuses on women’s head coverings that serve as identifying markers imposed by the conventions of a particular time and place throughout history. I want the 45 characters to invite comparison and point out contrasts and similarities between different societies, whether they are open or restrictive in tolerating self expression and individuality.

I loved the research phase of the project and spent many days hunting down images of women from around the world, each wearing a form of covering that reveals something about the culture they come from. I’ve depicted individuals with all sorts of veils, scarves, hats, makeup and facial markings that reflect different notions of female modesty, attractiveness, fashion, status and conformity.

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While searching through the images, I considered this question, “At what point does a bold, new fashion statement evolve into just another form of conformity that brands a group identity?” I also reflected on being a part of our diverse American society that is made up of immigrants and how this experience may influence one’s perception of “the other”.

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The possibilities were endless and I could have kept making new heads for a long time, but I had to narrow it down and chose styles that I thought would best represent a variety of cultures. In a lot of cases it came down to choosing depictions that had characteristics I found personally intriguing.

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Poster - Cover Up

Poster – Cover Up

After finishing the portraits and before making the background field to put them in, I took separate photos of each one and shared them on Instagram and Facebook. I invite you to follow me on these other social media sites for more frequent postings and notices, which include behind the scenes pictures.

The response to the photos was so enthusiastic that I decided to print a poster which shows enlargements (200%) of a selected collection of these portraits. The 12 x 17 poster (shown left) is available in my Etsy Shop here.

 

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Cover Up is part of a series that includes Face Time and Whiskers, which focus on bringing to life different people from around the world, using themes of history, style and cultural identity. In each piece, head and shoulder busts peek out of “cameo” framed holes. Their faces are painted 20mm wooden beads, with wigs and adornments, similar to the doll heads in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New AdventuresThese 3 pieces will be included in my exhibit Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016.

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Please stay tuned for more posts about making Cover Up. Coming up are more photos of the portraits and how the felt background was made. My husband Rob is even working on a short video with material he filmed while I was stitching the piece. Read (part 2) and (part 3 & video).

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Cover Up preview & poster

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Over the past few months, I made Cover Up (24 x 30), the newest piece in an evolving portrait series. I’m in the process of writing more posts about the making of Cover Up, which will be published soon, but, I wanted to send out a preview first. It was an engrossing project that kept me busy all through the cold snowy days of winter. Cover Up depicts women wearing cultural, national, and religious forms of head coverings and tribal markings. The portraits reflect notions of female modesty, fashion, status and conformity from different times and places.

Because of the multitude of hard to see little portraits, I decided that the finished piece (shown above) wouldn’t translate well into a reduced sized poster format. Instead, I chose to feature a selected group of women, with their photos juxtaposed in a grid. Each head is enlarged 200%, so that you can take in the details and essence of the person. The 12 x 17 poster (shown below) is available in my Etsy Shop here.

In this series, which includes Face Time and Whiskers, I’ve focused on bringing to life different people from around the world, using themes of history, style and cultural identity. In each piece, head and shoulder busts peek out of “cameo” framed holes. Their faces are painted 20mm wooden beads, with wigs and adornments, similar to the doll heads in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk – New AdventuresThese 3 pieces will be included in my exhibit Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, RI, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016.

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Whiskers (part 3)

WhiskersblogIn this 3rd and final post about Whiskers, there are lots of close up photos, including individual shots of all the bearded and mustached guys. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to take a detour from making sweet faced wee folk characters and delve into the world of hairy men! The styles range from handle bars to goatees to hipster beards. There’s more about Whiskers in Part 1 and Part 2.

Last summer, when I started making the piece, I posted a photo on Facebook of my work table full of bearded heads. Someone asked if there would be women as well. I answered that this piece was about facial hair and that only bearded ladies could be included! Don’t fret, a crowd of women (with head coverings, not beards) are featured in my next piece Cover Up, which I’ll write about in the future.

Whiskers, Cover Up and more new large (24″ x 30″) works will be included in my upcoming show, Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum in Bristol, RI this fall, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30.

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I pinned the head and shoulder portraits in their peep holes before sewing them in place. At this angle, don’t the guys look like they’re floating in swimming pool lanes?

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After consulting with my artistically perceptive son Ian, it was clear that the piece needed another element to help finish it off. At the last minute, just before it was scheduled to be professionally photographed, I decided to add a red thread zigzag to the border.

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The collection of heads have doll wigs similar to the ones in the new edition of my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk. Some whiskers are painted, but the glasses and embroidered felt beards are a new development, since the book was written. So, here are the fellas…

I had a blast researching and making the bearded guys and I hope that you enjoyed meeting them! It’ll be the women’s turn next, when I show another new piece, Cover Up in future posts. You can get a preview on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Whiskers, Face Time, Cover Up, Birds of Beebe Woods, Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion and more will be included in my exhibit, Intertwined – Needle Art of Salley Mavor at the Bristol Art Museum, Bristol, Rhode Island, Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2016.

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Whiskers (part 1)

Ok, it’s been awhile since I’ve checked in. My only excuse is that it’s winter – my favorite time to hunker down and go full throttle on a project. There’s no way I’m going to some place warm! And I know that some of you are of like mind, but we happy hibernators generally don’t get much agreement out there. I’m happy to say that I just finished a piece I’ve been working on since fall. Cover Up depicts cultural and national forms of head coverings and tribal markings that reflect notions of female modesty, fashion, status and conformity from different times and places. I’ll show lots of photos of Cover Up on this blog in the future. My Facebook and Instagram followers have been getting frequent glimpses throughout the process, so head over to one of those sites if you’re curious.

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For now, let’s play catch up with a series of posts about a 24″ x 30″ piece I finished last summer. Whiskers focuses on beards and mustaches, showing an array of male characters from different cultures and historic periods.

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Little men peek out and display themselves like an unlikely collection of international souvenir dolls. Their painted wooden heads appear in vertical lines, within a large man’s beard, which acts as a holding place. The bulk of the large beard is comprised of small pieces of felt that are patched together by hand with embroidery stitches. The large man’s bas relief face and beard are defined with lengths of wire covered with felt or wrapped with thread. Whiskers explores diverse societies and their origins, using needle and thread to signify the unraveling and mending of human cultures throughout history.

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I made the heads like the wee folk dolls in my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. Some beards are painted on the wooden bead head. I also tried something new, by gluing embroidered felt beards to their faces.

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FaceTimeDetail1WMI had a blast researching beard styles for the collection of characters. This piece is a continuation of a new series that explores history and fashion.  Face Time (shown left) is a previous piece showing cameo portraits from early civilizations to the present day. See Whiskers Part 2 here.IMG_20150711_101219

Nativity Scene photo shoot

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I know it’s rushing the season, but for those of you who celebrate Christmas, it’s time to get started on making a nativity scene, so that you have it ready to display during the holidays. This set is from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, which has patterns and directions for making Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, 3 Kings and a shepherd and his sheep.

In this post, I show what the scene looked like in my studio, before we took photos for the book.

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The nativity figures are fun to make and can be as simple or decorative as you want.  I especially enjoyed coming up with the costumes for the three kings. Their gifts are different beads that look liked containers.

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nativity project from Felt Wee Folk

For the photo shoot, I made the manger from curved pieces of driftwood, creating an arched structure. The back drop is a dark purple piece of felt with sewed on star sequins.

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Bayberry branches and dried foliage were the right scale for trees and brush. I used beach stones to fill gaps and build up the surrounding landscape. A pail full of beach sand covered the plywood base and the straw bedding was dried beach grass.

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The photo below is the one Rob and I chose for the book. We used a different photography method, which gives a more dramatic nighttime effect. We took the photo at night, in a completely dark room. During a long expose time of about 10 seconds, Rob “painted with light”, pointing and moving a small flash light around the areas he wanted lit up. We repeated that many times, until we had a good selection of photos from which to choose.

I’ve already heard from several enthusiastic people who are in the process of making or have competed a Nativity of their own. And I’m sure that each set of characters will be as unique as their maker!

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Scotland, Oct. 2015 ~ Rosie & Polly

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Remember when Polly went missing and I had to come up with a replacement traveler? Well, Rosie was a great sport to fill in and she ended up having a great trip. But low and behold, who did she find in Scotland but Polly! After she got over the shock of seeing her bedraggled cousin in the heather, Rosie listened to Polly’s story. Polly told the harrowing tale of how she stowed away in a backpack, making it through airport security and the trans Atlantic flight. She barely survived being crammed inside a pocket with a pair of sun glasses and a bottle of aspirin. But, she was glad to not be left behind! From then on, Polly and Rosie were inseparable. They climbed stone walls at Urquhart Castle

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visited Melrose Abbey

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traipsed through moss at The Falls of Bruar

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petted Greenfriar’s Bobby and walked the street of Edinburgh.

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They hiked through magical woods…

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and visited the site of the Battle of Culloden. Polly and Rosie made it home safely and will rest a bit before their next adventure!

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Scotland, Oct. 2015 ~ Rosie

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Rosie’s trip to Scotland began with a dramatic encounter with a local bear at a road side pub between Glasgow and Oban. With a combination of perseverance and ingenuity, she was able to excuse herself after lunch and continued on her journey.

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She took a boat to the Island of Iona, where she said hello to some sweet cows and drank heather ale.

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She loved visiting Sir Walter Scott’s magnificent home, Abbotsford…

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and Eilean Donan castle.

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She met a piper…

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and posed with sets of armor and a stained glass window at Edinburgh castle. Stay tuned for future posts ~ Rosie’s travels will continue here, with an exciting discovery!

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