Once Upon a Stitch
I have had a life-long fascination with little things and needlework. Toward the end of art school, I rediscovered my childhood delight in sewing and creating miniature scenes. Leaving traditional illustration mediums behind, but still interested in narrative work, I taught myself stitching and fiber art techniques. For me, manipulating materials with my hands with a needle and thread was so much more satisfying than rendering with a pencil or brush. I found that I could communicate my ideas more clearly this way and that my hands would direct me in a compelling way.
My early pieces were soft sculpture, and then turned flatter, with raised figures and objects on a fabric background. I came up with the term “fabric relief” in 1982 to better describe my evolving technique. My 3-dimensional pictures resemble miniature, shallow stage sets, with scenery, props and characters telling a story. I embroider, wrap, appliqué and paint different materials and found objects to create scenes in relief, with figures imposed on an embellished fabric background. My work is decorative and detailed, full of patterns from nature, all stitched by hand.
For the past 20 years, I've been working in the field of illustration, making artwork which is then photographed and printed in children’s books. My most recent picture book, "Pocketful of Posies" won the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the 2011 SCBWI Golden Kite Award. The original fabric relief illustrations from the book are currently touring the country.
Salley Mavor learned how to sew as a child and has been playing with a needle and thread ever since.
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