Museum Textile Services is in the process of conserving several Folly Cove textiles belonging to the Rockport Public Library and a private collector. The Folly Cove Designers worked from 1941 to 1969 on Massachusetts' Cape Ann peninsula. Prior to the group’s establishment, its founder and leader Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios taught design courses to her neighbors in the Folly Cove section of Gloucester. The Cape Ann Museum's 1996 exhibit catalog Folly Cove Designers provides an in-depth view of the history and processes of the group.
The textiles that we are treating were designed by Eino Natti and Peggy Norton, active Folly Cove Designers from the 1940s through the 1960s. After receiving these artifacts over the summer, the MTS crew took a trip to the Cape Ann Museum to see its Folly Cove Designers permanent exhibit. Upon her death in 1968, Folly Cove founder Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios donated the textiles and blocks to the museum.
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The women and men who took Folly Cove Design courses created mainly table linens, wall hangings, and bedspreads to decorate their homes. The first Folly Cove exhibit in 1940 was of these textiles. The Folly Cove Designers organized professionally in 1941 in order to sell their artwork and goods to the public. The group was founded on the philosophy that, by combining the role of the designer and the craftsman, the creator can achieve an aesthetic lost to the industrial era.
MTS will be conserving two textiles designed by Eino Natti: the 1961 Gloucester, representing the Gloucester harbor, and the 1950 Polyphemus (see slide show.) Polyphemus shows the transportation of granite by trains to barges on the seacoast. Polyphemus was the giant one-eyed son of Poseidon in Greek mythology, and the large front light of the trains in the design reference him. Another group of Folly Cove textiles at MTS is from the Rockport Public Library. In addition to their copy of Gloucester, they have six copies of Strawberry, made in 1964 by designer Peggy Norton. The textiles are small squares of cotton used as coasters and napkins, staying true to the earliest Folly Cove creations.