The Arts & Crafts movement first gained popularity in England in the late 1800s as people became distressed by spreading industrialization and factory goods produced inexpensively with flimsy construction and inferior wood. Seeing that the new system treated workers as machines, the movement sought to revive a craftsmanship of earlier times. In the United States, Gustav Stickley gathered together many of the movement's shared beliefs as he tried to, among other things, clear the clutter typically found in Victorian interiors and replace it with something simpler. The book begins tracing Stickley's life in 1876 when, at 18, he found his life's vocation while working in his uncle's furniture factory in Brandt, Pennsylvania. Through wonderful photos (many of them full-page) and careful wording, David Cathers and Alexander Vertikoff demonstrate a clear appreciation for Stickley's style--unvarnished wood, exposed joinery, strength, no-nonsense forms, and the beauty of integrity. Stickley, in short, devoted his life to celebrating and making visible the elements of construction. The work of others who helped to shape the Arts & Crafts movement--including architect Harvey Ellis, Charles and Henry Greene, Elbert Hubbard's Roycroft community, and Charles Rohlf--is also examined. Among the highlights of the book is Craftsman Farms, an artisan colony, model farm, and school Stickley built on 650 acres, described in its time as "a log cabin idealized." The book also examines Stickley's Colonial Revival House in Syracuse, New York, which he turned into the first Craftsman residential interior after a fire damaged the house on Christmas Eve, 1901. It was also to be the house where Stickley, widowed and nearly penniless, lived out most of his final years (he died in 1942) with his daughter and her five children. Many of the details about Stickley's personal life come from his grandchildren's memories. "He was," one grandchild has written, "almost an evangelist in bringing new thoughts and new appreciation of things artistic and new social thinking. That is something that doesn't go bankrupt and he, as an inspiring person, never did go bankrupt." --John Russell
About the Author
is a writer and frequent lecturer on the Arts and Crafts movement. He is also a trustee of Craftsman Farms. Stickley's log home in New Jersey, which is now a National Historic Landmark Cathers is the author of Furniture of the American Arts and Grafts Movement,
the first in-depth study of the Furniture made by Gustav Stickley, L. & J. G. Stickley, and the Roycrofters. His Genius in the Shadows,
a study of Harvey Ellis, traces the work of the architect who designed some of Stickley's most important Furniture. A former advertising executive, Cathers lives with his wife in Westchester County, New York, in a farmhouse furnished with classic Stickley pieces.