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    Understanding the History of the Arts and Crafts Design Movement

    Published By: Catherine Lomita  -  Thursday, September 10, 2015

    Gothic Writing Falling in love with the design style of Arts and Crafts is easy. The simple use of rich, natural materials, exquisite craftsmanship, and clean lines is something that almost anyone can find appealing.

    Every design style has a history that chronicles everything from its rise, to its fall, and sometimes a reemergence, and Arts and Crafts isn't an exception to this. Understanding the history isn't essential for creating a Craftsman-inspired home; however, it can greatly deepen your appreciation to this noble style. Here is a quick guide to the history of the Arts and Crafts design style.

    The Origins:
    During the 19th century, Great Britain was under the sway of the Industrial Revolution. The invention of modern machinery led to a greater variety of products on the market, but it came at a cost; terrible working conditions, and mass-produced products that valued quantity over quality.

    The fathers of the Arts and Crafts movement, notably William Morris, a philosopher and textural designer, sought to create a style that stood against the influence of the Industrial Revolution. They had ideas that focused on a style prizing craftsmanship, celebrating the natural world, and that was affordable to all. The movement looked to free craftsmen from their soulless and meager factory lifestyles, allowing them the freedom to indulge in their creativity as a free enterprise.

    Unfortunately, it was never as accessible to the people as the philosopher desired due to the cost and time-consuming nature of the style. Arts and Crafts was definitely a style that gained popularity among the wealthy, but it couldn't compete with the low-cost styles of mass manufacturing.

    Arts and Crafts Comes to America:
    Within a few decades the style's popularity brought it to the bustling harbors of the eastern United States. The Americans were also in the grip of factory production, and the style began to change but it retained its fundamental design principles. It no longer focused on the single-craftsman, rather it became a popular style for mid-sized design shops, such as the small but popular furniture empire founded by Gustav Stickley.

    Stickley combined factory work with craftsmanship, using mass-production to create components, while still relying on the skilled hands of craftsmen to design, assemble, and finish every piece. This allowed for a drop in prices, making Arts and Crafts highly popular among the rapidly expanding middle class.

    Moving West:
    The style grew in popularity in America, and it followed manifest destiny to the West Coast. There, it merged with Native American and Spanish design elements and the cultural traditions of the region and became known as Mission style. In California, it also grew and became its own style for middle class housing design, leading to the California bungalow, which is often considered a separate style.


    How to Choose an Arts and Crafts Style Clock

    Published By: Catherine Lomita  -  Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    Arts & Crafts ClockClock making has been considered one of the world's most prized and intricate crafts for a long time. Digital clocks may have taken over, but the craftsmanship of a well-made analog clock is still something that can't be matched. It shouldn't be surprising then that Arts and Crafts, which is a style that is known for its celebration of craftsmanship, places special emphasis on the design and display of beautiful clocks.

    A good amount of time and research can go into choosing an Arts and Crafts clock. Understanding the principles of the style will help to narrow down choices and choose the perfect clock for your Arts and Crafts home. The following tips will help you get on the right path when choosing an authentic Arts and Crafts clock.

    Materials:
    By far, wood is the most common material for an Arts and Crafts clock. Oak is most typically used for its superior durability, sheen, and intricate grain. The color of oak used can vary greatly, and many clock makers use a neutral oak base and stain it to achieve a desired color. Any shade from honey to mahogany is perfect for an Arts and Crafts clock.

    Less often, other materials are used for Arts and Crafts clocks. These are usually materials that are associated with the style as well, like ceramics, copper, and cast iron. Thought they are less popular, clocks made from metals and ceramics can add visual interest to a room design and can work well when looking to blend Arts and Crafts design with other styles.

    Shape and Size:
    Though large grandfather clocks are sometimes used in the Arts and Crafts style, the smaller mantel and table styles are much more popular. This is partially because a full-sized clock uses so much high-quality wood that it just isn't affordable for many people. Luckily, the unique style of smaller Arts and Crafts clocks is so beautiful that it can be turned into a beautiful centerpiece despite its small size.

    For wall clocks, the shapes that are most often used in Arts and Crafts are round and square. Mantel and table clocks usually feature wider bases that taper as they sweep upward, and are finished with wider top pieces, creating an elegant and geometrically pleasing shape that is striking without being showy. Other mantel or table clocks can feature a fully rectangular shape, or a rectangular base with a wider top piece.

    Decoration:
    The key to Arts and Crafts design is simple, beautiful craftsmanship, and thus showy decorations are usually forgone in favor of elegant design. Therefore, highly ornamented clocks do not often fit within this style.

    There are, however, some details that are frequently seen on Craftsman-style clocks which do fit in with the aesthetic. These include inset panels of glass or tiles and wooden studs set into the clock base for textural contrast. Stained glass or tiles tend to feature beautifully rendered Arts and Crafts motifs or scenes, typically of a flower, plant, animal, or natural landscape.


    The Finishing Touches of a Formal Arts and Crafts Table

    Published By: Catherine Lomita  -  Tuesday, September 1, 2015

    Table SettingThe basics of a formal dining setting are utilitarian - dishware, flatware, and glassware - but it's the extra touches that can take a dining room from pedestrian to spectacular. If you are looking to create a highly memorable, elegant formal Arts and Crafts setting for a fancy meal or holiday, the devil is as much in the details as it is in nailing down the basics.

    Choosing décor and extra touches for a formal Arts and Crafts dining setting requires that you truly understand the principles of the style. A focus that honors the spirit of the design aesthetic allows you to create settings that are both budget-friendly and more or less period-appropriate. Here are some necessary finishing touches for any formal Arts and Crafts table setting.

    Linens:
    Linen is one of the best fabrics that can be used for a formal Arts and Crafts table. Linen table runners and napkins allow your table's beautiful craftsmanship to shine, making them preferable over full tablecloths. Runners are a way to go if you boast a lovely wooden or copper-topped table.

    Similarly, cloth napkins required for a formal Arts and Crafts dinner. You can choose these to match the table runners in fabric or color, but can also be used as a way to add contrast or a little embellishment to the table. Consider embroidered linen or cotton napkins with classic Arts and Crafts motifs, such as poppies, roses, or dragonflies. Add a copper or wooden napkin ring for some textural contrast.

    Lighting:
    The Arts and Crafts period hit its peak in the early 20th century, and modern electric lighting was barely starting to become popular. In a style characterized by a love of the natural and hand-crafted, however, can we really say that electricity fits? If you plan to use electric lights, you should consider installing a dimmer to help soften the light throughout the room.

    If you would rather let go of electricity and instead want something more authentic, lanterns and candles are ideal choices. Candlesticks are quite easy to find at second-hand and antique stores, and can also frequently be bought from local craftsmen. Look for copper, wood, or cast iron candlesticks and candelabras in order to get the most authenticity.

    Lanterns can double as centerpieces or accents on serving tables, and are another great, rustic-inspired choice for lighting a formal Arts and Crafts table. Look for lanterns made using ceramic materials, wood, or copper, with simple panes of glass. If fire danger is a concern, opt for LED candles, ideally any that are able to mimic live flame with realistic flickering.

    Centerpieces:
    For the Arts and Crafts formal dining setting, floral centerpieces are certainly an excellent option. However, arrangements need to stick to the stylistic ideal of simple beauty. Elaborate, enormous arrangements featuring all manner of additions simply do not work with this style. Instead, you should opt for a beautiful ceramic vase filled with native flora or wildflowers.


    Arts and Crafts Motifs: Understanding the Poppy

    Published By: Catherine Lomita  -  Friday, August 28, 2015

    PoppiesMotifs are a traditional part of the Arts and Crafts design style. These iconic images have many purposes in the Arts and Crafts style: they highlight the natural world, emphasize an important element of the style's philosophy, and serve as a connecting element for a design that could spread throughout the entire house.

    Motifs are very important in the Arts and Crafts style, and have appeared in all incarnations of it. While you can use almost any floral or faunal element as an Arts and Crafts motif, a few have become instantly recognizable as hallmarks of the style. One of these, the poppy, is particularly important to the lightly developed California branch of the Arts and Crafts style.

    What is a Poppy?
    A poppy is a flowering plant that frequently grows wild, though it is something that can definitely be cultivated. Poppies usually have pale-green stems with large cupped flowers that have four to five petals of equal size. Although they can come in many different colors and sized, the California poppy is the one most associated with the style and it tends to be yellow or orange with flowers from 1"-2".

    Why are Poppies Used in Arts and Crafts Design?
    How the poppy became a motif of the Arts and Crafts style isn't completely known. Early on in the style, particularly in the United States, it quickly emerged as one of the most popular motifs. Wallpaper and textile design frequently featured the poppy, as well as early Arts and Crafts furniture by Gustav Stickley.

    The poppy is prized as a motif due to its symbolic underpinnings and its elegant, elongated shape, which lends itself well to the simplified design work that is typical of the Arts and Crafts style of design. There are many people that feel like the poppy is one of the best examples of the style itself due to its slender stem, mix of earthen and jewel tones, and practicality as both a wild and cultivated plant.

    What Does the Poppy Mean?
    There is a bit of a haze around the symbolism of the poppy and its relationship to Arts and Crafts. Traditionally, due to the opiate effect of the poppy's seeds, it was held as a symbol for sleep, dreams, and even death. It became a symbol of the First World War, and is still worn, in some countries, as a way of remembering World War I's dead.

    However, many experts feel that the poppy is the defining symbol of the Arts and Crafts style in California. California remains one of the strongest bastions of the style, and this wild state is where Arts and Crafts truly settles and created most of its defined iconography. California's state flower is the poppy, and it's a natural choice for a major symbol of the style.



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