[Stenciling Kit], American Crayon Company, Sandusky, Ohio, ca. 1940. Author’s Photograph.
Based in Vienna until after the Anschluss, Emmy Zweybrück (1890-1956) possessed a preeminent international reputation as an art educator associated with the permissive methods of free expression linked to Klimt Group member Franz Čižek (with whom she studied). Publishing widely on contemporary handcraft, Zweybrück ran applied-arts workshops specializing in textiles, embroidery, toys and book illustration, in tandem with her progressive craft school for girls (opening in 1915), which cultivated a seemingly “naïve” design language inspired by folk art and children’s drawings. In her school and workshops, Zweybrück shared with Cižek common emphases on expressing feelings, thoughts and emotions through free choice of handcraft media and permissive instructional methods. Attracting attention of American visitors, Zweybrück offered regular lecture tours and seminars in the United States throughout the 1930s.Publications like The Stencil Book (1935) and Hands At Work (1942) encouraged teachers to free the spark of creative genius slumbering in every child, ideas also spread through her work as artistic director of the American Crayon Company. She designed “Come and Learn to Stencil Kit,” a collaboration with the ACC dating from the mid 1940s. Simultaneously playing on the artist’s initials (E.Z.) and the acronyms of ACC products packaged inside the box, i.e. “E-Z-Cut-Stencil Paper,” users were instructed to “trace designs from the cover of this box or make up your own designs with accompanying stencil cutter and stencil paints.”