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“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Beginning in Britain around 1880, the Arts and Crafts movement was born from the values of people concerned about the effects of industrialization on design and traditional craft. In response, architects, designers, craftsmen, and artists turned to new ways of living and working, pioneering new approaches to create decorative arts.
One of the most influential figures during this time was William Morris, who actively promoted the joy of craftsmanship and the beauty of the nature. Having produced over 50 wallpaper designs throughout his career, Morris became an internationally renowned designer and manufacturer. Other creatives such as architects, painters, sculptors and designers began to take up his ideas. They began a unified art and craft approach to design, which soon spread across Europe and America.
Strawberry Thief 1880 designed by William Morris. One of his most iconic designs.
Born in Walthamstow, East London in March 1834, William Morris was a poet, artist, philosopher, typographer, political theorist, and arguably the most celebrated designer of the Arts & Crafts movement. He strived to protect and revive the traditional techniques of handmade production that were being replaced by machines during the Victorian era’s Industrial Revolution.
As a designer, William created many wallpaper designs. Inspired by nature, Morris’ designs feature leaves, vines, and flowers that he observed in his gardens or on walks in the countryside. Rather than life-like illustrations, his drawings are subtly stylized versions.
My love of William Morris and the arts and crafts movement began when I became an Occupational Therapist. I learned that;
“By the turn of the 20th century, the arts-and-crafts movement’s advocates formed a network which reached across America. Proponents were eager reformers celebrating nature, authentic experience, and honest design. Like their British contemporaries, they displayed a patrician contempt for the system of mass production, which was keyed to lower class tastes. They advocated the use of natural materials and processes and the purchase and use of hand-made items that were straightforward and simple in design. Indeed, for some advocates, the arts-and-crafts movement meant quality of design as much as quality of life.”
There were physicians who argued the whole mind body connection in healing was being overlooked. People suffering from Neurasthenia were not being treated properly and this malady was being linked to the strain of American life. Dr. Herbert Hall started a work cure method for treatment of these type of patients. This would take the place of the traditional bed rest treatment. He would draw his principles directly from the Arts & Crafts movement philosophies; “…maintained that machines and factory work limited human happiness. He urged a return to simpler ways of life where experience was “more authentic” because less complicated by modern bureaucratic and industrial structures.”
Two other physicians, Adolph Meyer and William Rush Dunton (more on him another time) also joined Hall in his discussion of humanizing treatment of the chronically ill. Others in this time period also came on board and became standard names in my Occupational Therapy history courses.
The Arts-and-Crafts Origins in Occupational Therapy
Early occupational therapy practice combined the therapeutic and medical with the diversional and recreational use of activities. One of the earliest sources of overlap between these applications was the sheltered workshop. Hall and other physicians championed the development of sheltered workshops where patients produced carefully designed, well-made objects such as hand towels, ceramic vases, and cement pots. The craft objects were sold in shops that had three purposes-to employ talented people who could earn a living by making authentic objects, to give spiritual support to craftspeople who pursued crafts as an avocation, and to help employ the mentally and physically handicapped (“Craftsmanship,” 1906; Evans, 1974; Roorbach, 1913; Simkhovitch, 1906).
For 20 years I taught Introduction to Occupational Therapy to my first year students. It was always exciting to revisit this rich history. Then I discovered Michelle Hill. She was a quilter who took inspiration from William Morris and his designs and created her own quilt designs.
UREEKA!! What a way to incorporate my love of the Arts & Crafts movement and applique, especially using my hand-dyed wool!
Now that I am retired I can delve deeper into this art form. Recently I completed a small quilt I hung on my wall using William Morris Christmas fabrics.
I am continuing to study his work and my next project will have wool applique in it. Who knew my love of crafts would lead me to Occupational therapy and William Morris and back to crafts. I have come full circle!
Happy Creating! Anita
I know it has been awhile since I have written. Since my last posting I retired from my teaching position at the university and had knee replacement surgery. I also began a very structured transformation program and have lost a lot of weight and am much stronger. I am eating healthier and working out 6 times a week. This has afforded me more energy to do the things I didn’t have time for when working….YEAH!!!
The biggest thing was time in my studio. I never felt like I had enough time to really be creative there. Now after recovering from the surgery I have been working every day to get ready for two up coming quilt shows. I will be vending at each.
I decided to pick a theme this year…”Tradition meets Modern”. I also decided to pick one quilt block and see what modern looked like. My block, I don’t know how it happened, is the Dresden Plate block
I know this block has been around a long time and many quilters know it. It was one I had never made. It looks daunting but it really is easy to put together. It uses a wedge ruler and who knew there were so many different degrees of those wedges!!!
So I set out to see what was modern with this very traditional block.
While searching on Pinterest I came across a Dresden Neighborhood.
I was immediately smitten with it. That was my first block
Then I found these little rulers;
and my very first block was with one of the smallest rulers you could use…LOL
Here it is!!!!!!:
From there I have gone plum crazy!!!! (these did get turned into a wall hanging. It is being quilted as I write this. 🙂
There are so many ideas I didn’t get to yet. When the shows are over I am planning on continuing this Dresden journey. Use of a 9 degree ruler will be in my future!
That’s it for now!!! Off to the studio for more fun.
Happy Creating! Anita
Yarn bombing is a type of graffiti or street art done with yarn, either crochet or knit. So the question asked; is it art or vandalism? Technically it is illegal as with any other graffiti. However, it is rarely enforced.
There are many places one can find this art. Most of the time it is seen in cities…
I recently watched a video of a yarn bomber, London Kaye. She was interviewed on CBS news http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/how-one-yarn-bomber-is-redefining-street-art/
Here is a simple project I might try…
It would be a fun way to use up bit of yarn. Kind of like free form crochet!
So I would love to hear what you think. It is art or just another form of vandalism?
Happy Creating! Anita
I heard that giggle 🙂 We’ve all be guilty one time or another. That moment when you step foot in the yarn shop. Your heart starts racing. You gasp with delight as your eyes roam from one surface to another. Color and texture as far as the eye can see. Like a kid in a candy store you start to get giddy. Slowly you take a step in. You stop and look around. Which way to start? The alpaca, the cotton, the textured wool…what to do? It’s all so overwhelming.
You take another deep breath and put one foot forward, then another. Your hand reaches out and plucks a soft alpaca ball. You roll it in your hands and give it a tender squeeze. You admire the content of the yarn and appreciate the color combination. Gingerly you lay it back in its nest with the others. You stroll along, your outstretched hand with fingers extended lightly glides along one skein after another.
Suddenly you look up and there she is. Your eyes meet…the shop owner has walked into the room. Silence descends upon the room and you find yourself holding your breath! Like a kid with their hand caught in the cookie jar you have been caught! What is she going to do? Then she walks slowly towards you, your hand still resting on the yarn. You can see she is about to speak. What will she say?
“Stop drooling on the yarn, we wouldn’t want it to get all wet” she says and then with a slight chuckle she continues….”we’ve all done it, we just have to pet the yarn!” Oh my…there, the cat was finally out of the bag. She understood and she was OK with it.
As a shop owner I can’t tell you how many times this scene played out. But why is it we have to touch and finger every last skein, ball, hank, fleece and fiber in the shop? So I decided to ask my friend Goggle.
This is what I found out. There are a lot of very scientific articles out there about the chemical make up of the brain and all the actions and reactions the body goes through but I didn’t want this to be a science class.
Bottom line: Soft, fluffy things provide a sense of security and comfort. (I get grumpy when I haven’t worked with fiber in several days…how about you?) One experiment explains this phenomenon: Harry Harlow’s monkey experiments. If your want to know more here is a link:
Studies on touch preference over the years have generally yielded the same results: We like things that are soft or smooth; we dislike things that are jagged or sharp; depending on what we’re feeling, we experience a mild sense of pleasure or displeasure. Research has shown that these preferences can have measurable effects, influencing our moods and how we relate to others. Touching also brings up memories. Some metaphors we use: A particularly harrowing experience is “rough.” A sweet moment makes you feel “warm and fuzzy.”
Like smells and songs, certain textures can call up specific emotional states — the sense of calm coziness, for example, that comes from stroking the fur of a cat, or wrapping yourself up in a fleecy blanket. (This past semester my students made fleece blankets that were donated to people living in long term care facilities.)
One blanket was given by my student to a woman because she was always complaining her knees were cold. This is what the student said about the experience;
“I brought the blanket in to her and explained how we had made it in class (she had already known of my major). She was beyond thrilled. She began to cry and said that she had never received such a thoughtful gift. we talked for the next ten minutes, and during that time, she refused to let go of my hand or the blanket. In fact, she clung to the blanket the entire morning, and wouldn’t stop smiling. She did not want to have her picture taken, but she asked if I would extend her gratitude to the class for the wonderful gift. I would like to thank you again for allowing me to take the blanket, because I know that it had such a positive impact on her..”
So there you have it! Keep on petting the yarn…I encourage it 🙂
Happy creating! Anita
This is my husband. His passion…being in the outdoors, especially on the farm. He absolutely loves tractors and working on them. He was so proud when he finally finished his restorations on this model and could put her to work (yeah!!!, I don’t know why they refer to them as a “her”?). As you can see his favorite color is also red. I have to confess though he loves them all; we even have some yellow in the collection.
He can spend hours in the garage working on just one tiny aspect of putting something back together. Why? I guess that is the age-old question. I asked him once why he loved working on these old things. He said “It’s a challenge! I like to make things work better then they did when I got them”.
He is working on his last big project for now. Things have changed in our life and we will slowly be downsizing the farm. That’s OK though because his next love is fishing and hunting. Fishing always takes a back seat because of the farm work in the spring an summer. He is sooooooooo… looking forward to more fishing.
We used to fish a lot when we were going together. Trout, salmon on Lake Erie, bull head (fishing at night!), and northern pike. We went all over.
This is my passion! Isn’t it cute 🙂
I love all fiber but mostly wool. Every since my Dad got that first sheep when we were kids I have loved them.
I always wanted to raise sheep. As I have gotten older I can see it may be easier and more economical to purchase wool already shorn from the animal…LOL We’ve raised horses and beef cattle but now sheep. My husband is not enthusiastic about it as they raised them when he was a young kid. Our horses; Star, Molly & Garnet, are all gone now, just cows.
When we were first married I moved in with my husband on his father’s farm. My dowry was a pig, “Miss Piggy” and two chickens. One named “Miss Priss” and the other one did not have a name. My father-in-la made me a beautiful chicken coop (notice I did not say husband!). It was quite a palace…LOL My mother-in-law continued to use it for years after I left. She loved her chickens.
Sorry, I got a little off topic there…Anyway, I love everything about wool. I love dyeing it, spinning it, felting it and of course knitting or weaving with it!
There are so many possibilities with it in it’s raw state. However, my first real introduction to it was using wool fabric. I love the look of applique quilts but I did not have the patience for doing all that turning under! That is when I discovered wool applique. (More on this another time).
So back to passion. What exactly is it? The dictionary defines it as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. I guess that applies to my husband and I, but what keeps us doing it over and over again? For that answer I went back to my Occupational Therapy knowledge (Did you know OT celebrates 100 years as profession this year!)
Mihaly Csikszentmihályi, psychologist. https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow
Mihaly is someone we reference a lot in OT. He recognized the state of flow during some of his research. What is flow? Also known as the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. It’s about getting lost in what you are doing. You lose all track of time and even the feeling of hunger (OMG maybe lose some weight!) or being tired.
WOW! I have experienced this many times. I will get onto an idea about something and I come out from the sewing room and find my husband has gone to bed (at least he leaves one light on for me)…where did the time go? It is in those moments that I feel most productive and accomplished!I’m not sure how long one could stay in that state. Days? Weeks???
So I guess the bottom line is you first have to really love something (passion) to keep you doing it for an unconsciously long period of time (flow). Yep! that sounds about right…
Please tell me your story about passion or flow. What get’s you excited and lost in time? I would love to hear.
Happy creating! Anita