The Arts and Crafts Aesthetic

19th, 20th, 21st Centuries


Look at your hands.  What do they tell.  Are the cuticles cracked or torn, scarred from dryness and use.  Are there scars from sharp slivers.  Is some piece of hand missing by favor of a blunt tool, is a finger bent from braking under stone.  If so, chances are you shape Earth to your purpose, chances are you understand the nature of Arts and Crafts, chances are your character and opinions are formed by physical experience.

The Arts and Crafts was, in the first instance, a sentimental aesthetic, a longing for earth, for simple, honest things crafted with care in beauty.  Why sentiment?  The progression of industry, factory, control, compliance.  You know the story, you know the people, you know their homes, handcrafted Hobbit-like houses for Hobbit-like people, honest persons alike you and me, friendly to neighbors and simply imperfect, quite unlike the Uruk-hai, creatures of Sauron’s invention, spawned from beautiful elves to become the muscled equivalent of ravenous worms with teeth.


the arts and crafts forge

Smith’s workshop and tools. credit: Jorge Royan


The dictator, Sauron, once a most beautiful angel, rejected Beauty for Power, becoming ugly when his soul rotted.  For a while, Sauron could disguise his ugliness, though in time he was compelled to hide behind a mask, so horrid his image that not even he could bear to look upon himself.  Tolkien understood the deep truths of identity in a way that identity politicians and culture warriors cannot, being as they are ugly creatures who will not look upon themselves.

See your hands.  Likely their character will tell if your life is independent, or if you expect others to labor for your comfort.  Not judging, just saying.  The Arts and Crafts is handmade, a rejection of mechanization and the soul-corrupting influence of centralized, acquisitive, censorious power.  The craftsmen J.R.R. Tolkien and William Morris were “of a piece”, as we aesthetes say, of the same type, style, fashion, formation.  To understand one is to better understand the other.


The Arts and Crafts Sideboard

Stickley Sideboard. credit: Stickley Museum


In this month’s The Beautiful Home we consider taste, the handmade, aesthetics, and the Arts and Crafts, a cultural movement that rejected modernism and the Modern, that valued virtue in creation, fitness in ornament.  Likely, you have heard that the Arts and Crafts was the first Modern art movement: Not true, as untrue as the claim that Amazon-Prime’s Rings of Power is a work of Tolkien.  It is not.  Progressives make trouble, not things, and because they do not create, Progressives appropriate ideas, corrupt ideas and diminish our civilization’s inherited wealth, a form of theft from the people to the powerful, a corruption that Tolkien and Morris recognized and opposed.  The Beautiful Home stands with Tolkien and Morris and all those who craft artful things beautifully.


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the arts and crafts tools

Good Work with Good Tools. credit: Stéphane Fromentin


Featured image: Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. credit: Stickley Museum.

Arts & Crafts is the proper title of what is here named “The Arts and Crafts” …

Search engines do not recognize the ampersand (&) … the name was changed so the topic could be found.

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