Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vintage Designer: Leona Caldwell

detail, etsy
I have some vintage pieces that I have been wanting to post about for a time, but didn't want to do so without providing an introduction to the artist who made them. These pieces come from perhaps my favorite vintage fashion artist, Leona Caldwell. She seems to have been a local artist in Scottsdale AZ, and I haven't read anything that indicates her work had wide circulation or recognition. I found one of her pieces on a visit to Arizona about 6 years ago, and have found pieces posted on a sporadic basis on the internet.

5th Avenue Fashion Show,  ca. 1957
Vintage Hollywood

There's not a huge amount of information on her life online, either, so I will post part of her obituary. Out of all the information I found, this seemed to give context rather than just making her only a name of a fashion and art force in the Scottsdale community.

"When her husband died in 1954, she expanded her ceramic studio in Phoenix and soon opened Leona Caldwell Originals in the Kiva Craft Center on Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale, neighbor to fellow artisans Lloyd Kiva, Charles Loloma, Paolo Soleri and many others. She created ceramic jewelry and garments silkscreened with original designs inspired by Hohokam artifacts, animals and plants of the Southwestern desert. She retired in 1978 to enjoy her home, garden, and family. "



Leona made some amazing screen prints for her pieces. Simple, colorful, and playful all at once. She drew her inspiration from her locale, with cacti, roadrunners, quails, and owls showing up as her main subjects. Here are some of the findings online, mainly from past etsy or eBay listings. I had also seen listings of purses she made on etsy, but they seem to have been removed completely. 

Currently on sale!
detail, etsy
Patio dress, etsy


My personal Leona Caldwell pieces will be posted later this week, because I want to dote over them. 

Do you have any favorite vintage brands/designers that you seek out?


  1. Thank you for posting this information. I have a ceramic/leather belt with her signature on it and went seeking for more about her and her art. I did not know she was a dress designer, but I love the ones you have pictured here! I think the belt is the quail design (it matches your top picture in hot pink). The quails are cream against a brown background and have turquoise eyes. There are 9 ceramic pieces which are 2 hole sliders so that the belt is adjustable.

  2. Just a follow up: I posted pictures of the belt, and a link to this page (let me know if that is not okay, please). See the belt here:

  3. If you love Leona Caldwell, you will definitely go crazy for Harwood Steiger. Please visit to learn more about this sensational silk screen artist who had a studio in Tubac, AZ. I love Leona, too and have several of her dresses and blouses. I even have an unfinished one from her seamstress which needs the arm holes finished. Thanks for your postings.