Object of the Day

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Bark cloth, Samoa, 19th or early 20th century
Samoan Tapa
Tapa, a general term used to describe Polynesian bark cloth, is made from the inner bark of the Broussonetia tree that has been hand beaten, scraped, pressed, and patterned to create printed cloth. In Samoa, two methods are used to produce large pieces of printed bark cloth. One method consists of pasting smaller strips of...
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Aunt Bethany’s Jell-O Mold
You can use it to prepare a lovely jellied entrée made with crab or chicken, desserts made with fruit or, as a special holiday treat, with cat food, in homage to television’s Griswold clan’s Aunt Bethany. The star and Christmas tree molds suggest raspberry jello. Today’s food mold might only be seen in the most...
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Comptometer, Pronounced Like Thermometer
Mechanical calculators have existed in one form or another since the mid 17th century. Early calculator designs, such as Thomas de Colmar’s Arithmometer, presented its mechanics though relatively simple interfaces that required the user to input values through sliders or dials. What the comptometer, patented by Dorr E. Felt in 1887, brought to the world...
Broadway
Draping the Walls
This drapery pattern called Broadway is part of the first collection of wallcoverings designed by Boym Partners for Wolf-Gordon. The collection was inspired by the Boym’s travels and this trompe l’oeil pattern of drapery folds was inspired by the curtains in Broadway theaters. The design creates a strong vertical pattern and is rendered in a...
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Our Lady of Einsiedeln
One of many cut paperworks in Cooper Hewitt’s collection made by the same (now anonymous) craftsperson, this incredibly intricate devotional card is an example of the paper-crafting technique scherenschnitte (German for “scissor cuts”).  Frequently used to embellish religious objects representing  saints and other figures well-known to the Catholic, Germanic world of the 18th century,  scherenschnitte...
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Toys in Toyland
If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be a toy inside of Santa’s sack, this is the wallpaper for you. This close and colorful design was most likely printed in France, and might best be described as the wildest Christmas-morning dreams of a child in the 1870s. Jack-in-the-boxes, toy trains and badminton racquets...
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Merry Kitschmas: Mid-Century Cardboard Ornaments
These cubic cardboard ornaments are just the thing for an atomic holiday. Designed in 1956 by Van der Lanken and Lundquist and manufactured by Norse Craft, Inc., they were exhibited the next year at the 3rd annual American Package Design Competition held at Cooper Union and were subsequently given to the museum’s collection. A modern...
Textile: Names, designed by Alexander Hayden Girard, USA, 1957
The Name Game
Names was designed by Alexander Girard for Herman Miller in 1957. He used typography as pattern in many of his works – from textiles and wall coverings to signs, logos, and even menu layouts — by playfully mixing, transforming, and inventing fonts for whatever the project required. Sometimes he created entire alphabets while other times...
book cover
Dancing with Modernism
Written by Gretchen Von Koenig Elements of Geometry by Euclid is one of the most printed books in the world, second only to the Bible. A critical subject for any branch of mathematics, Euclid’s Elements is a timeless book and certainly an ideal project for Bruce Rogers, one of the most prolific American book and...