To The Best of My abilities.

Gustav Stickley and the

American Craftsman Movement.

 

me and gustav

Me at Craftsman Farms -Gustav Stickley’s home.

 

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?

 

Stickleytable

Steel inlay carved into my Stickley table.

 

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 logo

My very real Stickley table I found in an alley, that led me to instigate “Arts and Crafts” 

 

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.

Steel&Stickley

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.

NY_Rhinebeck Pilates

Spring is a wonderful time in NY, the weather warms up, the flowers bloom…and stuff gets built.

Rhinebeck is an adorable hamlet on the Hudson river about an hour and a half north of the city, it features colonial and gothic architecture, cute, bustling shops and an amazing Pilates studio.

I had the privilege of building the front desk for said amazing studio, in this charmed hamlet. It started with locally sourced, spalted Maple that was beautifully figured and had dark lines of “spalting”. Then, I added some birch Plywood to match the existing furniture. The final step was creating a “charging station” where students could leave their cell phones, while escaping into the Pilates peace of mind.

 

ps

 

Building Bridges!

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 Bridge.

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.