Saturday, January 23, 2016


So .. Bear and went 'out of town' two days in a row. Yesterday we headed down south, through Milton, and back through Etrick, and we stopped to peruse shops which sell old things, in Milton I picked up a vintage seam allowance marker, a lovely old one with a wood handle. There is a little bit of rust - but that will be easily cleaned off.

This is a tool used by those who make patterns for clothes, it had two parallel spikey wheels, which mark out 5/8 of an inch, the standard domestic seam allowance for woven clothes. This one has a lovely curve to the shaft - which just fits how a hand with finger extended pushes to ensure the spikes leave nice clear marks.

Underneath is a book I picked up today (and under that a related book I've owned for a while - The Arts & Crafts Movement in New Zealand 1870-1940 by Ann Calhoun). Today we headed North, to Waimate to pick up fruit from my dads garden. The book, 'Light: shade, and shadow' by John Skeaping is an old school drawing course. It contains a serries of progressive excercises designed to develop a style of drawing that would produce a useful artist. One who could go on to decorate ceramics, sign write, illustrat, or even - the what was considered at the time the pinochle of Art and Design - architecture.

On top is an example drawing from Light: shade, and shadow, underneath an example of an examination drawing by a New Zealand student in 1896 ( from Ann's Book). The student, identified in the book only as Pansy was working on a qualification to become an art teacher.

Globalization is nothing new, even in 1896 - the skills required of an art student on both side of the earth were pretty similar. From what I understand art schools would purchase plaster mounds of standard drawing shapes, the cone, the column, the cube, the vase, and use these to train art students in how to draw accurately.

The same vase appears on an earlier page of Light, shade and shadow.

Bear and I have spent quite a bit of time talking about how such a universal education in drawing, universal in the west anyway, resulted in a very shared language for those working in art and design at the time. In more formal architecture, and in some commercial design (ceramics and illustration/signage) it is quite easy to see the evidence of this kind of training. Part of me is a little sad at the lessening in appreciation for this kind of training and skill set, it became old fashioned shortly after 1900 and was replaced by more individual styles of drawing.

Na Stella


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