Document 6:
Frank T. Carlton "Art In Industry: The Significance Of The Arts And Crafts Movement," Popular Science Monthly 65 September 1904, pages 414-416.

Click here to go directly below for the full text  of Carlton's piece, Art In Industry, and below that links to the University of Wisconsin page with the digitized The Craftsman, etc.

Click here for a brief outline of the origins in England of the Arts and Crafts movement

The fact that ninety-four per cent of the children leave school before fourteen years of age shows clearly that special schools for the higher grades will not touch the mass, and if we are to do any thing in education our duty plainly lies with these.

J Liberty Tadd, "Manual Training Methods in Philadelphia Public Schools", 1894, page 1891 See Sources


In 1904, to an observer like Frank T Carlton, a professor at Toledo University School, the potential impact of the Arts and Crafts Movement on American society was quite evident and today, in 2009, a century later, we can only marvel at how remarkable his insights are, but in an uncanny way.

I think, though, that it to teachers such as J liberty Tadd and Charle G. Leland that we can attribute responsibilty for generating much of the interest in amateur woodworking Arts and Crafts

Regardless of what Carlton's prediction about leisure would have -- later in the 20th century -- conditions concerning how long American shool-age children remained in school were bleak.

By the time the industrial education movement began in 1906, with the formation of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, the Russian system of manual training was virtually non-existent in the American schools.

Besides the Problem of Wide-Spread Departure From School Immediately After Elementary School, A Troubling Situation Was the Uneven Quality of Standards for Industrial Education Teachers


Fred Strickler's 1927 Study -- Training and Experience of 480 Industrial Arts Teachers -- see Sources

strickler_1927_table1

"My experience with new teachers shows that the great majority of normal school graduates lack practical training (the ability to do a job with tools), are full of a lot of ideas and have a superabundance of theory that is not practical."

"I might add that the efficient teacher is the one who can adjust himself to meet changing conditions ; one who can 'fit-in' any situation."

"In industrial work a thing of prime importance is the teacher's ability to do the thing he is teaching."

"One of the characteristic objections to this subject is the 'sloppiness' with which it is carried on. The teacher 'gets away with anything.' It is also just as true among superintendents and principals. There is an attitude of indifference in ninety per cent of the cases. The whole atmosphere of shop-work is given a degrading note."

"In my several years experience as teacher, teacher-trainer, principal and supervisor, I have come in contact with many types of men and teachers. Our teachers who are attempting to train men for industrial arts work should have had actual training and practical experience in the subject which they are attempting to teach. We need more teacher-trainers, teaching such industrial subjects as methods, organization, classroom management and practice teaching, who have had trade experience and successful teaching experience out in the field. Many of our young teachers are short on classroom management, probably due to the fact that they have had but little experience and that not under existing conditions."

strickler_1927_table2

"In general, I believe that normal and professional school teachers should personally teach a few classes of pupils in the grades or high schools, in order to keep in touch with the actual problems confronting teachers ... Too many industrial arts teachers in normal schools have taught only normal school and college students and have no practice to back up their theory."

"I believe that the greatest lack among industrial arts teachers is that relating to the handling of pupils, rather than a lack of technical or administrative ability."

"Teachers should be trained to a high degree of skill but should have teaching ability also. They should not be 'masters' only."

"A teacher should not be highly skilled in the older sense of the term, but he should be proficient in the work he is attempting to teach."

"How can a person be an 'all-around craftsman' when he has not yet attained craftsman's standards?"

other comments include mention of instruction sheets -- ambivalence, though, some suggesting they like instruction sheets, others state that instruction sheets are note useful.

Source: Fred Strickler, Training and Experince of 480 Inustrial Arts Teachers New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 1927, pages 2-3, 10-11.





The Effect of the Cultural [Arts and Crafts] Movement on Manual Training

The general acceptance of the arts and crafts shifted the emphasis of manual activities from that of hand tool exercises and directed projects to that of creative craft work with an emphasis on individual design and construction. This cultural or arts and crafts movement in juxtaposition with child-centered psychology helped to bring about the demise of the Russian system of manual training.

Source: Edward Daniel Bzowski, An Analysis of Some Movements which May Have Influenced the Growth and Development of Manual Arts diss U of Maryland, 1969

The problem boiled down to a conflict or tension between, on the one hand, skill in woodworking processes, and on the other, skill in teaching and classroom management. For more info, check out the charts that Stickler created, below:

The Effect of the Cultural [Arts and Crafts] Movement on Manual Training

The general acceptance of the arts and crafts shifted the emphasis of manual activities from that of hand tool exercises and directed projects to that of creative craft work with an emphasis on individual design and construction. This cultural or arts and crafts movement in juxtaposition with child-centered psychology helped to bring about the demise of the Russian system of manual training.

Source: Edward Daniel Bzowski, An Analysis of Some Movements which May Have Influenced the Growth and Development of Manual Arts diss U of Maryland, 1969



Essentially, Carlton claims that, today (i.e., 1904),

... Leisure, culture, education, art and work are now conceived to be the birthright of all.

"If the machine enables us to produce the necessities of life for all, it is, nevertheless, the skilled human hand which must adorn and beautify these products".

The old craftsmen were artists, the modern workman is only a link in a great industrial chain. He repeats, in a monotonous routine, certain simple movements; no realizing sense of the true social value or significance of the work which he performs ever comes to him.

Long hours and routine work crush the individuality and ambition out of him. The arts and crafts movement needs educated producers and consumers. The task is a double one; the workers must be trained to produce good work, and the taste of all consumers must be educated so that they will demand good articles.

Shorter hours and the right use of leisure will give an impetus to the demand for better qualities of goods; and thus variety and handicraftsmanship will to some extent replace interchangeability and machine production.

Indications of a revival of those industries involving more skilful hand work.

Two great forces, in addition to the work of the school, may be discerned to be removing the obstacles in the path of the arts and crafts movement:--

the decentralizing tendency of electricity when used to transmit power, and

the growth of the labor movement which demands shorter hours and better shop conditions.



Today, in the first decade of the 21st century, looking back, Carlton's predictions did indeed materialize, but in ways that neither he nor anyone else could be able visualize in 1900.

There was an Arts and Crafts movement, early in 1900, lasting until about 1916.


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At that time, the Movement, stimulated by the activities of Americans such as Gustav Stickley, was motivated, mostly, by the promise that the Movement would furnish homes of the common person with solid, tasteful, and affordable -- handmade furniture and other art objects.

In England, and other parts of Europe, the "Movement" itself actually originated roughly a half century earlier, ca 1850, driven by the theoretical writings of John Ruskin and William Morris, in England, north of Cheltenham, and spread rapidly, not only to North America but to Northern Europe, and even Japan.

Personal note: In May 2005, I was able to observe the exhibit of arts and crafts objects assembled by London's Victoria and Albert Museum , said to be the largest exhibit ever mounted of the Movement's artifacts. Also, roughly the same time, I was fortunate enough to visit the Cheltenham museum's exhibit of original arts and crafts materials produced by the English craftsmen in the latter part of the 19th century and in early 20th century.)

In America , for a variety of reasons, the steam ran out of the Arts and Crafts movement around 1916. Stickley's magazine, The Craftsman folded. (Here's a link to The Craftsman on CD-ROM.) Stickley's business went bankrupt. While some Arts and Crafts activity continued, the events leading up to the tidal wave of change that took place in the 1920s -- in taste, in technology -- just overwhelmed the Movement.

Well, not entirely was it wiped out. Instead, let us just say it went "underground" and was carried, culturally, until its reemergence ca. 1960.

For me, rather interestingly, after examining the contents of books dedicated to teaching woodworking as a (declining) vocation, or as a hobby, covering roughly 1900 to the present, furniture designs from Arts and Crafts Movement are what featured frequently. Indeed, sometimes these are the only designs a woodworking manual will contain. No explicit reasons are given, but one can speculate that the following are leading: Publishers often solicited teachers of woodworking course to author these manuals on woodworking, and in selecting projects to illustrate in these manuals, Arts and Crafts furniture were chosen because of their simplicity of construction and natural aesthetic appeal. I have traced this trend from the early 1900s through the 1940s; by the 1950s, other trends in furniture designs became more popular, elbowing out the Arts and Crafts designs. (I will cover these details in the narrative sections of the history.)

Other examples are the periodicals contemporary of the era, such as Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Industrial Arts Magazine, and The Craftsman. Popular Science, you'll notice, published Carlton's article (pasted below), but as well as featuring furniture projects in articles in issues of the time, the magazine commissioned, such as this Dover publishing reprint, Mission Furniture: How to Make It,  still on sale today. (Why furniture of the Arts and Crafts movement became known as "Mission furniture" is shrouded in mystery, but evidently has something to do with its similarity to the so-called Mission Furniture of California of era when California was still part of Mexico . This link explains it, but not very satisfactorily)

Since, 1960, when it reemerged, as a Movement, Arts and Crafts has flourished for a longer period than its original popularity, roughly two decades, 1895-1916. Woodworking magazines, lead by the first title, Fine Woodworking, help sustain the interest in arts and crafts furniture design by featuring arts and crafts furniture projects frequently. (Before the founding of FW, in 1976, no magazine existed in America that was dedicated solely to woodworking. I would hazard the guess that articles on projects for building furniture of the Arts and Crafts movement are featured in FW and all other woodworking magazines more frequent than any other furniture design group.) But other forces that sustain the Arts and Crafts Movement today are the numerous websites, museums, conferences, collectors, to cite just a few sources.

But other forces, especially the reprinting of art and crafts furniture manuals, catalogs, and the like, are regularly reprinted by Dover and other ,  similar publishing houses.     

(The details of what is noted above will be covered in my narrative accounts.)

Full Text of Carlton's 1904 Article Pasted Below:

 

DURING the last century the productive powers of man were multiplied many times by the utilization of the energy of coal and water through the agency of steam and electricity. As a result the human race has been lifted from a condition of struggle for the necessities of life to a higher plane of material comfort. With the increase of material wealth has been ushered in the new spirit of democracy. Leisure, culture, education, art and work are now con­ceived to be the birthright of all. Universal education and culture has heretofore been impossible because of the meager productivity of the unaided man. The arts and crafts movement of today is demo­cratic. It proclaims to the world that beauty, skill and education are for all; and that the common thing should be made beautiful, and the beautiful, universal. If the machine enables us to produce the necessities of life for all, it is, nevertheless, the skilled human hand which must adorn and beautify these products. The hand must find its province where the machine cannot go. In its proper sphere, the machine may make beautiful things, and may even excel the hand; it is not the use of the machine, but the abuse of machine production, which should be deprecated; without the machine much of our present material comfort would be impossible.

Art is a form of industry, and industry properly applied always brings forth a work of art. The mechanic, fashioning the accurate and splendid tool, produces a work of art; the man, forming with infinite care the lenses of the great Lick telescope, brings into being another work of art. The automatic screw machine and the steam engine are as certainly works of art as the painting or the sculpture of the great masters of the Renaissance. There is and can be no real art considered entirely apart and distinct from industry and the in­dustrial life of the people. As Emerson has said: "Beauty must come back to the useful arts and the distinction between the final and the useful arts be forgotten." Art is a way of doing things and resides in the common as well as in the uncommon, at home as well as abroad, in the present as well as in the past.

The old craftsmen were artists. They wrought with infinite care as much for the satisfaction of doing good and true work as for the money value of the product. The products of the craftsman's skill were few, and only the ruling classes were privileged to possess them. The laboring masses were busily engaged in obtaining the bare neces­sities of life; no thought of comfort, art or education entered into their lives. The craftsman did unite art and industry; but the modern conception of democracy did not exist. On the other hand, the modern workman is only a link in a great industrial chain. He repeats, in a monotonous routine, certain simple movements; no real­izing sense of the true social value or significance of the work which he performs ever comes to him. Long hours and routine work crush the individuality and ambition out of him.

The specialized worker necessarily has narrow views of life; his ability to enjoy is limited . The opportunity and privileges of both working and leisure hours are only partially utilized. It has been said that for a man of twenty, pleasure is business; of thirty, business is business; and of forty, business is pleasure. It might further be maintained that there is little pleasure outside of business for the ordi­nary man of forty or fifty. Business, the grind of daily life, has engrossed the entire energies of the man. Enjoyment in life means enjoyment of leisure and of work. The unskilled laborer, I fear, enjoys neither -- why? His work is monotonous and wearing, the surroundings of home and workshop are not inspiring, and he has received no training which will aid him in finding and utilizing the few opportunities for rational enjoyment which come to him.

The present arts and crafts movement is a protest against and a reaction from the minute division of labor now employed in manu­facture, and the stripping of the artistic features from industry. Arti­cles are made to sell more particularly than to serve a useful and im­portant service. Profit, not service, is now the watchword of industry. Art in the crafts would emphasize service. The arts and crafts movement aims to give dignity to the worker, and to teach that all should be workers. The man of leisure is a drone and a parasite. Each individual has some particular work for which he is best adapted; and society needs his services. Only when all are workers and each striving to do his best work does society approach an ideal condition.

The arts and crafts movement needs educated producers and con­sumers. The task is a double one; the workers must be trained to produce good work, and the taste of all consumers must be educated so that they will demand good articles. Shorter hours and the right use of leisure will give an impetus to the demand for better qualities of goods; and thus variety and handicraftsmanship will to some extent replace interchangeability and machine production. All civilized men demand the necessities of life -- food, clothing and shelter -- of a char­acter not greatly dissimilar; these common requirements lend themselves readily to machine production. Industrial operations in which machinery is the chief factor are directed toward producing the greatest possible quantity of a uniform quality; therefore, as far as inventive skill will allow, the machine and natural forces, rather than human skill and energy, are employed in producing goods which satisfy the common needs of all men. The class of work in which skill is the determining factor aims to improve the quality rather than to increase the quantity produced. As the demand for the latter class of goods increases the call for skilled workers will also increase.

There are indications of a revival of those industries involving more skilful hand work. More interest is being manifested, throughout the country, in art, architecture and the products of the various handi­crafts. The increased attention paid to art and drawing in our public schools is another indication of the coming change in the spirit and demands of the American people. The result of such training on the next generation will be great, and its effect cumulative on the succeeding one. Industries involving artistic ability and intricate manual skill are incapable of minute division of labor. The gain resulting from the centralization of industry and the division of labor is very small in this class of work. It .is well adapted, however, to small factories and workshops, and forms an appropriate kind of industry for small villages. If there is to be any considerable revival of village industry, it must come through an increase in the demand for the products of skilled manual work.

The use of steam and the lack of adequate rural transportation facilities forced the abandonment of village industry and built up the existing great industrial centers. In recent years the increasing use of electricity for the distribution and application of power is changing the location and internal arrangement of our shops. This, together with the rapid growth of suburban and interurban electric lines, is placing the villages and rural community in a better condition for industrial pursuits. The separation of agriculture and manufacture will, as a result, probably be less in the future than in the present or the immediate past.

Two great forces, in addition to the work of the school, may be discerned to be removing the obstacles in the path of the arts and crafts movement- the decentralizing tendency of electricity when used to transmit power, and the growth of the labor movement which demands shorter hours and better shop conditions.

Just as the manual training movement was a result of economic and industrial changes, so is the call for art in the crafts the result of such forces. As the machine displaces workers, they are pushed higher up in the industrial scale. Such a phenomenon must also be accompanied by an increased demand for the products of skilled workers. This movement is not something evolved out of the minds of a few thoughtful devotees of art; but is in harmony with and dependent upon the needs of in­dustrial and educational life. It is an evolutionary movement.

University of Wisconsin's Home Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture


Image and Text Collections:--

Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

(To access the options listed below for retrieving digitized material, including a full text version of The Craftsman, published by Gustav Stickley between 1900 and 1915, click on the link above)

Decorative arts home
Search the image collection
Search the text collection
Subject guides for text collection



Sources: J Liberty Tadd, "Manual Training Methods in Philadelphia Public Schools", National Education Association, Journal of Proceedings and Addresses: Session of the Year 1894; Fred Strickler, Training and Experience of 480 Industrial Arts Teachers New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 1927, pages 2-3, 10-11; Edward Daniel Bzowski, An Analysis of Some Movements which May Have Influenced the Growth and Development of Manual Arts diss U of Maryland, 1969