Friday, August 8, 2008

Virginia Lee Burton and Folly Cove

One of my favorite images by Virginia Lee Burton as part of The Folly Cove Designers.

I recently visited my family in Gloucester, MA and went to a new gallery in Lanesville with my mother - Flatrocks Gallery. It opened in what once was a new and used bookstore. (I can't find any good images on the web, and their website is currently bare.) They have a lovely outdoor garden space with sculptures and inside there are two rooms - one is the gallery and the other is still an operating bookstore. After looking through the art gallery we went into the bookstore and this book caught our attention: "Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art", by Barbara Elleman. We spent a good bit of time huddled over it, so my mother purchased it and slipped it into my suitcase without telling me. (Thanks, Mom!)

(Click on the book to flip through it on Google Book Search. Worth a look.)

Virginia Lee Burton wrote and illustrated several books for children: "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel" and "The Little House" possibly being the most well known (full lists of books she wrote and/or illustrated are here).

I hadn't known that the person behind these books was from Massachusetts. It turns out that she had lived in Gloucester and was the central figure in the Folly Cove Designers. I had heard of the Folly Cove Designers before and had seen some of the work of a previous member before. The Folly Cove Designers carved wonderful images in linoleum and had quite an operation until Virginia's death in 1968. They printed on fabrics for the home that were sold locally and in some large department stores. More info and images here.

I love the style of the prints made by Folly Cove, and it is obvious that the aesthetic of the group was influenced by Virginia's "Arts and Crafts" style.

And, of course, the book has me thinking even more about uses for our rubber stamps. I'd been thinking lately about making images that fill the entire sheet, so that they can be inked and used much like large linoleum sheets (shown above). This book has me even more inspired to look into that option. Perhaps leaving enough space between individual elements in a sheet so that they could still be cut out and used separately.


Illustration by Virginia Lee Burton.


I guess there is quite a revival of interest in VLB and the Folly Cove Designers. Just saw this PDF of an article in Vogue this past May:


Cherry Lane Jane said...

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was one of my favs as a kid! I was just talking about it the other day. I looked through that book and what a great find to be able to learn so much neat stuff about Virginia Lee Burton.

Get stamping:)~

kim* said...

you rock the stamp prints!

Inklings and Imprints said...

Ha - thanks!

This is my favorite book right now. I'll have to look up more about what I can see in person when I'm next in Gloucester.

Mark Speer said...

I was delighted to see your posting on Folly Cove and Virginia Lee Burton! I was a friend of her sister, Christine Burton Braillard, who lived in New Jersey. Christine and Ginny (as Christine called her) were very close. She was never the same after her sister's passing.

Christine's small but charming home was full of her sister's designs--on curtains, slipcovers, place mats, and as framed images on a guest room wall . She even had some of the color plates from Ginny's book called Life Story.

Christine was a clever, funny, delightful and talented person in her own right. I wished I had had a chance to meet Ginny.

I lost touch with the family shortly after Christine's death in the early 80s but hope those images and Folly Cove's legacy,survive.

With wonderful posts from people like you, I am confident it will!

P.S. Mike Mulligan was one of my favorites as a kid in the early sixties and am happy to see it's still around.

Thank you!

Inklings and Imprints said...

I'm so glad you found my post, then, and thanks so much for posting a comment. I think that there is a revival of interest in Ginny's work and it was wonderful to see all of the local tie-ins to New England, as well as to get a glimpse into the life of someone so vivacious and interesting. I had never known much about her, or her link to the Folly Cove Designers. I found it all very inspiring.

Thanks again,


Unknown said...

My mother, Lois Fancher Johnson-Martin, was one of Chris' closest friends. Mom worked in the Warren Twp. NJ schools and helped Chris at Mrs. Lippencot's dancing school. She would stop by the cottage on Gregory Lane for tea and friendship almost every day.When I was first married I moved into the neighborhood, renting an apartment from Art Walters, next door to Chris. Chris was a wonderful person, with a special spirit. I have a child's rocker with VLB prints on seat and back. My wife and I visited with Michael at "Folly Cove" in 1964. So many wonderful memories of special people.