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Author: Elizabeth Broman

The Textile Thief and the Great British Manufacturers

Written by Jessica Masinter. She is a summer intern in the Cooper Hewitt Library and a literary studies major at Middlebury College.

(L): Textile sample No. 464 from “Textile Fabrics of India, second series, Volume 9, Mushroos and Imroos.” Main sample measures 19x10cm. “For Examination of Texture” sample square measures 4x4cm. (R): Textile sample No. 972 from “Textile Fabrics of India, second series, Volume 17, Cotton.” Main sample measures 19x10cm. “For Examination of Texture” sample square measures 4x4cm.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Indian textiles were the height of quality. Their exotic patterns, brilliant colors and dye fastness drove customer appeal among the English bourgeoisie to the point where India was considered by some to be the industrial workshop of the world. British textile manufacturers desperately tried to produce fabrics and patterns that imitated Indian textiles, attempting to ‘cash in’ on the in-demand designs. To do so, however, the British manufacturers required an in-depth knowledge of Indian textiles—and J. Forbes Watson was just the man to help.

Cooper Hewitt Pro-Seminar Series: Ornamente by Bruno Mauder

Ornamente, by Bruno Mauder. (L:) Titlepage. (R:) Plate 5.
Ornamente, by Bruno Mauder. (L:) Titlepage. (R:) Plate 5

 

Studying Design

All incoming students in The New School Parsons History of Design and Curatorial Studies (MA) Masters’ Degree Program at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum take an object and research based class called Pro-Seminar.

Musical stuffed bunnies still sing it…..

Red orange cover of sheet music for 1933 musical revue As Thousands Cheer.
(L:) As Thousands Cheer. Irving Berlin Inc. of New York City, 1933. The bright red cover has a bottom silhouette illustration of people jubilantly marching in the Easter parade. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library (uncat)

“Easter Parade” is still a popular song- lots of little kids today know this old tune from their musical animal toys. You might know the lyrics and tune to sing along with the first 2 lines of the chorus of  “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…”  Written by Irving Berlin in 1933, the song was also the basis of the iconic 1948 movie musical starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The song was introduced by Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb on Broadway as part of the musical revue As Thousands Cheer (1933), in which musical numbers were strung together on the thematic thread of newspaper headlines and the lives of rich and famous people.

A Wordless Novel – Gods’ Man

Gods' Man
Gods’ Man

The Cooper Hewitt Library regularly collaborates with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on exhibitions and publications, providing images, books and other related materials from our Special Collections that complement the theme of a show. We are often asked to seek out new materials for possible inclusion in upcoming exhibitions. This past summer, in looking for books and related materials from the 1920’s and early 30’s for an exhibition, the Library acquired several novels selected for their Art Deco-style graphic dustjackets. A beautifully illustrated book with a striking black and white dust jacket titled Gods’ man : a novel in woodcuts , by the artist printmaker Lynd Ward (1905-1985) aroused my curiosity. It was what was referred to at the time of its publication in 1929 a “wordless novel” – what we can refer to today as the “graphic novel”. It is a narrative genre that uses sequences of captionless pictures to tell a story. Gods’ man was the first of six wordless novels created by Lynd Ward during the years 1929- 1974, and the first American wordless novel.

Pop-Up-O-Philes in Philly

The Movable Book Society 10th Biennial Conference. Philadelphia, Sept 18-20, 2014

Left: Elizabeth Broman, Cooper-Hewitt Librarian and Pop-up artist Sam Ita. Right: Pop-up artist Colette Fu and Stephen Van Dyk, Cooper-Hewitt Branch Librarian
Left: Elizabeth Broman, Cooper-Hewitt Librarian and Pop-up artist Sam Ita. Right: Pop-up artist Colette Fu and Stephen Van Dyk, Cooper-Hewitt Branch Librarian.

 

This was my very first pop-up book conference and I came away absolutely charged up, inspired and quite proud of our pop-up book collection here at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library. I’ve been a member of the Movable Book Society for a number of years, and add the quarterly newsletter, Movable Stationery, to our serial collection, which has been fully digitized and available online. It is indexed on the Movable Book Society website.

Fashion for Hair – A creepiness I like

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Library owns many types of pattern books for architecture, textiles, wall coverings, and ornament for use by designers. Among our more unusual “how to” pattern books and trade catalogs are two recently digitized hair jewelry pattern books – The jewellers’ book of patterns in hair work and Charles T. Menge’s price list of ornamental hair jewelry and device work.