Author: Mae Colburn

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There’s Only One-Way
Alexander Girard was a prolific textile designer, producing over three hundred textile designs during his near thirty-year tenure at Herman Miller, an important American furniture company and promoter of modern design. He was also an ardent collector, amassing a collection of cross-cultural folk art that ranks among the largest in the world. At Herman Miller,...
The Wright Textile
Although most of his home furnishings were designed for specific interiors, Frank Lloyd Wright created several lines of products for the market, among them the Taliesin Line of wall coverings and textiles, produced in partnership with F. Schumacher and Company. The collection included wallpaper, woven fabric, and printed fabric such as this, and many of...
Fanning Desire?
Folding fans, or abanicos, were considered must-have accessories in nineteenth century Spain. For women, they served as important tools in courtship, the ‘language of the fan’ expressing everything from ‘come hither’ to ‘don’t bother’ to hopeful admirers. The imagery painted or printed on fans also carried important messages. Many celebrate national events, such as the...
City Blocks
Alexander Girard produced over three hundred textile designs during his almost thirty-year tenure at Herman Miller, an important American furniture company and promoter of modern design. That Girard was trained as an architect should come as no surprise – like many architects of his generation, he had experienced firsthand the challenge of finding textiles appropriate...
Inspired by Her Travels
Batik, or resist-dye, is an ancient craft often associated with Indonesia, but practiced in regions throughout Africa and Asia. It became popular in United States in the 1910s and 20s, with artists such as Arthur Crisp, Pieter Mijer, and Lydia Bush-Brown attracting national attention. These artists worked in the traditional manner, painting paraffin and beeswax...
A Loom[ing] Controversy
In the center of his handkerchief is a portrait of Marie Louis Jacquard (1752-1834), inventor of the jacquard loom. Patented in 1804, the loom included a punch-card mechanism for controlling the action of the warp, greatly simplifying the production of complex fabrics and revolutionizing the French silk industry, symbolized by the caterpillars and cocoons nestled...
Design 107
Toward the end of his life, in 1955, Frank Lloyd Wright produced the “Taliesin Ensemble,” a line of home furnishings for those who did not live in one of his houses. Wright partnered with numerous firms to complete the project, among them Heritage-Henredon, with whom he produced a line of furniture, and the Martin Senour...
Fit for a Falcon
Falconry is an ancient hunting method wherein falcons and other birds of prey are trained to attack wild quarry in its natural habitat. Requiring significant investments of time and money, the sport was largely limited to the upper rungs of society, and the birds themselves were held in high estimation. Hoods were an important article...
Hey, Batter Batter
Printed fabric novelties were popular promotional devices in the early twentieth century, a signal of the growing influence of marketing in American material culture. This souvenir square, dating from 1912 and featuring baseball greats Christy Mathewson and “Home Run” Baker, among others, was a premium offered by Helmar and Turkey Red Tobacco companies in exchange...