Gustav Stickley and the
American Craftsman Movement.
As I sit typing this from my own “stickley” Table, Lets discuss his influence on American culture and Furniture. Many people are familiar with the term “Craftsman” it invokes of bungalows and Historic neighborhoods, or maybe “Sears craftsman” But, how exactly did it become a movement in Art, Architecture, Design? One so ingrained in American society to be easily recognizable?
One man did much of the heavy lifting, borrowing from Morris’ British “Arts and Crafts” , Gustav Sickley designed and built fine furniture made by men, not machines. It was intentionally simple, the beauty was in the honesty of materials and joinery. the complexity in the materials and methods, not in “False adornment”. It was real, solid wood, with quality joinery and functional designs.
Stickley was also responsible for the publication of the iconic “American Craftsman” magazine which along with discussions on the current methods of wood and steel working, design trends and trade discussions. It also featured heavy political discussions of the day, he published works by Anarchist, Socialists and Libertarians. He saw a worker, as a craftsman who created a value and a beauty to society.
As Stickley was so am I committed to the honesty, and natural beauty of the materials, designs and workmanship. To Truly become an American Craftsman…Life is so short, the craft so long to learn…
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia to fill in the blanks…
Stickley’s new furniture reflected his ideals of simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth to materials. Unadorned, plain surfaces were enlivened by the careful application of colorants so as not to obscure the grain of the wood and mortise and tenon joinery was exposed to emphasize the structural qualities of the works. Hammered metal hardware, in armor-bright polished iron or patinated copper emphasized the handmade qualities of furniture which was fabricated using both handworking techniques and modern woodworking machinery within Stickley’s Eastwood, New York, factory (now a part of Syracuse, New York). Dyed leather, canvas, terry cloth and other upholstery materials complemented the designs.
Those ideals – simplicity, honesty, truth – were reflected in his trademark, which includes the Flemish phrase Als Ik Kan inside a joiner’s compass. The phrase is generally translated ‘to the best of my ability.’
His firm’s work, both nostalgic in its evocation of handicraft and the pre-industrial era and proto-modern in its functional simplicity, was popularly referred to as being in the Mission style, though Stickley despised the term as misleading. In 1903 he changed the name of his company again, to the Craftsman Workshops, and began a concerted effort to market his works – by then including furniture as well as textiles, lighting, and metalwork – as Craftsman products. Ultimately, over 100 retailers across the United States represented the Craftsman Workshops.
Tiny Tables: Beautiful, Simple and Useful.
One of my favorite things about making each piece individually by hand is how different and unique each piece really is. From the materials I am using, to the way I feel, and the designs that are in my head. Each piece is a truly unique experience, and a great way to watch the evolution is through the tiny tables. Let’s look back at the evolution of tiny tables.
These are from the first series of Tiny Tables. Under the ZOO name, this was an original set of ten, built at The Hive Phoenix. Do you have one?
Series two Tiny Tables were slightly larger due to the barn wood I was using at the time. All steel was “Urban Foraged”. There were originally five in this series, made under the ZOO label, and built at the Hive Phoenix. Do you have one?
Series three was similar to series one, but were numbered 1-12.
Series four tiny tables were the first under the new ‘Industrial Craftsman Furniture” label, featured a stenciled W on the bottom and were part of a full collection called “Industrial Revolution”. There were 3 of each piece in this collection, the first collection built at “the cottages”…
This series included 5 pieces and were cut offs from the patio tables I did for the Tempe Buttes Marriott. They were built at the cottages and were the first to feature a carved-W signature instead of spray paint stencilled.
Two Tiny tables and a saw blade table I built In Ghent NY.
As you can see, over time my style has developed and changed. There are many more “Tiny tables” out there but I do not always get/keep photos. Do you have one? Post a photo.
The ultimate home court advantage.
A Custom handmade conference table.
This table features Colibah, Arizona ash and geometrical radness.
ONE TREE is a collection of furniture made from a single Mesquite Tree.
The “ONE TREE” collection will be on display at Ice House Phoenix, during Urban Organics.
Starting with a Chilean/Argentine Mesquite tree milled by Todd Langford, I set out to create a complete collection.
This collection will include:
A living room set- side table, coffee table, 2 end tables, and 2 tiny tables.
A patio set- bench, 2 end tables, and a patio bar.
This wood is deeply figured and unique, the colors and grains show though in a vivid manner. The pieces within each set are cut so you can see where in each slab they came from.
Urban Organics– October 7th at 6:00 pm
Featuring: Joe Holdren, Scott Woodward and Myself
Building Bridges from Phoenix to Brooklyn to Ghent.
In early spring I was Given an opportunity to travel to NYC, no real plans of what to do how to do it. So I packed some clothes, a few tools and a couple of journals and headed out. This is a long story so I will break it up into a few Blog post, Kinda Tarantino it up a little. So first up will be Ghent, I spent a month working on a small 1840’s farm house where I would Build a bridge, work on a bathroom and try and find a few commissions. It was a large property with a 1840’s farm house, 7 or so out buildings and a stream through the west side. Which brings us to part one…
The farm was the site of an old water powered saw mill, for the turbine powered mill they had build a sluice way, this created a fork in the stream, which created an “island” that would need a bridge. Using wood left over from when the saw mill was torn down, some found steel water pipes and some new steel I set off to build a bridge. The inspiration was from many places but, mostly a bridge crossing the Hudson near Kinderhook,NY.
Stream and a pile of wood.
Inspiration from Kinderhook,NY
Stream and Matthews studio
Building a bridge on dry land.
The stream and one piece at a time.
The Bridge is set.
Next in the series will be the farm, The Greater Hudson Museum of antiquated Farm equipment at Ghent, Why T is the man, and Industrial Craftsman Furniture East, also Known as Joe’s Garage.
Three months ago I was asked to sketch up a few designs for the Buttes and see about building a few new tables for their patio. They liked what I presented. After a few meetings and conversations I started the build out. Working with some local saw mills (and one in Oregon), I set out to find the perfect wood. I chose many varieties: Black Acacia, three types of Mesquite, White Ash, Arizona Elm, Oregon Cottonwood, Maple, Grenadino, and Aleppo Pine. Next, I set out to design the bases, using 1 1/2 and 2″ square tube steel with wood inserts, one adjustable. I trussed them in four unique ways using some custom iron, antique fence pieces, some bar stock and some unique craftsmanship. Each table base is its own while following a common theme, so they match without being the same. For the wood, I used some live edge and free forms, as well as cut some square. By following the nature in each piece, the tops formed themselves into color and shape, contrast that gives the pieces even more dimension. The rustic, clean look fits well with the modern restaurant architecture set in rocks amidst a cactus garden. Being given so much artistic freedom this project embodies the Industrial Craftsman style.
Hi everyone, I’m Bill Hemphill, the Industrial Craftsman.
Every piece of ICF furniture is handbuilt by me in a small studio at my cottage in Downtown Phoenix.
The Industrial Craftsman story begins at a time when I was a union carpenter, and as the recession hit, I became a stay-at-home dad with two babies.
While helping a friend on a Micro Dwell (tiny house) concept, I was invited to start a small cactus nursery in the parking lot of his art gallery, known as The Hive. Aside from tending these plants, I built furniture from alley scraps that I found on my way to work. One day while foraging, I came across a unique wood table, it was really old and well built. I discovered it was a Gustav Stickley circa 1910! This led me to study his work, where I found so many themes I could relate to, including— a man should enjoy his work, nature should be valued, and workers are craftsman. Inspired by the clean lines and use of quality materials.
So I began to study the turn of the century Craftsman Movement, from Macintosh and William Morris, to Greene and Greene and Stickley. I found myself not only drawn to the design but also to the underlying philosophy of quality, simplicity, craftsmanship and usefulness of each piece. My nursery became more and more a workshop, until it no longer fit my art gallery surroundings. I did some great work and moved my shop to a newfound home at the cottages. I continue to build and study, finding some success. My style began to evolve from furniture of scraps to something that truly resembled the Craftsman Movement. Although while still using repurposed material, it became something different, neither Industrial nor Craftsman, but something in the middle, like “Gustav Stickley with a welder”. That’s how the Industrial Craftsman style was born.
We’re at a time and place in the world where we can no longer afford to be wasteful by buying disposable furniture. The Industrial Craftsman Movement is about taking back the craft by putting it in the hands of the worker, while creating a quality product that lasts several lifetimes.
My philosophy is to deliver high-quality, custom, handmade furniture that serves the businesses and residents of my community. Because of its simple design and diversity of materials, I can create a beautiful piece to fit any budget. I aspire to have a piece of furniture in every home and business in my neighborhood, and I’m off to a good start.