Monday, August 9, 2010

More Pretinted Pieces

I actually have some new fun pieces that are not pretinted to show you, but I will finish showing the pretinted pieces first so that you have some continuity.
I have seen lots of these cute little animals dressed in military uniforms. As you can see, this one is unfinished, and was intended to be a pillow top.  This one I do think was done with crayons, and ca. 1941. It came stamped, and the coloring was done probably to a picture of a finished piece. The colors are more regular and thicker here - not subtle shading as would have been the case with the ones that might have been airbrushed.  I think that these little figures were designed to help children to feel a sense of comfort and to have something to understand where their Moms and Dads had gone in the military.  It probably also helped to teach them to have a sense of patriotism.

Here is a detail shot of the same piece. OK, it is on its side, but you can see the coloring clearly and also some of the embroidery. I have wondered in the past if they used regular Crayola Crayons or had some special ones.  I suspect it was the commercial Crayons.  I am also not sure how they completed the piece once they used the Crayolas - i.e. how they made the Crayons work smooth and permanent.  I know we generally put a cloth or papers over the piece and press it, so probably that was the technique used.
The next piece is another dog - no uniform, but a happy cartoon character. Couldn't you just adopt this little guy?  This is more likely from the 30s I believe, partly because of the style and partly because of the lack of any patriotic motif. I am sure he was also meant to be embroidered. It is interesting that aside from the cute animals with military uniforms, the stamped and pretinted baby quilts and some other things begin to seem more static in the 1940s. I wish I still had a photo of one that is a very good example.  I might in our slides, but I have some 430 slides, and that is a lot to go through to find the one.  Then I would have to get a way to scan it and turn it into a digital image. Here are some gingham dogs, also done with crayon, and I can actually see the strokes on this one.  You can make this larger by clicking on the image. This would also be from the 30s.  I used to have one that was The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat. All of the dogs were intended to be pillow tops.
This charming piece is a card table cover, and probably ca. 1940 as I believe it was Churchill who had a Scotty dog, and they became very popular during that time.  I used to know the name of his little dog, and could probably find it, but can't remember it right now.
 As I think I noted earlier, there were many moitifs - I have this beautiful dresser scarf ca. 1920 and it has stylized butterflies on it, and I also have this laundry bag (these were very popular in the 30s) with a parrot in a jungle setting on it.
The thing that I find interesting to remember is how important it was to decorate everyday household items. Today we do have decorated items for the household, but in general, I think there is not as heavy an emphasis on decorative items for literally every room in the house.
It's kind of an interesting statement on women's role in society to realize that women in the 20s and 30s had primarily roles as homemakers. I also think there was a subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) attempt to have women return to their simpler times of doing handwork since women had just gained the vote in 1920, and I am sure there was still a lot of anguish about that. In the 1940s, women's roles dramatically changed once again as women not only did the work of men, but also began to work more in general as secretaries, teachers, nurses, and many other roles we tend to think of during that period as being women's roles.  Then in the 1950s, once more women were encouraged to return home and to do things like brushing their hair 100 times before bed so they would be beautiful for their men, to wear pretty frilly (and totally useless) aprons, and to dress in a feminine style.  I remember how important it was to have a set of beautiful lingerie and how there was a prolific number of designs of such things.
 Women were encouraged to have hobbies - tole painting, crewel embroidery, wood burning, copper engraving and many other things to keep them occupied in their homes, and they were encouraged to come up with new and exciting meals for their family. Although we don't tend to see the pretinted pieces any longer in the 50s, we do begin to see stenciled pieces, and pieces stamped for embroidery that are painted with tube paints.   In fact, the tube paints became sort of a status symbol, and if you had an entire canister of them, you really had something.  There were paint parties held in  homes along with the Tupperware parties and women were encouraged to do this type of sales at home.  Mary Kay Cosmetics was really hot during this period too, and it was interesting that it was considered a very acceptable type of employment for women to sell cosmetics and things like Tupperware. I was thinking that some concessions had to be made because a lot of women were left widowed at the end of the war.
It is interesting to think how the "things" that graced homes changed so much with the times and how the things that were used, the way women dressed, and the things they did with their lives truly reflected the ways that women were viewed in society at any given time.
Today the pretinted items have returned, only they are not precolored but you can find stamped pieces that are meant to be colored with crayons, and women are designing their own pieces with crayon work.  It has never become a highly popular pastime the way it once was, but there has definitely been a revival.

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