Thursday, October 11, 2012

Xavier Cugat: bandleader, musician, lover and painter

Cha-cha-cha! I had this record as a kid, and it was always one of my favorites. You can get this copy, here. Perhaps you already knew about this, but I just learned today that my favorite bandleader, Xavier Cugat, in addition to discovering Charo (which would have been enough for me), was also a painter. Mostly in the caricature vein, it's true, but that seems to be kind of a thing in the art world these days. That and graffiti. The art world loves that stuff. But you are a savvy person, so you probably already know what turns 'em on in the art world. Maybe you are sitting in a room designed around one of Damien Hirst's formaldehyde sharks. Or maybe you know that Mr. Hirst is already passe.
Above is a fabulous clown painting from the brush of Mr. Cugat that is for sale on Etsy by seller JohnVenables. You know you need this. Whether you are a Latin music or Exotica enthusiast, or simply an admirer of 20th Century Clown paintings, this could be the crown jewel for your collection. I love how each of the clowns has his own personality. And just look a the disapproving stare of the little puppy. Certainly, Mr. Cugat's oeuvre will appreciate in value, so hop to it. And if you really want to soak yourself in music history, check this out: Mr. Cugat began doing caricatures while touring with Enrico Caruso. Caricatures were a hobby of the great Italian tenor and Mr. Cugat decided at an early age to emulate him.
Here is a wonderful painting perfect for a Doctor's office. I especially love the sleeping dog, and the canned livers. I love how the pink smocks contrast with the sallow complexion of the poor patient. Bidding will seriously heat up on this one, offered by jhonnythompson on ebay. So get to it. It would make an excellent addition to your collection of medical illustrations and anatomical models. Or maybe you collect vintage Milton Bradley Operation boards. Please get it and tell me how much you enjoy it.
Here on ebay you can see one of Mr. Cugat's caricatures of Golda Meir. It is available on ebay from seller douglass6883. And though it is unflattering, as all caricatures must be, it looks like Mr. Cugat was something of a fan of the former Israeli Prime Minister. Or at least he thinks she'd rather make love than war, according to what's written on her purse. Maybe you are a fan too. Or maybe your mom is a fan and you disagree with her. Well then, what a nice gift this would make for mom. It is not cheap; it is currently weighing in at $15,000. (I would prefer to see a caricature of FDR or Gandhi, if you'd like to buy me a giftie). Why don't you become a caricature artist? Yes, you. While working as an extra on a film set many moons ago, I met a caricature artist who worked as an extra during off-season. I was casting about for better employment and he said that learning to do caricatures was fun, and that your could set yourself up in business with only a couple of folding stools and some charcoal. Caricatures almost hold up to my rigorous new skills requirements: a new skill must still be useful after the apocalypse. (Jared Diamond's Collapse made a special groove in my medulla) New paper might be hard to come by after society collapses, but it is still a low-tech gen-u-ine skill. It's on my list, along with ventriloquism. But what if you can't draw? Well, keep at it. Try drawing a portraits of yourself regularly, or alienating your friends with unflattering portrayals of them. Or maybe your friends are super supportive and they will love it. Why not draw a caricature of yourself every year on your birthday and see how you improve. And if your portraits resemble the drawings of Napoleon Dynamite, even better. You might just become an art star. Go, you!

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Friday, June 29, 2012

1,000 Cranes

Just look at this fabulous 40s playsuit. The halter has two yellow Bakelite hoops attached to a charming rope tie at the neck and the high waisted shorts. It appears to be a generously cut medium and is on ebay right now via Vampibilly, the shop responsible for these lovely photos. Now 40s playsuits, especially with this kind of print and these charming details, do not come cheap, but perhaps you could wear it everyday. And use it as a pattern to make yourself an army of playsuits. And you then could spend all your time tap-dancing, or walking on the boardwalk, or rehearsing for old timey Broadway musicals. Or maybe you can pair it with a sailor hat and walk around belting out "Anything Goes".
I have been away a long time, goslings. No, I didn't go anywhere, but I did curb the compulsive shopping which kept me off of ebay and etsy, for the most part anyway. I focused my efforts on finding dollar items and attempting to alter them with some sewing machine magic aided by my fabulous sewing class teacher, which has been rewarding. But I have missed posting novelty print lovelies here, as well as reviewing old movies, so here I am again. I was actually trying to write things for other venues, but in my research I discovered that my poor neglected blog got more monthly traffic than most of the on-line magazines I found out there shilling for submissions. So thank you, whoever you are, for reading, or at least opening this blog and perhaps closing it again in frustration. I really appreciate it, truly. Blogger has monkeyed about with the template, so I may need to make some formatting adjustments as I go forward. I am also looking for more crane prints. Just to keep it interesting, I have imposed the restriction that they must not be on kimonos. Can I collect 1,000 cranes?


Friday, February 17, 2012

CREDIT: Occupational portrait of a woman working at a sewing machine, 1853. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction Number LC-USZC4-3598 DLC.

I've been taking sewing classes. At last. I can't believe it has taken me this long to get around to doing this. I am now the proud owner of an old Singer that the young Akhenaten bought for me. Wearing thrifted clothes is a much better experience when you have the ability to do alterations. My goal is make dresses from vintage patterns, mostly to manage my fear that the vintage dress supply is drying up. (This has inevitably leads me to the desire to stockpile vintage fabric.) So far I have made 1 1/2 dresses, hemmed my trousers, have a new best friend in my seam ripper and am overflowing with even more compassion for the garment workers of the world.

Whatever you are wearing, vintage or current, cheap or expensive, was labor intensive to make. Someone had to sit at a sewing machine and sew each hem. Each button. Each button hole. Every spaghetti strap had to be stitched and then turned in-side-out by hand. All for very low wages, and most likely in seriously substandard conditions. If they were paid at all. (Many current companies subcontract piece work to be handled in one of the world's Export Processing Zones, perhaps off the coast of Jamaica. There, outside the national boundaries of any nation's laws, subcontractors control fiefdoms made of sweatshops, sometimes closing and vanishing before paying workers. If you'd like to know more about Export Processing Zones, I'd recommend Stephanie Black's film, Life and Debt.)

In fact, everything you own is hand-made. Yes, even the mass-produced item from the 99 cents store. Someone sewed the hems on that dishtowel or assembled a kitchen timer. The parts of your iphone were machine-manufactured, yes, but someone had to sit there and put them together. Machines can only do so much, and often, human labor is cheaper than machine power. Want to about terrible working conditions and exploitation that appear even on mainstream news sources like CNN? (for example, here). 2010 saw a series of very publicized suicides by Chinese workers assembling apple products. Human hands have touched and molded it all.

But we know all that. We know the human cost of our cheap products. We have to repress this knowledge of the suffering connected with our beloved objects. Some people repress the knowledge so very seamlessly, that they would be shocked (shocked!) to be accused of false consciousness.

And yet, in wealthy countries, there is a great cult of the hand-made, venerated at Etsy, and the like. One can get into the Walter Benjaminian aura of the object. Of course in their interviews of Etsy sellers, one of the questioned asked is "What does Handmade mean to you?" The answers manifest a precious false consciousness that elevates the handmade over the mass-produced without acknowledging the similarities. As if aura something that can only be conferred by a woman in Brooklyn at her sewing machine for her Etsy store. Why not the woman sitting at a sewing machine in a maquiladora in Juarez? Is it because she is sewing from someone else's pattern? No? That's not it? What is it then? Is it that the woman in Brooklyn is less alienated from her products? Can listen to NPR while she works? Presumably has been labor conditions in place for herself? You tell me.

I wish I could find it, but about 10 years ago I saw a comic strip with the words:"In the future, we will all work in our own sweatshops." In the first panel it showed a harried woman cutting out a pattern in her apartment while on speaker phone with headquarters. The voice on the speakerphone fired her, and then hired her back for half what she was making before. I believe it is true, we will all soon have our own sweatshops.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

A belated Happy New Year to all. I figure you've got the time between New Year and Chinese New Year to tie up loose ends, and then get down to business around Groundhog's Day (or Imbolc) to work on implementing those resolutions.

If you should miss all those deadlines, never fear, there's always Nowruz, Persian New Year, on the spring equinox. That seems like a better time to make a clean start, no? In Azerbaijan, you've got a good four weeks to clean house, sew new dresses and probably do your taxes. (Traditionally a week is devoted to each of the 4 elements of earth, wind, fire, water.) In short there are endless opportunities for renewal and procrastination. You've still got time.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I know he was a dictator and did an untold number of absolutely unconscionable things, but I will miss Muammar Qaddafi's personal style. I've written about his ensembles here, and honestly, who else will yell at the U.N.? And yell for hours? I wish Qaddafi had been brought to trial. I'm a due process kind of person. I firmly believe that long, drawn-out, legal battles especially those with burdensome discovery, can seriously deflate a dictator, plus there is the added bonus of actually uncovering information about those crimes against humanity, and who was funding it. A real trial, mind you, not something manned by kangaroos.

I must admit: I often imagined the conversations that Qaddafi might have had with his stylist: make this more Bedouin, but add a couple sequins. I want the cap to look more military but retain the Bedouin feeling. I need a bigger Africa-shaped brooch, bigger, like two-thirds the size of my head. And I need a gold AK-47.

Do we now face a political landscape bereft of style? Are there no more delusional, power-hungry, seriously snappy dressers? Is there not a head of state left who understands the power of clothes? No oligarch to employ team of tailors to make some sartorial magic?

Meet Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine. Ms. Tymoshenko has the advantage of being a beautiful woman from the get-go, and she found a team of geniuses to create Slavic-folkloric- Star-Wars outfits for her. Oh, and there's some Evita with that Princess Leia.

Look at at these seamstress flourishes around the high necklines. (Her outfits also seem practical in a colder climate and when you spend most of your time in massive buildings with thermostats set arctically low so that men can wear wool suits.) Look at how these gorgeous brooches are deployed. Some look like badges of honor, others look like steam-punk weapons: Careful, Ambassador, my brooch is set to kill, not stun. Her dresses and coats utilize a lot of puffed sleeves and are made modern with exposed zippers. Her color pallet is also genius: she truly shines in white.

Of course there is that genius of a hairdo: that crown braid. Genius on someone's part. Absolute genius. Iconic. An instantly recognizable Ukrainian symbol and she wears it beautifully. If she has a secret on how to achieve such a bounty of hair in middle age, she could make a fortune on that alone. Apparently there is controversy about the braid as to whether or not it actually grows from her head. Ms. Tymoshenko held a press conference in which she unbraided, showing that it was all hers, or at least, all attached to her head. I really hope she has some magical powers and will share them with us mortals. (I really miss the mermaid hair I had in my youth, as Colette once said when looking at photos of her long-gone ankle-length hair: How I miss myself.) But that gorgeous braid is most likely the collusion of a genetic jackpot and a discrete miracle-worker hairdresser, both sadly out of reach for schlepper such as myself.

Just look at this coat.

And this one.

I should insert a legal disclaimer here: I do not understand the political situation in Ukraine. I made an unsuccessful attempt and am still baffled. If you have an opinion, I am happy to hear you out. What I do understand is that politics in Ukraine make mere mud-slinging look like charity work. Ms. Tymoshenko's former running mate, Viktor Yushchenko, suffered severe facial scarring when he was poisoned by the opposition. (Of course no one could prove who did it.) Ms. Tymoshenko herself is currently in jail on corruption charges. It has been argued that this is merely a tactic to keep her from ousting political opponent, Viktor Yanukovych, during election season. That may very well be. (And if one has to choose, I'd take imprisonment over poisoning any day, though neither are good for one's health.) She has been accused of brokering a deal with Russia at Ukraine's terrible expense to purchase natural gas. She might be innocent as the dawn, for all I know. And in comparison with poisoners and the like, she probably looks like a total sweetie-pie. But she didn't become one of the richest and most powerful women in the world just by being adorable. She's also a big fan of Margaret Thatcher, which means that she and I would probably get into an argument if we were seated to close too each other at a dinner party.

Then there is the giggling. Ms. Tymoshenko has a trademark giggle that she deploys during press conferences. I'm not a fan of using girlishness to manipulate events, but as I've often said, femininity is a tool used by an oppressed class to garner some benefits from the oppressing class. It's still around because it works, and every woman uses it differently (and has an opinion on what is off-label use). Is Ms. Tymoshenko a Ukrainian Sarah Palin, as I've heard her called? Hard to say, not speaking Ukrainian. But she doesn't seem as uninformed as the former Alaskan governor. It has been argued that her crown-braid and folksy-attire are an attempt to play on well, folksy-ness, as in:I'm just plain folks, folks. And an effort to play down her vast wealth. Then there are the stripper heels. Ms. Tymoshenko prefers those sky-high foot-torture sculptures that pass for women's shoes nowadays. But perhaps she wants to feel taller in a room full of men? (I'm very second wave on that issue, I mean, these boots were made for walking, why hobble yourself? Am I just a second wave scold?)

What's your take on Tymoskenko?

What would you have a a workshop of crack seamstresses create as your power wardrobe? I must admit that mine would look a lot like Ms. Tymoshenko's. But with fuller skirts, flat boots, and embroidery. And of course I'd say to my stylist: Make it more Bedouin, but add sequins.

You can follow Ms. Tymoshenko's legal battles and see hundreds more pictures of fabulous outfits on her official website.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

I've been obsessed with all things Masonic for a while. I had great fantasies of becoming a Freemason. I thought I'd make new friends,contribute to my community, participate in bizarre rituals involving trowels and embroidered aprons. And eventually, when I made it to the 33rd Degree, I'd participate in a ceremony of car crashes, painful dentistry, and drink Guinness on the top of the Chrysler Building as it bloomed with green and orange streamers. Oh wait, that last bit would only happen if I stumbled into the Masonic Temple of Matthew Barney. (Actually, I suspect that Cremaster 3 is an extended commercial for Guinness. All that Guinness drinking, all those Irish harps. Think about it. Okay, I criticize Le Barney because I'm jealous of his success, I loved every bit of the Cremaster Cycle. All 20 hours or so of it.)

Of course, women can't be Freemasons, so there are women's auxiliaries to join which frankly look like no fun at all. Bereft of deliberately obtuse ceremony, secret handshakes, fez hats, and conventions, women's auxiliary looks at least 80% less fun. Does anyone out there belong to Job's Daughters? Eastern Star? The Rebekas? The Lions? The Rotary Club? Do you get to wear interesting badges and do rituals? Are you having fun?

I thought to assuage this Masonic-sized hole in my heart by getting myself a Masonic tie tack, and sticking it on my winter coat. But why advertise for a club that wouldn't have me? So I thought that instead of going forward, I'll go back (my unfortunate strategy for everything) and return (the eternal return) to early childhood and the first organization I ever joined: The Brownies. I thought I'd clap a vintage Brownie pin on my lapel and leave it at that. After all, I've got a Girl Scouts handkerchief that I love.

I had high hopes when I joined the Brownies as a wee lass. I had a thrifted vintage 1950's Brownie's uniform with a brown beanie that I adored. I thought I'd make new friends and learn new skills. The meetings of our troop, however, where not as fun as I had hoped. They took place in a classroom after school, and involved mass production of macrame for hanging plants. Our den mother ran a plant store and we were essentially her sweat shop to make the macrame sold in her store. Our one nature walk was a long schlep down a major urban thoroughfare to a McDonald's. Sadly, I am not exaggerating.

Ironically, my father was a co-architect of this dysfunctional Brownie troop, as he was one of the den mothers, something he was always proud of. He felt that his role as a den mother was to add discipline. He did this by sitting in the back of the classroom and yelling at us if we got too loud. Though we were hardly doing rowdy or extreme macrame, he felt that Plant-Store Den Mother could not control us on her own. (Which is of course a rather sexist assumption. Plant-Store Den Mother could break our little spirits all on her own.) My father's other main task was to stand outside smoking Pall Malls. There was talk of a camping trip that would literally take place on the school's playground, but that was nixed for some reason. No hiking, no campfires, I don't think we even did any group singing. Just knot tying. Lots of knot tying. Just 1970s sweat shop Brownies. I don't remember how it happened, but apparently I called Plant-Store Den Mother a fascist and hung up my beanie for good. I took my father with me, so she could exploit the other Brownies on her own.

But here is a lovely tea towel showing some happy vintage Brownies apparently worshipping an owl (or maybe a mushroom). They have been taught to identify mythical creatures in the forest, such as sprites and kelpies. It is available here on ebay.

Funny, I remember that one of the macrame pieces I made was an owl. Did the Brownie sweat shop ruin me forever for group membership?

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Experience the Psychedelic Exuberance of Hamilton 8 of Dallas.

Here I stand, like a barker calling you into the side show tent of wonder. Hamilton 8 of Dallas is the creator of mind-bending blouses, improbable landscapes where you could lose your reason. Just take a gander at this brain-scrambling beauty.

On the front, just a couple of Victorian cyclists, placed in frames that evoke cinematic film strips. But on the back the riot of autumnal foliage threatens to overwhelm them. How I love the grey is interspersed in the orange, creating depth. And how I adore the lamp, glowing red from within and the neglected park bench. Painterly, realistic draughtsmanship combined with riotous color and surreal juxtapositions, this shirt has them all.

You can get it here if you are dreaming of October bike rides and handlebar moustaches. It is available from Plattermatter, who has a number of other interesting things, especially Hamilton 8 of Dallas blouses.

I have a Hamilton 8, a navy on white polyester shirt with light houses, seagulls and a wharf full of sailboats. Realistic and surreal at the same time. I don't even have to check the label to spot a Hamilton 8.

Here is another from Plattermatter.

This delftware lovely is available here.

Or how about the flowery musicality of this holiday print, available here from Call Me Chula.

I have not yet been able to find any information about the company. Who created these scenic blouses? Both etsy sellers featured here appear to be actually located in Texas. Perhaps the blouses originated from an actual store in Dallas? So far all my searching has turned up nothing. Do you know? Do you have one of these blouses?

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Wired has an interesting article about the possibly pernicious ubiquity of anonymous reviewers. Hilariously, all I could think of was to review the article, though as author Chris Collin points out, I could also like it on Facebook or tweet about it. Every one's a critic, and we are all just generating content. We can even review reviews, for crying out loud. Here I am, generating content. But what is doing to us to be in this kind of echo chamber full-time?

As Mr. Colin notes, "There’s an essential freedom in being alone with one’s thoughts, oblivious to and unpolluted by anyone else’s.", but in what he dubs the "Yelpification of the universe" that luxury is harder to find.

I must admit a guilty pleasure in reading reviews. Especially as the majority of people who review anything (be it a hairbrush, a taqueria, or a gastroenterologist) have an overwhelmingly positive or intensely negative experience. Few write paragraph after paragraph about how something was more or less okay. Only the highs and lows take the time to comment. The review world is skewed towards the extremes and I figure that reality lies somewhere between the person who deems something a salvation and another who sees it as a waste of time.

But Yelp is a subset of its own. Zagat's has the anonymity of the eerily unattributed quotation marks. (Who said it was "an affordable bistro"? Zagat isn't telling.) I began consulting Yelp back in 2007 when it was somewhat less trafficked and a bit more local. There was a some self-congratulatory rhetoric about being an insider which was tiresome, but it didn't have the unpalatable smugness of boors that permeates it now. Perhaps it's the demographics of my city that have changed and continue to change. I don't know what happened, but now whenever I scroll down for a review or two of a local eatery or podiatrist, I am absolutely floored by the entitlement espoused by young persons, some of whom by their own admission, hail from more placid regions of the nation and have only been in town a short while. I have read reviews that amount to little more than assassinations of character against poor defenseless sandwich shops because they felt their waiter was a bit distracted. People who would give their lunch a negative star rating if possible. People so appalled and dismayed by the quality of a cup of coffee that they resort to moments of ALL CAPS. These are the Yelp Princesses. Men and women with such high standards that nothing could please them. The music is too loud, too soft, not the kind they liked. The decor too trendy, not trendy enough, too brightly lit, too recently rennovated, not renovated enough. The waitstaff is too elusive, or has bad vibes. You get the idea. Nothing will suit these goldilocksing Yelp Princesses.

But my favorite complaint is that the food is just not authentic enough. Not authentic enough, cry the Yelp Princesses, who freely admit that they've never visited the culinary region in question. Perhaps they've never even met a person from the country in question, except maybe the distracted waiter. (A local Egyptian eatery was deemed inauthentic by Yelp Princesses, not to mention dirty. Akhenaten confirmed that the food was authentic, and the dirt doubly so.) Whenever I read a particularly negative review, I enjoy checking other reviews by the same person to see what else they hate. This is how I discovered that there are lots of folks out there who prefer the predictability of chain restaurants to the crap shoot of a mom- and-pop. There are Yelp Princesses out there who are terrified of every little thing. A Yelp Princess wrote in horror about people hawking cans of beer and bottled water out of garbage bags filled with ice up and down Brighton Beach. The Yelp Princess wrote disparagingly, "it was so ghetto". I just thought, great, now I don't have to bring water. Plus that is a very tough job hauling the bags around on the hot sand, and has this particular Yelp Princess ever even been near a "ghetto"? Sometimes I can be sure of liking something if the Yelp Princesses hate it.

Sometimes a customer review can do a lot of damage to a small business. A small business whose greatest crime was a waitress who forgot to bring an extra soda and the Yelp Princess had to ask twice. I've seen businesses respond and attempt to mollify customers, even when the customers have unreasonable demands. I've got news for you, Yelp Princesses, every lunch you eat will not be a culinary masterpiece. Expensive and popular eateries have off-nights. Spending 4 days at a resort in Cancun does not make you an expert in Mexican food. Life, in short, is full of little disappointments. And even if you go to the right schools and the right restaurants, you can still have a crapola of an evening. And that's all it is: an evening. Or a meal, a day at the beach. If these are the greatest injustices you suffer, Yelp Princess, you should really think about how your privilege has shielded you from the realities of life.

And I a bit harsh on recent emigres to NYC? Yes. Absolutely. No one comes here for the relaxing environment. It is a hard adjustment to make. The standard of living is lower than the rest of the country. But don't take your culture shock out on small businesses.

I know I'm an old crank having a George Carlin moment. There are many young people out there who are perfectly lovely. And there are adventurous souls who come to town to make their way in the world and I wish them luck. There are young people, and people of all ages in fact, who are committed to social justice, renewable resources. People who have devoted themselves to better and grander things than I, certainly. Perhaps, dare I admit it, complaining about Yelp Princesses smacks of Yelp Princessness itself. In a culture where every one's a critic, don't we all just sound like self-important jerks? Perhaps this constant parading of our consumer opinions is inherently vulgar. The need to comment, to have the last word, to be an insider, to determine what is authentic, is perhaps the magic land in which we all become insufferable.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Persian print extravaganza. Gorgeous polyester photo print of Persian minature paintings seemlessly arranged to evoke a total landscape by Liberty House. Get it here from MomsVintage and wear it with everything. Absolutely everything. This is a medium and an absolute steal at $30.

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Perversely, nothing can put a dent in my desire for photo prints. This eye-popping tropical fish photo print skirt is a small and is available here from ebayer Aptwithaview AKA Vogue Runway. I'm giving out trade secrets here, as this is an ebayer who often has photo prints, and has been my source for number of spectacular examples over the years.

Just look at this beauty. It has all the earmarks of what makes photo prints so magical. A bunch of photos, including reproductions of paintings, all thematically related are grouped together in a vertiginous manner, some upside down, but all in the same color scheme. I love the mark of the scissors. You can really see how postcards and illustrations were cut-out and placed in gravity defying conjunctions. I love how the seams show between the images. I love the seagulls winging through. There is no attempt at verisimilitude, we have gone to the land of make believe. This print is virgin polyestah fabric available here from Fifisfinds and is a mere $25. All 57 x 74 inches of it, maybe you could make an evening gown out of it. Would you do that? It would be spectacular on you.

So enthrall to the photo print am I, that I want to create my own. Of course this has involved some additional schooling, something I said I would never do. But that is where my unholy lust has taken me. Surely you goslings know of Spoonflower, which will print fabric you create and upload. I know I need a three-piece suit made from this Nebula print. There are more brilliant photo prints available from the same designer, listed as Corseceng, or alternatively, Jonathan Bowen. Beautiful prints with views from the Hubble telescope, and aerial photos. I can't think of anything that could make one look more goddess-like. And if it hasn't started already, there will be a major run on photo prints in the coming seasons. It's the next logical step for printed clothing to take. And that's the progression that happened in the 70s.

Now if I could only learn to sew. Sigh.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Quill pens, ink wells and over-seeing owls. Pieces of music and pipes also adorn this stunning library print with exquisite detail and bright colors. Wouldn't this make a lovely dress? You can get it here, for sale by Ownbackyard on Etsy. I also love the styling on this room and the ceramic cat is a priceless touch.

Also, a library print apron in silk with Charles Dickens' Old Curiousity Shop.

This is too pretty to wear as an apron. Treasure Island, Little Women and The Songs of Sappho are a nice touch as well. But it is Thomas Mann's Joseph in Egypt that really sends me. It is available here from Playback.

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Do you call it a Library Print, a Bookshelf Pattern, or the Bookworm's Delight? The lack of established labeling conventions for these prints make searching for them difficult. I'd like to agree on library print.

This greyscale library print on rayon is the loveliest I have seen in quite some time. A library print must have other elements besides book spines and here we have some very active-looking statuettes (art deco ladies in crash helmets with arms akimbo)and some vases, but the real tour de force comes from the addition of the electric fan. The vintage radio too is a great touch, though more muted, its horizontal lines mirroring the stacking of books. But the fan in all its circularity is what elevates this print to greatness.

This terrific blouse is available for sale here, from Adrian Company Vintage, who has posted these pictures on Etsy. While the print is spectacular, and it appears to be a very wearable medium, over-sized 80's blouses can be difficult to wear. I'd pair it with a rather short skirt to elongate the silhouette widened by the boxy top. I'd be tempted to keep the rest of the ensemble greyscale as well.

I have long been looking for a library print book bag. This is a print that has been made into various bags.

This one was part of last summer's collection by WoodWood in Denmark. I like the placement of the print on this bag and how the vertical books move down along the body on the strap, but that style of bag is difficult for a short woman to wear (the long strap would leave the bag itself somewhere around my knees). The same print was also available last summer in a tote bag at the Morgan Library gift shop, which I keenly regret not snapping up when I had the chance. The closest I've been able to find in this photoprint of some book spines from Thomas Jefferson's Library.

While this bag is reasonably priced and available through the History Channel, of all places,and looks bookishly practical, nonetheless I don't believe in wearing novelty prints that one cannot vouch for or discuss coherently. U.S. History routinely fails to interest me and I often horrify the young Akhenaten with the gaps in my knowledge. Akhenaten, my young Egyptian paramour, can name more U.S. Presidents (and in chronological order) than I can. In order to comply with my own rule about standing by one's novelty prints, I'd have to visit the Library of Congress (the originator of this tote) and read a book or two about Thomas Jefferson just to keep from embarassing myself. And what if I am cornered on the subway by a Constitution enthusiast? For the love of Maude, isn't all of that a heavy trip to put on a tote bag?

Then I got to thinking about U.S. Presidential Libraries. Do they all have gift shops? Do they all put out tote bags? Have I hit a vein of Library Print items? Is this the motherlode?

Sadly, no. I was really hoping for a Nixon Presidential Memorial and Library Watergate Commerative tote bag, but there is no such animal. I would have settled for a Nixon in China tote, but Tricky Dick's library is one of the few without a gift shop. Most of the Presidential libraries are administered by NARA, National Archives and Records Administration. The gift shops are fairly standardized with pens and caps with the particular president's signature or a famous quote, a section for books by and about the president, and a kids section with model Airforce1 planes and tiny t-shirts that say "Future President". Perhaps a section with costume jewelry reproductions of pieces worn by the first lady. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library and Museum has the New Deal Store where you can pick up mugs commemorating 75 years of Social Security. There are also busts and sculptures of both FDR and Eleanor. But my favorite so far would have to be a 6 inch statue of FDR as the Sphinx. Apparently based on a caricature of FDR it must be seen to be believed.

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