February 9, 2012 |
PASSED DOWN by descendants of the nation's first first lady, a 5-by-9-inch swatch of silk brocade from one of Martha Washington's dresses ended up with family friend Alden Freeman. In 1932, he gave it as a gift to Nan Britton, a woman involved in the first publicized presidential sex scandal. And now you can claim the fabric as your own. Yesterday, it was offered for sale for $40,000 by the Philly-based Raab Collection, which has it in a vault. It may be the only Martha Washington dress snippet ever put on the market.
April 5, 1996 |
Junichi Arai arrived for dinner in Manayunk looking New York hip, dressed all in black - turtleneck, slacks and a felted black wool jacket weirdly tufted all over with short, dreadlock appendages. He wore an ancient Mali bronze ring on one tapered finger, a black plastic digital watch encircling his wrist, and, while waiting for his noodles to arrive, he fiddled with a handful of Tibetan silver-and-shell charms strung on what looked like a piece of yarn - except that the yarn was actually a space-age twine of his own design, made of titanium.
August 9, 1987 |
You might say that Harriet Schiffer's study of African culture is the fabric of her life. The fabric of her choice is African, too - discovered during her study of the culture. What Schiffer discovered is "kente" (pronounced KIN-tay) cloth - an intricately woven fabric created and designed by the Ashante people of Ghana in West Africa centuries ago and once reserved for use by royalty and village chiefs. Over the years, the cloth maintained its distinction, but became more readily available to the masses.
March 3, 2000 |
If fabric could talk, what tales would it tell? In the hands of storyteller Linda Goss, it might morph into a rabbit or river, or help her to relate the fable of how a baby leopard learned to fear fire. "I deal with imagination as the basis of storytelling," explained Goss. "I'll use a cloth to create story characters. I want an element of surprise," she said, quickly tying cloth into a full-blown butterfly. But now, instead of having to find fabric to fit a script, Goss is reaping the benefits of a collaboration with an artist who counts the storyteller among her inspirations.
February 15, 2008 |
Susie Brandt, whose adventurous, pop culture-inspired textile pieces make up her mini-retrospective "Rummage," at the Design Center at Philadelphia University, has to be one of Baltimore's most fabulous 20th-century exports since John Waters. Brandt and the filmmaker share similar sensibilities: She creates her quilts of found fabrics with an affection for, and humorous view of, the periods she evokes, which cover the late '50s through the early '80s. Her work is as subversive as any textile art I've ever seen, but playfully so. And she celebrates those lowbrow artifacts that the rest of us would rather sweep under the carpet.
June 5, 2009 |
It was a case of despair at first sight. Back in 1968, when Nancy Bergman first saw the house on Locust Street near 22d, she was totally turned off. While Bergman, her husband, and their three children had outgrown their apartment just a stone's throw away, they lived in a light-filled, interesting space. Everything inside the Locust Street house her husband took her to see was painted dark green or carpeted in green. The exterior bricks were painted black. "It was just totally uninviting," recalls Nancy.
March 16, 2003 |
It's a phone call Linda Arye is all too familiar with - someone asking for a quilt to comfort a child suffering from a life-threatening illness. "You come over right now," she tells Carrie Walinsky, educational director for the Kol Emet congregation in the township. Within 10 minutes, Arye and Walinsky are rummaging through bins and boxes of quilts stacked high in a sunroom off Arye's kitchen. Just 2 1/2 years ago, Arye started Quilts for Kids by calling "the only two people in the world I knew that sewed - my aunt and my neighbor," she said.
July 26, 1992 |
Silk has taken over the men's fashion arena. Where once silk's appeal to men was limited because it was considered a pricey, frail, dressy fabric, in recent years new treatments and new uses have made silk ubiquitous in many men's wardrobes, particularly in sportswear. Consider: Silk shirts, plain and fancy, are a hot item, from $30 washed silk shirts to Gianni Versace's $1,500 artistic silk prints. Men's casual wear has been given an added dimension of style with a plethora of silk shorts, T-shirts and tank tops.
December 5, 2001 |
Fabric plays such a major role in the Wilma Theater's production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it should have featured billing. In the first moments, as the Wilma's rarely used red velvet curtain rises, one layer of fabric after another is revealed. A great sweep of lace veils the back of the stage. Even the pillars at the side are wrapped in red satin and swathed in gold ropes. And the costumes . . . the extravagant creations boast as much as 22 yards of material in a single gown, and skirts so wide and imposing that set designer Dawn Robyn Petrlik began referring to them as scenery - an apt description, since some are made from upholstery fabric.