Monday, July 13, 2009

In Celebration of Artistic Utilitarian Items

Sometimes the things that are connected with fabric - needles, scissors, rulers, and other tools - can be as interesting and artistic as the fabrics themselves. This needle case is a good example. I love the vintage utilitarian items, for they all seem to have an aesthetic aspect. And this isn't just artistic. Social values are presented through the title of the needle book, and the ladies sharing the joy of stitching. Even though this package of needles was purchased sometime in the late 80s or 90s, it still shows women dressing as they might have in the late 40s or 50s. What woman comes to a sewing group with a hat on, pretty hairdos and a pretty dress fit to wear to a special event? Notice that the grown ladies have painted fingernails, but the younger girl does not. Everyone is very politically correct for the times. Wow, women wearing makeup for a sewing circle. I don't even see women wearing makeup out in public much these days, let alone for a sewing circle.
So many of the same tools and related items today come in packaging that is downright boring. Perhaps it would be good used for altered art, but in and of itself, it has nothing to offer the viewer. A utilitarian item really is just that.
I often think of the things you can buy in malls much the same way - they seem to me to be very much without any character or story. Things in the thrift stores always seem to have some sort of story behind them. I am sure that when they originally came from some mall, they were just like any other garment. But now they have belonged to someone and it is fun to imagine what that person might have been like and what their life was like.

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