When I was a kid, my mom would bring home sewing pattern catalogs from the local fabric store. (Once a new catalog came out, you could get the old ones for $1.) I loved all the colorful drawings of girls and women in the latest fashions (ok, maybe not haute couture, but still exciting to a 10-year-old). I loved to cut out figures, glue them to cardboard and turn them into paper dolls.
Fast forward a few decades later, and I find myself on Ebay bidding furiously on a 1960s era catalog. I stopped myself when the auction reached an incredible $75.
I did, however, score on a later 1970s catalog, pictured here. When it came in the mail, I realized this is the same catalog I used as a teenager to sew my own (hardly worn) outfits. There was the denim hat, the sleeveless jumpsuit, the peasant top, and of course the culottes.
As I look at the wistful faces of these catalog figures, I wonder how I ever managed to become a feminist. I wanted to transform these powerless waifs into strong women. Here's one attempt. This collage hangs above my sewing machine, as I try to reconcile feminism with crafting and sewing.
I've also used the catalog images in my Scrabble bracelets. This one sold in a local Seattle boutique (Tasty).I combined other catalog figures with animals from a kids' nature encyclopedia to create an eerie tableau on a Scrabble board (recognize the frame elements? they come from the game as well).
This is my favorite piece. Both "Eve" and the snake stare into the distance. It's all about revenge. But I still haven't found the perfect use for my catalog. I'll continue to try to incorporate images into future work.