THE LIGHTING OF THE A&C ERA
The lighting of the A&C era parallels the philosophy & aesthetic of period. Pieces were uncomplicated, inspired by nature & complemented the look of the architecture, the furniture & the other items in the room. Materials were employed “honestly,” which is to say, they were not meant to have the appearance of something that they were simply not. Metal was not molded & gilded to resemble a bouquet of flowers. It was hammered & patinated to enhance its natural qualities. Lamps were made of clay from the earth, or even willow branches. Those created by Californian Elizabeth Eaton Burton, were made in the sinuous shapes of the ocean & she even embellished them with seashells!
Simple round or square shapes were used to house the bulbs. This is not to say that the striving to create a beautiful object was abandoned. It was a different beauty, widely divergent from the ornate excess of the Victorians with their miles of scroll work & armies of plump cherubs. I urge you to learn more about the Arts & Crafts aesthetic in DESIGNING YOUR BUNGALOW’S INTERIOR SPACES– an Introduction.
Like our homes with their myriad influences, both high style & vernacular, from the rustic hut of India to the Swiss Chalet to the flair of Japan, the lighting of the A&C era displays a charming range of styles, many of which are appropriate in our bungalows. Some styles are easy to combine, & others are not so easy to integrate. For example, a more modest Stickley lamp, created for the middle-class home, would feel like a poor relation in a Greene & Greene bungamasion. A ceiling fixture like this exquisite example of lighting from the Robert Blacker House, would not be in harmony with the other elements of our living rooms.
STYLES IN THE LIGHTING OF THE A&C ERA
Generally, in a single room the same style, which complements the architecture, the furniture & other décor, would be repeated in the attached fixtures & also in the table & floor lamps. The private spaces held lighting that was more modest. Life was more formal when our homes were built & guests did not casually venture into these areas. I read somewhere (I read a lot about old houses!) that marble thresholds which poked out from the doorways, were used in bathrooms to indicate where the facilities were located so that guests would not embarrass themselves by inadvertently entering m’lady’s boudoir when wandering through a closed door in the hallway in search of the commode. Truth or urban legend? I don’t know, but it sounds plausible!
Jane Powell’s book, BUNGALOW DETAILS: INTERIOR includes some beautiful images of lighting in the section, Entry Level. In it she states. “The earliest electric lights tended to be nothing more than a bare light bulb on a cord- a conspicuous display of new technology-but these soon morphed into simple pendants, sconces, chandeliers & so forth. Arts & Crafts design influence on fixtures was wide-ranging.”
It is worthwhile to read this information which also tells you a great deal about the development of the lightbulb.
We need to consider historic lighting of the A&C era in a er-r-r, different light, from today’s illumination sources. Before the turn of the last century, we had been accustomed to living in the dim light of gas or candles. With the advent of home electricity, we gained considerable wattage, but though it was still below that provided by today’s LED’s, it was glaring to those unaccustomed to its intense glow. I have included in this series, an article straight out of Stickley’s Craftsman magazine, LIGHTING THE HOME BY ELECTRICITY which addresses this issue & I will be covering the subject of choosing the best modern technology lightbulbs in a future article.
TIP: For a major treat, visit, the Pinterest page of AntiqueLighting.com.
THIS IS ONLY ONE PART OF A SERIES ON ARTS & CRAFTS LIGHTING
Be sure to read it all!
Part 1, OUT OF THE DARKNESS
The harnessing of light.
Part 2, THE CRAFTSMAN MAGAZINE LIGHTING ARTICLE
Tips on utilizing this new technology in the home.
Part 4, ARTS & CRAFTS LIGHTING DESIGNERS
Taking a look at how this new technology provided a market & how the market was served.
Part 5, THE WOMEN OF ARTS & CRAFTS LIGHTING
Two women whose beautiful work left their mark on the Movement.
Part 6, ANTIQUE ARTS & CRAFTS LIGHTING RESOURCES
If you want something authentic, but not a museum piece.
Part 7, MODERN DAY ARTS & CRAFTS LIGHTING MASTERS
Craftsmen honoring the tradition.
Part 8, REPRODUCTION ARTS & CRAFTS RESOURCES
Another beautiful option.
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