Nell Pillow Form
Thursday, April 3, 2008
With the revival of the Arts and Crafts movement, antique textiles from the period have become few and far between. Generally when a period textile is found, it may have issues that could compromise its use, rendering it unpractical. For example, if the textile were placed in direct sunlight or hung in the sun to dry, the embroidery thread may have faded two to three times its original color. Or perhaps the linen was inappropriately washed leading way to worn or broken threads, and thin, brittle fabric. Fortunately several textiles, particularly ones that were created of heavier linen, and were properly stored, have withstood the test of time. Use of these textiles on a kitchen table or on a family room coffee table might perhaps be given second thought to their placement. Placing such restrictions on antique textiles and their use, does not allow for the full enjoyment of the piece or the space; an Arts and Crafts home should be welcoming and items within it functional and simple.
Arts and Crafts ideology, from the romantic beliefs of Morris and the thoughts of surrounding oneself with beautiful things to promote happiness, to the sociological considerations of the movement, can differ slightly from one person to another. During an Arts and Crafts Conference and show held at the Disney’s Grand Californian in Anaheim, California, I was talking with a representative from one of the exhibitors that handcrafts new items in the Arts and Crafts style. During the conversation, the representative examined the surroundings and exclaimed, “This place is scary.” What is scary I questioned; wondering if it was perhaps the area we were in (i.e. safety concerns)? It turned out that the hotel itself, including its design and decorative elements within it were scary because they represented “fake Arts & Crafts.” It so happened that earlier that morning I had taken a guided tour of the hotel during which the guide noted several items in and around the facilities that were commissioned from artisans that design and create in the Arts and Crafts traditions. From the lamps and large-scale iron gates that surround the hotel, to the handcrafted interior furnishings, iron poppy fire screens, and tile frieze that spans the length of the reception desk, new it is, but “fake” it is not.