HISTORY OF THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT, written by Mabel Tuke Priestman, 1906
Mabel Tuke Priestman's brief but densely packed "History" will probably surprise modern day converts to the civic religion of American Arts and Crafts. That movement is popularly understood as originating with the trinity of John Ruskin, William Morris, and Gustav Stickley, and being disseminated at the turn of the century by key "missionary" visionaries such as Elbert Hubbard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Charles and Henry Greene. Priestman gives credit to some of the British forefathers, but she never mentions the architects or architecture we revere at the turn of the twenty-first century: no mention of Arthur H. Mackmurdo, Charles F. A. Voysey, M H Baillie Scott, Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Britain -- as detailed here-- nor the Craftsman homes, Prairie School houses, and the California bungalow. Indeed, California goes totally unmentioned in her assessment, certainly an oversight, one that might have been different if Tukeman were writing in 1910 instead of 1906.
Harder to explain is Wright's displacement in favor of Oscar Lovell Triggs, the socialist founder of Chicago's Industrial Art League, defunct by 1904. How could Roycroft be overlooked, in light of its early establishment — 1895— and its widespread influence through Hubbard's entrepreneurial writings, lectures, mail-order catalogues, and direct marketing to tourists accommodated at the Roycroft Inn? And how to rationalize Priestman's perfunctory nod to Stickley? Priestman notes Stickley's name but then reports on profit-sharing at United Crafts and on Craftsman Workshop's handwrought metal and needlework rather than its structural-style furniture.2
The answers to these conundrums lie in the selective survival of Arts and Crafts artifacts and in the biases both of late twentieth-century Movement enthusiasts and of the author herself. The durability of wood as opposed to fabric, the Modernists' disdain for ornament, and the persistent myth of American exceptionalism are but some of the factors which have contributed to our contemporary preoccupation with Arts and Crafts style more than the methods of production, with furniture and studio pottery over embroidery and decorative china painting, and with individual artists instead of collaborative workshops.
For her part, Priestman's views were informed by personal convictions about the desirability of hand production in guilds where designer-craftsmen cooperated fraternally. Her choice of which Arts and Crafts practitioners and societies to feature was shaped, as well, by her profession of interior decoration and first-hand familiarity with textile-related handicrafts, her gender and nationality, and her target audience.3
Since The House Beautiful which published Priestman's history, was situated in Chicago, it ostensibly allotted more space to midwestern material than did its competitors, for whom Priestman wrote also, namely House & Garden (Philadelphia) and American Homes and Garden (New York).4
Thus Priestman's essay in The House Beautiful covered the Grand Rapids Society of Arts and Crafts, the Indianapolis Keramic Association, and Ohio jewelry makers and metalsmiths in Dayton and Cleveland, even if perfunctorily. Furthermore, she spotlighted craftswomen. The House Beautiful was more systematic than its rivals in seeking female readers and catering to their gender-specific interests in household furnishings and amateur Arts & Crafts projects.5
Priestman's priorities in "History of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America" can be summarized as follows:1) to promote all aspects of interior decoration as equal to architecture in the creation of the "house beautiful";
2) to elevate the status of labor and craft at the expense of the entrepreneur or "great man," if necessary;
3) to advocate women's abilities as leaders, reformers, and professionals;
4) to ameliorate urban ills and social alienation through support for rural industries and communitarian ventures; and
5) to place the United States in the pantheon of highly civilized Western cultures by virtue of its adherence to, and elaboration upon, British models.
Origins:-- English Movement(s)
Part One of Priestman's article deals largely with the ambitious agendas the English Movement: -- it included reshaping aesthetic tastes, as well as political and social reforms.
Priestman's focus divides into two major political ideals of the Englsih reformers:
first, to reorganize the factory as a workshop, where designer, craftsman, and manager "cease to be three distinct persons"; and
second, to reconsitute the guilds and crafts associations to serve the broader purposes of cooperation, education, exhibition, and to maintain standards of excellence.
Priestman's examples are the Art Workers' Guild, the Arts and Crafts Society (which she treats as an extension of the Guild's activities associated with public exhibitions), and' C. R. Ashbee's Guild and School of Handicraft, particularly after the relocation from bustling London to the pastoral Cotswolds.
The Art Workers' Guild
On March 11th, 1884, in the board-room of the Charing Cross Hotel, was founded the Art Workers' Guild. This Society had grown out of the St. George's Art Society, founded in 1883, and composed in the main of pupils of Mr. Norman Shaw.
The members were thus necessarily architects; but the idea of trying to bring together the sundered branches of Art being mooted, in the autumn of the Society's first year, led to certain meetings and discussions with other artists.
The result was the formation of a society"to consist of Handicraftsmen and Designers in the Arts"
under the title of the Art Workers' Guild.
This body absorbed into ftself practically the St. George's Art Society and another society named " The Fifteen," a band of artists who used to meet monthly at one another's houses for the reading and discussing of papers on decorative art, their first gathering having taken place under the roof of Mr. Lewis F. Day.
The Art Workers' Guild grew and increased rapidly; among its objects being the practical exposition of different art methods ; social gatherings for conversation and discussion, with a paper occasionally read by a member, or some eminent authority, on any art topic ; and the holding of small exhibitions of old and modern objects of beautiful workmanship, as well as of pictures and drawings.
The Guild, "whose present place of meeting is the hall of Clifford's Inn,"includes, besides the principal designers in decoration, painters, architects, sculptors, wood-carvers, metal-workers, engravers, and representatives of various other crafts."
Mr. William Morris became a member in November, 1888. He read before the Guild a paper on " The Influence of Building Materials upon Architecture." He was elected Master for the year 1892, and afterwards ranked as Past- Master of the Guild.
Source:Aymer Vallance, William Morris, his art, his writings, and his public life: a record1897 -
The Guild and School of Handicraft, London
The Guild and School of Handicraft, London, is responsible for another great advance in modern illumination. Its most deserving founder and leader, Ashbee, has designed a number of very beautiful lamps, that were made under his personal supervision. Ashbee succeeded in beautifying the simply practical. He uses the great skill of his men for the wrought work, but he never misuses it for unnecessary labor. He combines iron and copper very skilfully, and prefers the first for the ornamented parts, while he leaves the other for the planes. In his ornaments he departs more and more from the common modernized Gothic and prefers purely geometrical forms.
All this successful work was more or less the outgrowth of Benson's start. On an entirely different ground stands Louis C. Tiffany of New York. Tiffany, La Farge—the whole young American decorative movement, is greatly influenced by older Oriental work. Tiffany had the skill to develop on this new, almost unknown basis, a perfectly original applied art.
The great business he founded in New York, and which to-day embraces almost all A Tiffany Lamp commercial branches, started with glass, and glass remained Tiffany's favorite artistic medium. Numberless imitations spread his glass over the whole world. American glass is to-day the stock in trade of all glass dealers of the Continent. Only the vase, the glass object made in one piece, remained to Tiffany alone—at least imitation has not nearly approached the excellence of the original.
No wonder that Tiffany's lamps betray their origin; they are first of all art works in glass. It is nob difficult to trace the vase in them—in fact, the vase is their main feature; to the vase Tiffany's lamp owes its origin. But though this origin, this predominance of the means over the end, is not justified in a commercial way, one cannot deny tb&t the result is in most cases successful, and that it was a healthy trait that made Tiffany put his precious vases to some practical use.
The first lamps Tiffany designed were glass combinations, totally influenced by the Orient, caprices of a fertile imagination, rather articles, de luxe than lamps. The Berlin museum owns the most brilliant example of this first epoch, and Lessing reproduced them in an article of the Westermann's Monatshefte, October, 1894, to which we especially refer.
Source: The House Beautiful, v. 5-6 - 1898, page 224. (The Google Book Search link includes an image of a typical Tiffany lamp.)
Impact:-- Arts and Crafts Movements in America in the First Decade of the 20th Century
When she shifts her focus to America, Priestman concentrates on organizations devoted to exhibitions of craft works. For her, a rural setting is the ideal for handicraft activities.
She singles out for discussion the Chalk and Chisel Club of Minneapolis, begun in 1895 and reorganized as the Arts and Crafts Society of Minneapolis in 1899. Significantly, the Club was launched by "ladies" for "study" in woodcarving and design.
For accounts, see Mary Corbin Sies, "The Shelter Magazines and Standards of American Domestic Architectural Taste in the East & Midwest, 1897-1917", not online, this is a paper delivered at the American Studies Association annual meeting, November 1983, page 19; and the online version of Michael Conforti's Minnesota 1900: Art and Life on the Uper Mississippi, 1890-1915, page 141
Additional ladies receive the lion's share of Priestman's attention in her description of the crafts on view from throughout the nation in the 1901 Minneapolis exhibition.
Undoubtedly informed by Max West's 1904 "report on handicrafts", she praises two New England craft collaboratives, initiated and staffed by women, as exemplary village industries employing "country people": in singling out the New Hampshire-made Abnakee Rugs and the colonial embroideries fashioned by the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework, its as if Priestman is invoking the spirit of John Ruskin for his attempt to re-establsh English lacemaking as a cottage industry. (Although not online, unfortunately, Chapter 7 of Allen Eaton's Handicrafts of New England extensively covers this topic.)
Underlying these three fallacies, however, there is, in the mind of ' the greatest thinker in England,' some consciousness of a partial truth, which he has never yet been able to define for himself—still less to explain to others. The real root of them is his conviction that it is beneficial and profitable to make broadcloth; and unbeneficial and unprofitable to make lace; * so that the trade of cloth-making should be infinitely extended, and that of lace-making infinitely repressed. Which is, indeed, partially true. Making cloth, if it be well made, is a good industry...
Source: John Ruskin, Fors clavigera: letters to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain, Volume 1 v. 1 - 1896, page 27.-
The threads of female advancement and anti-urbanism continue as warp and weft in the second half of Priestman's essay.
Concerning Chicago, she points out the shops connected with the Hull House Labor Museum, set up under the auspices of Jane Addams and the socialist bookbinder Ellen Gates Starr. Triggs' Industrial Art League is analyzed primarily in terms of several spin-off suburban and rural cooperatives. Priestman highlights the Longwood [Illinois] Art Industrial and Stock Company where agriculture and handicraft were the residents' dual occupations.7 Newcomb Pottery, organized by a woman for women as an exercise in practical art education at a female college, is given more copy than Rookwood or Grueby, and today's much prized — but mold-cast—Teco wares are summarily ignored.
Priestman reserved the most words and the most ardor for two Arts and Crafts undertakings relatively little celebrated by present-day collectors and historians of the Movement. Priestman lauds Forrest Mann, founder of the Society of Arts and Crafts in Grand Rapids (1902), for his pioneering union of manual training and authentic handcraftsmanship.8
Unlike Newcomb where women decorated but did not shape clay vessels, the Grand Rapids Society "built" pots using the primitive coiling technique. These were the only ceramics illustrated among the nine visuals which were originally incorporated in Priestman's two-part essay.
Even more to Priestman's liking was The Rose Valley Association, located in suburban Philadelphia. The community there "has followed closely the tenets of the 'Guild of Handicraft,' at Chipping Campden, England," noted Priestman. With a picturesque site, workshops for making "Gothic" furniture, "model workmen's cottages," artists' studios, a central Guild Hall, and a village press, Priestman fancied this settlement to be the ideal manifestation of "the art that is life."9
Priestman undoubtedly admired the communitarian impulse at the root of the Rose Valley experiment as an incarnation of the eternal feminine principle of "connectedness."10 Yet, the fact remains that this Arts and Crafts community was close to home insofar as Philadelphia was Priestman's home base for her numerous articles about artistic decoration and a harmonious life style. These were collected from assorted periodicals into several books, including Art and Economy in Home Decoration (1908), Artistic Homes (1910) and Home Decoration, published in Philadelphia in 1909 under the nom-de-plume "Dorothy" Tuke Priestman.11 The first book contained a chapter on "The Right Use of Ornament," showcasing Rose Valley furniture as the embodiment of the precept.
Artistic Homes was almost entirely devoted to suburban Philadelphia residences including artist Alice Barber Stephen's home and studio in Rose Valley. Was Priestman near-sighted and expedient? Probably in part. After all, she did publish an article on Rose Valley in House & Garden in the same month her "History" appeared in The House Beautiful.12
Did the different editorial emphases of the various women's and shelter magazines for which Priestman wrote affect her interpretation of the subject matter in question? Most likely. Nonetheless, Priestman's perspectives and other females' perceptions of the history and goals of the Movement in early-twentieth-century America deserve as much consideration as the appraisals of no-less-subjective male commentators.
A key question remains — is Priestman relevant to a contextual appreciation of her own era but historically immaterial from the vantage point of the 1990? Not so. Her voice reverberates across the decades, rendered timely once more, by the current fascination with domestic handicrafts and the dreams we hold of a simpler life.
1.See Timothy J. Andersen, Eudorah M. Moore, and Robert W. Winter, eds., California Design 1910 (Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, Inc., 1980). The rage for California bungalows centered on the decade 1905-15.
2.Stickley's profit-sharing plan was short-lived. Begun ca. 1902, as Priestman states, it soon ended due to precarious finances and a four-fold increase in employees. See Eileen Boris, "Dreams of Brotherhood and Beauty': The Social Ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement", in Wendy Kaplan, "The Art that is Life": The Arts & Crafts Movement in America, 1876-1920 (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1987, 1987), p. 217.
3. In her 1908 book Art and Economy in Home Decoration, Priestman indicated she had twelve years of experience as an interior decorator. Hence she began the pursuit in 1896, the same year House Beautiful started publication. The Craftsman 15 (November 1908), p. 256, reviewed the book and its author.
4. Priestman "is herself a practical craftswoman of considerable power and versatility.. . Several chapters are devoted to carpets and rugs and several more to the ornamentation of hangings and other fabrics by means of needlework, stenciling, and block printing."5. On the antipathy of male architects and female decorators in late Victorian America, see Lisa Koenigsberg, "Mariana Van Rensselaer: An Architecture Critic in Context, " in Ellen Perry Berkeley and Matilda McQuaid, eds., Architecture: A Place for Women (Washington: Smithonian, 1989), pp.47-48.
6. Mary Corbin Sies, "The Shelter Magazines and Standards of American Domestic Architectural Taste in the East & Midwest, 1897-1917", paper delivered at the American Studies Association annual meeting, November 1983, p. 19.
7. Ibid., pp. 5, 9, 24. American Homes and Gardens targeted building professionals and upper-middle-class homeowners; House & Garden sought readers interested in "an architectural philosophy of country house building."
8.Marcia G. Anderson, "Art for Life's Sake: The Handicraft Guild of Minneapolis, " in Michael Conforti, ed., Minnesota 1900: Art and Life on the Upper Mississippi, 1890-1915 (London: Associated University Presses, 1994), p. 126.
9. For additional information on the Longwood community, see Sharon Darling, Chicago Furniture: Art, Craft, & Industry, 1883-1983 (New York: W.W. Norton in association with the Chicago Historical Society, 1984), p. 227.
10. On Forrest Mann in Grand Rapids, 1902-1917, see Don Marek, Arts and Crafts Furniture Design: The Grand Rapids Contribution, 1895-1915 (Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids Art Museum, 1987), pp. 69-71. Mann was not unique in merging Arts and Crafts design, craft, and manual labor. Settlement houses were important in this regard as well as manual arts instructors in public schools.
11."The art that is life" was the subtitle for The Artsman, the journal published at Rose Valley. The craft shops endured about five years, but the workers complained about the dark building—a former mill—in which they labored. The craftsmen did not necessarily reside in the community, just as community residents might be commuters to Philadelphia. One of the founders, Will Price, maintained his architectural practice in Philadelphia. Also, he designed the Rose Valley furniture which the woodworkers executed. Still, Rose Valley came closer to the Arts and Crafts ideal than did most enterprises. The furniture was largely crafted with hand tools, and the community practiced a union of the arts in its commitment to music and theater along with handicraft. See William Ayres, ed., A Poor Sort of Heaven, A Good Sort of Earth: The Rose Valley Arts and Crafts Experiment (Chadds Ford, Penn.: Brandywine River Museum, 1983).
12. Karen A. Franck, "A Feminist Approach to Architecture, " in Berkeley and McQuaid, p. 202. The author states, "Many writers in the past decade have pointed out that women's underlying relationship to the world is one of connection while men's is one of separation."
13. Priestman listed the following periodicals to which she had contributed, and from which she was reprinting articles, in the preface to Artistic Homes, published by A. C. McClurg of Chicago: American Homes and Garden, American Home Monthly, Country Life in America, Delineator, Good Housekeeping, Home Needlework, House Beautiful, House & Garden, Ideal Homes, International Studio, and Suburban Life. 14."Rose Valley, A Community of Disciples of Ruskin and Morris," House & Garden 10 (October 1906): 159-165.
Since 1876, W. A. S. Benson had been employed in an architect's office, and then in founding and carrying on a business as a metal worker and cabinet-maker, and he was responsible for effecting the formation of the committee of some five and twenty members, most of them members of the Arts Workers' Guild. The existence of this Guild made the Arts and Crafts Society exhibition possible. Other movements of the same kind sprang up within recent years under the name of "Home Arts" or "Cottage Arts Societies," or "Village Industries." These associations were mostly formed by individuals, who wished to follow the teaching of Ruskin. Other societies of a somewhat charitable character, came into existence, and multiplied the productions of incompetent amateurs. In some cases amateurs produced excellent work, but the majority of the work was uncraftsman-like.
The new movement was looked upon with suspicion by decorators and furnishers. The idea of not only the designer's name, but of the executant's, being published in connection with special work, raised a storm of protest, so that the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society found themselves a fighting band, in insisting that these point should be recognized.
Ten years earlier the way had been pointed out by Ruskin, but as usual, the prophet had been before his age. As early as 1878, Ruskin writes to Morris, thanking him for being the only person who went straight to the point of the craftsman question, ending his letter by the following words:"How much good might be done by the establishment of an exhibition, in which the right doing, instead of the clever doing, of all that men know how to do, should be the test of acceptance."
This is what the new movement aimed to accomplish.
In 1886, C. R. Ashbee was conducting classes at Toynbee Hall, London, for the reading and studying of Ruskin, which created a desire among his pupils for practical work. This resulted in the formation of the Guild and School of Handicraft, a guild [of] three working craftsmen, who, in addition to their craft work, taught in the school about fifty pupils, who were afterwards absorbed in the guild, as they became proficient. The guild and school combined were inaugurated in 1888, and utilized the top floor of a warehouse on Commerce Street, in London, for two years, and occupied themselves in doing wood work, metal work, and decorative painting. Two years after starting, the guild and school removed to more commodious quarters, in Mill End Road, Bow. Here in Essex House, a fine old Queen Ann mansion, the guild went quietly on, until lack of funds made it advisable to discontinue the schools.
In 1898 the guild was formed into a company entitled "The Guild of Handcrafts, Limited." Capital was raised to enlarge the scope of its activities. In 1893 there were seventy men and boys employed in doing cabinet-work, wrought-iron, jewelry, enameling, silver and copper work, stamped leather, and bookbinding, in addition to the work of the Essex House press. The gild also maintained a gallery and salesroom at 16 Brook Street, Bond Street, London, for the sale and exhibition of its output, and also opened a permanent exhibition of the more important work of the guild. This was essential, as the guild was finally removed from Essex House to Chipping Campden, in Gloucestershire.
It was a proof of the enthusiasm of the craftsmen, that thirty or forty families should leave London, to take up their abode in this quaint little village in the Cotswold Hills.
This village was a survival from the time of the wool trade of the middle ages, and of the silk trade of the eighteenth century, and its population was greatly diminishing. The village contains a superb old fourteenth century church, and many beautiful stone houses. In the center of High Street is an open market-place. The surrounding moorland country serves as an inspiration to craftsmen. By the side of a winding stream lies an old silk-mill, in two acres of land, which the guild has cleared for its principal workshops. Already a craftsman's club and a guest-house have been fitted up.
The guild was conducted entirely on cooperative lines, the men having an interest and share in the concern, and a voice in its government. In addition to the productive work, the educational work is extremely active, and works in connection with the board of education of the Gloucestershire county council. Technical classes are held in the evenings, and the interest is centered by the removal of the museum and gallery from London to Camden.
The guild's aim is to give men the practice and freedom to work, under proper conditions, while recognizing that the great difficulty in artistic co-operative adventures is the question of taste and of management.
The guild avoids this danger by making Mr. Ashbee responsible for the designing and employing an able and trained business man to assume the management. This venture, under able and enthusiastic leadership, has proved that a co-operative workshop, for the protection of objects of art, can be not only self-supporting, but made to earn dividends without sacrificing the independence of its workers, or the ideals for which it stands.
Mr. Frederick Allen Whiting of Boston, speaks of it in the following high terms: "To my mind it stands as an example of what can be done by one who has high economic and social ideals, and is patient enough to go step by step, discarding only those modern conditions which refuse to lend themselves to the furtherance of his aims.
The Arts and Crafts movement has been necessarily somewhat slow in this country, as many have opposed its teachings. However, the strong personality of a few craftsmen has, by protest and example, shown the value of beauty of form and finish. The craftsman has now become a recognized power, and his work valued by many.
The movement has manifested itself in various kinds of efforts. Arts and Crafts societies in cities have been formed, as well as private studios and workshops of individual craftsmen, while many have come to an end for lack of enthusiasm and funds, and the support of the public, others have prospered and are maintaining permanent exhibitions and workshops. The movement has extended to rural communities, and Arts and Crafts societies have been organized in small villages, the products of domestic industry being sold at local summer exhibitions, as well as larger exhibitions held in the cities. In some cases craftsmen have formed themselves into a group, and settled in a country district, where they carry on their handcrafts amidst beautiful surroundings.
One of the oldest Arts and Crafts societies in the United States is that of Minneapolis, which held its first exhibition in 1899. It was organized in 1895, under the name of the Chalk and Chisel Club, which was originally a club of wood-carvers and designers. It broadened its aims, and included in its membership workers in other crafts, which resulted in a change of name. At its exhibition in 1901, the bookbinding and leather work were especially attractive. There was a goodly showing of wood-carving and cabinet-work.
Among the pottery exhibitions, specimens of the Grueby, Dedham, Newcomb, and the jars of William Bulger formed an exhibition in themselves. The metal work raised the most enthusiastic admiration. Hammered silver, copper, and laid work, with rough cut jewels, were well exhibited. In the embroidery and textile department, some handwoven coverlets from Berea College showed good examples of the work of the North Carolina mountaineers. This work received a medal at the Paris Exhibition.
The Deerfield Society exhibited some beautiful specimens of blue-and-white needlework. This society is a pioneer of village industries, and dates from 1896. It was organized by Miss Margaret Whiting and Miss Ellen Miller, for the purpose of reviving the New England embroidery of the eighteenth century. The old designs are not copied, but the spirit of colonial design is followed as nearly as possible. Vegetable dyes are used for making the various colors. About thirty workers are now employed by this society, who are paid by the piece. These embroideries are sold through the Arts and Crafts exhibitions, and at an annual summer exhibition at Deerfield, Mrs. Madaline Wynne introduced the making of raffia baskets.
Among the beautiful rugs shown at the Minneapolis Exhibition were the Abnakee rugs made by the women of Pequaket, New Hampshire. This rug-making industry grew out of the conviction of the importance of giving congenial and remunerative employment to country people, as a preventive of migration to the cities.
The Arts and Crafts Exhibition held at Syracuse, N. Y., in May 1903, under the auspices of the United Crafts, was an adequate representation of the actual state of American handicrafts, and caused intense interest among those who were active in fostering decorative and industrial arts. No pains were spared to make it a great success. The exhibition was held in the Craftsman's Building, the publishing house of The Craftsman. Through Mr. Gustave (sic) Stickley's efforts, the craftsman's workshops are becoming a center of the Arts and Crafts movement.
In 1902 it was run on a profit-sharing basis: $2,000 was set aside to be divided among the workmen. This sum was divided with shares of from $5 to $100, the amount awarded to each craftsman being based upon the character of work and length of employment. The ideals of The Craftsman's workshops are expressed in the following:
"We have pledged ourselves never to produce anything that shall degrade a man to make or to sell. We have set before us the ideals of honesty of material, solidity of construction, utility and adaptability of place, and aesthetic effect."
Besides the cabinetmaking industry, carried on at Eastwood, a suburb of Syracuse, other industries are maintained in the Craftsman's Building, which possesses fine editorial rooms, well-lighted working offices, and a large lecture hall, where lectures on subjects connected with the crafts are given to stimulate the craftsmen in their work. It also possesses a forge and casting pits, in which a number of craftsmen are engaged in producing hand-wrought objects in iron and copper. There is also a textile room for needlewomen, who are engaged in reproducing original designs upon unique fabrics, made in the craftsmen's drafting rooms.
It brought together in repeated reunions the best representatives of local culture, and drew many professional visitors from distant universities, and noted studios and workshops.
The exhibition included examples of metal and leather work, cabinet-making, bookbinding, book covers, and book-plates, ceramics, textiles, basketry, stained glass, and cartoons for the same, designs for letters and lettering, printing, jewelry, and needlework. The same collection was afterward exhibited at Rochester, N. Y.
The Boston Society of Arts and Crafts is one of the most active societies in the country. It was organized in 1897. The first three years it confined itself to social meetings and addresses, and a temporary public exhibition. The society now maintains a permanent exhibition and salesroom, where numbers of hand-made articles are kept on view. This society take a very high standard of work, and has been the mode for numerous societies throughout the country. Mr. Arthur A. Carey is president of the society, and in its early years contributed to its support.
Mr. Frederick A. Whiting is the secretary and general supervisor of the business, while Mrs. Mary Ware Dennett is advisor in art matters. It is now affiliated with a handcraft shop, which is self-supporting. The craftsmen produce metal work, wood work, jewelry, and leather work. Point-lace is made in a number of beautiful designs. Boston has become such a center of the movement, that an Arts and Crafts high school is proposed as a part of the public school system.
Chicago was one of the first cities in America to feel the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Chicago society was organized in 1897. Annual exhibitions are held in the Art Institute. The shops connected with the Hull House Labor Museum play an important part in producing practical craftsmen. Bookbinding, carving, potteries, metal workers, lace-making, spinning, weaving, and basketry, are among the industries.
Another important feature in the Craft movement is the Industrial Art League, organized in 1899, through the initiative of Oscar Lovell Triggs. The purposes of this organization, as set forth in its prospectus, were:1. To provide workshops and tools for the use of artists and craftsmen, and means for the exhibition and sale of their products.
2. To give instruction in the Arts and Crafts.
3. To establish Industrial Art Libraries and Museums.
4. By publications and other appropriate means to promote the Arts and Crafts.
The object of the society was to provide opportunities and facilities for craftsmen, wishing to work independently, as well as a central workshop, where experiments might be carried on. The activities of the League were mostly of an educational and social nature, which included lectures on industrial topics. Mass-meetings were also held for presenting the claims of industrial art and industrial education. The Society also maintained an exhibition and sales room. This Society having accomplished its pioneer work, the League was discontinued in 1904, its interests having been assumed by other organizations. The active interest taken in the movement in Chicago gave opportunity for many small Guilds and Schools to come into existence. Among these was the Longwood Art Industrial and Stock Company, with a workshop equipped for making furniture, interior furnishings, pottery and metal work. Flax was also grown in the gardens surrounding the workshops, and classes were held, both for adults and young people who came from long distances, and boarded in the vicinity during the summer months.
The South Park Workshop Association maintains a workshop for those who desire instruction in the various arts and crafts. The membership fee of $5 a year pays for the privilege of using the workshop and its equipments. This society is extending its facilities, and technical lectures on subjects connected with the Arts and Crafts are given. Independent studios have produced much excellent work, and the products of the Wilro shop, the Kalo shop, and the Swastica shop are sent to many exhibitions.
A unique Arts and Crafts Exhibition of special interest to the admirers of William Morris is held in Chicago, in the form of a Morris room, and is furnished with the products of Morris's own establishment, and other articles conforming to his ideas.
A permanent exhibition is held in New York, under the name of "The Guild of Arts and Crafts of New York," and maintains classes in handicrafts, as well as conducting courses of lectures. An annual exhibition is also held each spring, and many beautiful examples of handicraft are exhibited. A few of the members of the Society live at the Guild House; they also have their studios.
The crafts represented include bookbinding, metal work, leather work, basketry, designing, dyeing and weaving. Among the smaller associations is the Brush Guild, which produces the Perkins pottery. This is built up by hand, without the aid of wheel or mould, and is made on Etruscan lines.
The Pratt Institute at Brooklyn is an important feature in developing the manual skill of young people, and also works in connection with various settlements.
The Rose Valley Association at Moylan, near Philadelphia, has followed closely the tenets of the "Guild of Handicraft," at Chipping Cam[p]den, England. An old site of land on which were deserted mills has been purchased by the Association, and the ruins have been turned into well appointed workshops, where craftsmen can work under ideal conditions. This picturesque valley, so beautifully situated, is only fourteen miles from Philadelphia. Ridley Creek supplies the power necessary for the shops, and pure water for the community. Model workmen's cottages have been built, and beautiful furniture is made, which will last a life time.
The Village Press is another of the Rose Valley interests, and among other miscellaneous publications, "The Artsman" comes out monthly, a magazine which tells of the joy of creative work, and all that interests craftsmen, and others who are striving to solve craft problems.
A Guild Hall for lectures and entertainments, a Guest House or village hostelry for the visitor keep up the social interest. Several well planned homes are being built for those who wish to live a simple life, and who desire to work in the shops or studios under the auspices of the Association. Craftsmen, authors, and artists are finding their way to this village, and become enthused with the art spirit, and the conditions which help to produce MEN (sic).
The association was incorporated in 1901, and now maintains in Philadelphia a salesroom where Gothic furniture is exhibited and sold.
In a few years it would seem that Philadelphia will become a center for craftsmen, judging by the excellent work done by the children at the public school of Industrial Art, under the teaching of J. Liberty Tadd, who trains the mind, the hand, and the eye, by his unique system of manual training. What has been accomplished by the hundreds of children who have passed through the school speaks well for the value of the combination of manual training and art work.
Many of the pupils pass on to the Industrial School of Art for Adults. This school teaches all the crafts, and emphasizes the importance of technical knowledge required by large employers of labor. Among the many industries taught, that of weaving on Jackard (sic) looms, is one of the branches.
Before the Arts and Crafts movement made itself felt throughout the country, much interest was taken in the making of pottery, and painting of china. The Pottery Club of Cincinnati was a pioneer in these handcrafts, and the beautiful "Losanti ware," made by Miss Louise McLaughlin, has received wide recognition. The Rookwood pottery, also founded by a woman, is decorated mostly by women who have graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The interest in Keramic arts is sustained in Indianapolis by the "Indiana Keramic Association." Exhibitions are held yearly by the association, at the John Herron Art Institution. Interesting pottery is made at Dedham, Mass. The work of Messrs. H. C. Mercer and W. R. Mercer, at Doylestown, Pa., has come into use for architectural purposes.
The Art Department of the Newcomb Memorial College, New Orleans, La., began the manufacture of decorated pottery in 1895. Students in the Art Department are admitted to the potteries for instruction in applying design to pottery. As soon as the work reaches the required standard, it is purchased by the college for sale or exhibition.T
he graduates of this women's college may remain, if they like, as independent producers. This ware is one of the most beautiful in America, and has won medals at the Paris, Buffalo, St. Louis, and other expositions.
Some of the best known summer schools for teaching handicrafts have been established at Alfred, N. Y.; Ipswich, Mass.; Chautauqua, N. Y.; Byrdcliffe, Woodstock, N.J., and in the Adirondacks.
The Hingham Society of Arts and Crafts was established in 1901, at Hingham, Mass. The Society has a prominent exhibition and sales room, and the handicrafts exhibited consist of reed and raffia baskets, rag rugs, embroidery, beadwork, furniture, piggins and churns, wood toys, copper and silver bowls, and jewelry. Bayberry dips and netted fringes are some of the recent innovations. The Village Press, together with bookbinding, lettering, and the designing of book covers, form one of the chief interests of this old time village.
The organization of societies of handicraft in various parts of the country takes the form of a protest against prevailing standards of taste, and suggests methods whereby the systems of art instruction in public schools may be infused with the spirit of creativeness along better lines. Manual training and arts and crafts should go hand in hand, and in this respect the Society of Arts and Crafts, Grand Rapids, Mich., is unique among organizations of its kind in this country. The work of the society this year takes the form of a practical school of design, together with monthly lectures and occasional exhibits.
A feature of the work of this Society is the method in which the art of pottery is taught. The clay is rolled out in ropes, and the piece is shaped by building up one coil upon the other, until complete, when the coils are smoothed together, and the design applied, thus following the primitive mode of the Indians.
Under the directorship of Mr. Forrest Emmerson Mann, the Society is doing excellent work, and a summer school for "Crafts and Arts," at Port Sherman on Lake Michigan, is also under the instruction of this gifted teacher, who stands for progressive methods, and is inspired by the best ideals of Modern Art.
The Society has been organized since 1902, but the classes have only been held for the last year.
At Dayton, Ohio, there is an active society conducted on lines similar to the Grand Rapids Society. Mr. Mann had charge of the classes for teaching crafts, before he took up the work at Grand Rapids. Scholarships are offered for the benefit of pupils from the Manual Training and High Schools, who would otherwise be unable to attend the classes.
Among the best known of the Dayton handicrafts is the beautiful work in jewelry, designed and executed by Mr. Brainerd Thresher.
The society conducts a salesroom adjoining the studios, and exhibits work periodically from all parts of the country, as well as from their own members, who now number two hundred.
The Dorchester Arts and Crafts Society, organized in 1902, is composed of many enthusiastic workers, who not only do excellent work, but are becoming the center around which other smaller Massachusetts societies are focusing. Massachusetts is rich in possessing many active societies, who do their quota in advancing the aims of the society. Among these are Malden Arts and Crafts Society, the new Clairvoix, at Montague, the Southampton, and the Greenfield Society of Arts and Crafts.
New societies are coming to the fore all the time, and the interest taken in this movement seems to permeate all classes of society, not only by co-operative work, but by individuals in private studios. Many beautiful examples of work are sent to exhibitions by individual craft workers, showing what exquisite and original handicrafts are made by those who make the perfecting of some special ] craft their life work.