Category Archives: Memories of the Model Stand

1958 – My Year

This August, I celebrated my 58th birthday.  My stepson, now a computer science major at college, taught me all about video games, so I now see myself more as Level 58.  It sounds like so much more of an accomplishment… Anyway, I digress.  So I’m 58 and I was born in 1958.  I like this.  Mom was almost 45 in that year. She and Dad had been married for almost 20 years.  He was a painter. She was the breadwinner. But after 20 years, she decided that more than anything, she wanted to have a baby.  And he agreed.  I was one of those fortunate ones who was wanted and loved.  I never felt a day growing up without the security of feeling that I was the center of their world.  I would give anything to have one more day with them both.  But they surround me still with their work.  This blog is about Mom, but Dad’s paintings fill my home as well.

So what happened in 1958. Here’s a page from my baby book.

My Baby Book from 1958

My Baby Book from 1958

Ike was President, although Mom was a huge fan of Adlai Stevenson, his opponent in the 1952 and 1956 elections.  Averill Harriman was Governor of New York and Robert Wagner Mayor of NYC.  The Polio Vaccine had just been introduced.  It helped wipe out the disease in this country.   Satellites were a new thing – remember Sputnik?  Mom loved classical music, so Van Cliburn and Yasha Heifetz were big on here list of the best entertainers, along with Louis Armstrong, Elvis, Marilyn and Marlon. The great minds of the time varied from Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to existential philosopher Albert Camus to, of course, Picasso.  Doing what she did best, there are sketches of the popular styles of the time, including Trapeze dress and Flower hats! Yikes!!

I love that Mom lives on now and that you all know about her. I decided to celebrate 58 with you by having a sale on Hilda’s site.  All of our 9″x12″ Limited Edition Prints are $58 until the end of August.   And for anyone else who is 58 born in ’58, I’ll put in a  little extra present.  Just let me know.

So here’s to Mom.  She made it to Level 90. Quite an accomplishment.  But it still feels like she’s right here next to me.

 

Mom Watching Over

Mom looking over me

Mom and Liz c. 1960

I recently started a new partnership with a wonderful company called Just a Trace.  We had already collaborated on clear stamps and stencils of Mom’s drawings and now we are working together on all products, including our cards.   They recently sent me samples of the latter.  Everything is bright and happy, even the turquoise or shocking pink envelopes. I then turned over the card and there it was. The picture you see above.  It’s Mom and me at about age 2 in 1960 in our Manhattan apartment. I always loved this photo, but in seeing it in a different light, as a viewer of the card, I realized how symbolic it is.  There is Mom watching over me.  And there I am, focusing forward.  Kind of like how I feel about us now.  She will always be there with me, always helping me along.  Always inspiring me.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

And if you’re interested in seeing the new card line, here’s a peek:

Nell Card With Envelope

Nell c. 1964

Susanna Card with Envelope

Susanna c. 1964

Poppy Card with Envelope

Poppy c. 1963

Sandy Card With Envelope

Sandy c. 1957

I’d love to hear what you think of our new line. Remember, this is just the beginning. Stay tuned for some really fun stuff!

Meet the New Gal

Silka c. 1964

Silka c. 1964

Here’s the newest member of the collection.  Her name is Silka c. 1964.  All of the drawings are named after Mom’s models, friends and family.  Silka was my grandmother. Mom’s mom.  Unlike this willowy drawing, Silka was 4’10” and quite stocky.  But she exuded the confidence seen here.  She was born in 1883 in a town called Little Constantine near Kiev Russia.  When she was 15, she started a business making corsettes.  She and my Grandpa Lazar immigrated to the US in 1904.  She wasn’t happy here and longed to go back.  Lazar agreed and they did, but upon returning after a while, she realized she had made a mistake and in 1907, they returned and settled in Brooklyn.  She was a business woman and had several dress making stores.

Cilka and Lazar. Note that she's standing on books pushed under the carpet.

Cilka and Lazar. Note that she’s standing on books pushed under the carpet.

 

She wanted all four of her daughters to have a career and Mom was the only one who realized that. She was so proud of her.  Like Mom, Silka was way ahead of  her time.  So every time you look at this beautiful drawing,  please think of my Grandma Silka and see a little Jewish lady blazing a trail.

Grandma Silka

Grandma Silka

The Silka Print and Notecard are now available on our site.  

 

 

 

 

If You’re in NYC…


Me and Mom hugging005

I am honored to be giving a talk about Mom at a fashion illustration event at the famous Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). This is a sketch class for fashion illustrators and I will be interviewed at 2:30, August 17.  If you’re in the area, please stop by.  There’s no fee to listen.  I’ll also be bringing some of our products and they will be for sale.

Here are the details:

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/7742149979/efbevent

And we will also be showing the collection at the Kitchen Papers booth at NY Now (formerly the NYIGF).  Booth 3054.  I’ll be there from August 18-20.

It’s going to be an exciting week!

I don’t do this too much, but I’m so excited about the new collection and want everyone to enjoy it, so here you go.  Everything July 1-3 only everything is 10% off.  Frame the cards!  Have a wall of Hilda’s for a mere pittance.  Be inspired!  2013 - July Sale Promo

Traveling

I had the good fortune to have a booth at a local Women’s Expo yesterday.  As the crowds entered the room, invariably many stopped to look at Mom’s work.  I’d  watch  them stand and kind of drift off in thought. Then they’d turn to me and tell me the memories that came back to them.

“My sister used to have a coat just like that one, the one with the fur collar. It’s a swing coat. She was a lot older than I was.  But I remember our parents getting us all new outfits to wear at Easter.  Times were different then.”

“My mother was a dressmaker and she made clothing just like this.”

“I went to school for this. There was a public school in Brooklyn that specialized in fashion. That’s what I wanted to do many years ago.  I ended up becoming a nurse.”

“My grandmother made dresses for top designers.  She designed them and they took the credit.  But that was what happened in those days especially if you’re a women just off the boat from Italy”

“Remember those fox stoles that still had the head on the animal?  The mouth was the clasp and it sat on the shoulders?  Awful!”

“My mother looked just like that.  She was beautiful.”

I’ve seen this business take off in the matter of a couple of years.  And I think this is why.  I watched these people look at the drawings and they are not present. They are back in time to a happy place.  They can go there anytime by purchasing a simple card.  

Who says there’s no time travel?  I’ve been doing it everyday…

Hilda’s Hangout

I recently caught up with Laura Mueller, one of Mom’s models and a friend of my folks since they met after WWII.  Laura has always had a fabulous wit and time has not passed that gift by.  She says of herself “As a former model, I can say that I no longer have snap to my garters”, but I beg to differ.  Laura was 17 when she started modeling for Mom.  They met at a place called Wally’s.  This was a studio in Manhattan on 44th Street between Lexington and Third.  Wally’s was where all the fashion illustrators of their  day came to practice their skills,  meet like minds and kibbutz.  In other words, it was a hangout.  The owner, Mrs. Wally, was a widow from Scandinavia and apparently a women of few words.  Laura says she only remembers two – “Pose Please” – at which point the models would do four five minute and then four twenty minute poses.  This was an opportunity for the for the artists to really express themselves more creatively.  Even the very best of them had some more mundane accounts where there were restrictions on how the clothes were drawn. Wally’s gave them an opportunity to create truly unique portfolios. This was a time when the printing technology had evolved so that photography was starting to infiltrate into advertising more consistently.   Fashion illustrations were starting to be phased out.  It must have been a very competitive group.  It was also a place where life long friendships (and business associations) started between both artist and model, and artist and artist.  In talking to Laura, I realized that not only she, but other friends that I remember as a kid, came from Wally sessions.

In addition to Mom, Laura worked with  many of the artists that she met there.  One had an account of a very upscale store.  Laura would pose in the most beautiful gowns and after the drawings were done, the artist would give them a little spritz of Chanel No. 5 and off they went to the client.

Mom never mentioned Wally’s.  She did love to reminisce, so I’m surprised this was all new to me.  Perhaps it was an ordinary occurrence of her week at that time and she didn’t think it special enough to discuss.  I am grateful to Laura for helping me bring those years back to life.   

That Coat. Those Buttons.

Forgot to mention something from yesterday’s post.  When I was in my 20’s, my first apartment was in Long Island City, Queens, New York.  Today this neighborhood is very trendy.  Back in the early 80’s it was mostly a mix of Hispanic, Italian American and artists.  The rents were really cheap and there were some great Italian delis.  The best part about the area, in my mind at least, was the Volunteers of America thrift store on the next block. It was a huge warehouse.  My neighbor and I found out what time deliveries of donations came in and we would line up to get first dibs. We’d rummage thru large plastic garbage bags of stuff.  At that time, you really could find some amazing vintage clothing.  My closet was packed with 50’s sundresses and 60’s mod shirts and sweaters.  And coats.  I found a hot pink coat with 3/4 sleeves, a big collar and really large buttons.  I wore it over to my folks apartment and mom thought it looked very familiar.  She went thru her drawings and found it.  Yes, it was Taylor’s coat that she had drawn twenty years before.  It’s funny how things go full circle sometimes.

I don’t know what I did with that coat.  I gave a lot of the clothes away to friend’s daughters.  Maybe they have it.  Maybe it was passed on again to another happy fashionista.  That’s the way it should be.

Now where can I find that hat?

A 1960’s Afternoon

Very occasionally mom would bring me along to a client.  I have a distinctive memory of a trip to Coates and Clark, a company that made yarn and sewing materials.  Her drawings appeared in their ads. I think their offices were on Fifth Avenue in Midtown.  I must have only been about 4 years old, but I remember feeling very excited to go with her. We walked over to Fifth and took the bus downtown.   Up in the elevator we went to what seemed like a high floor and there was a beautiful view of the city.  She must have had a meeting as I was seated with the secretary, who gave me a basket full of yarn and thread spindles to play with. I really do remember all the beautiful colors and the softness.  I sat there happily on the floor picking thru the basket.  Mom came out all smiles, chatting away with everyone. They gave me some pretty colored buttons as a little present.  I was always loved colorful things. Guess you figured that out already.

Our next stop was Schafft’s for lunch.  Does anyone out there remember Schrafft’s?  I loved their tuna sandwiches and coffee ice cream.  We were The Ladies Who Lunch.  Last stop was Best & Co.. I had quite the wardrobe. More on that at another time.

Looking back, I wonder why she thought to bring me along to a client.  Did the babysitter cancel? Did she get a last minute phone call from the company?  An emergency fashion illustration needed!  Or maybe she just wanted to show me off.  She had me at age 45 in 1958, unusually late for the time.  She was very proud of this and not shy to tell people.

It was a beautiful day. We walked out of Best, she put on her white gloves, took my hand and we walked home up Fifth Avenue.

I do love New York…

Ink, Paper and a Three Year Old

As I had said previously, mom would work with her models and I would sit and play. One day, she had a drawing that was particularly difficult. After the model left and then after being a mom all day, she continued working into the night. And into the next day and the next, trying to get it right. Finally it was done. She had made her deadline too. I guess I must have seen myself as an artist, or maybe a critic, because I thought some changes should be made. All the ink jars were open. The brushes were sitting there waiting to be picked up. I had been watching for all three years of my life. How hard could it be? So when she was out of the room, I took brush in hand, dipped it in the ink and ran it over the smooth paper. It must have felt good, because I did it again and again. Then mom came back in the room. What a devastating moment for her. The work was ruined. But she never yelled at me. I can’t imagine what was going thru her mind. What do you tell a client? Something akin to “my dog ate my homework”? Working with a child at home was a challenge, but she figured out a creative solution. She set up a little table for me next to her own. We each had our jars of paint and the choice of many brush sizes. The models would come and change into a beautiful gowns. Mom would help get them in just the right pose and we would both get to work.