Monday, November 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
I recently went to the much anticipated Paper Doll Party in Smithville hosted by the amazing and gracious Tom Tierney and his niece which I learned about upon first meeting Tom, blogged here. It did not disappoint!
Tom works in a studio that has been fashioned out of the upstairs portion of an old retail space that was built in the 1890s. The 2nd level was for fancy dresses and bridal and whatnot, and the building has an amazing central staircase so the young lady could make a grand entrance to her eagerly awaiting entourage. It has all the original hardwood floors and the staircase has never been refinished! The first floor is a cozy shop space (despite the impressive square footage behind the designated retail area) with every Tom Tierney bit of merchandise any paper doll lover could ever hope for, most of it already signed!
Tom was giving personal tours of his studio space, which was the highlight of our entire trip! First off, just being in the company of such an accomplished and storied gentlemen is a treat on it's own, but getting to see where he works and his incredible collection of antique oddities sends the experience over the edge.
He showed us an amazing music box, super old that played songs from larger than LP metal discs with holes in them that spun much like a record player, but much older technology obviously. There was a drawer underneath that held the discs.
Next to the music box was a delightful wooden mannequin; Tom told us it was from the 1700s, was built entirely of wood (no nails anywhere, just wooden pegs) and was used by artists for portraits. They would borrow clothes from their subject, pad out the mannequin and use that for reference until all that was left was the face, which was the only part the person had to sit for. How practical! I didn't know they did this, and I actually always wondered a little about it. Thanks Tom!
:( and the whole area was set up like a parlor or sitting room. (The best one ever!) He had framed originals of his own work, along with a SIGNED poster from Erte' dedicated to Tom personally! He was able to meet the man in person in his younger days, having done a paper doll book in his style and seeking approval for publishing rights. Erte' was charmed and later sent him the poster. Gasp!
One of the things I noticed was a large embroidery/cross stitch piece mounted in a frame that sat on the floor, and was about 5 feet tall. It was a pastoral scene with dogs and flowers. I love needlework history, so I asked about it. Tom told us the object was known as a "sincere" and was in vogue when women's cosmetics were largely comprised of wax, used as a shield between the heat of a fireplace and any ladies that were in the room, so as not to melt all their hard work!
Bryan's favorite had to be a small table that looked simple enough at first, but we came to find it had quite a story to tell. Tom happily told us that he had only read about them for the longest time and was thrilled to finally own what he referred to as a "Witch's Chair". For those witches back in the day, who, obviously, could not flaunt their witchy ways, it masqueraded as a mild-mannered table during the day, but by night...flip the table top part up and a chair with an wide, arched back is revealed. (Not to mention the wee beastie complete with yellow eyes carved into the underside so that it is a little witchy surprise!) The perfect thing for all your seances and witch meetings where you really want to make an impression.
He also showed me some of the prints and originals that he's currently working on. He's sending a proposal to Ellen and Portia with their ensembles from their wedding and different awards shows. I can't imagine anyone not wanting Tom to do a paper doll version of them. His work is so true-to-life and idealized/finessed at the same time. He makes everyone look glamorous! I got to see some original oil paintings he was working on too. It's amazing being in anyone's creative work space, and getting to be in Tom's with him was an experience I will never forget.
We also received hefty gift bags and souvenirs for coming, packed aplenty with glorious paper dolls! The actual "Paper Doll Party" was a group of vendors selling PDD and PDD related items; mostly older ladies with some collectibles, some nostalgia and some original works. Bryan found me She-Ra and Katy Keene paper doll books (yee-haw!). I bought an 80's Barbie coloring book, a twin set of colonial paper dolls, two fat-quarters of adorable paper doll pattern fabric and a few other little goodies. I was also pleased to see a previous co-worker of mine vending her super cute wares!
We had a great time also at the luncheon which was made by Tom's great niece. It was held in the rec center of the town and I want everyone to notice the dummy in the corner; it's the kind that you beat up for self defense or martial arts. You've gotta love a small town. It actually kind of works for a doll theme too, so that's a bonus. :D*
Also included in the ticket price was a "train tour of Smithville", which was actually a short trolly jaunt to the two houses in town that have been settings for movie filming. (Hope Floats and Tree of Life). An utterly charming event, all told.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I had forgotten how many children's graves there are in this particular graveyard and it hit me especially hard now that I'm a mother of a 15 month old, imagining what life must have been like for mothers long ago who had to accept their childrens' mortality as a fact of life.
Most of the graves that drew my attention were from the 1870s-1920, partly because I was obviously attracted to the oldest stones for their aesthetic, but also because there were so many. It was really sad and made me want to do something to honor the women and children, which I know is silly, but as a mother, I felt oddly responsible for their memories, even though they are strangers to me.
I started to brainstorm about the thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head. Am still not sure what will come of it, but, at the very least, I'm pursuing more information and finding inspiration.
Doing research about the time period organically led me to my long standing love of embroidery history. Having always been curious about the history of embroidery samplers, I was really interested to come upon samplers that served as memorials as well as a quote from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus: "Fair Philomel, she but lost her tongue And in a tedious Sampler sewed her mind."
Just imagining the lives of these women that I strive in vain to be more like with my bread-making and craftiness humbles me and makes me so grateful for the life I'm privileged to lead.
Anyway, I'm a little consumed right now with symbolism and sisterhood, thought I would share.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Even though it’s a lot of the same information and concepts, they’re all a little different and charming in their own ways. It reminds me of when I read every book in my elementary school library about Helen Keller and Harriet Tubman. I loved finding the small details unique to each version.
In these days when Home Economics classes are basically relics, I’m fascinated by a time (not that long ago) when our culture had such a regulated idea of attractiveness and hygiene. On one hand, as my readers will already know, I think we have paid a hefty price for taking these concepts out of curriculum and propriety. On the other hand, I’m not sure what I would have done in high school/college/now if I weren't able to dress/present myself the way I chose. In many ways, I wish that we retained more of the formality from days of yore, but I do enjoy the freedoms and individual expression/diversity we have now. At any rate, I love everything about these books.
My most recent acquisition: Dress: The Clothing Textbook (Third Edition).
Favorite quote so far: “The joy of making something that expresses one’s own personality is radiated in this girl’s smile.”
Isn’t that just a mantra to live by?!
Every photo has a charming caption, some with pretty compelling questions!
Which of these blouse and skirt combinations would you select for a girl with prominent hips and a small bust? Which for a girl with a tiny waist, small hips and average bust? Which would be good for a large busted girl with small hips? Which would be suitable for most figures?
This incarnation of vintage appearance laws has a great collection of vocabulary concerning garments of the day. With my education in costume history and design, I’m thrilled to find terms I’m unfamiliar with and thought I would share!
You just don’t hear anymore about necklines such as the “gumdrop” and the “ponderosa”, collars called the “middy” and “pointed club”, skirts called “pert”, as well as three different titles for pleated ones, not to mention shorts called “jam-kinis” (is that what “jams” is short for?!? I had no idea!). Also, there are pants styles and collar styles with the names “Jamaica” and “Bermuda”. We’ve presumably all heard of Bermuda shorts, but Jamaica? With coordinating collars? I think not, tater tot! (Note to readers: these oh-so-importantly differentiated collars and short pants are represented by virtually identical hand-drawn sketches. Love it!).
I’m just at the beginning of my exploration, but feel it’s noteworthy that page 66 has the question “Would you prefer sneakers, suede pumps, or satin sandals to wear with jeans to a picnic? Why?”
While page 67 has this one: Can You Explain These Terms?
Unity, balance, formal or symmetrical balance, informal or asymmetrical balance, proportion, emphasis, vertical line, horizontal line, diagonal line, form, texture, harmony, variety, structural design, decorative design, realistic design, stylized design, abstract design.
It doesn’t just ask for a definition for these terms, it asks for the student to explain them! With a college degree in a related field, I would balk at this task, yet it is given to high school students of the 50s in Chapter 2 of this textbook!
Ooooo! I just noticed a jumper pattern suggestion in the back of the book! Gotta go!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Despite waking up with the headache that I went to bed with and grousing with my husband, today is definitely moving in the right direction.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
This little darling has always been in my life. It hung in my mother's room when I was growing up and she was nice enough to let me have it when I moved out. I don't know where it came from, or who it was made by.
On the back of the frame, in two places, is written B 350. It almost looks like a price, but I don't know if it is, or even if it is, if the price refers to the frame or the entire piece. My good friend KatinkaPinka used to have a storefront in South Austin with a couple of other ladies and they would have initials on their price tags to indicate who made what; that's my best guess for the B.
It hangs on a little strip of wall just big enough for it right outside my bedroom door. I look at it a little bit every day, some days more than others. I never get tired of getting up close and examining the variety of careful stitches that are so much more than they even needed to be. The extra touches of detail in the stitches is what gets me every time. I love to embroider and it seems to be somewhat of a fading art.
Someone doing a piece like this today is probably a fractional likelihood compared to when this was probably made, but even if someone were to take the time to do it now, I doubt that they would include all the nuance and care that went into this. I look at it and think, well, I can do that stitch, or I could probably figure that one out, or how did she do that? But I'm almost always struck by how the artist "went the extra mile" in a way that I'm not sure I would have. This is somewhat sobering, as I pride myself on being someone who "brings their A-game" most of the time, especially on craft projects. I have to imagine that it came from a time when there was simply less to occupy yourself with. No computers, TV etc. It must have been quietly lovely, but I won't get all romantic about times past, there's no point to it really. At any rate, it wouldn't be as inspiring to me if it were more on my level. My mother, the art teacher, summed it up with "If their work is better than yours, learn from it. If it's worse, feel better about your own."
Anyway, was taking another look at it and thought I would share my little moment.