The Incredible Work of Salley Mavor

I have followed Salley Mavor’s work for a very long time. I think the first time I saw it was in Fiberarts Magazine’s annual book. I was blown away by her tiny people/dolls and all the amazing details that I could see. Happily, she has a show at The Upcountry History Museum in Greenville and I was finally able to see her work up close and personal! I’m not sure where to start with all the pictures that I took…

The show was called A Pocketfull of Posies, the title of a book that she wrote and illustrated. Thus the tags by her work were about the Nursery Rhymes and not how she did what she did and it was billed as a children’s exhibit… Let’s start with two very familiar Nursery Rhymes, Old Mother Hubbard and Hickory Dickory Dock. Her dolls are all about 4″ tall! Look at all the wonderful details from Mother’s cutwork apron to the wooden pieces for the furniture. Salley has written several books about how to recreate her work and I read that the heads are wooden beads and the armature is usually pipe cleaners!

Valley Mavor Old Mother Hubbard

All the arms and legs are wrapped and the figures have shoes. I should have brought my reading glasses to see even closer, but it looked like the dolls even have finger nails!!! I believe this part of the piece is Daffy-Down- Dilly. I took this close-up so you could see the embellishments that she used. I found myself examining the leaves in all Salley’s work. The stitch is button-hole and she usually has several layers of color.

Salley Mavor Daffy-Down-Dilly

What a charming sense of humor! Do you see the Old Woman’s house? (Perhaps it’s not such a joke since Salley is a New Englander after all.)

Valley Mavor Old Mother Hubbard

The sheep lover in me was entranced by the next two photographs. Here is Baa Baa Black Sheep and you can really see the lovely felt she used. In perusing her website, I discovered that she did purchase hand-dyed (and perhaps hand felted) felt. The colors were soft and uneven, adding more depth to the work.

Salley MavorBaa Baa Black Sheep

And here is Little Bo Peep. This piece was interesting in that the girl has a felt face, rather than a bead. Notice her apron…

Salley Mavor Little Bo Peep

What exquisite chain stitching; so tiny and so precise. I wondered what this was doing in the show, but then realized that it was for the frontispiece of the book. (Or perhaps not called the frontispiece but the pages when you open the book?) Her work is framed in lovely shadowbox frames made by her husband. I tried to get out of the way when I was photographing.

Salley Mavor frontispiece

I believe that this show is done traveling, but if you look at Salley’s website, there are other shows to look for. Salley’s website and blog have a wealth of information, should you be interested. She has many videos which I am looking froward to watching, as I think I must make a doll! In the latest blog post, Salley announced that she is selling these pieces! I would love to have one…

6 thoughts on “The Incredible Work of Salley Mavor

    • An artist of tiny things – what a great description! It’s hard to know what to call her as so many people would dismiss her work because it involves dolls. It was enchanting to say the least.

    • I have been looking at photos of her studio and her work area with fabulous tiny things and piles of gorgeous threads and thinking ” how wonderful to creat such amazing pieces and how fun!”.

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