Draper, Draping & RagsThursday, January 09, 2014
One of the advantages of being your own publisher, editor, art director, writer and photographer is that you can do what you want. But I know of a qualified art director who most of the time I ever knew him he was a contrarian. If you told him, “Start the story with the sexy picture,” He would do the opposite, which is exactly what I am doing now. Rick Staehling would smile and agree.
But you must keep in consideration that the highfalutin terms publisher, editor, art director, writer, photographer that I use should be taken with a very small grain of salt. For me to publish is to see something in print and an art director better be a graphic designer. That must instantly reveal anybody here that I remember what dialing a phone was all about. Thus my publishing is suspect. In the mid 60s, when I was in the Argentine Navy, my friend Felipe Occhiuzzi and I would inwardly laugh at all those officers above us who took their jobs as military men. They were amateurs in a third world country. We often used to say, “Les gusta jugar a los soldaditos, or "They like to play with toy soldiers." Little did we know that these rank amateurs would bring down governments, disappear people and start a war with Great Britain.
This particular blog, in spite of soldiers and art directors is all about drapers and draping. As far as I can tell the first experts in draping were Greek sculptors. From there Michelangelo took notice and created his Pietà in which Christ's robe is beautifully draped.
I have had contact with skilled drapers for many of my best photographs but I had never met a real draper until sometime around 1992. I am not sure if it was in a hot tub in Washington DC or one in Atlanta. The man was Glen Draper. He was a friendly, chubby man from Ogden, Utah who had a constant smile and a passion for growing beautiful hostas in his backyard. The hot tub was in one of the many American Hosta Society National Conventions I attended in the 90s.
A few years later (soon after Draper was killed in an automobile accident) his hosta “Northwest Textures” was given to all of us who attended the National Convention in Spokane in 2002. This was a “thick skinned” (in hosta parlance you would accurately say the leaves had substance) hosta that was light green but turned yellow/gold as the summer progressed.
Most snobbish hosta people usually looked down upon these freebies. I took two plants (smuggled into Canada when it used to be safe) back home and every spring when I see Northwest Textures emerge I think of the smiling man, Glen Draper whom I first met in a hot tub. From the picture here you can see that the combination of Draper’s hosta and Kirengeshoma palmata is a great combination which somehow reveals beautiful and elegant draping.
So now with that lead we can insert here the sexy picture and write about draping. The elegant English word draper comes from the Latin drappus, from there it becomes drap and drapier in old French to draper in late Middle English.
In Spanish there is no equivalent to that beautiful verb to drape. We satisfy ourselves with cubrir or cover. And yet consider that from the French, that drap which meant cloth became that most ordinary Spanish word trapo for rag. Since you use to use some sort of rag to mop we have the relatively nice sounding trapear for mopping a floor.
For most of my magazine life when I had the opportunity to photograph women for an article I always chose the avenue of the least amount of clothing. My secret weapon was Inga Vollmer who did not only the makeup but also the careful covering of stuff that should not be seen by the use of silk, satin, velvet that was gracefully and artfully arranged (one word suffices here drape). I believe she did the makeup for Madeleine Morris’s lips but also the draping with the satin. Vollmer could also drape herself quite well. She was good with cats.
I will not place here another image, one taken by a now dead Mexican photographer called El Trapo Negro. It has bits that might offend a few. This is the link. He took the picture when he was in his mid 80s (there is still hope for me). The trapo in question is really a black rebozo or shawl. Notice the grace and elegance.
Next on my list are some pictures I took of a beautiful and most well-endowed Lusitanian in which I used my mother’s red Mexican rebozo to cover, just a bit. The rest I mostly cropped out so what you see here is meant to not offend. And I was the draper.