Today, let's have some more 1920's ephemera! Catherine DeVore collected ads if she liked the pictures.
Advertising is so ubiquitous in our world that we're generally blind to its tropes and skewed priorities, because we aren't consciously processing it. But several times in my life I've taken long breaks from media (lived without a TV, moved to a wilderness area with only one radio station and no internet, traveled abroad), and when I came back, even my "own" culture felt foreign and the ads obnoxiously stupid. I noticed all kinds of implied messages beyond the simple message to buy.
When we look at the ads of a former time, those implied messages are screams rather than whispers. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I don't live in the twenties, and here are a few reasons why. For each ad, try to bear in mind that the people who made it and the people who saw it each thought it was normal, and its messages unobjectionable.
In September of 1666, the Great Fire of London burned for five days, reaching temperatures hot enough to melt pottery and completely cremate victims, destroying thousands of buildings, and leaving seven eighths of Londoners homeless. In addition to devastating the city, the disaster ignited religious and ethnic hatreds, stirring mobs to violence and politicians to a blame game, and threatening the newly restored monarchy. London had been a medieval town, outgrowing its own streets and buildings, but after the fire it was rebuilt, with much the same street plan, but wider streets, better sewage disposal, and fire lanes to the Thames.
In 2014, PBS released a four-part miniseries dramatizing the Great Fire, which is compelling as history, drama, and costume-feast-for-the-eyes. And I... I love those things!
. . . at least be purgative!
You may recall my sew-from-stash resolution at the beginning of this year. You may also recall that I did a bit of stash busting since then, but not early as much as I wanted. And all year I've held off on buying new fabrics (with one exception) because I still had stash to bust! Then, midway through October, my pile of fabric (as well as mental clutter, disorganization, and personal stuff) reached paralyzing point: I could neither move forward nor back until I cleared something out. I felt overwhelmed by my to-do list, the guilt-trips attached to my things, a feeling of paralysis and creative inertia, et cetera.
Talking with a counselor helped bring me to this point. Until I started looking at and naming my emotions instead of avoiding them, I didn't realize how much I was motivated by guilt, and usually needless guilt. (This isn't fabric-related... the fabric was just a symptom.) Even my perfectionism breeds guilt: when my imagined standard is perfection, then I can hardly start working, and un-finished projects lie around the place, reminding me of "failure". Thankfully, I have wonderful friends who mustered to support me with prayer, phone calls, and ideas.
Fabric Depot went out of business and closed its doors on Sunday, October 21st, 2018. This was a sad loss. My housemate and I used to shop there and use it as a bit of retail therapy. "FabDep?" she'd ask after a trying day at work, and off we'd go. Usually we'd grab a bite to eat nearby and make an evening of it. Fabric Depot was a quilter's dreamland. They had a smaller but still respectable selection of garment fabrics, and I always found something in their remnants section. Their staff members were friendly and cheerful in their handmade and fanciful aprons. Moreover, they were a hub of other resources: Palmer Pletsch held fitting classes there; I took my serger class there; and Montavilla sold and maintained machines there.
When I am avoiding a task, I'll often procrastinate by doing other, easier tasks, to give myself a false sense of accomplishment. It doesn't work, as I still know I'm avoiding the thing that needs to get done. Recently, I sat down and wrote two lists of sewing projects, my "Hafta List" and my "Wanna List". My Hafta List is neither long nor difficult, yet it's been keeping me from my Wanna List for too long, and in the meantime, I've been blogging, because writing a blog post is a pleasant distraction and an easy "accomplishment". (This was, in fact, one of the reasons I resisted the idea of blogging for many years... I knew I could become addicted to doing it, and use it to avoid my life instead of living it.)
I desire to break this pattern of procrastination, and to be able to blog again as a pleasant side project. So I'm taking the month of October to power through my Hafta list, and in the meantime am not allowing myself to blog. I'm also barring myself from other time-wasting activities that I use in the same way. When I'm done my Hafta List, I can do my Wanna List, and that'll give me fresh things to blog about!
So for the next little while, there will be no posts here. You can expect a post to go live on October 22nd, but I wrote that ages ago and it's simply in the queue. I'll be back to posting regularly sometime in November!
Last Thursday, I opened up Catherine DeVore's 1920's portfolio and gave an overview of it and what collaborating history I could find. Today, in an image-heavy post, I'm going to show you Catherine's artsy drawings of the clothes she wanted to make! In future posts, I'll show some of her more interesting ephemera.
I'm not kidding about the number of images in this... if you have a slow internet connection, click "read more" and then go make some tea or do a few chores while the post loads.
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