Mary Blair created a lot of things. Disney's "Small World" is just one example. She illustrated children's books (Golden), did some pretty cute advertising work, and is known for her work with Disney visualizing many of the classic animated movies as well as creating the palettes that really define the early Disney animations. Is Mary Blair known for her hankie designs? I don't think so...but she should be as she brings a whimsy and yet a strong hand and strong common composition to the hankies that are out there. And, do you think they are valuable? One person noted she bought a Blair hankie at a yardsale for $.25 and proceeded to resell it on Ebay for in excess of $150. More>> That is even better than Apple stock! Here are a few examples I have gleaned from the web for your amusement and my reference.
I told you I would come back today for our little chats. So here I am! Trying to get back into the swing of things. First off, before I forget this wonder, I have posted the most wonderful recipe (my recipe of the year) to the Treats section of this page. It is for a red onion and cilantro chutney or salad or whatever. You can eat it on its own, or dollop it on burgers or a side for a cool veggie plate. It embraces the constant wonder of fresh lime juice/cilantro and cumin. Make up a little batch and see how long you can keep it in your fridge. Not long is my guess. The book, Asian Pickles: India by Karen Solomon is filled with these gems and I plan on trying quite a few this summer.
The mid-century modern hanky designer du jour is Tammis Keefe, born Margaret Thomas Keefe (1913-1960) and was one of the first designers to sign her work. The Keefe site quickly gives us a terrific bio:
"Originally a math major in college, she transferred to the Chouinard Institute of Art, now part of the California Institute of the Arts. As did many Chouinard graduates, Keefe worked for the Disney studios, and later became art director of the influential periodical Arts and Architecture, a publication renowned for innovative layout and graphic design. Next followed a stint in the California studio of textile artist Dorothy Liebes, who mentored many young designers.
Keefe became one of the first women to sign her name conspicuously on her work and to achieve name recognition. Lord & Taylor Manhattan even took out a full-page ad in The New York Times for a "Meet the Designer" day to introduce Keefe and a new line of furnishing fabrics. At the time, the major department chains, such as Lord & Taylor and Wanamaker's, were still temple complexes to the gods of mercantilism, with their own home furnishing departments whose buyers had national clout and influence.
Before her death at age forty-six in 1960, Keefe produced approximately four hundred designs for handkerchiefs and at least one hundred for dishtowels, all featuring her trademarks of unexpected color and subtle wit."
The Tammis Keefe website sums it up (go there to see broad selections of her work) . Gorgeous, whimsical, happy, imaginative, and celebrating the ordinary (such as hankies about housekeeping) and cocktail time. She is of her moment (Disney, Chouinard, Mary Blair, Morris Lapidus)--the incredible decorate and pattern everything with a particular, and distinct style. Her work and scope resonates with me...and I am sure there is lots to learn by looking.
Work awaits. I thought you might like the Tammis gumdrop. More later.
I have been seeking. Searching for inspiration, for a place to settle and drive my work. I think I have been too wiped out physically to not be charged up as I normally have been...but it hasn't prevented me for questing for that spark, that moment. Interestingly, I have been chasing mid-century modern in a big way as it is part of my life, and something that I can embrace almost as a curator. I have found that the decorative work is either in children's books, or in textiles...but editorial work and graphic design (only in a few cases) were very painterly and descriptive. However, I stumbled over printed hankies and haven't looked back. I will share these discoveries with you to share my excitement.
First Off, Mr. Carl Charles Tait ( November 2, 1917- May 11, 2011) is my absolute love today. I am fickle. but he ranks high love. Here is what the Times Herald had to say about him in this obituary:
"Mr. Carl Charles Tait, age 93, of LaGrange, GA, died on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, at Doctor’s Hospice in Fayetteville, GA. He was born November 2, 1917, in Old Town, ME, to the late Harry Tremain Tait & Mary Belle Madore Tait....After high school, he served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946. He graduated from New Hampshire School of Arts & Sciences. He was a creative and wonderful artist, with claims to fame such as a large mural that is still proudly displayed in the Greenville/Spartanburg, SC, airport, and Christmas cards distributed by American Artist’s Group. He even designed a line of handkerchiefs that was available exclusively through B. Altman & Company department stores. He also used his artistic talent and innovative spirit while working as an independent contractor for Milliken Corporation, where he traveled around the United States designing showrooms for product displays. "
In the context of the time, Tait's exuberant designs, particularly focused on love and Valentines, these hankies explode (I cannot even imagine pulling one of these out of my pocket) with right color, vigorous line and active lettering. In the context of the lead children's book illustrators such as the Provensens, or Mary Blair's wonderful illustration and vision for Disney-- Carl Tait's hankies are in the front row of fabulous. His work centers on valentines, birthday wishes, Christmas, parables calorie counting and souvenir city hankies (Chicago, Seattle, NYC etc.) as hankies or also formatted as a 1x2 screen printed cocktail napkin/ napkin sets.. I have gleaned a collection from the web for your amusement and my delight.