The result is a lush, magical collection of illustrations that tell a story, or, in the case of Pocketful of Posies, classic nursery rhymes. “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary,” for instance, shows three girls in dresses that Mavor made from artificial flower petals, dancing under a tree that has a yarn trunk and is hung with silver jingle bells and green beads. One girl’s hat appears to be a fuzzy wool cloche; it is actually an acorn.
On the facing page in the book is “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me,” where a child with wings sits on a tree branch hung with tiny shells, surrounded by flies with heads of seed beads, embroidered bodies, and shiny ribbon wings, all crafted by Mavor. The tree branches that bend across both pages are actually poppy seed pods. On another page, “Little Boy Blue” is holding a horn, which is actually a cactus thorn. The cradle in “Hush-a-bye, Baby” is a walnut shell.
Before starting a new project, Mavor reads dozens of nursery rhymes. “If I get a strong image from the rhyme, I know I can do it,” she says. That imaginative thinking comes out strong and clear in her studio, an aerie on the second floor of her home, where plentiful windows give views of massive treetops.
The spacious workroom is so filled with charm and wonder, it could be around the corner from Santa’s Workshop. Shelves and glass cases are lined with Mavor’s special possessions, both the extraordinary and the simply sentimental. Her grandmother’s antique dolls share space with a bent tree trunk turned into a coat rack. Walls displaying old family photos and paintings by her mother, the late artist Mary Mavor, sweep around a glass dome that houses her grandfather’s stuffed bird collection.