Lucy Commoner

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.
embroidery, felt, pattern book

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 available, thereby eliminating the need to hand-draw the design.
Pattern books, embroidery, Berlin woolwork

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 of tortoiseshell embedded with steel spangles.  The guard sticks have a wavy, serpentine form and there is a glass stone at both rivets.  Both fans depict elegant floral motifs, irises in one and thistles in the other that appear to be growing out of the fou
fans, France, Art Nouveau, Les Modes, Develleroy

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 of Miss Elizabeth d’Hauteville Kean.1923-24-8.

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 worldwide.  In addition to this folding fan, the Cooper-Hewitt collection includes drawings, porcelain, silverware, and buttons designed by Lissim.
Simon Lissim, Sergei Diaghilev, Léon Bakst, fans, Russia

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) .
Ethel Stein, ikat, damask, Josef Albers, Bauhaus, weaver

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 top portion of the handle.
fan, rubber, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, chicle, Hella Jongerius, vulcanization

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. 
fan, ivory, Parafilm M, conservation