Posted on November 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm

A long time and loyal reader, Mary K in Rockport, lives in the part of the world that nourished Viginia Lee Burton and the Folly Cover Designers. My last post inspired her to send me some lovely emails about what my sweater pattern set off in her brain, and I thought it was worth sharing. With her permission, and some useful images borrowed from around the web:

Last spring, Ina Hahn from Windhover Dance and some descendent of the the original Folly Cove group put on a performance at the museum in Gloucester. It was a narrated dance performance by a bunch of women and several men;

image courtesy of Windover Dance Company

The backdrops were projected Folly Cove prints and some sculptures, and it was the story through time of the Folly Cove print group – how they worked, how they swam every afternoon at Folly Cove, how Virginia Lee Burton sickened and died, how another designer helped her when she was too weak to work the press, and her husband's reaction to her death. It was so lovely and so sad that we were moved to tears.

It was the most touching rendition of the intimacy of marriage that
I've ever seen, plus the joy of creativity, and the fun of doing that together. I
really should pester Ina to record it somehow.

image courtesy of this very informative post about VLB from Velásquez Studio

old barn is actually on Folly Cove (unsurprisingly.) We used to go
there all the time when I was a child. My back-to-school outfit in 7th
or 8th grade featured a Folly Cove print
skirt – I wish I still had that! We had lots of Folly Cove placemats
which are beautiful – we used them all the time so they are quite
stained and worn out.

image courtesy of Blackwood/March Auctioneers

The old barn is now the abode of an elderly
artist, Ralph Coburn. And the linoleum block print tradition is carried
on in a tiny shop in Rockport called Sarah Elizabeth.


I think the
rights to the old prints are owned by the Gloucester Museum – not sure
about that. In any case, the weensy bookshop there has a book with the
stories of the group members and reproductions of their famous prints – I
love it. It's been fun to think about it all again, prompted by your
new sweater design!


My husband is embedded in the artistic
community here on Cape Ann, and we've talked often about how it came
about that there was such vibrant creative group here back then –
artists and craftspeople who came up from New York in the summer and 
just stayed, married into
the local Finnish population and founded this movement that encompassed
sculpture, painting, print-making, and writing and illustrating
children's books. Then they stayed up all night folk dancing! There are
lots of artists still here, of course, but somehow they have not joined
together into a sort of guild. Why not, we always wonder?

VLB teaching a class, image from Life Magazine

Thank you, Mary!  Why not, indeed.