One of the places I had planned to visit during my month on Boston’s north shore was the Cape Ann Museum. The Cape Ann Museum holds the largest collection of work by the Folly Cove Designers, a group of local designer-artisans who produced stunning lino-cut block prints from 1938-1969.
Led by children’s book author and illustrator, Virginia Lee Burton, the Folly Cove designers printed and sold many household textiles like placements, table runners, and napkins. Originals have become quite collectible.
The Folly Cove designers’ work is vibrant and dynamic and filled with inspiration from local nature – New England plants, birds, lighthouses, and fishermen. The balance of design and detail is mesmersizing.
When I showed up at the Cape Ann Museum, only to discover it closed for renovation until late August, I was disappointed to say the least. But lucky for me, I came across the Sarah Elizabeth Shop, in nearby Rockport.
The Sarah Elizabeth Shop is the inheritor of the Folly Cove Designers. It was founded in the early 1970’s by Sarah Elizabeth Halloran, a long time member of the Folly Cove Designers guild, and has been passed down twice, first to Isabel Natti, and later to the current proprieter, Julia Garrison who continues to print and sell Folly Cove, Halloran’s, Natti’s, and her own designs. (You can read a more complete history of the store on the website.)
It’s a charming shop packed with locally produced pillows, table runners, placements, cards, and more, all printed with original artwork, using the antique Acorn press used by the Folly Cove designers. Designs range from bold and playful nautical New England themes, to softer, more abstract repeating prints on natural linen.
What a thrill it was to peruse all these wonderful prints. What fun it as to see the linoleum blocks lined up along the wall. Of course I came home with more than a few.
If you’re far away and fear you’ll never make it near Rockport, Massachusetts, don’t fret! The Sarah Elizabeth shop also sells printed textiles via etsy. So no matter where you are, you can procure yourself a piece of New England art for the home.