The Arts And Crafts Movement

 

The Arts and Craft Movement

The Arts and Crafts movement began in post-Victorian era England. This was a time during which concerns about the industrialization of life moved some to re-evaluate the importance of craftsmanship, and see it in a positive light. In England, this began with the work of William Morris, an architect-designer who saw the separation between the designer and the manufacturer as a dehumanization of production. In his work he tried to create a united design in all areas of décor, emphasizing nature and simple form.

The American Arts and Crafts movement (1880-1910) was closely aligned with these teachings, but also emerged from a contemporary movement of social reform in America called the Progressivism movement. This movement helped shaped the mood of these emerging styles. It was not the style of the mainstream, which still appreciated the aesthetic of academic eclecticism, including the rational geometric styles of Neoclassicism, Italianate, Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, and other Victorian styles.

 

The proponents of this movement imagined idyllic scenes of medieval life, when life was more moral and architectural forms were naturally derived from function. They saw the use of handicraft as more virtuous than that of machine crafted products. Artisan creation included stained glass, wallpaper, tile, textiles, carpets, and metal goods that looked as medieval as possible. These were, of course, modified medieval forms that were picturesque forms of the vernacular. The period brought a few distinctive style of houses that created a fully designed environment, matching the style of the exterior to the interior as well. This included the Craftsman/Bungalow style, Mission style, Prairie style, and English Cottage/Tudor revival style.

 

In the domestic sphere, this was considered a movement for the American middle class, who were willing to forgo niceties in favor of traditional architectural decoration. This maximized the floor area for minimum financial outlay. One aspect of Arts and Crafts interior design was the built-in furnishings with cabinet and shelving spaces. This gave homeowners the opportunity to incorporate wood and glass craftsmanship into the public areas of the home. Craftsman style built-ins are typically characterized by simple straight-line construction, medium to dark stained wood, and heavy and substantial but well-proportioned mass. They have a distinct lack of unnecessary ornamentation, with extreme simplicity and fine craftsmanship. Oak is a commonly used wood in Craftsman style houses.

In the same strain of affordable and beautiful design for homeowners, art glass windows also created a unique look of a handcrafted home. Beveled glass has historically been expensive, but the sudden availability of inexpensive plate glass allowed for mosaic looking windows made out of beveled pieces. The beveled edges of the glass that make up the whole window come from the process of grinding down and shaping the edge of each piece. The individual pieces are then joined together between metal came strips. Shapes tended to be formed of shallow curves. This curved glass can provide intriguing visual effects to the light passing through the windows.

 

Art glass was a staple of this time period, not only found in windows, but also in door inserts, hanging light fixtures, and lamps. In fact, the colored stain glass of the windows, and the dark colors of the wood in the room created a greater need for direct lighting, which encouraged the use of table lamps. A well-known manufacturer of art glass was Louis Tiffany, whose "Tiffany lamp" you may be familiar with. Designs featuring objects found in nature were common choices for stained glass windows. Many high-end American windows depict fruit. Natural scenes reflected the interest in floral realism. The realistic scale of the designs in the glass was intended to make viewers feel like they were standing in a garden, or sitting on the limb of a tree.

John Bradstreet was a predominant craftsman in Minneapolis. Working out of the Minneapolis Crafthouse, he was an influential “taste-maker” in his pursuit of more avant-garde ideas. Bradstreet's designs were heavily influenced by his many visits to Japan, which also led to the development of his unique style of woodworking. Japanese influenced design began to emerge from the Arts and Crafts movement as a whole. Bradstreet found it very important to preserve the integrity of the handcrafted tradition.

 

The Art Nouveau movement that emerged from France also ran concurrent during this time period. Highly styled organic forms expanded the use of nature including flowers and the distinctive whiplash curve, and even included seaweed, grasses, and insects. Rather than look like natural ornamentation had been placed on the object, it looked like natural objects have been growing out of the piece. It was the culminating expression of nature toward which all the Victorian arts had been directed. Architectural designs made use of exposed iron and large pieces of glass. The hammered texture finish is typical of the hand crafted Art Nouveau style. The look of the melting iron takes on the characteristics of the curling organic forms.

 

The Arts and crafts in architectural antiques

 
 

Beveled Glass Sidelights

The Arts and Crafts movement in America emphasized the unique look of a handcrafted home that could be afforded by both the middle class and the wealthy. Beveled glass had historically been expensive, but the sudden availability of inexpensive plate glass allowed for a mosaic looking windows made out of beveled pieces. The beveled edges of the glass that make up the whole window come from the process of grinding down and shaping the edge of each piece. The glass pieces are ground down, smoothed out, and then polished. The individual pieces are joined together between metal came strips. Beveled windows incorporate floral designs least often because of the thicker glass, and heavier cames. Shaped tended to be formed of shallow curves. This curved glass can provide intriguing visual effects to the light passing through the windows. 

 

Hand Wrought Iron and Bronze Art Nouveau Pendant

Art Nouveau, a style that developed out of France, had a strong application in architecture and interior design. Highly styled organic forms that expanded the use of nature included seaweed, grasses, and insects. Rather than look like natural ornamentation had been placed on the object, it looked like natural objects have been growing out of the piece. It was the culminating expression of nature toward which all the Victorian arts had been directed. Architectural designs made use of exposed iron, and large pieces of glass. Scones would typically line the hallway or stairwell of a dark wood house with details in a metal whiplash shaped railing. 

 

Tree of Life Stained Glass Window Set

Bradstreet was a predominant craftsman in Minneapolis. Working out of the Minneapolis Crafthouse, he was an influential “taste-maker” in his pursuit of more avant-garde ideas. On multiple occasions, Bradstreet visited Japan, which influenced his designs, and led to the development of his unique style of woodworking. Bradstreet found it very important to preserve the integrity of the handcrafted tradition. Nature designs allowed the stained glass portion of the window to be made up of many interlocking and curved pieces. However, towards the end of the Arts and Crafts period, it became more popular to include more glass that would allow for windows to be seen through, with just small details.

 

Flower Windows

Prairie style windows typically feature a mixture of clear glass and art glass in geometric designs that emphasize verticality. They also typically feature designs of nature. These windows feature a mixture of pink and cream slag glass (or marble glass), and green and yellow textured glass. During the Arts and Crafts period, most manufacturers were probably using slag glass, however, the term was used casually to refer to almost any type of pressed opaque glass containing swirls or streaks. Textured glass is made by rolling an embossed roller over the glass. This gives an extra dimension to the glass to make it look like the texture of the object in the stained glass pattern. Hang these windows where light can come through, and create uniquely shaped patterns and colors on the ground.

 

Beardslee Sconce

The Beardslee Chandelier Manufacturing Company prided themselves on their cooperation with architects. The company marked all of their products with a trademark logo to guarantee a genuine product. The company installed lighting in offices, public buildings, and shopping centers, as well as offering 24-hour shipment catalogs of products that they had on stock. This sconce has a typical geometric form in the Craftsman style. It could fit well in a kitchen, or bathroom were there might be other burnished brass hardware, as well as providing direct task lighting.

 

Hammered 5-Light Chandelier

You might look up at the ceiling of a Craftsman bungalow dining room, complete with oak or dark wood furnishings, and find a central hanging light made with dark, “hand-hammered” style metal. Hanging chain lights were popular during this period, as the wires to hook up the electricity could be woven through the chain. While geometric shaped lights with art glass were also popular during this period, light fixtures referencing medieval times were popular as well such as hammered iron and copper in basic shapes. Give a contemporary room a classy look, or contrast a white room with dark metal and wood details using this lighting fixture.