history lesson: the cloud painter

So I teased awhile back about another history lesson - this time inspired by the wonderful folky dutchiness of Berks County. I'm going through a funny phase of being obsessed with American History. I can see now why my parents dragged me to places like Williamsburg and Gettysburg. If I ever have kids I forcing them to appreciate it too!

So Eric Sloane is one of the few things that my husband and I agreed on unequivocally. I'm into Eric Sloane for his illustrations and historical wit, and Ben is into him because of his collection of early American tools and historical wit. He's got that Little House on the prairie thing down.

Born Everard Jean Hinrichs, Eric Sloane changed his name early on so he didn't have to be associated later in his life with his early inferior works (genius!) He went to work for the sign painter Goudy (yep that Goudy, inventor of the typeface) and thus began his prolific career. He started off as a cloud painter ...

He was fascinated by weather and the early American farmer's ability to interpret "weather signs". You can see that Goudy influence ...

From there he became the foremost authority on Early American rural architecture and Early American tools.

This is where my visual literacy issues really come into play - Ben can explain to me over and over how some tool works or some wood warpage concept and I can never get it. Finally we have to break out Sloane's "Reverance for Wood" and everything becomes crystal clear!

and Eric Sloane really loved Pennsylvania too!

What is most striking about Eric Sloane is his exploration into his philosophy of awareness. The basic concept centered on his belief that the men and women of yesterday were more aware than his or her modern day counterpart. They were more aware of illnesses, the weather, man's effect on the earth - they worked a lifetime to build barns and homes to last generations. They practiced responsible husbandry and forestation. Most everything was done with an eye toward permanence and most everything was made by hand. AMEN TO THAT.

As the early American families looked around them, their sense of awareness was reinforced - the giant barns, the stone walls, the bountiful gardens, the healthy animals, the handmade blankets - all made by family and friends in a community effort of love and support.

How far we've come from this concept really wants to make me cry - oils spills, Walmart, Mcmansions, bioengineered meat, etc. I really hope the handmade movement can spark some change.

and a guy who was known to wear bow ties and denim jackets on a regular basis just deserves the respect don't you think?


Melanie said...

Heck yeah!! That was awesome! Xoxoxo

Kara said...

Sweet Blog, K!