HOME: Making curtains the easy way

 I love curtains.  I'm lazy and frugal, and I don't have a sewing machine. And I like to change my curtains seasonally. I've never let any of these things stop me. 

In the winter, I like to feel cozy and warm. In the summer, I like my curtains to be light and breezy. 

Orange dupioni silk curtains. pug in window. painting by liza cowan. photo ©liza cowan 2015

Making curtains is easy, though, at least for me. My method: 

Find fabric you love. I shop around in local stores and online. There's always something gorgeous on sale. 

Measure the inside height of your window. My method takes twice the length of the window. Fabric usually should be wider than the window for gathering, or the same width for a tailored modern look. 

Place a tension rod inside the window frame.

Drape fabric over rod until the bottoms meet. 

Use two tiny binder clips or small safety pins at the very top sides, just under the rod. Sometimes you will find you need to use tiny safety pins along the side. 

That's it. And you haven't cut much fabric, so you can use it for other projects when you change your curtains. 

Pink Seersucker Curtains Liza cowan photo

I love to use clothing fabric for curtains. For summer, I'm using seersucker in my living room. 

 

Blue seersucker curtains. Painting on mirror by Liza Picasso aka Liza Cowan. Photo ©Liza Cowan 2015

I found this very cheerful plaid fabric for my daughter's room. It's from Waverly. Found on sale, of course. 

Summer plaid curtains

 

 


Home projects: wooden crate wall, and pink seersucker curtains.

Screened in porch, white curtains, wicker chair, tin dollhouse, wooden crates, may 2015. photo ©Liza Cowan

The screened porch was a deal maker for me when I bought my house. At first, my plan was to build a half-wall around the room, but then I had the brainstorm of modular wall building with wooden boxes. The old owner had left a small cache in the barn, and I had my own collections, so I decided to stack them at one end, and to use some as a small "wall" on the outer deck. That's all I need. And in the Winter, they will go back to the barn because the porch fills with snow. 

My other grand idea was to put in white curtains for beauty, shade, and privacy. I had basic white curtains and tension rods on hand from an earlier project, so that was easy. A cheap and quick project, also removable for the winter months. 

Tin Marx dollhouse from my collections. 

Pink Seersucker Curtains. Lamp by Kileh Friedman. photo © Liza cowan photo

Joanne's Fabrics had seersucker on sale at 50% yesterday so I scooped up 8 yards of pink and white stripe. I love using dressmaking fabric for curtains. My curtain making technique: cut the material to twice the height of the window. Drape over tension rod on inside of window frame. Secure at the top with binder clips or safety pin. If you want to get really fancy, you can hem them. I usually don't, but if I decide to, liquid seam glue works just fine. 

Lamp by Kileh Friedman,  Burlington, VT. Shade from The Lamp Shop, Burlington, VT.


My Rootstein mannequin comes home!

Do any of you remember back when I owned the art gallery, Pine Street Art Works,  and had a bunch of mannequins there? Oh how I loved them. When I closed, back in 2009, I sold three of them, two Maira Kalman children and one Adel Rootstein. I kept three Maira Kalman/Ralph Pucci busts. 

I sold the Rootstein - Diane Dewitt - to someone who was crazy about her, and that made me feel better about losing her, but I found I really missed her. Years later, I heard that the new owner gave her away to a mutual friend. I emailed the friend and said if she ever decided that she didn't want the mannequin anymore, that I'd like her back. 

Lo and behold, the day arrived. Two days ago we were reunited. I rearranged my living room to welcome her and she is home at last! So please expect to see many more images of one of my favorite models. 

Adel rootstein diane dewitt mannequin in home of liza cowan. photo ©liza cowan 2015

Here she is working hard at the shop, selling tableware. Glass by AO! Glass, placemats by Small Equals. 

Diane dewitt adel rootstein mannequin helps sell tableware at pine street art works. glass by AO! Glass, placemats by Small Equals. photo ©liza cowan


Patriarchy Propaganda: Teach her how to love it.

Patriarchy, Teach her how to love it. Propaganda pamphlet USA circa 1933. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections via Liza Cowan FAKE!™

Advertising is a powerful force for propaganda. Just after World War One, fledgling press agent Edward Bernays returned from The Paris Peace Talks, where he had helped President Woodrow Wilson coin and promote the phrase "Making the world safe for Democracy. Upon his return, he decided to bring his ideas on Mass Persuasion to commerce and then to the US Government. He realized that the term "propaganda" had a negative connotation after the war, so he coined the phrase "Public Relations" and he and his ideas changed the world forever. source

Advertising is propaganda. 


Source material: 1933 Frigidaire advertising booklet, Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections. Liza Cowan FAKE!™ Design. 


Home Design: Using trays for organizing.

Photo ©Liza Cowan. use a tray or charger  to organize a coffee table.
Tray/charger for organizing coffee table. Photo ©Liza Cowan

 

I like to use trays to help my organize my home. It's a little trick I learned when I was designing and maintaining retail spaces. I found them so useful for display, and they made cleaning so much easier. 

If you don't have some trays or platters already in your home there are so many wonderful options available. Of course, you can go look in resale or junk shops or at yard sales. You never know what treasures you'll find. Stores like Home Goods and Pier One are really useful too, as well as craft supply stores. I'm lucky that we have all of these stores in my small city. But you can buy online too. For better or for worse, it has never been easier to be a consumer. I try to be reasonable, really. I gave away 3/4 of my stuff when I moved last year and I'm trying not to collect more stuff. But I'm in the midst of huge organizing projects, so I do indulge in objects that make the process both easy and beautiful. Trays are part of that process. 

There is now a huge trend for what are called "chargers" which are basically big plates. They are popular now for what is being called "tablescaping."   When I bought the charger above at Pier One, the saleslady told me I should use it for candles on my dining room table. I'm not big on candles; fire makes me nervous,  and I have so many more useful and interesting things to display. Nevertheless, I was amused to find that "tablescaping" is now a thing. I think its an overblown name, but the concept is not so bad.

I use my trays and chargers to keep all the little things that I need in any given spot. Above is the wooden charger I found at Pier One, also very inexpensive. I keep an eye out for sales, of course.  This is my living room, and I had a pile of remotes to wrangle. I found the round paper container at Home Goods, for a song. One other box, also Home Goods, houses emery boards, nail clippers and nail polish. TV watching time is great for an impromptu manicure or nail repair. The final box is hand letterpress from Brookfield, holding their note paper, because I often find I need to make a note

Also vital for me, a box of tissues, these designed for Kleenex by Issac Mizrahi (I bought a dozen, just in case they stop making them) and a bottle of hand lotion. And my eyeglasses, which I tend to lose. But of course it could hold whatever it is that you find you need in your living room. 

The beauty - other than the visual appeal - is that I can whisk the tray right off the table for a game of Sorry or Monopoly with my neighbor's kids, or to make room to serve food for a party. 


Tray platter on dining table desk
Melamine tray on dining room table. Photo ©Liza Cowan

 

My dining room table also serves as my downstairs desk. I like to sit here next to the window for all kinds of projects, including paying bills, and some craft projects. But I also eat here, and the tray is so easy to remove if I need the whole table to serve guests. This melamine tray is from Pier One. Melamine trays are so hot right now, and the new technologies that allow for printing surface design make almost any look possible. This one mimics a worn ceramic. You know I'm all about FAKE!™ so I love this. 

For my table/office I like to keep pens and pencils in a chipped, old cup I painted, back when we still had a paint your own pottery place. I miss that! I have a ceramic dog dish with my ever handy Sugru, and my checkbook in the folder I designed from my FAKE!™ line of paintings, this one a Liza Leger. The checkbook holder was made for me by Flashbags. And another box of note paper from Brookflied. I used to sell Brookfield hand letterpressed note cards in my stores, and I'm happy to have several boxes left over. So pretty. Paper clips are in a little plastic box from Amac, which I also used to sell, and have managed to keep a few for my own use. 

The gorgeous lamp was made by one of my favorite local potters, Kileh Friedman. The round platter in the background was made by another favorite  potter, Pam Black, Paradise Pottery. On it are some examples of bowls I've been making with Crayola play clay. I used to do this all the time with my kids when they were little. Now my young neighbors enjoy coming over for craft time.

Liza cowan photo shinzi katoh tray as organizer for office desk
Tray by Shinzi Katoh for desk supplies. Photo @Liza Cowan


 This is in my studio office. The tray is from Shinzi Katoh, whose adorable products I used to sell at Pine Street Art Works and at Small Equals. I was smart enough to save one for myself. This hold several lucite boxes with pencils, pens, scrap paper and of course, more hand lotion. It too, can be swooped up to clear my table for large projects. 

Happy tray- scaping.!!

 

Keeping your tabletop tidy has never been easier. As seen on SeeSaw.typepad.com

 

 


Water Is Life

AMAZONS ALLONS Y LETS GO WATER IS LIFE LIZA COWAN DESIGN
Amazons, Allons-Y. Let's Go. Water is life. ©Liza Cowan design

 

Water is life. Water is a human right. Don't let Nestle or any other corporation or government body take it away from us. Anywhere on the planet. For any reason. Ever. 


Vintage Perfume Bottles in Color

I wrote about these vintage perfume bottles here  but I just came across another version I made. Looking at this image with a fresh eye, I quite like the vibrancy. Hope you enjoy it too.

Perfume bottles, vintage. Bandit perfume. Glass bottles,  Photo Liza Cowan
4 vintage perfume bottles. Bandit, by Germaine Cellier. Tabu, Geoffrey Beene and Private Collection 1973 by Estee Lauder. Photo ©Liza Cowan


 

 


Brighten Up A Winter Room: reflective objects

Silver pot with paperwhites brighten up a short, dark, winter interior ©liza cowan
Twinkle, twinkle to brighten up the short, dark, winter days. Photo ©Liza Cowan

 

I like to brighten up the short, dark, days of Winter by placing shiny reflective objects around the house. The twinkle of reflected light does wonders to lift the spirit of the room. 

There are lots of great, inexpensive knock offs of silver, mercury glass and mirrored things in circulation right now, so keep an eye out. I found this container at Home Goods, for a song. I'm not sure what's its intended use would be, but I was looking for a shiny silver container for my paperwhites, and this is perfect. And it was cheap!

Happy Solstice. 

 

 


Glass Flower Frog as pencil and pen holder.

Frog pen holder. Glass pen holder. Glass frog.  ©liza cowan
Glass frog as pen holder. Photo ©Liza Cowan

Maybe you already knew this, but I just figured it out. You can use a glass frog as a pen and pencil holder. Glass frogs, in case you are wondering, are made to go in the bottom of vases to hold the stems in position. Some of the older ones a beautiful as objects, which was what drew me to this particular one when I saw it in an antique store. But then I realized it would hold pens, stylishly. 

Have fun. 


Visiting the Ann Frank Museum: a reflection by Holly Shulman.

 

Ann Frank
Ann Frank

This is a guest post by my historian sister,  Holly Shulman, who recently presented a paper at a conference in Amsterdam. While she was there she visited the Ann Frank Museum, hosted by one of the curators, Dienke Hondius, who later asked Holly what her thoughts were about the museum. This is Holly's response. 

 

Dear Dienke,

Here is an attempt to answer your question as to why I found the Anne Frank House Museum personally disorienting.

The nub of the question is what are we doing when we remember (and commemorate) Anne Frank: something about the Jewish experience, or something about the human experience?

When I was a child the holocaust was talked about in our house, but it was not the subject of general conversation – in society, in politics, in literature – that it later became.  That, of course, is the subject of Hasia Diner’s book, We Remember with Reverence and Love.  Perhaps 1945-1968 (with the publication of Arthur Morse’s When Six Million Died) was a kind of limnal or marginal period of remembrance.  In my house we talked about my parents’ German backgrounds, especially my mother’s.  She remembered my grandmother trying to find who might still be living among her German relations, but could locate no one.  Her family on both sides had arrived around 1850 as part of that general wave of German emigration to the US, and like so many Jews had steadily moved West until they reached Chicago.  One of their relations sent home letters during the American Civil War that remained extant and are published as A Jewish Colonel in the Civil War.  And like so many immigrants, my mother’s family kept many German ways, especially their food, but also the practice of Christmas, which was, after all, a German holiday by way of England.  Many German Jewish families had Christmas meals and presents, and as the German practice was to buy a tree on Christmas Eve, so it was the custom of my grandparents and my parents.

By the late 1930s, after my mother’s family could discover no living relatives in Germany, my mother and my grandmother joined an organization to sponsor Jews trying to flee Hitler.  My mother even received a letter (in German) from Albert Einstein after they tried to save two mathematicians and their son (unsuccessfully).

So I knew about the holocaust. It related to the history of my family, and I felt both gratitude and guilt that I had been born in the United States – a sentiment I think shared by virtually every American Jewish child of my age.

But reading about it as a child was not simple.  There were no books, as there were by the time my daughter Rebecca was a child.  By then there were a ton of memoirs and stories from survivors and children of survivors.  But in the 1950s we simply and only had Anne Frank.  There were no movies that I remember, or radio shows, to which we still listened.  We were, as many have written, very concerned with being American, even as American a family as mine, and swept up in the universalism of the era.

The story of Anne Frank had a huge impact on me as a member of a German-Jewish upper middle class family who wanted for nothing and who were on the one hand politically and socially Jewish but on the other totally alienated from Judaism as a religion.  (My father’s side was a bit more complex in its background – but that is another story for another time.) This mixture of no religion and complete Jewish identity – at least with their German Jewish past – is central I believe to any understanding of the meaning of Judaism in the post enlightenment world.  Being Jewish is more than a religious belief.  It is being part of a people and a history.  What in Hebrew is called Am Israel, the Jewish people. As a child the holocaust was there, always there, but always distant.  It was The Diary of Anne Frank that made it all real.  Not the camps, of course, but the fears and the hiding and the drumbeat of threat.  I remember reading the book so clearly.  I must have been 10 or 11.  I took it to bed with me to read at night, and after I shut off the light the fears and shadows of the book were like a fog wrapped around me, they crept inside of me and stayed somewhere in of my body.  With Anne Frank I knew, I KNEW, I was Jewish and that I would remain Jewish, and that Hitler would not win.  Anne Frank cemented my identity as a Jew.  Reading her Diary was an act of affirmation.

As an adult I thought about her and her book less and less.  I read more Jewish history.  I sent my children to a Jewish nursery school and we joined a synagogue.  Being Jewish became part of the daily pattern of my life, even while struggling with the notion of a God and becoming an atheist.  The most recent books about Europe and fascism and the destruction of the Jews that have meant a lot to me are more like Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands and Jeffrey Veidlinger’s In the Shadow of the Shtetl.

It is against that background that I saw that Anne Frank House – at your gracious invitation and marvelous hospitality.  What I saw was an Anne Frank who is no longer a symbol of the destruction of the Jews, and of the always recycling hatred of the Jews, but a generalized emblem of victimization, of the problems of power and authoritarianism, of the results that can occur when ordinary people are too afraid to speak up.

In that light, I suppose I felt that Anne Frank now belongs to the world, but in a sense not to me.  You may think this a very odd comparison, but let me contrast Anne Frank for a moment to Queen Esther.  Every year Jews remember Queen Esther for saving the Jewish People, and Purim became a very important holiday in Europe because all the cycles of destruction and attempted destruction became folded into that one story.  But Purim was and remains Jewish.  There is no holiday celebrating Anne Frank, but all those visitors are commemorating Anne.  Esther is particular, ethnic, and globally irrelevant.  Anne is for everyone.

After visiting with you I felt a bit dizzy.  Part of me celebrates that Anne Frank can become such a potent figure of dignity and the fight against oppression.  But part of me experienced a loss – of a childhood figure who had once crept into my body as I lay in warm sheets falling asleep and told me stories that changed my life.


DIY: Hang curtains with colorful binder clips

You don't have to spend a fortune to hang curtains. Be the first on your block to bring Office Supply Chic to your home. All you need is push pins or nails to secure small binder clips to the top of your window.  It's best if your fabric is wider than the window. Gather it to make small drapes along the top. Experiment. So easy to change. 

©Liza Cowan using binder clips to hang curtains
Office Supply Chic. Window curtains using binder clips.

Use a second set of binder clips to tie back the curtains. You can drape them, as above, or bunch them, or whatever you like. I've used very sheer white fabric here for summer. But come Winter...I've got some very nice flannel buffalo plaid fabric to use. Wait and see. 

Meanwhile, get binding!


Tabletop cord wrangler DIY

Cord wrangler seesaw.typepad.com ©Liza Cowan
De-clutter your table top with an easy DIY cord wrangler,

 

I couldn't stand all the cords and cables sitting on my table...chargers for my iPhone, tablet, computer and speaker. So I found a nice old cardboard box I had put away, and made it into a cord wrangler. It's an easy DIY to help de-clutter. 

I cut a rectangular hole on the bottom of the end-side, just big enough to insert the surge protector/extension cord. Make sure your box is long enough. 

Then I cut enough holes for three of the cords that I need on the side, the iPhone, the tablet and the computer. Then I cut a hole on the top for the speaker-charger, because I keep the little speaker on top. 

The holes only have to be big enough for the ends to go through, not the plugs. 

Yes, it would have been neater if I'd had a little drill or a good little saw. But I didn't, so I used a scissors and a kitchen knife. Good enough. 

Time to make it: 15 minutes, once I'd found the box. 

 


ETHAN MURROW, LARGE DRAWING FOR SALE

 

Ethan murrow. pinto brothers, drawing 54x36 for sale
Ethan Murrow, 2006, large scale drawing from Pinto Brothers Series, for sale

This beautiful, large -scale drawing by Ethan Murrow is now for sale. 

I bought this piece in 2006, when Murrow had a show at Burlington City Arts. Ethan was raised in Vermont, and has many friends and admirers here. I hadn't know Ethan when he lived here, but I had been somewhat friendly with his father when we were kids because his father (Ethan's grandfather, Edward R. Murrow) was very good friends with my father, Lou Cowan. The small-world effect of the Cowan family has ceased to surprise me. 

But that's not why I bought this piece. I bought it because it's that good. THAT good. I bought it to sell, because at the time, I was running Pine Street Art Works. I had it framed by my favorite framer, Jennifer Koch of Frames For You And Mona Lisa Too, and it hung at PSAW for several years. Finally, when we closed, I had no place to hang the work, so I loaned it to the University Of Vermont, where it has been on view at the Davis Center, much to the delight of the thousands of students, faculty and visitors for the past 5 years. 

Now it is for sale. If you are interested, or know someone who might be...just click this link to my online store, Small Equals. 

The piece is avaiable framed, but I'm also willing to have Jennifer Koch take it out of the frame, for much much easier shipping and delivery. 

Ethan Murrow website.


Mannequin by Ralph Pucci/ Maira Kalman

From the photo vaults: The blue haired boy. Mannequin by Ralph Pucci, based on drawings by Maira Kalman. Photographed at Pine Street Art Works ©Liza Cowan 2007. Used for advertising and display at store for many years. 

 

Mannequin Ralph PucciMaira Kalman photo ©Liza Cowan 2007
Blue Haired by mannequin by Ralph Pucci / Maira Kalman. Photo ©Liza Cowan 2007

The old wooden dollhouse

Wooden dollhouse, black and white,  liza cowan photo
Vintage Wooden Dollhouse. Photo ©Liza Cowan

I bought this wooden dollhouse from a friend in Woodstock, NY in the early 1980's. She was about to move, and it was just too big to lug around. Now I have lugged it to two different houses in Woodstock, two apartments in Brooklyn, and one house in Vermont. I'm about to move again and was considering selling it, since I'm downsizing by a lot.  I took it down from atop the fridge, where it has sat for 13 years, to take some photos of it. And I fell in love with it all over again. I guess I'm keeping it. 

Wooden doll house liza cowan photo
Wooden Dollhouse. Photo ©Liza Cowan

4 Ways To Improve Your Business Facebook Page

I was planning to teach a class at  Winooski Circle Arts, a store I managed, about  using Facebook for business. Since WCA is closed, I thought I’d share some ideas here. The examples are from two Facebook business pages I created: Winooski Circle Arts and Small Equals.

I've framed this for business pages but the ideas hold true for any professional pages: art, writing, publishing, theater, cooking classes, or anything. 

The four key ideas are:

Image + Story 

+ Acknowledgement + Engagement

 

 1) Use images:

Winooski Circle Arts vintage shopping image
You can use vintage images on your facebook page. Add text with imaging software like PicMonkey, which is free online.

Use images as often as you can. It’s best if you can shoot your own.  iPhone or smartphone pictures are great for this. Better still - take an extra few minutes to crop, frame, and add text if you want. Remember to add your logo, and add photo credit if the photos are not your own, or even if they are. I use online photo editing software, PicMonkey and think it's a great program. There is a free standard version or you can upgrade for more versitility.

Take pictures of your product, your office, studio, employees; take pictures at the craft or business fairs you attend. Take photos at events you speak at. Take pictures of the equipment you use to make your product, and the people who are using the equipment. Take pictures of your customers interacting with your product - but only use them with permission.

Old images are great too. Take advantage of google image searches to find a vintage image that is no longer under copyright. These are fun and people enjoy them.  Do not use images that are copyright. Rule of thumb, stick to images made before 1925. That’s not precise, but good enough.

2) Tell a story.

flashbags vermont, vintage parsnip seed pack, illustrating facebook page,
Photo of a small equals product being made in the Flashbags studio. Photo ©flashbags vermont

Story sells. There’s always something to tell about your product or service. Do you make something that uses ingredients or components? Write a paragraph or two about them.  In my business, Small Equals, I like to write about how my bags and placemats are made by Flashbags in Burlington, VT. Or about the boxes that are made for me by Vermont Wooden Box. Go to your supplier, ask some questions, snap some photos. Link to their websites.  Do this often.

Did you start working with a new manufacturer, with a new tool, a different paint? How is it different? What does it look like? Where did you get it?

Unless you go into the woods and chew down trees to make your paper, your supplies are made somewhere. This is interesting when you think about it. Your customers will think so too; even more so if you actually do go into the woods and chew down the trees.

Did you read an article or see a film that inspired you? Even if it is only tangentially related to your business, your readers might like to know about it too. Remember, your customers are well-rounded people, and they want to hear about your ideas as well as your product.

If you’ve written a blog post about anything related to your business, make sure to link it on facebook. And, of course, make sure you have a facebook link on your blog.

3) ACKNOWLEDGE EVERYONE

Acknowledge your employees. Photo of Saturday shopkeeper, Willa Cowan.
Acknowledge your employees. Saturday shopkeeper, Willa at front desk.


No business, maker or artist works completely on their own, nor do they get their ideas out of thin air. Did someone give you a terrific idea that you put into production? Were there books that inspired you? Tell your customers about it. They want to know, and the person who gave you the idea deserves credit.

Is your product being sold in a local store? Go there and take some pictures, or at least write a little post about them. Make sure you link to their facebook page, too. This lets your customers know where they can get your product, and builds good relations with the store. This is very important. Do this often.

Did you consult on a project with someone? Tell your readers.  You have an amazing accountant, fed ex driver, editor, publicist?  A customer who was particularly encouraging or funny. Share the story.

Write about your employees, mention their birthdays, or if they got an award or had a baby or if they accomplished something interesting or important for your business.  Everyone likes to be recognized, and your readers will like peeking behind the scenes.

This is all about building good will with your customers, friends and employees.

This is also known as building community. It matters. A lot.

4) ENGAGE WITH YOUR READERS

Converse with your customers. winooski circle arts.
respond to your readers. If they don't matter to you, you are in the wrong business.

Don’t just post and run. Make sure to respond when someone comments on a post. A “like” will be the barely acceptable minimum. A “thank you, Sally,” is quick and easy.  If someone asks a question, answer it. If someone’s comment inspires you to write back, do so, even if it's brief.  Conversation is engagement. Conversation lets your customers know that there is a real person there and that you care about them. If you don’t care about your customers, you are in the wrong business.

Sometimes your readers will post a comment you disagree with. If it's truly offensive, if it uses slurs or attacks, you certainly have the option of deleting it, and often that is the best thing to do. But if readers are responding with a genuine concern or interesting idea, even if you don't agree, try to think of this as an opportunity for engagement. You lose credibility by ignoring or deleting comments that don't tell you how wonderful you are, or that don't parrot your own ideas. Eventually your readers will figure out that you do this, and will realize that what you have provided is not a community but an echo chamber. All but the diehard fans will leave, and this is not really something that will help you promote your business.

These suggestions mean you have to check in to facebook regularly. I’d say minimum of once a day. Keep posting, keep responding to your readers. Engage! This is an important part of your job. Just do it. And have fun with it.

Your business is not just about you. It is about relationships. Build them.

PS: I wrote a post several years ago about reciprocity in business that covers some of the same topics. Find it HERE

Winooski Circle Arts is not open right now, but here's the Facebook Page.

Find Small Equals Facebook page HERE

 

 

 


Libby Holman, Fernand Leger and Mannequins in Dreams That Money Can Buy

I can't imagine a more perfect blend of people, ideas and art. Here's a clip from the 1947 flim Dreams Money Can Buy, produced and directed by Hans Richter, Dada/surrealist artist. The film, which follows a story line about a man with the talent of seeing into people's minds to help them craft dreams, features segments by Surrealist superstars, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Fernand Leger. Here's the Leger segment:

Mannequins...Fernand Leger. Be still my seesaw heart. But there's more.

The song, The Girl With the Prefabricated Heart, was sung by Libby Holman, a Jewish, bisexual, broadway star and chanteuse  and a huge supporter of civil rights, anti war and environmental causes. She may be obscure today, but in mid 20th Century America, she was a superstar. Known not just for her stage and recording performances, but also for a scandalous and difficult personal life, as well as for her serious and deeply held committment to political causes.

Libby Holman, 1931
Libby Holman in 1931
 
 
 
Louisa Carpenter, in 1941 she was magager of Robin Hood Theater, Deleware
One of Libby's great loves, Louisa Carpenter. Here, in 1941. Deleware Public Archives.

I'm just going to imagine for a moment that Libby Holman and my mother, Polly Cowan, must have crossed paths at least once in New York City or Connecticut, where they both owned homes.

The soundtrack in the clip above differs slightly from the one in the original. Same song, same singer, but a different recording. Both include Josh White, a now-famous African American folksinger, who Libby worked and sang with, sometimes at great peril to both of them.

 

Libby Holman and Josh White 1944
Libby Holman and Josh White, 1944
hans richter, dreams that money can buy, libby coleman, the girl with the prefabricated heart, photo Arnold Eagle.
Hans Richter on the set of The Girl With The Prefabricated Heart. Photo Arnold Eagle.

More about Libby Holman here and here

More about Josh White here


New: vintage inspired place mats from Small Equals

seed pack place mats from www.smallequals.com
Seed Pack placemats

New from my company, Small Equals, three new products using vintage images. These are made in Vermont by Flashbags, using recycled paper, plastic laminte and machine stitching. 

 

4 seedpacks no text
four seed pack vegetable placemats

 

Faithful readers of this blog will know that I have been collecting vintage ephemera for years. These images come from seed packs in my collection. The originals were produced using stone lithography, a process which, because it is printed using tiny dots of color, allows for enlargement beautifully. I think the images are very exciting as they grow larger. I hope you agree. 

flower place mats from www.smallequals.com
Set of four flower placemats
 
 
 
Jello placemats from Smallequals.com
set of six place mats with yummy vintage Jell-O images


My love of vintage Jell-O images is well known. I have used these images for place mats before but they were out of production for a few years. Now back, in limited edition, these will certainly create conversation and inspire the appetite. 

All products availble at my online store www.smallequals.com