Do you and I share an interest in all things handmade? The net is rich with thought-provoking articles about WHY we love hand-made, so that tells you lots of other folks are thinking and talking about it too. I’m grateful for the flourish of community and friendships with like-minded artisans, crafters and DIY aficionados online, all accessible through our phones via ever-changing & rapidly advancing technology. 🙂 As both a consumer and a maker, I love the search for and adoration of other maker’s creations; it’s a whole forest of inspiration.
Swells of interest in arts & crafts repeat through time in cycles, going back to Medieval days. Creative communities are often regional, with areas known for their accumulation of artists specializing in a particular genre, like glasswork (Seattle, Washington), or textile designers (Catskill Mountains) or painters (Santa Fe, New Mexico). Classes and workshops in textile design, both digital and hand-printed are abundant now, and I love that. Have you ever considered a hand-printed fabric design class with Jen Hewitt?
Before the internet, artisans were limited to gathering in groups locally to work on a regular, repeatable basis. (Poor them – what if you lived in an area with no other artists?) The Folly Cove Designers gathered in Gloucester Massachusetts between 1938 and 1969, with artist Virginia Lee Burton Demitrios at the helm. Read this amazing article about these inspiring, dedicated makers, (No, really, you’ll be inspired – read that article.) [Thanks to my friend BG for sending it to me.] ????
About 40 [mostly woman] artisans met and worked in a small building in Gloucester, called “The Barn”, and became relief printmakers, designing & printing on fabric used for curtains, clothes, and housewares. When they first started, and didn’t have a press, they made all their prints by stomping on the blocks! (See a stomping photo in the article mentioned above.) Eventually, they sold designs to Lord & Taylor, and other textile manufacturers, but they kept true to their original output, making things based on good design, simply to make something beautiful with their hands.
I lived in Cape Ann for several summers in the late 1980’s, so I have a deep, nostalgic fondness for the place. I didn’t know about the Folly Cove Designers back then, but if I ever visit the coast of Massachusetts again, I’ll be spending time at the Cape Ann Museum, for sure.
Virginia wore many creative hats. She was a children’s book author and illustrator, and you can still find her books online: Choo Choo published in 1935, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, from 1939; Calico, the Wonder Horse, etc. Around 1938, she organized a small group for a sketching class, and introduced them to linoleum block printing. That little group continued to grow, and eventually became the Folly Cove Designers. (Jinnee also won the Caldecott Medal for her book The Little House in 1943, on the threshold of WWII.)
If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you might recognize my love of making art from the things around you. I hope to encourage that practice again with these images and links, with the hope that you’ll break out some art supplies or tools, and spin your chair around from your monitor/screen to find something with a good shape, and start drawing, painting, carving or printing something. Even if it’s just a doodle. Make something with your hands today.
See you in the next post!
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My first book, Jonnifer Lint, was about a piece of dust. I and my friends thought it was very clever but thirteen publishers disagreed with us and when I finally got the manuscript back and read it to Aris, age three and a half, he went to sleep before I could even finish it. That taught me a lesson and from then on I worked with and for my audience, my own children. I would tell them the story over and over, watching their reaction and adjusting to their interest or lack of interest . . . the same with the drawings. Children are very frank critics.
~Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios