Material Culture

May 19, 2007

237787775_1ee74669c7_m1.jpg  173638638_7c2730da09_m1.jpg  173638637_fb017003e6_m1.jpg  173626641_14cf8822b71.jpg

“Grandma’s at the office … so we do her job.” Such is the motto of the talented sisters-in-law who run Ohma!, crafters of hand-sewn heirloom quality goods you wish your grandmother would make for you. Kate Kirkpatrick and Jane Morris have amassed a treasure trove of vintage embroidery patterns from the turn of the last century to the present, and faithfully reproduce them onto their one-of-a-kind pieces.

They kindly allowed me to browse some of their collection which includes everything from Mother Goose characters and Raggedy Ann to dancing cutlery, Black Americana and 30s, 40s and 50s retro delights. It was a great visual tour through a little piece of this country’s material culture – the art people produced in their daily lives and passed along to friends and family.

When I started thinking about expanding the baby shop, my concern was finding items that people would want to hold on to. Our babies are young for such a short period, and so much of what we buy for them disappears with lightning speed. They grow right out of those adorable clothes and that gorgeous Moses basket lined with vintage-print fabric we just “had to have” lasts for all of a month.

So when some of you started asking about sources for bibs and blankets and other essentials I hesitated a bit. Then I thought about the work of Jane and Kate. Theirs are just the kind of pieces that make me want to head for the tissue paper and the hope chest: a snuggly cotton flannel blanket embroidered with the Old Woman’s Shoe (smiling faces at every window and an enterprising lad climbing the bootlaces); burp cloths so well made they will find new life as a doll or teddy bear blanket; And bibs? Bibs are the ultimate disposable infant accessory in my mind, but if someone had given me one of Ohma!’s quilted 3 little pigs bibs you bet it would be lovingly tucked away now waiting for some future grandchildren.

Hoping to provide you with some keepsakes of your own, Kate, Jane and I collaborated on creating some custom sets for the shop. The designs and styles you see are just a hint of what is possible as these ladies have been known to embroider everything from aprons to quilts. I, for one, would be happy for an excuse to re-visit their archives to dream up something new. Please feel free to get in touch if you have a special gift in mind.

blog-pig-bib.jpg Pig Jig Bib

blog-baby-set.jpg Retro Baby Bib & Burp Set

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One Response to “Material Culture”

  1. Retro Says:

    I personally love vintage toys. It’s fun finding the toys you had as a kid, or the ones you always wanted.


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