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Archive for "Textiles"

Babes of Marimekko: VUOKKO NURMESNIEMI

2 September 2014
Cassie McGettigan

VUOKKO NURMESNIEMI portrait by Juliana HarkkiPortrait of Vuokko by Juliana Harkki.

for Marimekko is what is best known by most. In 1953, the year she joined the company, she designed the stripe “Piccolo.” The print is comprised of one or two passes of stripes that can overlap to form a third color. This approach takes brilliant advantage of large-scale silkscreen printing, which she helped Marimekko to develop (and we now do, too). Smart minimalism and flexibility of design have been at the center of her work since.

Vuokko’s stripes were an immediate sensation. In 1956, Marimekko introduced the iconic Jokapoika (“Everyboy”) shirt as their first garment for men. Over the years, Vuokko has designed more than 300 colorways for “Piccolo” to be used for the shirts, from her original Mediterranean-inspired palette to black on white and everything in between. 


Armi Ratia wearing Jokapoika

On the right here is Armi Ratia, the founder of Marimekko, in the late 1960s, out playing the model in one of the zillions of Jokapoika striped shirts she made. She, like many ladies, had no trouble borrowing from the men’s department. Though “Piccolo” was also used for garments intended for women, such as the Kivijalkamekko dress, designed by Vuokko and shown here with Ilmari Tapiovaara’s egg sculpture in 1957.


Bouffanted visitors to scorched mediterranean locales who still always pack an umbrella, grumpy teenagers also expecting rain, kiddos–everybody!–got a great striped something.

Vuokko umbrella

Vuokko raincoat and kiddo

Here is Vuokko completing an installation of Marimekko goods at a gallery in Stockholm, in heels, in 1958. Bang story!

Vuokko in shop

Vuokko designed other patterns and shapes for Marimekko as well, including–I was surprised to learn–Iloinen takki, that dress with patch pockets that Marimekko first made in 1960 and still makes and adult women still wear. Vuokko intended the wee pockets to hold surprise gifts for the wearer’s beau, and that’s about the extent of adult sexiness I can imagine associated with this garment.

VUOKKO Iloinen takkiHowever, her signature spare, geometric style were evident from the beginning, as you can see in her split color wool blouse of 1956 and her Ritsa apron with “Raituli” stripes of 1959. And now, these are  questionably sexy body obsfucating garments I can stand behind, absolutely.

Vuokko dress 1

Vuokko sweater

In 1964, Vuokko left Marimekko to found her own company, Vuokko Oy, which she ran until 1988 and still runs a version of today. Left to her own devices, the body obliteration + spare geometry were turned up to full force and the vibe got super hot!







and office/studio in Helsinki was designed from top to bottom in 1970 by her late husband Antii Nurmesniemi (who also designed, for example, the Wärtsilä coffee pot for Arabia). It is open except for the bedroom with big views of the sea. Four mezzanines, including the swimming pool level which I have not seen a picture of but would love to see a picture of, stacks of Vuokko’s floor pillows and a heated floor = heavenplace.





(those glasses)

VUOKKO NURMESNIEMI portraitPortrait with plants by Anna Huovinen.

-We stock the Marimekko book at the shop, and it includes a bunch of images and information about Vuokko and Marimekko overall. It is, hands-down, the book we consult most when trying to forge through a new design.

-Apartamento ran a wonderful profile of Vuokko in Issue #07, featuring an interview with her and shots from her home, including the first two I posted in the series, and “I got rid of most of the seams and pleats. The Japanese say ‘Vuokko set women free.’ See, my design always starts from the fabric. I want to give the patterns a lot of solid surface, which often affects the shape of the final dress, loosening it up” and other gems. Track it down!


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Climb On!

25 February 2014
Holly Samuelsen

The focus of this video is the off the wall climbing prowess of Catherine Destivelle and her short shorts, but please take note of the excellent textile moves of the Dogon tribespeople. The baobab bark rope twining and indigo dyed skirts and head wraps are a fine example of some advanced textile know how. Thanks for the link Dr. Coplin!

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July 4th: Closed for Crafting

2 July 2013
Cassie McGettigan

The shop will be closed this Thursday so that we can spend the entire day following the instructions from Decorating with Fabric by Alfred Allan Lewis (1974) on how to cover our rotary telephones, portable televisions, Parsons tables, flower pots, mirror frames, walls, ceilings, shower stalls?, daybeds, everything in red, white, and blue gingham in time for our annual Fourth of July restful, booze-free afternoon luncheon. Don’t stop by. We’ll be busy.

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15 October 2012
Cassie McGettigan

Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé, 1966
Liberty fabric: silk, sequins, plastic beads
dreaming up our future fabrics….

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11 October 2012
Cassie McGettigan

Marimekko is to thank for bringing our little Gravel & Gold Goods lady design posse together and inspiring us to make handprinted fabrics. I met Holly on the recommendation that she would be up for copying an auntie’s old Marimekko dress in a mauntie’s old Marimekko panel that used to hang in his mother’s house. When I came to her studio and explained the idea, she sort of hyperventilated. She had studied surface design at CCA, and Marimekko was her hands down favorite. We had a lot of fun making it happen.

When Lisa, Holly, and I began designing fabrics for Gravel & Gold Goods, it was in part because we wanted to create fabrics of the quality and joy level of the old 1960s and 1970s Marimekkos, and in part because we wanted—and imagined we were obliged—to create a largescale screen printing set up like the old Marimekko printing tables, with awesome, stylishly dressed ladies passing a squeegee back and forth.

As an aside, I will add that Marimekko’s current modality is also of great interest, and a place I very much want to visit!, even though, in my opinion,  the finished fabric quality has gone way down—a sadness I’m willing to attribute to the cotton they’re using in addition to the mechanization of the printing.

It was the old school style that we were really after, the hands on the tables. But the fact was that we had no idea how to physically print on a large scale, let alone where we would find such a large space that we could afford around the Bay. This stalled us for some time…. And then, as though stumbling upon a mirage in the desert of local industry, we came upon ZOO-INK, proudly hand screening yardage right here in San Francisco since 1972. And while it would be impossible to imagine Charles, the master of ceremonies over there, wearing a cute A-line printed sundress, he has years of experience burning giant screens, mixing paint, dragging giant screens down giant tables, setting them into locks, passing a squeegee back and forth, and making magic. It was a fast-forward dream come true for us.

When creating a hand screened fabric, each color of a print requires a separate screen and a separate trip down the printing tables. Here you can see “First Falls”, a print I designed last year, being printed at Zoo. Using Indian ink on acetate, I drew three large interlocking layers with a ragged edge that would disguise the repeat. These were burned onto three separate screens, each measuring 60″ x 36″. When it came time to print, Charles first laid down the neon yellow, then the dark blue outline, and finally the pale pink fill screen. With the paler version, he started with cream, then metallic silver, then pale purpleish-grey. Both versions turned out real nice.

With such beautiful prints, the finished stuff comes easy. Here is our Gemini Dress and Large Tote in two versions of “First Falls”.

Along with the relief of handing off the printing process to a group of pros and the pleasure of their perfect work, we’ve learned so much from Charles about the process of printing on this scale and the many various factors involved. For us, the dream of one day having our own printing set up with our own sundress ladies, squeegees, etc. remains, but until then, there could be no better a place than ZOO-INK.

(Well traveled Gravel & Gold Subaru wagon to the left.)


Saul Borisov

17 September 2012
Cassie McGettigan

Adam & Eve weaving by Saul Borisov, eBailable right now. Borisov, Borisov, Borisov….wanna know more! Had a time previewing this book/amazing resource by author/artist/champion Cayetano Ferrer. Wow!


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Tiny Vintage Finnish Dress

6 September 2012
Cassie McGettigan

For my favorite tiny Swedish girl.

Her papa is jealous. Which is creepy, really.

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Lady Power Knitters

5 September 2012
Cassie McGettigan

Shit. Ok, just southeast of the beard, is that? Could it be?

Yep, that’s definitely a lady power fist motif among the torch bearing devils, sly foxes, and arcade game fellas adorning these incredible Swedish ladies’ sweaters. I know it, you know, they’re willing to stand in the mud all day to defend it:

Yeah, life looks good on their farm.

Note the dachshund in all this. Also, they seem to enjoy nice tropical vacations, where the heat don’t stop them.

Then, after very careful consideration, the ladies decided to allow men among them. All they had to do was wear awesome knits and like it. They knew how good they had it.

To enjoy seeing another powerful, unafraid of the cold Swedish lady taking control, look to Lukas Moodysson’s film Tillsammans  (which in the US was called Together). This bit doesn’t have subtitles going, but former residents of Bolinas and even those unfamiliar with radical group living should be able to follow the well worn conflict happening here.

All these awesome images are from Hönsestrik – ett sätt att sticka fritt by Kirsten Hofstätter, published in 1975. Stockholm used book stores, watch out!

Magical True Love Gator Shirt

12 June 2012
Cassie McGettigan

These are the instructions intended for Robyn + Tim for finding the meaning of TRue LOVe, as found on a shirt I found.

The shirt appears to be covered in other instructions for making, I believe, an alligator costume which, you never know, if actively worn while sipping a cold beverage in the sun or vigorously dancing with a hat and cane, might lead to true love between someone and someone provided the meditation route doesn’t work out.

The random patches, the extra long drop hems, the shape of the sleeves, the actually pretty advanced quality of the construction—I don’t know why but I approve. The meaning of this shirt, in general, I would like to know more about.

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Vestirsi è facile

28 March 2012
Cassie McGettigan

1972, Italy, architects, all still concerned with simple clothing systems. And now, there’s a kit for that:

A kit! You shouldn’t have, Archizoom! But is this diagram nightmare really necessary to start making simple clothes at home?

Yes because it’s worth it:

Vestirsi è facile, or, Dressing Is Easy, was another tantalizing clothing system made by Archizoom Associati. I have no idea why the absurd aesthetic of the earlier Nearest Habitat System gave us American Apparels on every corner, but this system, which is to me infinitely more stylish and actually adaptable, seems to be available to us now only through limited supply chains such as Miyake Plantation, Kenzo Jap, Flax (kind of), and certain more discerning purveyors of world beat trimmer garb.

Please, allow me to present that for you again:

Assumed here as a basic element is a square piece of cloth. This first logical use of the raw material eliminates waste, enabling one to operate on a geometrically defined element with which one can plan, rejecting imitative operations of any anthropometrical importance.

Indeed, it is only by abandoning traditional sartorial methods still so ubiquitous in industrial production that we shall be able to cope with and correctly utilize productive technologies and methods, drawing planning criteria directly from the nature of the productive process.

In this case the first fundamental operation is to consider the fabric and the cloth to be like a continuous ribbon of unvarying width, and not an indefinite surface from which portions are haphazardly cut out.

And so forth, and so on, published in Casabella, December 1973, and Zaaaaang.

The best news is that there is also a film for this, also called “Vestirsi è facile”. A film! But I can’t seem to manage a way to view it….And I’m having trouble finding sufficient information. This deal is so rad. I came across mention of it in a book,  Italian New Wave Design, by Andrea Branzi, 1984, one I recommend. So this is a shout out–if anyone has some more information, please share it!

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