As the industrial revolution gave us modern conveniences and cheaper products, it also brought a deterioration in the quality of craftsmanship and our connection with nature. Craftsmen-made was replaced by machine-made. In a rebellion against cheap, mass produced products, the craftsman revolution rose from the arts and crafts movement, emphasizing hand-made, quality-crafted products. It was a rebellion that was just as much socially based as it was artistically based. As the 20th century dawned, people wanted to return to a nature-based and finely-crafted existence.
Extravagant, overly decorated pieces meant to impress were replaced by natural, simpler, hand crafted pieces. In the craftsman and arts and crafts movements, craftsmanship was elevated from a trade to an artform. Influences came from the Shakers, Japan and the British arts and crafts movement, but they melded into a uniquely American version. This new explosion of creativity revealed a deep attachment to the land, a sturdy sense of individual achievement and advanced skill. It always emphasized an appreciation for the beauty of wood and the art of craftsmanship.
Craftsman homes possessed overhanging eaves, wide porches, low rooflines, tapered columns, artfully designed and detailed woodwork and stonework, exposed rafters, and gabled and hip roofs. Craftsman style evolved throughout the early 1900’s to include the California craftsman, foursquare, mission style, prairie style and the classic craftsman bungalow. Homes were not confined to only skillful architecture. Design innovations came in the fields of pottery and metal work. Few details of the craftsman cottage escaped the touch of the newly elevated craftsman’s artform. New and wildly creative forms of fabric, rugs and wallpaper emerged, all designed to connect us to nature and show the skill of the artist.
Today we benefit from the artistry of 100 years ago and can mix the elements of the many branches within this movement, crafting a home that embodies the skill and craftsmanship of these innovators.