I think that the first love of my life was a book. I am obsessed by books and once worked at Rizzoli in New York City just that I could get a discount and use my part-time paycheck to buy books.
My daughter Maggie started young. Since her birth, she has been obsessed by touching, licking and eating books. You could try to give her toys, pacifiers, food; nothing satisfied like a book. All of our board books have edges that have been rubbed raw by gums sprouting teeth. While I was distraught with thoughts of poisons in printing inks, the contents of paper, etc, etc, every time I turned my head, there she was with a book in her mouth. As she has grown, the only thing that has changed is that she does not eat them. She will surround herself in the bed with piles of books and has memorized many of them that she can then read aloud to her babies. The ones that she has not memorized, she reads in her own language that sounds like a mixture of German, Russian, and Greek with a southern drawl. (Maggie can say “yes” in four syllables!) I catch her rocking in the chair with one of her babies and reading in her secret language from a book that we just got at the library. She will look up at me gently and say, “Mama, go away, I am reading to my baby right now.” It is this private connection between person, word, and image that makes me passionate about books.
I am often asked for a reading list; however, here you have my top ten (well eleven) favorite story books – in no particular order – the list can go on and on and might very well be different tomorrow:
In my next life I will be an oral historian and record the stories of my generation.
Scott Carrier: Running After Antelope
A few years ago, my friend Sara helped me work on organizing my collection of books into a (very loose) library format. The tomes were divided by a “genre” that I determined by somewhat random method but that made sense to me. Books on textiles got a red sticker on the spine and books on design a white sticker with little ### symbols, etc. I did this as a way to make the search for a particular book easier, re-shelving mindless and to create a system to loan books without continually losing them. What shocked me when the library was finished was that the largest category of books was not fashion design or textiles or craft but photography.
Thinking back, this should not have been a shock as I started collecting photography books as design student. Over the years, these books are continually the ones I search out over and over and over again. Writing about Richard Avedon yesterday made me nostalgic for other heroes who have story telling at the heart of their work. When I look at Avedon’s pictures, I dream that I have an audio file from The Kitchen Sisters telling the story with the dual voice of photographer and subject. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men comes about as close to telling the story with the imagery as you can get; however, the book does not satisfy my hunger. I want the photographs of Dorothea Lange to come to life and sit down with me on the porch. As that is not possible, I take one of my books of Dorothea’s photographs, listen to Studs Terkel and dream that I am an oral historian.
The Museum at The International Center for Photography will be showing the fashion work of Richard Avedon: Avedon Fashion 1944 – 2000.
One of my all time favorite books of photography was created by Richard Avedon: In the American West. This genre of photography as story teller has been an inspiration to me since the day I first started working. They are images that make me want to HEAR the stories too.
Visit The Richard Avedon Foundation for more.
P.S.: I literally ran into Avedon in a book store in Montauk, New York, some years ago. Backed right into him. As I turned around, I lost all calm and stumbled right out the door.
Anna Maria Horner made a surprise visit to our Trunk Show in Nashville on Friday. Nine months pregnant (#6) and shining, her smile, and bubbly disposition are contagious. What a pleasure to have had a short time to catch up and find all of our common threads in life!
We have now officially traded copies of Alabama Stitch Book and Seams To Me.
Anna Maria left the show with one of our t-shirt kits, for which she found an inspiring purpose.
We emailed yesterday and she sent me this lovely sentence which I think says so much about her joy for life:
“Was out in a fresh green 68 acres of hip-high wheat grass yesterday with 2 pregnant friends & a photographer working on the book. Many contractions, naturally, but oh the beauty, well worth it.”
Wishing her the best of luck with her upcoming delivery of Roman and I am looking forward to our many, many future conversations…
Photo: Anna Maria Horner
I returned home from my travels last week to find a box from Cathy and Robin @ Heath.
Inside the box was my new, and now favorite, book for inspiration.
The colors, textures and beautiful simplicity take my breath away:
Heath Creamics : The Complexity of Simplicity
A heartfelt THANK YOU to Cathy and Robin for making a difference.
Another article I had saved on my computer and was reminded of recently…
A call to arms from Suzy Menkes:
Suzy Menkes’s Opening Speech at the IHT Luxury Conference in New Delhi March 2009A
My grandmother Christine once told me that she “sewed every dress that the girls” – her three daughters – “wore until they left home.” I remember as a little girl how she sewed everything from nightgowns and underwear to prom dresses and quilts. Although her eyes don’t see well enough to sew these days, she is an inspiration to me and can sit for hours telling stories about fabrics, scraps and how one can tell the weather just by looking at the sky. I am starting tonight to make “Mamaw Chris” these flowers (pictured here) in time for Mother’s Day on the 10th of May. If you already own a copy of our Alabama Stitch Book, start making flowers today for your maternal heroes…
**I wanted to name my daughter after Mamaw Chris whose full name is Fanny Christine. I have loved that name since I can remember hearing it; however, she made me promise that I would not “do that to a girl.”
Bravo to Cathy and Robin @ Heath for their commitment to quality, exceptional design and community.
From The New York Times:
April 23, 2009 A Label of Pride That Pays
By TRACEY TAYLOR
In a timeworn factory in Sausalito, Calif., 67 workers turn out Heath ceramics, doing everything from mixing the clay to applying the finishing glazes. Twenty miles away, a Japanese robot called Ziggy works day and night in a converted brass foundry in Berkeley, making precision-cut office furniture.
Antique Kimonos via 2 or 3 things via Neville Trickett