FAQ

salleyfairyhouse

This is a list of the most frequently asked questions about my work. Several subjects come up again and again in the comments on my posts, so I thought I’d devote a whole page to answering them as best I can.

When did you start making fabric reliefs?
I named my work “fabric relief” in about 1980, when people kept asking what it was called. Before this, I made free standing dolls that were photographed in 3-dimensional scenes. In an effort to have my work recognized as art, I decided to convert to a relief format which is displayed under glass, in shadow-box frames. The Way Home, the first of my 11 children’s books illustrated in fabric relief, was published in 1991.

How did you learn this technique?
I am self-taught in embroidery and fiber art and have developed my style and working methods through years of experimentation and practice. I am inspired by 17th century English “stumpwork” or raised embroidery and have figured out my own way of achieving a 3-dimensional effect. I learned about visual communication, color and design as an illustration major at the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA 1978).

Why have you started making political satire? 
I am not by nature a political person, but I believe that speaking out through art is important for the health of our democracy, especially since the 2016 presidential election. To read an interview about the Wee Folk Players (They’re a Stitch), go to this post. In this Interview on WGBH TV, I reflect on my foray into political satire, the abrupt cancellation of my exhibit, “Liberty and Justice” and describe how it has affected my work and life.

Is your studio open to the public?
Not usually, but occasionally I host an Open Studio event. My studio is a private work space and an oasis where I spend most of my time working alone, surrounded by collections of treasures.

Do you have a shop?
Yes, I have an online Etsy Shop which offers printed reproductions of my work on note cards, posters and (autographed) children’s books and how-to books. The shop also sells supplies, including painted doll heads, faux flower petals for fairy skirts and wool fleece fairy hair. Once or twice a year, I make and sell Ltd. Edition Fairies, announcing their availability on Instagram, Facebook and this blog.  

Do you sell your original fabric reliefs?
Some fabric relief pieces, including original illustrations are for sale. I usually handle sales myself and am not represented by a gallery. Prices range from $2,500. to $6,500. Please contact me if you would like a current list of available artwork. I do not make commissioned artwork. My recent larger pieces are not for sale at this time, so that they can be exhibited and enjoyed by many. Exhibits and other events are listed here.

Do you teach classes?
No, I do not teach classes or give workshops. My schedule is full of making art, working on books, organizing exhibits and traveling. My how-to book Felt Wee Folk provides a step-by-step approach to making wee folk dolls, with many examples and patternsTo get an idea of my thoughts on artistic privacy, please read my post to teach or not to teach.

Do you give lectures about your work?
I’ve recently decided to “retire” from giving presentations about my work. That doesn’t mean I’m stopping making art – it’s just that I’d rather focus on doing than talking about it on a live public platform.

How long does it take to make a fabric relief piece?
It takes about a month to sew the original fabric relief pictures for my children’s books, depending on the size and detail of the illustration. I construct one piece at a time, stitching until it is completed. The characters are made specifically for each piece and not reused multiple times. I spent 3 years making the illustrations for Pocketful of Posies and 2 years for my most recent book, My Bed. Larger pieces, such as Birds of Beebe Woods  and Displaced take several months to stitch.

How many hours a day do you work?
I don’t keep track of the hours, but I work in my studio as much as I can, including the evenings. My husband teases,”When Salley’s not sleeping or eating, she’s working in her studio.” Of course that’s not entirely true, I do get out to exercise, work in the garden, meet friends, cook dinner and sometimes even pay attention to my husband. 

Do you use a sewing machine?
I only use a sewing machine to make clothes, curtains or pot holders–that kind of thing. My fabric relief pieces are all hand stitched.

Do you have any Blossom fairy kits for sale?
No, I’m sold out of kits, which I made and sold for 10 years, from 1998 – 2008. However, I recently began offering painted doll heads, wool fleece fairy hair and faux flower petals for making fairy skirts and wings in my Etsy Shop.

Will you write any more how-to books?
I will not be writing any more how-to books. A revised edition of Felt Wee Folk, which was first published in 2003 was published in 2015. The popular fairies and other dolls remain and the non-doll felt projects are replaced with new varieties of wee folk characters and more doll-making tips. This all-doll version has a new cover and more pages than the first edition. It  features many new projects for seasoned wee folk makers as well as yet-to-be converts, who are just beginning to learn how to wrap pipe-cleaner limbs. The book, titled Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures: 120 Enchanting Dolls was released by C&T Publishing. Copies ordered from my Etsy Shop have extra goodies; autograph, faux flowers to make 2 fairies and a note card. The original edition, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects (including bonus fairy skirts and wings) will continue to be available from my Etsy ShopUpdate: To read my thoughts about artistic privacy, go to this blog post: To teach or not to teach.

May I make and sell dolls from your how-to book?
Many people make fairies and dolls based on my designs. I cannot give permission to use my designs for personal profit, but It is alright with me if individuals sell the dolls on a limited basis, if the profits go to charity. Please give me credit on a tag or in the online description of the dolls. 

A note about my new book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures:
I aim to protect the copyright of new techniques and patterns that are included in this follow-up edition.

Do you sell your dolls?
I do not sell one-of-a-kind dolls. Every once in a while, I offer a Ltd. Edition of 25 dolls in my Etsy Shop.

What kind of felt do you use?
Most of the felt in my recent fabric relief pieces is plant-dyed wool felt produced by Heavenly Hues Wool Studio. They have changed ownership and their online Etsy shop was empty the last time I checked.  A Child’s Dream sells a nice selection of wool felt. They also offer a craft supply basket, full of practically everything you need to make doll projects form my new how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures. 

Will you exhibit your work in my area?
Viewing my embroidered pieces is a completely different experience than seeing them in printed form. Therefore, I would like to create more opportunities for the public to see them “in person”. This requires invitations directly from venues. You can help by encouraging your local museum to show my work. A national tour of the original illustrations from my new picture book, My Bed:  Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World (HoughtonMifflin) is underway. The exhibition, “Salley Mavor: Bedtime Stitches” is booked at 7 museums, with availability beginning in June 2023. Interested museums with funding for shipping the framed artwork to and from Massachusetts are welcome to contact me for information about hosting the exhibit. 

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

Recent Posts

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

Pandemic
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
RIP RBG

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

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

Misc.
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.

  1. Play Village 12 Replies
  2. Bedtime Stitches tour 4 Replies
  3. Shop update 2 Replies
  4. Doll house stories – all moved in 12 Replies
  5. Doll house stories: re-upholstery 5 Replies
  6. Doll house stories: kitchen 8 Replies
  7. Doll house stories- wallpapering 18 Replies
  8. Doll house stories – history 6 Replies
  9. Bedtime Stitches at the Cahoon Museum 17 Replies