Somethings Wonderful This Way Came

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

Returning to Blogging

It's been such a long time since I developed a post for the blog!  So sorry.  I fell victim to "frozen shoulder" this summer and it is only in the last few weeks that I've fully regained the use of my left arm.  Enough of that.  Just sorry if I you thought I'd disappeared.

A few months ago, Demion Clinco put together a Tucson PBS segment on Harwood Steiger.  I introduced him to Joan, the Steiger niece, and he visited her, taking away personal impressions, information and examples of Steiger's brilliant talent.  I'm hoping Demion will share with me the segment so that we can post it here.  We'll see.

There is growing interest in collecting Steiger fabrics.  Now, if you go to Ebay, you'll find that the prices have more than doubled over a few years ago.  Some sellers, I fear, don't really understand the items and place way over the top prices on them.  One of the things that got me collecting in the first place was the affordability of these practical pieces of art.  Now, I have to be very selective in purchasing, and only buy new designs of which I don't own any example.  Even then, I get kind of particular.  My husband says that I have single handedly driven up the prices.  I laugh at that, of course.  There are hundreds of folks who collect these Arizona icons and thousands more with interest.  My blogs stats tell me that we've had 3,500 visitors.  A small number by commercial standards, but impressive for a single topic blog.  Keep coming back.  I promise more great new photos.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quilting is what I normally do.  So, when I saw these two quilts listed on Ebay, I had to capture them for posterity.  It appears that they were both made by the same person using similar fabrics to complement the Steiger designs.  One uses a section of the border print, Six Quails.  Incidentally, I just made a two piece dress out of a deep teal and black Six Quails.  But, it's already packed for the trip to Oregon tomorrow.  I'll post it when I get back.  The other quilt is made with a dress panel.  It's an interesting use for these Steiger pieces.  If you are interested in acquiring either of these, log on to Ebay and search for Harwood Steiger.  You will find the two quilts and a scant few other examples.  Just thought you'd like to see these interesting uses of Steiger prints.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


During the last few months, I have collected a number of images that fall into the miscellaneous Harwood Steiger category.  Some of these images come from my daily diligent searches on Ebay.  Others, I just happened across.  These items are not something I would necessarily be interested in owning, but they are worthy of documentation.  Unfortunately, the information is limited and ownership unknown.  So, I'll just let the images speak for themselves. 

First, here's a great square dance ensemble that made my eyes pop out.  Can you imagine how much fabric went into making this?  Ironically, it is made in the fabric called, Square Dance.  It's a beauty.  It was offered on Ebay, but didn't sell.  So, the owner either still has it, or sold it off-line.

This is called, Spices.  no doubt, Sophie Steiger, a wonderful cook and gifted herbalist, had something to do with the creation of this design.  It is the only example of Spices I've ever seen and it sold on Ebay.  It was a rather small piece of fabric as I recall.

This amazing beauty is a table cloth, the likes of which I've never seen and don't know anything about.  It is so breathtakingly beautiful!  I love the color, composition and subject matter.  It is very unlike any Steiger table cloth I've found and were it not for the signature in the corner, I'd be hard pressed to identify it as a Harwood Steiger work.  It, also was offered on Ebay and sold for a fortune.

I love this example of Out West.  The color is fabulous.  It was also offered on Ebay and sold for more than I could ever afford.  If I recall correctly, it was a four yard piece.

I just thought you might enjoy seeing these wonderful examples.  It is my custom to use my own items on the blog.  But, every once in a while, something absolutely wonderful comes to light and merits inclusion.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Seven Cities of Cibola
The extreme Arizona Summer heat has arrived in full force.  Whew!  It compels me to seek refuge indoors with sedentary tasks that have gone ignored in recent months.  Among them is this blog.  (I didn't mean to ignore it for so long.)  Another happy activity is sewing.  I took the time, and found the courage to cut, and make another Harwood Steiger dress, using Seven Cities of Cibola in an electric lime green with dark blue printing.  Joan, Harwood's niece, had made a gift of this fabric last year when I exclaimed about the color.  I love it!  After seeing my dress, Joan told me that somewhere she has a man's Western style shirt also piped in dark blue that she made long ago.  She's going to send it to me when she finds it so that my husband and I can offer a striking picture in our matching clothes! I always clip the Steiger labels from the selvage and sew them into the garment.  Should someone inherit my collection, I want them to know exactly which treasure it is. 

Luckily, again, someone reading this blog has contacted me and offered Harwood Steiger treasures found in her mother's stash.  They were designs which were totally new to me.  Both are abstracts and not obviously traditional Steigers.  But, Caravan and Scheherazade are clearly in Steiger's distinctive abstract style.  Scheherazade is lively, fanciful and fun.  Executed in hot pink and medium brown ink on ivory colored fabric, it has lots of spirals, lattice designs, and tent shapes.  It calls to mind tents billowing on desert sands.  I think Sophie Steiger exactly captured the mood of this fabric in naming it.  The piece is generously sized, so I think I'll just set it aside for a while and wait for inspiration.

Caravan is a very complex design.  It flows from tightly detailed areas to open areas, punctuated with floating elements.  It is very, very interesting and contains many varied design elements such as balloons, shields, faces, webs, plants and a whole lot more.  Caravan is printed in hot pink and black inks on a medium pink background.  It is truly unique among Steiger designs and hard to categorize, other than to say it is an abstraction and highly stylized.  Again, this a generously sized piece of fabric, so I have lots of options when considering how best to use it.  People who know me will attest that pink is not a color I often select.  But, there is nothing girly-girly about these Harwood Steiger fabrics.  And, I must add that I am thrilled to have them in my collection. 

These two new Harwood Steiger designed fabrics underscore an important fact:  There is no way of ever knowing how many Harwood Steiger designs exist.  If only someone had kept records over the years!  If you have any Steiger fabric treasures, please, please send me pictures.  You just may be hoarding one I've never seen!  Contact me here and we'll take it from there.

Hope your Summer days are filled with images of our beautiful Sonoran Desert courtesy of Harwood Steiger fabrics.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


It's interesting that new items surface from the great sea of collectors out there.  I've been contacted twice this week by people who wandered to this blog because they happened to find Steiger treasures.  One lady had over two yards of Mesquite and Palo Verde along with some other choice designs.  I was fortunate that she was willing to sell to me items not in my collection.  Another person has a great little tote bag and some scraps for sale.  She needed help in identifying them for sale on Ebay.  Another great item on Ebay is a two piece dress (skirt and bolero top) made out of Saguaro.  It's really lovely, and would be a fabulous buy if not for the stain on the skirt.  But, if you wanted to take it apart and use the fabric in a different way, it would be a really good buy. 

Steiger fabrics have really become a lot more expensive since I started collecting a few years ago.  My husband says that it's all my fault because I've bought so many and have, therefore, driven up the price.  I think it's because many more people are becoming aware of the great designs Steiger produced.  And, of course, baby boomers, like myself, are nostalgic about the designs of the 1950's and '60's.  I know that I have a great fondness for mid century modern design in all things.  Perhaps that's why Harwood Steiger's Sonoran Desert designs speak to me so compellingly.  He marries that great mid century panache with desert subjects near and dear to my heart.

Lesser known and harder to recognize are Harwood Steiger's abstract designs.  They are plentiful and diverse.  Very mid century modern, indeed.  Very atomic.  Very loose and fun.  Don't overlook these when collecting.  Steiger created a series of abstract designs named after Santa Cruz valley towns.  Many design elements from Native American and Mexican cultures are incorporated into the abstracts.  Most are printed in at least two colors of ink and often more.  That means for every color, the fabric was hand inked, dried and then inked again.  Amazing when you consider that the stencils were usually around 18 inches wide and required exacting registration.  The Steiger's were true artists and precision crafts people. 

What is truly amazing is that the Steiger's never went commercial by selling through other retailers.  All of the examples that continue to surface from around the world, all were acquired in Tubac at the Harwood Steiger studio. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


While new snow is falling on much of the country, Spring has already arrived in the Sonoran Desert. Last week we were experiencing temperatures exceeding 80°. I will confess that we are now in the 60's, but only for a few days. The ground has warmed up enough to encourage new growth of both wanted and unwanted plants. I spent three hours on Sunday ridding the front yard of the most common city weeds. While I worked I was reminded that Harwood Steiger found beauty in all things that grow here. In fact, some of his most beautiful creations are representations of the wild weeds that grow everywhere.  Steiger loved the weeds so much that he created several different fabrics with weed designs.  They are all called Weeds, but are distinctly different.  The one I used to make a dress shows different weeds in brick like block outlines.  Another shows just single leaves of various weeds.  And, the third shows the full plant, but spread out in the field of design.  I find them all lovely.   In addition, Steiger created many stunning designs depicting inconspicuous wildflowers and roadside blooms. Perhaps due to Sophie Steiger's influence, we are gifted with accurate representations of what grows profusely in the Sonoran Desert.

It is not easy to identify all of the flowers shown in the various designs. So many of them are stylized, but still accurately rendered . Because most appear in only one color, I personally, cannot identify many of them. But others  are obvious. Beyond the cactus flowers one can easily  find  penstemon, roses, foxglove, and many other Sonoran specific blooms.  Even the noxious Tumbleweed has found its place in Steiger's design  portfolio.  In fact, one of my favorite garments is the two-piece dress I made from Tumbleweeds.

Other signs of Spring's arrival are the many birds which enliven the days. Several pairs of hummingbirds are vying for dominance at the feeder I placed among the contorted branches of the Mesquite tree. At least one hummer appears every 7  minutes. But often, two show up at the same time and an aerial battle begins. No harm comes to either bird, but clearly the victor eats first while the other bird perches in the Mesquite. One of my favorite Steiger fabrics is the exquisitely rendered Mesquite which almost looks Japanese  in its esthetic. I have only seen it once, and it was in black and white. The lady who owns it, told me that her mother  made  fabric shutters for the family room out of it. It must've been a stunning room.

 I am grateful that Harwood Steiger had such a distinguished perspective and the remarkable ability to provide us with an eye to the beauty of the things that grow in the Sonoran Desert. Thank you, Harwood and Sophie, for helping me find and appreciate the beauty of the mundane growing all around me.

Monday, January 9, 2012


A roadrunner has recently moved into our neighborhood.  Most often seen in undisturbed, natural habitats, I was a little surprised to see him racing around suburbia.  I first saw him running atop our block wall fence in the back yard.  Now, I see him most often across the street or darting between houses.  Today, he took advantage of the pleasant sunshine and hunted in our front yard.  That gave me a wonderful opportunity to observe him up close from the window.  I was awed by the remarkable markings on this bird---so vivid and distinctive.  No wonder Harwood Steiger used them so liberally in his designs! 

There is no doubt that roadrunners capture our attention and imaginations. They are large, move distinctively and have such unique plumage.   And, after all, we grew up watching the roadrunner outwit the coyote.  Roadrunners must have made a powerful impression on Harwood Steiger.  These birds appear in dozens and dozens of his fabulous designs, either singly, or grouped in a scene, or showcased among the cacti. 

The first Steiger example I purchased was a table cloth and it was the comical roadrunners that captured my affections.  Since then, I have collected quite a few of the birds in a variety of depictions.  Steiger presented the birds in realistic renderings and abstractly, too.  The birds appear portraited, shown hunting and running, nesting and resting.  And, in each representation, one can clearly see that this is no other bird, except a roadrunner.  The long tails and head crowns are unmistakably roadrunner.  If they were not so humorous, one might call them regal.  Be sure to scroll down at see them in At Play, Square Dance, etc.

The Aztec style roadrunner appears in several different examples.  The one shown here has two facing birds and the pairs are set wide apart in the fabric run.  Sparingly used in this instance, the birds appear with great effect on a heavy, nubby cotton that is much like linen.  Printed in one color only, Steiger produced them in black, deep red, blue, forest green and brown.  The same bird is incorporated into what I call my Aztec tablecloth.  Not precisely the same, the birds are woven into a visual jig saw puzzle of Aztec motifs. So ingeniously done,  I did not recognize them at first.  Scroll down to see the Aztec dress panel,  the Aztec border print and the table cloth.

By far, my favorite roadrunners are the simply rendered ones that are so busy being desert dwellers that they make me smile.  I love the way these two in Paisano seem to be figuring out how to split that little lizard, or more likely, who's going to have it for an appetizer.  I wonder how much time Harwood Steiger spent bird watching.  He captured their behavior so perfectly.  For example, in Running Birds, the border print, the roadrunner's legs are completely outstretched, capturing the idea of just how fast these birds run.  They are fast, very fast. 

I also greatly admire the way Steiger presents the birds in an almost stately manner, as in the cholla dress panel.  They are highly detailed and shown in their full splendor.  Depicted in their natural element, these birds are right at home, and to me, look like a courting pair. 

Harwood Steiger had a real gift for capturing the nature of these wonderful Sonoran desert birds.  I am grateful that he took such a fancy to our avian friends and shows them in wonderful variety.