Author: Lucy Commoner

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letterpress
Monogram guides

The numbers, letters, and monograms taught and illustrated in manuals and pattern books were used by a wide variety of craftsmen, including engravers, wood carvers, painters, and embroiderers—as seen in samplers and in other forms of domestic embroidery. A twentieth-century example shows an intermediate step between hand and machine embroidery: felt embroidery forms of the alphabet, such as those distributed through Crowley’s Department store in Detroit, were used as a raised guide, to be covered with embroidered stitches for the embellishment of household linens.

Design for wool work. Scroll design in yellow. In center a blue box, lighted candle and some playing cards.
Democratized embroidery
The first pattern books documenting textile design motifs were published in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, and their proliferation into the nineteenth century allowed the wide dissemination of motifs and patterns used in samplers and other types of embroidery. Eventually, by the nineteenth century, embroidery patterns printed directly onto the foundation fabric were...
Folding fan with a black silk net leaf with white cotton needle lace motifs of irises, scrolls and flower sprays applied; lace elements embroidered with silver -colored steel spangles. The sticks are of tortoise shell, piqué, with guards ending in a serpentine form; ebony slips; glass stone at the rivet.
Fans of Art Nouveau
This beautiful folding fan is one of a pair of similar fans in the Art Nouveau style in the collection of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.  The silk net leaves of both fans are decorated with cotton needle and bobbin lace embellished with shiny steel spangles.  The sticks are identical in both fans and are made...
Folding fan with a leaf of painted paper backed with parchment, sticks of carved and pierced ivory, guards decorated with mother-of-pearl, silver, and metallic spangles. The leaf is painted on the front with an allegorical scene depicting a hero returning from war; on the reverse, the leaf is white decorated with foliage sprays in gilt.
Small is Classically Beautiful
This rare and beautifully painted fan dates from the early nineteenth century, a period when smaller fans became fashionable.  Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum’s collection includes other small fans of the early nineteenth century that are often made of spangled silk and net, such as this delicate fan from 1805-1810: Folding Pleated Fan. France, 1805-1810. Gift...
white fan with feathers edges
A Fan with a Story
Of the 300 folding fans in the Cooper-Hewitt, Nation Design Museum’s collection, very few have as fascinating a provenance as this beautiful fan designed by the artist Simon Lissim (1900-1981).  Lissim was a prolific painter, stage designer, illustrator, metalwork designer, ceramicist, and textile designer whose works are found in the collections of over 70 museums...
Various blocks of ikat in indigo blue, tan and off-white.
Studied Beauty: Textile Panel by Ethel Stein
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is fortunate to have in its collection three textiles designed and woven by Ethel Stein, a preeminent twentieth and twenty-first century American artist and weaver.  Stein’s early design influences include studying in the 1940s with the Bauhaus artist and designer, Josef Albers (1888-1976) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Albers . The threads of Albers teaching appear...
Folding cockade fan, brisé. Sticks and guards of drilled black vulcanized rubber; guards attached to center of two outer sticks, all of which, threaded with ribbon, spread to make a round form.
This is Not a Tire
At first glance, it is difficult to know how to identify the material composition of this folding fan. The material is black and stiff with a drilled pattern of open decorative elements and a raised design on the handle. On closer examination, the words, “Man’f Company Lambertville Goodyear Patent” can be seen stamped into the...
Brisé fan with ivory sticks carved à jour, decorated on obverse and reverse with birds, animals and foliage (phoenixes, dragons, and the emblems of the Chinese empress and emperor against peonies) in red, green, blue and gilt enamel. With a tortoiseshell thumbguard and a glass stone at the rivet, threaded with leather ribbon.
Deconstructing a Dutch Treat
This rare, early 18th-century Chinese fan for the Dutch market is a wonderful example of the many interconnections through time that can be extracted from an object around its design, technical details, and state of preservation. The fan itself is emblematic of the history of fan design, which originated in the Orient and arrived in...