Arts & Crafts Movement

November 08, 2016

L & JG Stickley Legs

I recently had access to some original L & JG Stickley Furniture. Shown here are two legs from either a model 709 or 709 ½ Sideboard, circa 1910. You can clearly see the 5-piece construction that L & JG Stickley made famous. It is consistent with the L & JG Stickley catalog drawing shown (though not properly credited) in my April 17th post on Making Arts and Crafts legs. Also visible is a round mortise drilled to hold one half of a “figure 8” clip, commonly used to attach tops.

May 07, 2016

Who Influenced Who?

This is not a post about The Who, or even a story about The Guess Who; but rather a story about influences; influences within the world of Arts and Crafts era furniture. When I design a piece of furniture, I look to the work of some of the leading Arts and Crafts era furnituremakers-Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Greene brothers, and Charles Rene Mackintosh– for inspiration. I’ll pull out reproduction catalogs from “back in the day,” or more modern auction catalogs, or any available book that features pictures of the classic designs. I often draw creative energy from the work of Gustav Stickley. Looking at images of his work has often made me wonder, who influenced his designs? So as a starting point, I thought I’d look at who influenced Gustav Stickley. There is often very little physical evidence of who influenced who. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just open up a diary and read an entry that starts “My work was influenced by….” But that is seldom the case. Often we rely on the interpretation of those who have spent extraordinary time studying various bodies of work. Fortunately for us, their research is generally in-depth, and their arguments sound.

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.

February 01, 2012

Arts & Crafts Furniture @ Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

A great place to see, and photography Arts and Crafts furniture at close range, is the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, VA; I recently visited VMFA to do just that. Their Arts and Crafts furniture is nicely nestled within the broad theme of VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Collection’s Art Deco and Art Nouveau collection located on the third floor in the Lewis Galleries. While there are only two rooms of exhibits, it is a well-rounded representation of American and British Arts and Crafts furniture. There are exceptional pieces from Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Greene & Greene on display.

November 03, 2011

Restoring Grove Park Inn's Vanity Chair

This is the final post in a three post entry on the Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair. Read the first post, The Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair, and the second post, The Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair, Part II.

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.

September 03, 2011

The Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair Part II

This is the second post, in a series of three that shares what I learned about factory built arts and crafts furniture while restoring a Vanity Chair from Asheville, North Carolina’s Grove Park Inn.

July 09, 2011

The Grove Park Inn’s Vanity Chair

As an admirer of all things Arts and Crafts, I enjoy visiting Asheville, North Carolina’s Grove Park Inn, often attending the annual Arts and Crafts Conference that takes place at the inn. During my many visits to the inn I’ve come to love its furniture collection, especially the original furniture still used in the main inn’s rooms. For me, this furniture is a great example of pieces produced in factories during the Arts and Crafts era.

September 03, 2010

Charles Rohlfs Furniture Exhibit @ The MET

I recently went to see the Charles Rohlf’s Furniture exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was my first opportunity to see his furniture in person and I learned much from seeing his work. My first thought was that pictures don’t do justice to how his carving accent his furniture, or the presence created by his negative-space manipulating fretwork. The exhibit featured a broad stroke of Charles’ work, including desk chairs, dining room chairs, rocking chairs, chiffonier, desks, plant stands, settees, trefoil tables, a case clock, log holder, fork and spoon salad servers, and his famous rotating desk.