De wondere wereld van Dona Z. Meilach (1970s haak)

A little while ago I did a profile of 1970s crochet artist Bonnie Meltzer in which she mentioned that she mentioned she’d had work featured in a 1972 book by Dona Z. Meilach called Creating Art from Fibers and Fabrics. Ondanks al het onderzoek ik gedaan in de jaren zeventig haak dit veel, Ik nog nooit gehoord van Dona Meilach. Ik heb geen idee hoe dat is mogelijk omdat, zodra ik haar opgezocht ontdekte ik dat ze was een productief auteur in alle gebieden van ambachtelijke schrijven, not only in the 1970s but all the way through to the early 21st century. Today let’s take a look at crochet in those vintage books.

Who Was Dona Meilach?

dona meilach The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Dona A. Meilach was an author whose books were primarily in the areas of craft and food writing. She was born in 1926 and lived to the age of 80. Her most recent book that I could locate via Amazon is a book on ironwork The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet) gepubliceerd in 2007 shortly after her death. The oldest one that I could locate was her 1970 title Making Contemporary Rugs and Wall Hangings The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet). In between those two she seems to have put out dozens of books, including a number that feature crochet work. I haven’t been able to find out a lot of information about her personally. She has a website that just lets us know that she passed away in 2006. Dat gezegd, you can tell from her books that she was very interested in craft, kunst, design and also cooking. She did a great service using her work as an author to aggregate, highlight and share the work of amazing artists and makers of all kinds. I imagine she was an interesting woman!

OPMERKING: After finishing the writing of this post I located a Meilach book older than the 1970 book mentioned above. Het is een 1964 book called Collage and Found Art that she co-authored with Elvie Ten Hoor.

Creating Art from Fibers and Fabrics (1972)

dona meilach 1970s book The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

One of Dona Z. Meilach’s first books was Creating Art from Fibers and Fabrics The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet), which was published in 1972. It is a celebration of the use of fiber in art, something that was just beginning to become popular at this time. In the introduction she says, “Techniques such as quilting, breien, Haak, knotting, lappendeken, and weaving, which traditionally have produced utilitarian items, are no appearing in works of art that must jolt us out of our complacency about the methods”.

This book has chapters for different techniques including one chapter for crochet and knitting. Before I get into the crochet in this book I just have to say that there are a lot of really fascinating works of art in this book in the other forms as well including a form of fiber meshwork I’d never even heard of calledsprang” (apparently also known as meshwork, knotless netting and Egyptian plaitwork) – something I plan to learn more about! Oke, now for the crochet in this 1970s book.

1970s crochet costume The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

This was the book Bonnie Meltzer was referencing when she mentioned the author and it includes one of my favorite pieces of hers, a piece called “Ik altijd al wilde een Blonde eerder dan een Raven-Haired schoonheid worden”. Het is echte mensen binnenkant haak kostuums – something most of us today would probably think of as being a signature of artists like Olek en Nick Cave but that was being done forty years ago.

1970s crochet christ The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

The book also has a crochet Christ figure by Jane Knight that reminds me a lot of the amigurumi style of crochet we often see today:

Meilach also shares crochet hangings with us from several artists:

1970s crochet hanging The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Jane Knight

1970s yak hair crochet The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Sylvia Heyden, hanging worked with yak hair handspun by the artist

1970s crochet sculpture hanging The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Jeff Berman

And she also highlights the use of crochet in jewelry and wearables:

1970s crochet jewelry minkowitz The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Norma Minkowitz

Jeanne Bordman Knorr crochet The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Jeanne Bordman Knorr

Crochet in Basketry (1974)

dona meilach book 400x568 The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

In 1974 Meilach came out with A Modern Approach to Basketry With Fibers and Grasses, Using Coiling, Twining, Weaving, Macrame, Haakvideo The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet). The chapter on crochet features unique crochet baskets, similar in style to some of what we see in other books from this time like Mark Dittrick’s Harde haak but in the specific niche of being made with natural fibers. She features work from multiple artists including:

1970s crochet baskets The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Susan H. Brown, basketry with removable lids

1970s crochet macrame basket The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Lori Kratovil combined crochet and macrame to make this basket

1970s crochet still life The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Renie Adams called this Still Life of a Still Life

1970s crochet sculpture The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Meilach also notes that basketry techniques can be applied to make wall sculptures like in this multi-media (with crochet) piece by Gayle Luchessa

crochet basket wall hanging 1970s The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

And here’s a basket wall sculpture by Esther Gotthoeffer

dona meilach soft sculpture The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Side note: There is also this 1974 book on soft sculpture that I would bet has some crochet in it but I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet. You’ll be the first to know when I do!

Exotic Needlework (1978)

meilach needlework The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

In 1978 Meilach co-authored a book with Dee Menagh called Exotic Needlework, With Ethnic Patterns, Technieken, Inspirations The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet). It offers a comprehensive look at historical uses of needlework around the world. Unlike many of Meilach’s books, this one is more instructional with patterns and information on techniques and that includes a “Hoe haak”. It talks a bit about crochet history and also shares photos of some pretty inspiring work. Bijvoorbeeld:

woven crochet 1970s The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Lillian Bryce combined woven squares with crochet to create this outfit inspired by African kente cloth

1970s jute crochet bag The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

This crocheted jute bag by Twyla Cottrell was embellished with wooden beads and driftwood for a naturalethnic-inspired” blik

1970s crochet sculpture doll The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

This whimsical doll by Linda St. Marie was crocheted with inspiration from Mexican dolls. Wish we could see the colors!

1970s crochet gourd doll The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Janet Martini created dolls using crochet and gourds

Crochet in Meilach’s Newer Books

art jewelry book meilach The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Dona Z. Meilach’s newer books also featured crochet from time to time. One example I know of is that her 2003 boek Art Jewelry Today The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet) has crochet wire work from two different artists:

crochet wire collar The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Crochet collar by Arlene Fisch

crochet wire jewelry The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

Crochet and spool knitting pendant by Barbara Stutman

Now that I’ve discovered Meilach’s books I’ve also discovered the names of lots more crochet artists from the 1970s that I’m planning to research further. Stay tuned!

pinit fg en rect gray 28 The Wonderful World of Dona Z. Meilach (1970s Crochet)

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Kathryn

San Francisco gebaseerd en haak-geobsedeerde schrijver, dromer en creatieve geest!
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