Tammis Keefe Mid-century Textile Designer
Born Margaret Thomas Keefe, and called Peg by her family (which is Gaelic for Thomas), Tammis Keefe is one of the great names of hankie and textile design collecting.
She was born in 1913, and in the 1940s worked as a textile print designer, designing prints for home furnishing textiles.
She began designing handkerchiefs for Kimball scarves in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Her designs are typically 1950s – full of whimsy with those great 1950s colors: pink, turquoise, gold and black.
Keefe’s designs were often inspired by her travels. One can find Oriental, Arabian nights, and European castle themed hankies. She also did hankies featuring American cities and attractions. Many of these hankies were like little travel guides, showing the highlights of a city that were not to be missed.
Townscapes locally, and as a contrast, places and themes from further away.
Keefe’s work also shows a love of nature and animals. Her dog and cat hankies are true 1950s classics.
Other designs to look for are her antique furniture and motifs,
or holidays including Christmas and Easter.
Some lovely nature and scrolling inspired designs.
Keefe’s hankies are most prized, but look also for linens and fabrics with her signature. Her designs for the kitchen are just as clever and fresh as her hankies. Silk scarves with the Tammis Keefe signature are rarer, but do surface from time to time.
Even rarer are clothing items she designed for the Marlboro Shirt Company. Also, hankies signed Peg Thomas are Tammis Keefe designs. There are hundreds of Keefe designs to choose from, as she was quite prolific, especially considering that she died in 1960 and had a relatively short career.
In 2000, Tammis Keefe’s work was featured at a show at FIT – A Woman’s Hand. Designing Textiles in America 1945 – 1969.
A HUGE vote of thanks to Ellen over at her amazing Tammis Keefe site and some other updates here.. Ellen has dedicated years documenting the designs of Tammis and kindly photographing each and everyone for us to enjoy, and it’s most appreciated too. More background information on Tammis and even more of her wonderful designs can be found there and on Making It Fun too. There was ‘talk’ about some of her designs being reproduced about 2 years ago but after looking online I could only find 1 design remaining. I’m sure there would be a market for her work. What do you think readers ?