Salley Mavor

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I am fascinated by the idea of sculptural illustrations, whether for childrens’ books or more general graphic arts functions. I’ve done a couple of bas-relief-type pieces myself, and I’ve already featured Meredith Dittmar, whose funky work almost defies genre. Today, though, I’ve got an artist to show you whose reliefs are much more doll-like, and therefore more on-topic for this blog.

Salley Mavor has spent years developing her style, which she calls “fabric relief” sculpture. You might call it stumpwork embroidery, but that would be far too narrow a term to include everything she does. Her pieces incorporate sewing, felting, embroidery, sculpting, and photography to create ornate miniature worlds with all the warmth the fiber arts can offer.

Mavor describes her workflow on her website:

To make a book, each picture starts as a clear, vivid scene in my head.  I do not know exactly how the pictures will unfold and it will go through many steps to get from the imagined to the finished product.  I start by working out a rough layout in small thumbnail sketches. They are blown up on a copier to full book size and made into a dummy to show the editor.  She then checks to see that the content of the layout works with the text and that there is enough room for the type.  After making any necessary changes to the layout, and with the trust of my editor, I start work on the fabric relief pictures.

Each illustration requires about a month of hand sewing, so it takes more than a year to complete all of the pages.  The original fabric relief pictures are then photographed and used as illustrations in the printed book.

I suspect the pictures on her website, some of which I’ve borrowed for this entry, really don’t do her work justice, so maybe you should go down to the bookstore (or click on this link, if you want to contribute to this humble blogger) and get a couple of her books for yourself. She also has published a book of sewing and felting projects called Felt Wee Folk.

I want to thank Mimi Kirchner for bringing this artist to my attention.