Folly Cove Designers

Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place video now available.

History of the Folly Cove Designers

The Folly Cove Designers grew out of a design course taught by Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios. She lived in Folly Cove, the most northerly part of Lanesville, Gloucester, Massachusetts. She was able to express the local consensus that the world was a beautiful place, and the elements of beauty surround us in nature.

Her block printing thesis grew out of the home industries/arts and crafts movements of the past. The artist/designer of products for home use is separated from the product by machine age technology (and now globalization). Fine art for home use is within our own power. To this end her design course taught an ability to see the design in nature, a set of good design rules (dark and light, sizing, repetition, reflection, etc.), and the craftsmanship of carving the linoleum, and then printing fabric for home use.

On completion of the course the graduate was permitted to submit a design to the jury(selected Designers rotated this responsibility starting in 1943) of the Folly Cove Designers. If it was accepted as displaying the design qualities as taught in the course, then they could carve the design in linoleum and print it for sale as a Folly Cove Design.

The design course started in 1938. In 1940 they had their first public exhibition-in the Demetrios studio. The following year they decided to go public, they called themselves the Folly Cove Designers. Every year they had an opening to present the new designs, and everyone enjoyed the coffee and nisu (Finnish coffee bread). They established a relationship to wholesale their work to the America House of New York which had been established in 1940 by the American Craftsman Cooperative Council. In 1944 they hired Dorothy Norton as an executive secretary to run the business end of the successful young enterprise. In 1945, Lord and Taylor bought non-exclusive rights to five designs which pushed the reputation of the group, and began some national publicity and diverse commissions for their work.

The Home Industries shop in Rockport, Massachusetts, owned by the Tolfords, sold the Designer's work to the public starting in 1943. It wasn't until 1948 that the Designers opened "The Barn" in Folly Cove as their own summer retail outlet. In the late 1950's they extended the season to ten months. Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios died in 1969. The following year the group disbanded, ending a period of unique creativity and cooperation. Some Designers were with the group for only a season and others continued with the group for decades. In 1970 the sample books, display hangings and other artifacts from the Folly Cove Designer's Barn were given to the Cape Ann Historical Association in Gloucester, Massachusetts who are now the primary source for information about the Folly Cove Designers.

Folly Cove Designers Members

The members of the Folly Cove Designers were a diverse and extraordinary group of artists. They were held together by their love of beauty and harmony in design.

Ida (Benjamin) Bruno (1882-1953) originally from Philadelphia, she lived in Rockport when she took the design course in the early 1940s.
Bleeding Hearts; Club Moss; Cyclamen; Fish Medallion; Frost; Queen Bee; Witch Hazel.
Hilja (Johnson) Burton (1919-1993) was a local woman of Finnish descent who was one of the original Folly Cove Designers.
Flower Jamboree; Land Ho; Little Daisy; Mill Stream.
A. Ross Burton (1911-1970) was a jewelry maker and the half brother of Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios. He was married to Hilja (see above.)
Gothic Willow.
Aino Clarke (1914-1995) was a musician and a neighbor of Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios. It was as barter for her violin lessons that the first design course started.
Atomic Age; Big Roosters; Delicate; Elephants; Fiddle Dee Dee; Geometric I; Geometric II; Geometric III; Georgia Peanuts; Good Luck; Instrumenti Antiqua; Jazz; Little Roosters; Lobsters I; Lobsters II; Musicale; My Friday; Red Fish; Sauna; Schooners; Skunk and Drunk; Which Came First; You're a Doll.
Ida (Fredriksen) Corliss (1906-1995) from Rockport, of Norwegian and Swedish descent, was an early participant.
Apple Mint; Blackberry; Blue-eyed Susan; Chicks; Seashell and Coral; Sea-saw; Thistle; Zebra.
(Marie) Eleanor ( O'Hearn) Curtis (1910--) a Cape Anner, was a teacher, and drawing student of George Demetrios. She joined the Designers in 1953.
Bird Battalions; Cousins; Gay Bouquet; Narcissus; Round Robin.
Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios (1909-1968) the charismatic leader of the Folly Cove Designers. See her biography A Life In Art by Barbara Elleman ,Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 2002.
A Rose is a Rose; Choo Choo; Commuting; Dance of the Hours; Double Knockout; Early Bird; Farmer's Almanac; Finnish Dancers; Finnish Hop; Fish Story; Folly Cove Designer; George's Garden; Georgia Pine; Gloucester Branch; Gossips; Grand Right and Left; Grass; Kitnip; Little House; Low,Low Tide; Ocelot; Pine; Pterydophyta; Reducing; Robin Hood; Stitch in Time; Swing Tree I; Swing Tree II; Winter Boarders; Zaidee and Her Kittens; Zodiac.
Zoe (Comninos) Eleftherio (1930-) Born in Boston, both a family friend and art student with George Demetrios, she commuted from Groton, Massachusetts in the early 1950's to be a member of the group.
Lippizans; Tally Ho.
Mabel (Brown) Greer (1895-1980) was an artist working in New York, Boston, and Gloucester.
Oak and Acorns; Mushrooms.
Mary Greer (1895-1980) born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was a trained artist working in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
No works listed.
Gertrude Griffin (1907- ) from Gloucester, was active with the group in the late 1940's, good local talent enriched the artists.
Bull Rushes; Squam Stage.
Faith (Hughes) Harvey (1921-) was from New Zealand, becoming a member in late 1940's.
Four Leaf Clover; Travelers Three.
-Ruth (Davis) Hendy (1926-1998) from Texas, lived in Rockport and became a designer in 1954. She remained with the group until they disbanded in 1969.
Bleeding Hearts (small); Bleeding Hearts (square); Hearts; Surfside; Tulip Tree.
Mahlon Hoagland, M.D. (1921-) graduated from Harvard Medical School and was friends with the family of Louise Kenyon. He worked with the Designers while commuting to work in Boston.
Cruisin' I; Cruisin' II; Hunting Season.
Barbara (Libby) Hoffman (Sousa) (1923-) came from Biddeford, Maine. She was part of the group who joined in 1954. She was a teacher and opened a kindergarten.
Bittersweet; Cranesbill; Ebb Tide; Star Shell; Topsy Turvy; Wild Geranium.
Robert Holloran (1919-2008 ) is a Gloucester man who became involved through his wife(see below). He worked as an architect, and has retired to New Hampshire.
Mountain Laurel; Trumpet Vine.
Sarah Elizabeth (Johnson) Holloran (1917 -2009) joined the Folly Cove Designers in 1942 and remained with them until their disbanding in 1969. She is a Cape Anner, and established her own block printing shop in Rockport, Massachusetts,in 1974. She retired in 2002 leaving the Sarah Elizabeth Shop in the hands of Isabel Natti. She died in 2009.
Circus; Dog-Tooth Violet; Fisherman; Iris; Sea Fare; Skiers; Slalom; Sugar Bush.
Anthony Iarrobino (1913-2006) was an artist who was born in Boston, and who lived in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He was a member of the group from 1950 to 1960.
Aquarium; Ballet Rehearsal; Beach Ballet; Football Idol; Kitten 'n Cats; Sail Boats.
Elizabeth (Droney) Iarrobino (1915-2009) from Milford, Massachusetts had a fine art education. She married, see above, and worked with the group from 1948 to 1960.
Bob White; Butterflies; Duet; Fern; Footlights; Geranium Leaf; Horse Chestnut; Migration; Sand Pipers; Seaside; Turtles; Wings.
Hilda Kaihlanen (1906- ) was one of the original local members of the group.She has continuing success for her wonderful painting and art work in her Gallery on Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Massachusetts.
Louise (Tomlinson) Kenyon (1906-2000) studied art, married a newspaper reporter, and moved to Cape Ann. Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios convinced her to join the group in 1940.
Bicycle Built for Two; Chestnut Street; Circus; Cocks on the Fence; Conventional Flowers; Down on the Farm; Farmer's Daughter; Fish and Bubbles; Fish and Seaweed; Garland of the States; Georgia Wild Flowers; Goose Cove; Hayride; Head of the Cove; Home Port; Lazy Daisy; Locust; Marblehead; Merry-Go-Round; New England Flowers; Old Car; Old House; Picking Daisies; Pigs in Clover; Plantation Pattern; Rue; Smith College; Thirty-four Cows; Trees and Fawns; Trees and People; Up Country Meet.
Denise Konus (no information available).
Paper Dolls; Shell Fish; Shell Fish (small).
Mary Ann (Smith) Lash (1931- ) is a Cape Anner who lives in Rockport. She was one of the last new members of the Folly Cove Designers, joining in 1967.
Leaves of Grass; Pigeon Hill Milkweed; Summer Wreaths.
Euthymia Maletskos (1912-2000) was a niece of George Demetrios.
Mary (Magna) Maletskos (1918-1993) was born in Oak Park, Illinois. She studied art at Smith College, New York City, Italy and on Cape Ann. Visiting her college friend Lee Kingman Natti she met George Demetrios's nephew, married him and stayed on Cape Ann, joining the group in 1947. She was with them until 1969. She continued her creative work and always encourage young people.
Blueberry Hill; Dandelion; Deer Crossing; Nasturtiums; Peony; Petunia I; Petunia II; Petunia (small); Queen Anne's Lace; Snow Flurry; Winter Blueberry; Wood Lily; Untitled.
Eleanor Cavander Malmi (1914-) was a neighbor of Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios and was one of the original group. She resigned in the late 1940's to be a nurse, but continued her interest in art throughout her life.
Rendezvous; Wheat.
Mary Ann (Stephanio) Mangan (1918-1993) was one of Eino Natti's nieces. She joined the Designers in the 1960's when she was a resident of Cape Ann.
Plovers; Vignette.
Eino Natti (1909-1975) was from the Lanesville Finnish community. He joined the group after World War II, creating many wonderful prints in the years before they disbanded. It was Eino's Acorn Press which was used for printing demonstrations at the Folly Cove Barn from the 1950's until 1969. His press is now being operated by his niece, Isabel Natti, at the Sarah Elizabeth Shop in Rockport, Massachusetts.
Buds; Chanticleer; Flora and Fauna; Gloucester; Golden Pheasants; Haying; Kelp; Liberators Take Off; New England Farm; Pass in Review; Polyphemus; Pond Lilies; P.T.;Ring Necked Pheasants; Rooster Parade; Roosters and Sunflowers; Squirrels; Tempu; Violets; Winter Sports; Winter Waterfowl; Yo Heave Ho.
Lee Kingman Natti (1919- ) was born in Reading, Massachusetts. She graduated from Smith College and worked for Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company. They sent her to Cape Ann where she met and married Robert Natti (Eino's brother.) She joined the group in the late 1940's and continued with them until the end. She wrote a lot (more than 27) of wonderful children's books. I personally recommend them all.
Chickadees; Clover; Collector's Items; Cotillion; Crystals; Etcetera; Field Trip; Flight; Grecourt (Smith College); Gulls; Hootenany; In Clover; Lily of the Valley; Little Angels; Merry Christmas (Christmas Cheer); Mill Valley; Old Sturbridge Country Store; Ring Around A Rosy; Snow Storm; Underbrush.
Margaret Nelson (1901-1981) was born in Keene, New Hampshire. She studied art and came to Cape Ann in the 1940's. She was active with the group in the 1940's and 1950's.
Arrowhead; Begonia; Country Doctor; Dancers; Forsythia; Leaf No 1; Leaves; Maple Leaves; Pineapple; Solomon Seal; Tropical Fish; Windmill.
Bettina Nichols (no information available)
Bay Leaf; Bird and Berry; Columbine; Fern; Punch and Judy; Tree and Squirrels.
Dorothy Norton (1900-1989) was a singularly extraordinary and intelligent woman. She did all kinds of interesting things in her life. In 1944 she was hired as the executive secretary of the Folly Cove Designers. She did this job with efficiency and kindness for all the years the group continued.
Ad Infinitum; Bird in the Hand; Ducks; English Daisies; Ivy; Mimosa; Onions; Signs of Spring; Vegetables; Village Green.
Margaret (Peggy) Norton (1905-2000) both she and her sister Dorothy were born in Manchester, New Hampshire. She graduated from Wheaton College with a major in physics. In 1932 she came to study art with George Demetrios and moved to Annisquam. She was a member of the group from 1944 to1966, making many design, each one better than the others.
Apple Pie; Apple Pie (small); Baked Bean Supper;Bee Skeps; Busy Bee; Cranberry Bog; Cucumber Vine; Deciduous; Guernsey; Hearts and Flowers; Mulberry Maze; Old Sturbridge Stars and Lanterns; Potpourri; Small Fruit; Star Fish; Story and a Half; Story and a Half (small); Strawberry; Strawberry Patch; Sweet Geranium.
Margaret (Hudson) Roewer (1914-1972) was from Boston. She studied art, and moved to Cape Ann when she married. She joined the group in the late 1940's.
Cat and Mouse; Dolphins; Grand Passion (Passion Flower); Milkweed; Petite Passion; Pine; Pine Cones; Whirling Dolphins.
Anna (Natti) Stephanio (1902-1976) was Eino Natti's sister, and the mother of Folly Cove Designer Mary Ann Mangan. She was a member of the group in the late 1940's.
(Muriel) Lee (Hamilton) Steele (1925- ) was from New York. After graduating Smith College, and getting married, she moved to Folly Cove. She was active with the Designers in the 1950's. She continues to be a good influence on Folly Cove.
Joshua Tolford (1910-1985) was from Wisconsin. He studied art, including in Rockport with Anthony Thieme. He and his wife (below) were members of the group in the 1940's and 50's.
Bull and Bees; Chessmen; Circle Six Teakettles, Froggie Went A Courtin'; Marching Teakettles; Pawns; Whirling Teakettles.
Irina (Poroshina) Tolford (d. 1965) was a Russian immigrant. She joined the group in 1942. She and her husband ran the Home Industries shop in Rockport where Folly Cove Designs were sold from 1943 until the Designers opened their own retail outlet, the "Barn" in Folly Cove.
Country Fair; Daisies in the Wind; Grandpa's Turnip; Great Oak; Nosegay; Patchwork; Playground; Spirit of '48; Troyka.
Alma Tomkins (no information) Virginia Lee Burton Demetrios gave her a special prize for Design Excellence.
Chicken Damask; Frogs; Little Mitzi; Little Moby; Portuguese Hill.
Ellen Tufts (1893-1993) was born in Rockport, where she lived and was a business woman.
Mary (Foster) Wallenius (1914-1992) was born in West Medford, Massachusetts. She studied art, and lived in Bay View (in north Gloucester) after her marriage. She was active with the group in the 1950's and 1960's.
Apple Orchard; Calico Cats; Daisy; Lily; Maple Leaf; Morning Glories; Oak; Pears; Rubus.
Hetty Beatty Whitney (1906-1971) was born in New Canaan, Connecticut. She studied art with Charles Grafly, and George Demetrios which brought her to Folly Cove. She wrote and illustrated children's books.
Apple Pickers; Butterfish; Chickadees; Farm; Polka Dot Pony; Sea Horses and Shells; Victory Garden; Wild Horses.
Lili Wilson (no information available)
Birds of a Feather; Centennial Promenade; Fugue; Sun Bird.
Most information for this page from Cape Ann Historical Association Summer 1996 Folly Cove Designers Retrospective Show Catalog.