Ephemera and the design process

Ephemera and the design process

In celebration of Boston Design Week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Morse Study Room to view selections from the Print and Drawings Collection. Meghan Melvin, Sharf Curator for Design, selected a variety of ephemera that represent the stories and secrets of furniture design, textile and fashion, banking service, graphic art and even interior design for cars. I could have listened to Meghan talk for hours! Hopefully she did not sense my internal pandemonium as I forced myself to leave after the 30 minute tour. Tiny fireworks sparked ideas, evolving into whirling thoughts which eventually I distilled into four categories:

  • The ephemera of my design process
  • The challenges of conserving such an enormous range of objects and untangling their mysteries
  • The opportunities to research new project inspiration in museum collections
  • How digital design will change future ephemera: Will historians’ and curators’ work become easier or more difficult as our creative process and presentations transfer from physical to digital representation?

Historic New England encourages people to contribute supporting documentation and tools for their collection that reflects New England life. Perhaps the things we create should be documented more clearly? Should cleaning up after a finished design or quilt take on a different meaning?

Obviously, the thoughts are still whirling!

Stitched, the film

Many many thanks to the Museum of Fine Arts  for bringing the quilt documentary, “Stitched” to Boston this weekend.  Can we have more film like this?

Directed by Jenalia Moreno, produced by Nancy Sarnoff and with great camera work by Thomas Gandy, “Stitched” shares the stories of three well known American quilters: Caryl Bryer Fallert, Hollis  Chatelain and Randall Cook.  The ties between them are stronger than fame:  Caryl mentored Hollis who has in turn, encouraged Randall.  The International Quilt Festival in Houston as its framework, sharing the story of these three artists’ entries for the 2010 Festival.

For those who aren’t into the quilting, you may not know the lingo or the events.  The International Quilt Festival is Houston’s largest convention: last year, more than 60,000 people attended.  The film tries to highlight both traditional and contemporary quilting.  This film is an excellent peek into the quilting subculture.

As a quilter, I enjoyed their stories, the viewpoints and a peek into their studios.  The film editing was great, and musical score carefully chosen.  I even discovered my favorite song of the week:  Wash away, by Sum of You.

The distressing moment:  how empty the venue!  The Sunday afternoon showing had perhaps a dozen people in the Alfond Auditorium.  Friends who attended on Friday reported even more dismal attendance.  Perhaps the MFA, with its might mailing lists and plethora of cultural programming, hasn’t quite connected with the fiber community in Boston?  I know some MFA staffers create great knits, quilts and multi media journals.  Thank goodness someone did reach out to the Rising Star Quilt Guild‘s event page days before the showing, so I was aware of its presence in town!

It was fantastic to see a documentary with textiles as the subject.  Do you have any suggestions?