My first submersion in Charles Rennie Mackintosh of Glasgow, was at a special exhibit at the Museum of the Arts & Crafts Movement in St. Pete Florida. It was astonishing to see many of the actual items that I had seen in books, only inches from my nose. The life & beauty of each one was overwhelming.
I had known little about the Glasgow School before attending the exhibit. It is an integral part of Mackintosh’s story both in his formative years & later, as his work, when he was commissioned to design the new building for the school.
Like many masters of the movement, Mackintosh had full control over every aspect of the buildings he designed- the structure itself, the furnishings, the art & even the tableware of the tearooms. In this exhibit I was able to view examples of all of them.
The exhibit also introduced me to his wife, Margaret Macdonald both muse & gifted artist. Their marriage was one of equality & romance & together they produced beautiful, innovative works of art. Of her, Mackintosh stated, “Remember, you are half if not three-quarters of all my architectural talents. Margaret has genius. I have only talent.”
Curator’s Perspective: Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Cutting-Edge Tearoom Designs (1:08:33)
Frist Art Museum
Should you find yourself one day, feeling a little dumpish, & in need of inspiration, watch this video. It is a curated tour of the Charles Rennie Macintosh exhibit I was so fortunate to have seen at the museum. I had zoomed home, eager to know more about Macintosh & up popped this video. It rounded out the experience beautifully! It has a long intro. You might want to start watching at 00:10:00.
1/3 Charles Rennie Mackintosh – A Modern Man (:15:00)
A comprehensive look at the influences, the career & the art of Mackintosh, of Glasgow.
The following 2 sections of the videos flow into one another.
TIP: For the complete Arts & Crafts experience, watch the videos about the Greene Brothers HERE!
When I bought my 1910 Crafts,am. my dear mother loaned me the money for the down payment. Shortly before the first payment was due, I found the perfect lamp for the library table in my entry. It’s price was exactly the same amount as what I owed my mother & after a month of intense restoration & buying furniture, I did not have the funds for both. With great reluctance I called her & asked if I could delay paying for a month. She gasped loudly, then expostulated, “Oh, Suzanne, you know the importance of correct lighting!”
I think I insulted her. This was a woman who had crystal chandeliers in her bathrooms. The sweet little Art Deco lamp that we had purchased together had traveled to 3 of her homes as she aged & downsized, each time being placed with much discussion & hung with great reverence.
So, yes Mama, I do know the importance of good lighting.You raised me right.
The woman who purchased my house bought the library table & the lamp because she could not imagine that anything could be more perfect in the space. Well, yeah.
Many other people think that lighting is important so I am going to allow them to explain it you.
THE VIDEOS- Arts & Crafts Lighting
Out of the Dark – The History of Illumination (13:58)
Illuminating Engineering Society
This film, from 1954, was produced in the deep, resonating newsreel, voice of the time. It has great information & is just a cool step back in time on its own.
An Interior Lighting Tip from Brett Waterman (1:15)
Here’s Brett sounding like my mother.
Brett Waterman Discusses Arts & Crafts Lighting (3:31)
I love Brett’s sincerity & passion as he talks about A& C lighting.
Arts & Crafts Lighting (2:03)
Active Interest Media
A basic overview of A& C lighting.
TIP: My YouTube playlist includes many videos about the Arts & Crafts Movement that will increase your knowledge & appreciation of this aesthetic & increase your confidence in making the right choices. Just click HERE!
How did the Arts & Crafts Movement swim to America from England, & why did it look so different here?
Because of the vision of Gustav Stickley who went to Europe to study the movement where it originated, but felt that, “There are elements of intrinsic beauty in the simplification of a house built on the log cabin idea.” Stickley transmogrified the art of Morris & friends into an American aesthetic while retaining Morris’ insistence on the value of honest materials inspired by nature, crafted by hand.
I was originally rather partial to English Arts & Crafts. When I furnished my 1910 Craftsman, the first 2 pieces of furniture that I loved with very different- one was English A & C the other was American Craftsman. They were destined for the same location in the dining room & I had to make a choice. I knew that this choice would determine the direction of every other piece & I agonized until my knees hurt from shifting from foot to foot on the concrete floor of the antique mall.
Because so much has been written about Stickley, I’m not going to even try to say anything new. I do recommend visiting Craftsman Farms & I highly recommend their online classes. Yes, they cost $ but those funds support the museum & the classes teach you everything you could ever want to know about the A & C Movement & about Stickley.
THE VIDEOS- Gustav Stickley & the American Arts & Crafts Movement
Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman (0:57)
Arts & Culture Guy
Another wonderful way to learn about the man as well as his art, is to watch the documentary film Gustav Stickley- American Craftsman. Below is a trailer for it. It follows his life, delves into his philosophy of life, work & beauty & its manifestation in his furniture, his magazine & his marvelous department store. You can purchase it on Prime. It’s a stellar production.
Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts Movement- Exhibition Tour (7:46)
The San Diego Museum of Art
A tour of an exhibition of Stickley furniture, showing the evolution of his design over the years.
Gustav Stickley- Crazy influencer and the making of the Craftsman style home
Brent Hull (9:13)
In this video, Brent describes Stickley as “an inspiring genius and reckless businessman who changed design and architecture,” & discusses his influence which is still felt today.
Tip: Watch all my preservation videos on YouTube HERE!!!
“Organic buildings are the strength and lightness of the spiders’ spinning, buildings qualified by light, bred by native character to environment, married to the ground.”
Frank Lloyd Wright, architect
Rather than trying to compose an educational post, I have curated this group of videos on Wright for 3 reasons, the main one being that no one explains Wright’s philosophy & work with more clarity than the man himself. #2, nothing expresses his genius better than the buildings themselves. (How could you use words to describe Fallingwater? I stammer in my head just considering it!) #3.These students & scholars of Wright possess 1,000 times more information & insight that I do & they have produced fascinating footage, including tours of his most iconic buildings, that will both inform & intrigue you. I spent a couple afternoons watching these videos & feel that I now understand this complex genius. My appreciation of his work has soared!
HEARING THE WORDS OF WRIGHT & SEEING HIS GENIUS BROUGHT TO LIFE
Frank Lloyd Wright: America’s Greatest Architect? | The Man Who Built America (59:33)
Timeline – World History Documentaries
This video is narrated by a Welsh architect who explores the influence of Wright’s Welsh background as he travels across the United States, visiting homes FLW designed & built. His commentary allows us to deeply understand the influences & philosophy that guided Wright’s eye & hand.
A Conversation with Frank Lloyd Wright (30:59)
An interview in 1953 with Hugh Downs about Wright’s thoughts on American life & architecture. AS always, Wright’s words are powerful & illuminating.
Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School (53:15)
This charming video features a soliloquy critiquing the architecture of the time, seguing into his design philosophy. Delivered in Wright’s own words, it is a charming peek into his brilliance & arrogance.
TIP: I have many beautifully done videos on my playlist from how to repair windows to the history of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Watch themHERE!
As muses & artisans of the Arts & Crafts Movement, women inspired & changed the course of history through their works, both in the early years in England & later here in America.
Had there been no Industrial Revolution, the Movement quite likely would never have formed. Had women had equal rights, this would have been reflected- & we might consider May to be originator of the movement, rather than just William’s daughter, only recently receiving the wide recognition so richly deserved.
Art exerts profound influence on culture & conversely, throughout history, conditions of the day have always provided creative individuals with material to motivate works that support or protest.
I turn to the scholars in the videos below to relay to you the wonderful stories of these women. I love learning from these sources & hope that you will too.
If you’d like to know more about the Arts & Crafts Movement, & what it might have to do with your bungalow, click here.
THE WOMEN OF THE ARTS & CRAFTS MOVEMENT VIDEOS
Women and the Arts and Crafts Movement: “What Can a Woman Do?” (1:00:02)
Nevada Museum of Art
Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry (4:10)
Paine Art Center and Gardens
In this video you will see some beautiful jewelry pieces as well as getting an overview of the subject of women as muse & the male response to women becoming more bold.
May Morris: Art and Life | Modern Masters Women Events Programme (19:40)
The Scottish Gallery
The images show up a few minutes in. They are worth the wait!
TIP: To learn more about the Arts & Crafts Movement, watch all my videos, HERE!
The desire for lighting is in our DNA. Our circadian rhythms, our bodies’ clocks, determine the patterns of our bodies, our minds & behavior over a 24 hour cycle & respond to light & dark. Light exposure generates signals from our brains, releasing hormones that keep us awake & perky during the day. Darkness activates sleep hormones.
Early man slept when it was dark & trotted about hunting & gathering when it was light. But, as civilization developed, his activities expanded & he wanted to be active after the sun went down. He wanted to be able to see inside his cave.
Almost 130,000 years ago he learned to control fire, which was also handy for warmth & for cooking. It took another 100,000 years for him to make the first lamps, which employed animal fat as fuel. It wasn’t until 4500 B.C. that he invented the oil lamp which uses liquid oil, contained in a vessel, with a textile wick that is dropped in it. The top of the wick is ignited, producing a flame as the oil is drawn up the floating wick.
Following that leap in technology, lamp evolution pretty much stagnated for thousands of years. The American colonists used lamps that weren’t that much different from those used in biblical times- smokey, faint lighting, giving off little more light than candles.
The kerosene lamp was developed in 1850 & was used until electricity took its place. This type of lamp is still sometimes used in emergencies when electricity fails & light is needed.
Of course when the Victorians came along, a lamp became a flower garden, though it was still the basic mechanism of wick & oil. By this time we had learned to mold glass & metal so every material was employed in a manner that obscured its basic nature & turned it into something else, to be displayed in a house of like objects, all competing for the title of the most ornate.
I am not going to say that I do not consider this lamp to be lovely. I’m always happy to see a rose, growing in a garden, or painted on a lamp, but, you have to agree that the materials, function & construction of this lamp are not immediately apparent, being buried under excessive ornamentation!
In 1879 Thomas Edison & Joseph Swan patented the carbon-thread incandescent lamp & over the next couple decades electricity technology evolves rapidly & takes the lead in powering America.
THE LIGHTING OF THE ARTS & CRAFTS MOVEMENT
I think that my favorite William Morris quote is, “We shall not be happy unless we live like good animals, unless we enjoy the exercise of the ordinary functions of life: eating, sleeping, loving, walking, running, swimming, riding, sailing.”
Somehow he strips away all gee-gaws from life which is the basis of the Arts & Crafts Movement. I am amused by fact that the prehistoric, earthen lamp above, so resembles the lamps of the Movement. Personally, I find its humble simplicity beautiful.
I think the best way to talk about the lighting is to talk about the craftspeople of the Movement’s early years. But first, let’s talk about harmony.
Harmony is the visually satisfying effect of combining similar or related elements. In the decorative arts, this means that the lighting that you see in the Gamble House or other ultimate bungalow, in a museum might not be appropriate in your modest home.
Often, the key visual, size is the first aspect to consider. The Gamble House is a whopping 8,100 square feet. The rooms are proportionately sized & the lighting’s dimensions fit the room. While a modest house may have beautiful built-ins of unpainted woodwork, the Gamble House boasts cuts of wood, hand-picked by Charles Greene out of Burma teak, Douglas fir beams, white oak & Port Orford cedar, cut in elaborate designs. The beautiful stained glass of the lightening is duplicated throughout the house & most impressively, in the massive entry.
This is not meant in any way to denigrate your home. It is merely to state that the look & feel of your house are different from these bunga-mansions (as Jane Powell termed her magnificent house in Oakland) as their decorative elements look no more appropriate in a more simple home than would the crown jewels with your jeans. (And yes, I know that there are those out there who would wear such a combination & 1 in 1,000 of them would pull it off.) There are still some amazing options out there that would enhance your home rather than overwhelming it.
This little gem from Doc’s Architectural Salvation in Springfield, Tennessee. Complete with beautifully patterned slag glass, it is undisputedly Arts & Crafts & would harmonize with any architecture or decor in a bungalow.
In the same way, the light in your kitchen is not from a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house. A simple schoolhouse light is more appropriate & will set off the other design elements of your kitchen rather than overtaking them.
I’m a big believer in visual flow. Keeping within the period & style of your house will ensure that there won’t be so many focal points that your overall look will be difficult to determine. Ideally each item in the room will complement or complete the others & the focal points will be supported by all the other elements.
Stay tuned for Parts 2-4. In them, I’ll be writing about the master craftsman who made lighting over 100 years ago, today’s masters & finally, the Arts & Crafts inspired lamps of today that you can find at more comfortable price points. I’ll be including sourcing information for each also.
TIP: Read more about Arts & Crafts home decor, HERE!