Monday, April 28, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Elza Sunderland

"Persian" in three colorways by Elza Sunderland.
Placemat design from the Los Angeles 
County Museum of Art collection.

1947 ad

Elza Willheim Sunderland (1903-1991) was a mid-century California
designer who produced "Elza of Hollywood" fabrics for home sewing and manufactured


Ad for shelf paper designed by Elza of Hollywood

Born in Hungary, Elza Willheim came to the United States when she was a child. She attended school in New York and came to define "Color-fornia" with her pattern design for the new textiles of the 1940s and '50s,

such as printed terrycloth and new synthetics for bathing suits.

Sunderland's extensive archives, primarily croqui (gouache watercolor paintings) for designs, are in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:

An article about her in the L.A. Times in 1986:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Celebrating Science: Solar Systems & Space

Another theme running through the mid-20th-century was
space age imagery.

More 1960s than 1950s,
the post-Sputnik enthusiasm for space travel
inspired designers.

Decorating print

Satellites orbiting the earth was the theme for the 
1964-5 New York World's Fair.

"The Satellite. Why Reds Got it First.
What Happens Next?" 1957.

Space travel became a cold-war issue.

By the sixties the era of skillful abstraction was coming to
an end. More literal prints might be militaristic
or designed for the juvenile market.

Wrapping paper

Drapes & Bedspread

"Solar System" by Sarah Ellen Harding Baker, 1876, Iowa
Collection of the Smithsonian
See more here:

Because I found so few interesting space prints I thought I'd show 
some quilts with a solar system theme.

Unknown maker, possibly 19th century, featured on an online auction site.

Unknown maker, maybe the 1960s... [or earlier]
The ever reliable Merikay Waldvogel writes:

This quilt is made from an Anne Orr hot-transfer pattern.  It is based on the third prize winning quilt "Universal Progress" in the 1939 World of Tomorrow Quilt Contest (Good Housekeeping).  The Aug 1939 issue included the photos of the three winning quilts and offered a hot-iron transfer for each one.  The original winning quilt was made by Mrs. W. E. DeNeff of Spokane, Washington. 

Thank you Merikay!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Candace Wheeler

Poet's Narcissus by Candace Wheeler, 
New York, 1883–1900,
produced by Associated Artists.
 Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Candace Thurber Wheeler 1827-1923

Candace Wheeler was an influential designer in late 19th-century America. She was of the "Young America" generation, reformers and cultural renegades, raised in an Abolitionist family in New York. The Thurbers refused to wear cotton or eat cane sugar, products of the slave culture they abhorred. 

After her 1844 marriage to a "clever, progressive man" she lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn joining artistic and creative circles, and then moved to the Long Island village of Jamaica. 

Exhibit hall at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition

In 1876 she attended Philadelphia's Centennial Exhibition where she was impressed by the display organized by London's "Royal School of Art Needlework in South Kensington."  Seeing handwork as a way to enable poor women to earn money she founded the New York Society for Decorative Art dedicated to teaching crafts classes, providing artistic direction and selling the products.

A few years later she partnered with Lewis Comfort Tiffany in an interior design firm. Tiffany & Wheeler (later Associated Artists) decorated many homes and public buildings in arts and crafts style. 

Associated Artists stenciled the walls in the Mark Twain
house in 1881. The four associates were Tiffany, Wheeler,
 Lockwood DeForest and Samuel Coleman.

Daffodil by Candace Wheeler, 
New York, 1883–1900,
produced by Associated Artists.
 Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Printed cotton velvet; Gift of Mrs. Boudinot Keith, 1928 (28.70.25)

Wheeler and brother Frank Thurber bought acreage in New York's Catskills mountains and established an artists' community named Onteora Park.

Candace in the chair on the right (?)
on Onteora's front porch.

The Onteora Club survives and one can rent a "cottage".
Above arts and crafts decoration in Wheeler's home.

The authoritative book on Candace Wheeler is the exhibit catalog by Metropolitan Museum of Art curators Amelia Peck & Carol Irish:

Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise of 
American Design, 1875-1900

As an out-of-print catalog it is expensive but Google books has an extensive preview:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrating Science: Suns and Sunbursts

This vintage clock from the 1950-1960 period might
be described as atomic in style today but sunburst is probably the period description.

Vintage barkcloth. 
The idea of a center circle with radiating points
may be the classic image for mid-century modern

from jewelry

to kitchenware

to lighting

upholstery and drapery fabric.

And feedsack florals.

British designer Robert Stewart may have been the innovator
who popularized the sunburst.

You find radiating line imagery often in mid-century British design.
Here Lucienne Day called it Dandelion

It's also a Marimekko look as in
this design by Sanna Annuko

CBS's Sunday Morning uses the sun/sunburst image
as it's signature.

Bradbury & Bradbury "Doodle" wallpaper

Reproductions don't require much to evoke the classic minimalism.

Atomic Age by Casey York

Atomic Pinwheels by Little Red Hen Patterns

This reproduction print inspired a few recent quilts.

From Michael Miller

Vintage or reproduction? It's hard to tell.

See more about Robert Stewart here:

And Lucienne Day here:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Paul Nash

Wild Cherry or Cherry Orchard by Paul Nash, Britain, 
celebrated in a British stamp

Print designed in the late 1920's

Paul Nash (1889-1946) 

Nash was a painter and print maker. His paintings of World War I are the
artistic documentation of the war. He also designed
repeat pattern for two British fabric printers

Big Abstract is the name of this pattern in two colorways here.

The first edition was in the twenties from Footprints Workshop Ltd, which did hand-block-printed fabrics. A later edition was from the more industrialized Cresta Silks.

Click here to see a Pinterest page of Paul Nash paintings and prints

See many more Cresta silks at the Penlee House Museum: