This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
A meeting of ladies was held in this city recently to consider the possibilities of industrial art in furnishing occupation for women.
Mrs. Florence E. Cory, Principal of the Woman's Institute of Technical Design, which was recently established in this city, advanced the proposition that whatever could be done by man in decorative art could be done as well by women, and she made an earnest plea to her own sex to fit themselves by proper training to engage in remunerative industrial work. Mrs. Cory enjoys the distinction of being the first woman who ever attempted to make designs for carpets in this country. She said that four years ago, when she came to this city, there was no school at which was taught any kind of design as applied to industrial purposes, except at Cooper Union, where design was taught theoretically but not practically. During the past year or two, however, in many branches of industrial design women have been pressing to the front, and last year eighteen ladies were graduated from the Boston Institute of Technology. Most of these ladies are now working as designers for various manufacturers, eight are in print factories, designing for chintz and calico, two have become designers for oil-cloths, one is designing for a carpet company, and one for a china factory. Carpet designing, said Mrs. Cory, is especially fitted for women's work. It opens a wide field to them that is light, pleasant, and remunerative. The demand for good carpet designs far exceeds the supply, and American manufactures are sending to Europe, particularly England and France, for hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of designs yearly. If the same quality of designs could be made in this country the manufacturers would gladly patronize home talent. One carpet firm alone pays $100,000 a year for its designing department, and of this sum several thousands of dollars go to foreign markets. More technical knowledge is required for carpet designing than for any other industrial design. It is necessary to have a fair knowledge of the looms, runnings of color, and manner of weaving. Hitherto this knowledge has been very difficult, if not impossible, for women to obtain. But now there are a few places where competent instruction in this branch of industrial art is given.
There are several kinds of work connected with this business that may be done at home by those who wish, and at very fair prices. The price of copying an ingrain design is from $3 to $6 per sheet. The price for an original design of the same size is from $10 to $20. For Brussels or tapestry sketches, which may be made at home, provided they are as good as the average sketch, the artists receive from $15 to $30. For moquettes, Axminsters, and the higher grades of carpets some artists are paid as high as $200. The average price, however, is from $25 to $100. These designs may all be made at home, carried to the manufacturer, submitted to his judgment, and if approved, will be purchased. After the purchase, if the manufacturer desires the artist to put the design upon the lines and the artist chooses to do so, the work may still be done at home, and the pay will range from $20 to $75 extra for each design so finished. The average length of time for making a design is, for ingrains, two per week; Brussels sketch, three per week; Brussels on the lines, one in two weeks; moquettes and Axminsters, one in two or three weeks, depending of course upon the elaborateness and size of the pattern. When the work is done at the designing-rooms, and the artist is required to give his or her time from 9 o'clock in the morning until 5 in the afternoon, the salaries run about as follows: For a good original ingrain designer, from $2,000 to $3,000 per year. A good Brussels and tapestry designer from $1,500 to $6,000 per year. Copyists and shaders, from $3 to $10 per week.
Mrs. R.A. Morse advocated the establishment of schools of industrial art, in which there would be special departments so that young girls might be trained to follow some practical calling. Mrs. Dr. French said that unskilled labor and incompetent workmen were the bane and disgrace of this country, and she thought that the field of industrial art was very inviting to women. She disparaged the custom of decorating chinaware and little fancy articles, and said that if the time thus wasted by women was applied to the study of practical designing those who persevered in the latter branch of industrial art might earn liberal wages. Miss Requa, of the Public School Department, explained that elementary lessons in drawing were taught in the public schools. Mme. Roch, who is thoroughly familiar with industrial and high art in both this country and in Europe, said that if the American people would apply themselves more carefully to the study of designing they could easily produce as good work as came from abroad. The beauties to be seen in American nature alone surpassed anything that she had ever witnessed in the old countries.