Each of the namesakes for our presses remind us that diligence and knowledge are the “metal” and force for change. These women have broadened the very definition of femininity. We look to them to help reinforce traditional and modern archetypes that should be available to everyone regardless of their gender.
In this blog series, we'll be sharing more information about each woman and the press that is named after them. Stay tuned for more!
Alma Buscher was born in 1899 under the sign of Capricorn, and like many earth signs, her dedication to a single goal ensured that she made a big impression in her field. Buscher received her early education at a school of applied arts near the German town where she grew up. She went on to study at the influential Weimar Bauhaus.
At the Bauhaus, Buscher caused a stir by demonstrating acumen in what was generally considered a man’s field: three-dimensional design in the woodshop. As part of Haus am Horn, the first public exhibition of work from Bauhaus students, Buscher designed a children’s space with custom furniture, toys and a puppet theatre. The reception to the exhibition was mixed, but Buscher’s “Little Ship Building Game,” in which children could arrange a set of unique blocks to create a variety of ship forms, was a hit. It was generally agreed, to the chagrin of the male students, that Buscher’s work was some of the strongest in the show. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius expressed concern that notoriety for making children’s items would bring down the reputation of the school.
Buscher’s designs were noteworthy for giving children agency to create their own spaces. She expressed a belief that children should have a room in which they can be what they wanted to be and where their imagination would design it. By incorporating elements on wheels and crates which could be arranged in a variety of ways, Buscher allowed children to discover their personal aesthetics by exploring spatial relations. The year following Haus am Horn, Buscher, still a student, was commissioned to make custom furniture for a kindergarten in the town of Jena. That year her designs for toys and furniture were displayed as part of two seperate educator conferences and a toy exhibit.
When the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1925, Buscher followed, evolving from student to employee. During her last year at the Bauhaus, she designed cut-out kits and colouring books for a board game publisher which is still in operation today.
In Dessau she married actor and dancer Werner Siedhoff. The couple had two children. Following Alma’s graduation from Bauhaus, the family moved often to support Werner’s acting career. Although she made furniture for the family home and for friends, Siedhoff-Buscher ceased designing work for commercial purposes in 1928. She was killed in a World War II air raid in September of 1944.
Siedhoff-Busher’s “Little Ship Building Game” is still in production. She was honored with an exhibition of her designs at the Bauhaus Museum Weimar in 2004 and has been included in group shows at many venerable institutions including the Museum of Modern Art.
About the machine: Alma is a Baumfolder of indeterminate age and origin, but based on certain specific aspects which are no longer in use, we believe her to be manufactured no later than 1965.