The Arts and Crafts movement that swept the United States and Great Britain from roughly 1880 to 1920 was a response to the industrialization of the late 19th century. It was a call on the part of thinkers, poets, artists, and designers to return to a handmade aesthetic, in which craftsmanship was paramount, design was nature-inspired , and construction methods were straightforward, simple, and undisguised.
English art critic John Ruskin had actually articulated the movement’s founding principles several decades earlier. He considered the prevailing Victorian aesthetic decadent and argued for working conditions that considered the happiness of craftsmen. Pattern designer William Morris put Ruskin’s theories into practice when he established Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. in 1861 to create everything from furniture to wallpaper to fabrics to tapestries.
Another craftsman to put the ideals of Arts and Crafts into action was Charles Robert Ashbee, who established his Guild of Handicraft in 1888 in the slums of London’s East End. The goal was to produce furniture, metalware, and jewelry in an atmosphere of fair wages, good working conditions, and cooperation.
Most British artists of the day did not take the movement’s social side that far. Instead, they contented themselves to producing furniture, ceramics, metalwork, and jewelry that hued to the visual principles of the movement, which got its formal name of Arts and Crafts in 1888.
Liberty & Co. in London brought the movement to the masses with chairs, plant stands, bookcases, and buffets, mostly in oak and mahogany. Individual designers of the day included William De Morgan, whose earthenware vases often suggested Persian influences.
Scotsman Charles Rennie Mackintosh, also considered a practitioner of Art Nouveau (which ran concurrently with the Arts and Crafts period), was another leader. From his Glasgow workshop, he produced handsome desks and other pieces of furniture. His high-backed chairs, especially the ones with trellis backs, are considered his signature.
Robert “Mouseman” Thompson arrived on the scene a little later. His charming gimmick was to adorn a carved mouse on the side of every piece of furniture he made...
In the United States, the Arts and Crafts movement was warmly embraced. Gustav Stickley published a highly influential magazine called The Craftsman from 1901 to 1916. Through his Craftsman Workshops in Syracuse, New York, he also produced furniture and metalwork.
Two of Stickley’s brothers, John George and Albert, established their own firm, Stickley Bros. Co., in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1891. After John George left to start yet another Stickley company with yet another brother (L. & J. G. Stickley in Fayetteville, New York with brother Leopold), Albert carried on at Stickley Bros., eventually labeling his pieces with a tag that read "Quaint Furniture."
Leopold and John George produced pieces for one of the 20th century's greatest architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. Today Wright is more closely associated with what we now call the Prairie School, a type of architecture that emphasized horizontal lines and eschewed ornamentation. But at the turn of the 20th century, he was considered one of the leading practitioners of Arts and Crafts. Importantly, Leopold and John George were not above using mechanical techniques to produce their pieces. Thus, they embraced the aesthetic of Arts and Crafts if not its social and philosophical underpinnings.
Louis Comfort Tiffany was perhaps even more famous than Stickley, although like Macintosh, his style straddled Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau. Some of the finest examples of the former are his lamps with ceramic bases by Grueby Faience Company of Massachusetts.
Speaking of ceramics, the oldest pottery in the United States, Fulper Pottery Company, also became a proponent of Arts and Crafts with its 1909 Vasecraft line. Rookwood Pottery was a breeding ground for numerous Arts and Crafts ceramists — at one time or another, Artus Van Briggle, Matthew A. Daly William P. MacDonald, Albert Valentien, and John D. Wareham were all on staff.
More difficult to categorize was George Ohr, the so-called "Mad Potter of Biloxi, Mississippi," whose deformed and pinched vases fairly drip with candy-colored glazes. Newcomb College pottery from New Orleans went the other way, promoting simply-shaped vases and plates, usually with floral decorations in soft, pastel glazes.
Regions developed their own specialties. New York was the home of Roycroft, which excelled in copper objects for the home, handmade books, and fine wooden furniture. In Northern California, Arequipa Pottery of Fairfax imported future Fiesta visionary Frederick H. Rhead to design its pieces from 1910-1912. Dirk Van Erp was another San Francisco Bay Area artisan of renown: His metal vases featured his trademark "warty" surface produced by hand-hammering.
In Southern California, Pasadena was the center for Arts and Crafts. In 1908, architects Charles Sumner and Henry Matthew Greene designed what many consider to be the movement’s architectural masterpiece for David and Mary Gamble. A year later, tilemaker Ernest T. Bachelder established a school devoted to the movement.
Meanwhile, in Chicago and Boston, jewelry in the Arts and Crafts style was very popular. The Kalo Shop opened in Chicago in 1900. And in Boston, Frank Gardner Hale and Edward E. Oakes were among that city’s leading jewelry designers.
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State of the Art: British craftmanshipExpress.co.uk, November 28th
Look at his philosophy, how he wanted the Arts and Crafts movement to not only make beautiful things but to make them well; there are similar ideas going on 100 years later.” The high standard of work and attractiveness of original Arts and Crafts...Read more
The Rise of the New Artisan ClassBacon's Rebellion, November 26th
Richmond is hardly unique in having a vibrant arts community — Charlottesville and Staunton craftsmen were well represented at the particular event I attended — but the arts and crafts movement is growing. Many Richmond-area artists have a connection ...Read more
Zandra Rhodes breaks all the Christmas traditions with neon PINK treeDaily Mail, November 26th
Standen was designed in 1892 by architect Philip Webb, a close friend of William Morris and one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement, for the wealthy Beale family. It is decorated with Morris carpets, fabrics and wallpaper and is now looked...Read more
New St. Pete coming together -- in 2018FOX 13 News, Tampa Bay, November 25th
No details have emerged yet on the James Museum of Western Art, but a spokesman for the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement confirmed a 2018 completion target. Referring to the two privately-funded museums, Kriseman said, "Those ...Read more
Bungalow Pros/Jo's Moves to Lake Streethngnews.com, November 22nd
“The arts and crafts movement also informs my design influences, so I like surrounding myself with these items, especially since they are much more tactile than using a CAD program to create design drawings,” Kessenich said. “I love design and space ...Read more
Look inside Syracuse home of famed furniture maker Gustav Stickley (photos)Syracuse.com, November 21st
Syracuse, N.Y. — Strolling through the Syracuse home of famed furniture maker Gustav Stickley feels like escaping back to the beginning of the American Arts and Crafts movement he helped to father. The exterior of the 115-year-old home at 438 Columbus ...Read more
How to Identify a Craftsman-Style Home: The History, Types and FeaturesZing! Blog by Quicken Loans (blog), November 11th
Craftsman style is a term that falls under the umbrella of the Arts and Crafts movement, which was created as a reaction to the cold and disconnected Industrial Revolution. Arts and Crafts supporters detested mechanized labor that placed an emphasis on ...Read more
Craftsman homes around Los Angeles for less than $750000Los Angeles Times, November 7th
The Craftsman bungalow, popularized during the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a prominent fixture in the Southland, with variations found throughout Southern California. In anticipation of the nonprofit...Read more