Arts & Crafts Movement

March 28, 2016

The Art that is Life: The Arts & Crafts Movement in America, 1875 to 1920

I have to admit I’m about 27 years late coming to this dance, but this book is fast becoming one of my favorite on the American Arts and Crafts movement. Edited in 1987 by Wendy Kaplan, this 400 page book focuses on placing the movement in a social and intellectual context. The four major sections of this book discuss the Search for an American Identity- a discussion of forms and styles; Reforms in Craftsmanship-which examines the various methods of making objects; Spreading the Reform Ideal-focusing on the organizations, communities, and schools that spread the idea; and Reform of the Home- a look at the movements impact on domestic life and Craftsman interiors.

March 04, 2015

The Furniture of Charles Rohlfs

The Arts and Crafts movement has always provided a cozy home for paradox. English philosophical roots that are ground in craftsmanship attained by bringing the artist and craftsman back together; is juxtaposed by its American evolution that could not have existed without mass production. Stickley’s vision of affordable quality furniture for the middle class serving as early inspiration for Greene & Greene’s furniture; which could only be enjoyed by very privileged Americans. And Charles Rohlfs’ furniture-which looks nothing like the images normally conjured up when one thinks Arts and Crafts furniture– fits nicely into this paradoxical framework.

September 08, 2011

A Conversation with Stephen Gray

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk about collecting Arts and Crafts furniture with one of the great experts–Stephen Gray. Stephen has been collecting since 1976 and has published and edited many books on the topic, and his collection was featured in a show at The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.

April 19, 2010

Elbert Hubbard & the Roycrofters

Anyone interested in learning about the Roycrofters, and particularly, their eclectic leader Elbert Hubbard, should see “Elbert Hubbard: An American Original.” Originally broadcast on PBS November 23, 2009, this original PBS documentary answers probably any questions you may have on this topic. If you can’t find it on your local PBS station, fear not, a free copy of the documentary can be obtained by visiting the Visit Buffalo Niagara website.

December 12, 2009

Visiting Eastwood

Vibrant communities unite families, nurture harmonious industry with good labor relationships, and can create stability and balance for its residents. These types of communities promote lasting histories that make interesting places to visit. This is what I found on a recent trip to Eastwood located in Syracuse, NY. While my initial goal was to visit the city’s Arts and Crafts sites, I wound up discovering how the movement’s philosophies had influenced the city…or was it the city that had influenced the movement? I’m still not sure, but one thing is clear, Arts and Crafts history flourishes in Syracuse, and is linked directly to its community.

March 07, 2009

Historically Accurate Arts & Crafts Drawer

When you think of designing and building an Arts and Crafts drawer for a bedside or end table, what do you think of? Half-blind dovetails in the front, through dovetails in the rear; perhaps a solid-wood bottom grooved into the side, sticking out the back with room for expansion?

August 02, 2008

A Great Stickley Book!

I recently visited the Winterthur Museum & Country Estate in Winterthur, Delaware. In addition to the 175 room mansion of the DuPont family, the Winterthur estate is also home to a major research library specializing on American culture. They have a very extensive collection of information on furniture-including Colonial, shaker, and Arts & Crafts furniture. It includes the third largest Shaker library in the country, and one of the best research collections on the Arts & Crafts movement in America. The library’s Arts & Crafts collection includes business papers from many companies, original periodicals, and glass-plate negatives.