Thursday, July 30, 2009

Remember when patterns were a quarter?

A couple years ago I was given a collection of dress patterns. It turned out that they were part of a costumer's collection from SD University theatre dept.

Mostly Simplicity and McCalls, but some Vogue, Butterick, and then about 10 patterns for actual classical costumes. One dates back to before 1920. Then a few from the thirties and forties. Twenty or so from the fifties. About 10 that I remember sewing for myself in the sixties and seventies.

There are 6 crates of patterns all together. It is great fun to look back at the illustrations on the envelopes and relive the hippie fashions of my college days. Vogue designs cost $ . 75 three times as much as Simplicity. There is even a pattern for gloves so you can match your ensemble.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I go to a lot of sales and auctions (or did before I got on the internet). These cards were in with a lot of postcards collected in Mexico, Cuba, and overseas. The man had traveled extensively and had many souvenirs from Japan, China, etc, all from the early days of the 1900's. I enjoy postcards so much and have about 300 early valentines, christmas cards, new year's card, birthday card, joke cards. I have always planned to use them in art work when I can find a good transfer method. Thank goodness for scanners and printers. Technology finally caught up with my dreams. The little town I live in has few supplies and I have to rely on my ingenuity.

A friend needs a graduation present. She has earned her Master of Social Work and works with chronically homeless people. Something special is in order and so it is a kind of a special occasion card for a very special person who looks beyond the surface. She won't be put off by the subject matter or its sadness. So I have built my first canvas book using transfer images, acrylic paint, handmade papers, and various embellishments.

The images can be enlarged to see details in the text. Please be advised that they may be disturbing to victorian sensibilities. You know who you are. Don't go there.

The bordello beauties piece transports us to the turn of the century and women's realities. Even in the wholesome prairie midwest, young women with illegitimate children were dowried into marriage by their fathers who were religious leaders in their communities. It happened in my family. There is nothing new under the sun and the world has been filled with misery since the beginnings of time. It is for us to make a difference one day and one person at a time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

thinking about a hundred years ago

The 2009 July 4 Burtz family reunion celebrated 100 years since Charles & Julia Hanson Burtz moved from Fremont, Nebraska, to their homestead in northern Tripp County, South Dakota. The railroad ended at Dallas which is where the land drawing was held. It was a four day trip by ox and wagon from Dallas to the site of the homestead.

They raised their own chickens, milked their own cows, butchered their own pigs, and grew wheat for flour. They also raised seven children. The nearest supplies were two days away. It was a trip made only once or twice a year by Charles.

Julia's wedding dress is in the Gibson girl style. It would have been constructed on a corseted shaped dress form similar to this one, pictured in its collapsed down attitude. The framework on the bottom opens to support the long skirt shape. Ladies hadn't even thought of trousers although they would have come in handy most every day.

Several years later, they built a small house, but there was no electricity, no telephone, no radio. Chores like separating milk were done outside in the sunshine utilizing a pressed back kitchen chair.

The White River flooded every spring and forced them to camp on higher ground until the waters receded. Finally in 1920 Julia said she wasn't going back to the river bottom and Charles moved the household up the hill to the flat prairie. She was a very patient woman. Can we even imagine their daily life?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

this is my jungle, welcome to it

The yard is thriving with all the humidity and rain. Today's pictures feature the six foot flower stalk of a yucca plant that's never had it so good and the trumpet vine whose blossoms are showy and worthy of admiration. It's a love-hate relationship and it is now volunteering all around the house. I cut it back severely to keep it from growing into the siding and shingles of the house. I hope some hummingbirds find it.

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity beginning with an annual visit from the state surveyors at work and from my son Erik and wife Nancie from Madison, WI. We had several family dinners including my sixty second (it lasted longer than that) birthday party which also featured an evening musicale. Then on July 4 we went to western SD to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the family ranch and homesteading in Tripp County. Erik and Nancie returned to WI and we all went back to work. In another month we will be ready for visitors from Connecticut and New York City. This is the stuff that keeps us warm all winter.

Haven't had a minute to sew, but tomorrow is reserved for the studio. So I plan to accomplish a lot.