The Arts and Crafts furniture Movement came about in the early 1900’s, as a reaction to the Victorian style of heavily ornamented interiors, cluttered collections of small ornamental objects and fringed cloths. It’s proponents, including William Morris, Gustav Stickley, brothers Greene & Greene, Charles Mackintosh, the Roycroft Community, and Frank Lloyd Wright, sought to reestablish the ties between beautiful work and the worker.
In Britain, this resulted in more attention given toward a heavily detailed gothic style, which was affordable mainly to the upper class there. However, in America, it brought about a completely different reaction. Here, there grew an appreciation of rich wood tones, honesty in design, creativity of the craftsman, This brought the grain and rich tones of wood to the masses. Both rich and the average-income worker could afford this style. Homes were designed here with walls of warm wood tones, much less wallpaper, and earth-toned paints. Machines were being used at a lower cost than they were in Britain and in a way that allowed the individual craftsman to assemble and finish the furniture.
Today, this retroactive desire for good craftsmanship and design is spurring the movement, again. It has been in vogue for at least the last decade, mostly purchased by aficionados of the style, but now is available to many more Americans because its price point has been broadened. For example, check out the Mission Furniture, much of it made by Amish craftsmen, available at Barn Furniture Mart in the Los Angeles area.
Although many more people can afford Arts & Crafts, also known as Mission style, furniture today, the very high end of this movement includes merchandise that uses white oak that is quarter-sawn. If you’re not familiar with quarter-sawn white oak, it’s high prized among aficionados of the Arts and Crafts and Mission styles. Stickley uses it exclusively in their Mission style furniture. Quarter-sawing is a more expensive way of slicing the log. It’s done by cutting the log radially to the growth rings, which produces a vertical, uniform grain pattern that is absolutely stunning. The product of this is also called “tiger oak”. Quarter-sawing uses about 60-70 percent of the log, which reduces the number of boards you get from the log. It also causes the boards to expand and contract less. Quarter-sawn oak is far more stable than plain cut. Before plain cut red oak products became popular here in the 70’s, a large portion of oak furniture here was quarter-sawn. Once you see a quarter-sawn piece of furniture you will recognize it anywhere and it’ll be hard to resist. It basically takes your breath away.
Besides furniture, the Arts & Crafts Movement also included an amazing appreciation for the form of the pot. Pottery designed by the Fulper Pottery Company, Teco Pottery, and the J.A. Bauer Pottery Company offered unique glazes and shapes. Also, lighting fixuters designed by Dirk Van Erp and Louis Comfort Tiffany, who also was one of America’s greatest artisans of glass, contributed greatly to the movement.
Please feel free to use our links below to find out more about any of the Arts & Crafts designers above. You can learn here about upcoming Arts & Crafts events and where to buy Mission style furniture and other items.