Between 1913 and 1914, Morris Hirshfield was awarded 24 patents for slipper designs and orthopedic foot devices. Entire pages of the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office are devoted to his slippers variously adorned with pom-poms, rosettes, buckles, tassels, or figure eights and set off by wraparound ornamental trims.
The patents bespeak the originality and sense of the ornamental design that would find full expression in Hirshfield’s later paintings. For the exhibit Morris Hirshfield: Rediscovered, the artist Liz Blahd (b. 1954) fabricated fourteen boudoir slippers to the specifications of Hirshfield’s patented designs of the 1920s. Thirteen are made of marino wool felt with soles in kidskin suede.
One slipper, the pink, has been crafted, more luxuriously, in cashmere. The trims, tassels, florettes, and other ornamental features are cotton, silk, velvet, and yarns of mohair and wool. Blad researched historically-accurate colors for the boudoir slippers of the early 1920s and selected among them. She slightly stained the fabrics with coffee or tea, so they more closely conform to the appearance of vintage textiles. A century after their original design and patenting, Liz Blahd has reactivated the delight of Hirshfield’s boudoir slippers, for today’s viewers.
Photographed in the American Museum of Folk Art in Manhattan.