I’m guest blogging a sweet + simple Valentine’s Day gift over at Kind Over Matter today. I hope you visit me over there (and I hope you like it!).
About a month ago, I bought Todd Oldham’s Kid Made Modern book, which uses mid-century modern design as inspiration for kid crafts. This is a fabulous book. The crafts are interesting and unique and beautifully executed. They’re also somewhat challenging (in a good way) – they seem more geared toward slightly older kids (say, 7 or 8 to 11 or 12 years old).
But here’s where the book misses an opportunity: it only briefly mentions the designers and artists of mid-century modern design. It doesn’t go into any detail about who they were or what good design is. So I decided that while doing some of the crafts with Elena and Rosa, I would also teach them a little about design in the process. Here on Charlotte’s Fancy, I’ll share these crafts and a little about what we learned.
We chose Marimekko for our first craft/design lesson. The book shows us how to make a Marimekko-inspired scarf using potato printing onto an XL adult t-shirt.
- First, lay the shirt flat and cut all the way across just under the arms, and then cut off the bottom hem.
- Slide a piece of cardboard into the shirt to keep the fabric paint from bleeding through.
- Cut a shape into the potato, or, if you like dots, you can cut a potato in half. We also used apples for lines.
- Stamp your pattern with fabric paint onto the shirt. Allow it to dry before doing the bottom side (it takes awhile to dry). Tip: we squeezed paints onto individual little plates and had one stamp per color.
- When you are done stamping and the shirt is dry, you can cut it so that it’s one long strip, or you can leave it as a loop and double it up around your kids’ neck.Hello cute & stylish scarf!
By the way, did you know that Marimekko and Crate & Barrel have been partners since the mid-1960s? I had no idea the partnership was that old.
A brief history of Marimekko:
The Finnish couple Viljo Ratia and his wife Armi bought an oilcloth and printed fabrics company called Printex in 1949. Armi commissioned young artists to design prints for their fabrics; people liked them, but weren’t sure how to use these designs which were big, bold patterns, so Armi decided to make a line of clothing and establish a separate company, Marimekko Oy. In 1951, Marimekko successfully presented its first line at a fashion show at the Kalastajatorppa restaurant in Helsinki.
After that, the company grew throughout the 1950s, catching international attention at the Brussels World’s Fair in 1956. Marimekko took the US by storm when Jacqueline Kennedy bought seven dresses and wore them while her husband was on the campaign trail in 1960.
Marimekko continued to thrive throughout the 60s and 70s, until the death of Armi Rati in 1979 led to upheaval and a precarious financial position over the next few years. In 1985, Marimekko was sold to Amer Group, but it wasn’t until 1991 when it was sold to Kirsti Paakkanen’s Workidea that the company found its footing again.
Today, the company is vibrant and relevant, producing its signature brand of bold colors and patterns for clothing, bags and the home. Take a look at a few items for their Spring 2010 collection:
I will never get sick of the classic Maija Isola Unikko (big poppy flower) pattern. I also love the Max & Moritz pattern, a collaboration between Maija and her daughter Kristina.
After Elena and I had read all through the history of Marimekko from their website and looked at examples of their textiles throughout the years, I asked her to draw her own version of a Marimekko-inspired design. I like the slight asymmetry of it:
The Marimekko website has a really thorough history of the company as well as bios of all their designers. I found their statement of their core values as a company totally refreshing.
I also recommend the Marimekko-inspired blog, Always Mod – and you’ll like this post on the design to print process – it’s fascinating.
And if you still want more, try this book, “Marimekko: Fabrics, Fashion, Architecture” which is the definitive book of the company’s history, designs and designers.
The girls and I will be taking a look at George Nelson, Verner Panton, Charles and Ray Eames and maybe a few others in the coming weeks/months. I hope you liked this post. I am enjoying this project with the girls.
By the way, Kid Made Modern has its own website with some crafts that are not in the book – and of course, I very highly recommend the book.