ART IMITATING LIFE:INSPIRING BOOKS & MOVIES ABOUT INNOVATIVE MAKERS

{Ideal bookshelf 340 print by Jane Mount}

Hello and happy August. Today I want to introduce you to a my favorite stories of fictional women who deserve to be contributors here. These women will immerse you in the details of their time periods and make you even prouder of the heritage of handmade business. I even included one for the children.

None of these characters expected to become artists or entrepreneurs and yet they do. What they have in common is a strong urge to create things of beauty and worth in daily life – an OMHG match for sure. Each woman employs her creativity with the kind of humor, pain or raw courage that will stick with you long after and inspire you in your own creative journey. I have linked you to commercial reviews here but most are available via your local library.

1. I will start with a little known American saga I have read several times. The Dollmaker is the heart wrenching story of Gertie, who trades her Kentucky mountain love and hardship for Detroit steel mill hatred and more hardship just as World War II is ending . It is a beautifully written but gritty tale. It’s so real and made more poignant today because of what we know about displaced people and the industrial age of conformity. (I do not recommend the movie version of this one.)

2. Next is a fun 2003 family drama that totally snapshots so many issues of our day. It includes so many family members temporarily housed under one roof that you can identify with someone in the life changing chaos that ensues. As the title suggest, cake solves everything. And the recipes are included! P.S. Author Jeanne Ray dared to write her first book at the age of 60. It became a bestseller and movie Julie and Romeo.


3. If you love fashions of the 1920’s you will adore this British series made for TV and available in DVD. I spent this past winter rewarding myself with one or two episodes after making orders and I had to make my daughter hide it from me in between! The House of Eliott is bit of a soap opera but gorgeously costumed. You will really feel for these undercapitalized sisters starting a fashion design business among couture loyals and shady advisors.

4. The only true story is this slightly fictionalized and hugely charming version of the life of famed children’s illustrator Beatrix Potter. The circumstances of her dreary but privileged victorian life led to her serious nature study and later story drawings of Peter Rabbit and his friends. Alone after a tragic romance she sought to publish, insisting on pioneering color for her little child’s book . I loved that part! The rest is history but you may not know that her published book income enabled her to independently live and support work as an early preservationist and environmentalist in the British countryside. The movie has charming scenes where her ink drawings fly off the page to enchant you.


5. Last but not least is my pick from the kids rack. Jennie’s Hat is a sweet story about a girl’s imaginative vision of a new hat. When reality disappoints, she is lifted and transformed by her social network pals! The vintage hats and white gloves are Ezra Jack Keats 1966 masterful collages which have inspired many a contemporary craftswoman. Speaking of contemporary craftswomen, the darling blocks pictured with this book are the newest creation made by tinygiraffe with illustrations by Drawn to Letters.

Read and watch. Send me an email. I am sure you have your own favorites to add and look forward to hearing your reactions and suggestions in the comments. What stories of art and making have stayed with you? Next month I will tell you how Drawn to Letters and tinygiraffe came together in a happy collaboration.

3 comments

  1. The House of Eliott was my absolute favourite tv drama at the time and watching re-runs years later it looked no less glamourous than the first time around. Alas, their final ‘collections’ in each series were seen only in the final episodes, but the costumes and fashions of the era were well documented. I am a huge fan of costume design, fashion history and this ‘tween war period in English fashion, so this is essential viewing for me.

    Miss Potter was a sweet tale also, which I certainly liked, but somehow lacked the oomph that it could have had. The scenery, especially of the Lake District and Cumbria though was also very familiar, being a yearly holiday destination since my teens.

  2. Suzi says:

    I love The House of Eliott! My Mum bought the box sets several years ago and I was completely hooked from the first episode. I can completely sympathise with the necessity of having your daughter hide the set from you! I think I must have watched the series in record time. The costumes thoughout the series are so incredible in their design and detail and I find the series extremely inspiring.

    Miss Potter is also a lovely movie, though so sad at times also. I love that she was so determined to follow her dreams and to make a success of her passions despite the social stigma and the disapproval of her parents. There is also a beautiful song by Katie Melua in the movie. I think it is called “When You Taught Me How To Dance”.

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