Somethings Wonderful This Way Came

Somethings Wonderful This Way Came
1970's Vintage Caftan in At Play

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Documenting New Designs

The thrill of discovering and examining new designs was fully realized yesterday when I continued to document the Harwood Steiger textiles from Joan's cache.  Some of these designs are from the early days in Tubac.  It's not a rule, but a guide to say that if signed, "Steiger Fabrics", it's an early piece.  Later the signature was changed to, "Harwood Steiger".  It is true that some early designs continued in production until the studio closed, due to their enormous popularity.  However, Harwood Steiger never rested on his laurels.  He instead continued designing and producing screens throughout the studio's history.  According to Joan, in the last years of his life, he relied more heavily on previously produced screens.  But, new designs continued to emerge until his death in 1980.

I think it would be fair to say that the cactus and desert bird designs are the most easily recognizable Harwood Steiger designs and still enjoy enthusiastic purchase by collectors today.  I find, however, that the abstract and floral designs to be most intriguing.  No doubt, Sophie, Harwood's herbalist and gardening wife, greatly influenced the accurately rendered flowers and plants.  And, there are many---both desert and tropical.  But, Harwood Steiger was a genuine mid century modern artist and produced many, many abstract designs, now referred to as "atomic age" fabrics.  After all, Harwood was an Eames contemporary and designed in his own distinctive geometric style.  Steiger produced s series of abstract designs named for the many small towns that dot southern Arizona:  Tubac, Arrivaca, Suaharita, etc.  They are fabulous and are rendered in three to four colors each.  Look for these, as a collector, for they are often overlooked and go unattributed due to the stark difference from the realistic desert depictions. 

Joan told me a funny story.  A friend of hers whose house was next to the Tubac golf course, made a pair of golfing pants for her husband out of the primary colored version of Apogee.  This particular version of the design looks like a brightly colored stacked stone wall.  Joan says that her friend did this so that she could spot her husband on the course and know how long it would be until he got home.  Well, looking at the example, you can certainly see how this would be true.  In fact, I'll bet he could be spotted from a satellite in space!

I must to get back to photographing the fabrics. I need my daily fix of Steiger and the thrill of examining the new designs is overwhelming.  There is a lot to do to ready them for sale. I hope you will enjoy these.  Don't forget to check soon if you see something you'd like to own.

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