Please join us in welcoming Salley Mavor, who is talking about the making of her long anticipated book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures: 120 Enchanting Dolls! Stick around at the end for an exciting giveaway!
I am thrilled to present my new book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures: 120 Enchanting Dolls. This long-awaited all-doll edition expands the wee world introduced in the original Felt Wee Folk, with pictures, directions and patterns for making more multi-sized characters with a variety of hairstyles, outfits, and armatures. Favorites, like the acorn capped fairies and other fanciful wee folk make a return appearance in the book. As requested by fans, I’ve added more challenging techniques, but the book is still filled with projects for needleworkers of all skill levels, from the beginner who is learning the blanket stitch to the experienced embroiderer who relishes fine stitching.
People say that the projects are a perfect group activity for a range of ages and abilities. The materials are easy to find and don’t take up a lot of space. I think a big part of the satisfaction comes from the process of making the figures, from wrapping pipe cleaner bodies to stitching their little felt clothing. It’s equally gratifying to play with the dolls after you’ve brought them to life, by fashioning environments and setting up displays. Creating miniature worlds appeals to a certain type of person, and I’ve found that there are a lot of us! These dolls appeal to the child within you, no matter your age.
It’s easy to become immersed in the process of making these dolls. One character leads to the next and before you know it, a community of wee folk appears. The experience is not only fun, but meaningful. It is an activity to share with family and friends, opening up creative connections that generate satisfying and joyful results. That’s what I’ve heard from readers over the dozen years since the first Felt Wee Folk came out. They’ve relayed messages like, “Your book has caused a stir in our house.”, “These wee folk are sure addictive.” and “It was as though my heart found a home! The inspiration was instantaneous and a door unlocked.” After years of emphatically stating that I wouldn’t write another instructional book, comments like these helped change my mind. I had needed these years to develop my methods and grow as an artist. Once I made the decision to delve back into the how-to world, I was hooked, and my mind was filled with new possibilities. Never one to following directions exactly, it was important for me to present projects that have plenty of room for adaptation, so that the design details could be as individual as their maker.
Working on this book was an opportunity to further indulge in an activity I’ve been devoted to my whole life; creating and arranging little figures that reflect what I see in my mind’s eye. Some of my earliest memories involve sewing and doll making and I still feel a sense of satisfaction and happiness while manipulating materials with a needle and thread. I want to share my imagined world and present ideas that are open ended and accessible. This same spirit of play is at the heart of every artistic endeavor I undertake, including the fabric relief illustrations for my children’s books, like Pocketful of Posies.
For this edition of Felt Wee Folk, Rob and I collaborated on the new project photographs used for the chapter headings throughout the book. I created and staged the dolls and props and he photographed the scenes. I was a bit wary of working together so closely, even after being a couple for 35 years. We both have a tendency to fuss over details and I worried that we would micro manage each other to death. But it turned out great and I feel fortunate that Rob is willing to assist whenever I need him. We each had a role, combining my aesthetic and design sense with Rob’s engineering mind and technical expertise.
Each scene was set up as a temporary stage set, with a raised structure built from wood blocks in the back. Since many of the landscapes required moss, I collected a wide array from around our property, so there were a variety of sizes, colors and textures to choose from.
We set up some of the scenes outside on our patio, planning our photo sessions during overcast days. Otherwise the direct sunlight would make harsh shadows. We positioned large white reflectors to help shine defused light onto the characters. When the weather got too cold outside, we moved into my studio, where I set up the scenes inside a fabric light box on my work table. We aimed floodlights at the sides and top of the box, which created a soft, even light.
The C&T production staff were wonderful to work with and I’m so happy that the book is finally ready to share with the world! I hope that this revised edition continues the phenomenon started with the first and that it inspires beginning as well as experienced stitchers to pick up a needle and thread and make some wee folk! Autographed copies of both Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects and Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures are available from my Etsy shop. For information about my work please visit weefolkstudio.com.
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