I have been summoned to Chicago to build some Frank Lloyd Wright
furniture for a Frank Lloyd Wright house; so, I am committing myself
to a refresher course on the subject of the Arts and Craft era...an
easy topic for a woodworker to become enamoured with.
But, as we all know, the search engines are besieged by the commercial
interests of the few...where's the duke of Url when you need him?
Actually, I was delighted to find an entity that I was completely
unaware of, in the guise of the Roycroft movement. Of course, there
is Morris, and the Stickley brothers...who else?
Personally, I think Frank was a lousy furniture designer...
But, I am looking for help...any URL on the subject will be greatly
On 8 Jun 2004 15:09:30 -0700, email@example.com (daclark) wrote:
FLloyd was a short little prick who designed interiors for midgets.
He knew nothing about engineering, which is proved by his magnum opus
of FallingDownWater, which has a yearly maintenance budget in excess
of the original cost of the house.
His furniture, such as it was, is a simulacrum and a perturbation of
good design that was available at the time.
The rectilinear components of his design ethic, and the allegedly
interesting cantilevers, run counter to the sense of form and balance
that ruled the world of Architecture from before the time of Palladio
and his referents.
FLloyd is the single most significant entity in the design of boring
public architecture during the cultural dry period of the early and
middle years of the twentieth century, which was most cogently and
beneficially interrupted by the Art Demo practitioners of the
You can have FLloyd, Bauhaus, The International School, and all the
other progenitors of boorish box architecture and design, and roll
them into a cocked hat - for all the good they've done for the
skylines of our cities. We've had to knock most of them down.
Sit in one of the man's chairs - even admitting his prior position to
the understanding of ergonomics - they are a sad reflection on, and a
de-constructed understanding of, what a normal human needs for
FLloyd is the triumph of line over practicality, and the melody to the
sad song of lacking comfort.
Of course, if you are getting paid for it - the whole equation
(cf. 'Who's bread I eat, his song I sing'.)
Good luck with your endeavor - I only wish that you were riding a
<the above is all based on hearsay, misunderstood conversations,
photographs of dubious quality, gin, and personal opinion.>
Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
9snip of well-written egregious disaprobation re FLW)
No sh*t. 8-)
Actually Tom, I agree with you on the furniture. Even 30 seconds in one of
Wright's chairs will impair you permanently. And he was short. There's a
Wright-designed former restaurant near Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin
that has an entryway with 6'4" ceilings. I'm 6'2" and had certain
Other than that, I like his stuff. It's generally light, airy and human in
scale. Raymond Chandler said in regard to writing that in the end, all that
endures is style. In design, Wright had that down cold.
He had his reasons for the small entryways, which I have experienced
in the Hollyhock and Brown-Ennis homes in LA. Foremost, he wanted to
enhance the feeling of expansion and space, going from the small entry
to a much larger space. Secondarily, he hated for people to loiter in
entrances, so made them less comfortable.
SOME of his furniture is amazing in design, the folding library table
or the couch with the built in end tables. I've also seen interlocking
plywood crap a sixth-grader could have done better with at Taliesen
As far as engineering, gotta agree. The Ennis-Brown house was built on
a steep hillside, partly on flat ground created by a retaining wall
and back fill with NO pylons either into the hill or down to bedrock.
The whole thing had to be rebuilt at enormos expense. That same house,
and many others, has a FLAT roof, which inevitably leaks and I think
still does today. The current owners are trying to figure out how to
preserve the cement block (known as "textile" block) and steel
construction, as the steel is rusting away and the cement, made to an
inferior mix, is crumbling. In other words, a very interesting house
to look at built very cheaply.
Good luck on your commission, it sounds interesting. Will you be
building to Wright's plans or samples, or designing newly in the
|On 8 Jun 2004 15:09:30 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (daclark) wrote:
|>I have been summoned to Chicago to build some Frank Lloyd Wright|>furniture for a Frank Lloyd Wright house; so, I am committing myself|>to a refresher course on the subject of the Arts and Craft era...an|>easy topic for a woodworker to become enamoured with.|>But, as we all know, the search engines are besieged by the commercial|>interests of the few...where's the duke of Url when you need him?|>Actually, I was delighted to find an entity that I was completely|>unaware of, in the guise of the Roycroft movement.
The bio of Hubbard is fascinating. I have a signed and numbered copy
of one of his publications, handed down from my grandmother.
|>Of course, there|>is Morris, and the Stickley brothers...who else?|>Personally, I think Frank was a lousy furniture designer...|>But, I am looking for help...any URL on the subject will be greatly
|FLloyd was a short little prick who designed interiors for midgets.
Don't hold back Tom, tell us how you really feel.
|He knew nothing about engineering, which is proved by his magnum opus
|of FallingDownWater, which has a yearly maintenance budget in excess
|of the original cost of the house.
His own houses don't fare too well either.
|FLloyd is the triumph of line over practicality, and the melody to the
|sad song of lacking comfort.
Some think he was also party to murder, although at the time he was
alibied up in Chicago.
Our next door neighbor's parents live in Spring Green, WI and we have
visited a couple of times. They have some of the original press
clippings about the murders.
The FLW visitor center is full of cultists speaking in hushed tones
about this "genius" and willingly spending considerable money to tour
Taliesin. We've taken a pass.
P.T. Barnum was right.
To concatenate this thread with the current one on birdhouses:
I were thinking that a scale model of FallingDownWater would make a
fine Bird House/Bird Feeder, perched on the edge of a bubbling
The cantilevers would make fine feeding platforms for the birds, and
FLoyds interiors are well suited to creatures of small stature.
My only unresolved issue is whether to allow the cantilevers to droop,
as a form of homage to the paradigm - or to make them straight and
true - as they must have looked upon the great man's drawing board.
Will post pix on ABPW upon completion.
<watson-who thinks that if FLoyd had used a little more irony in them
cantilevers - he'd a been better off.>
Thomas J.Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.)
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
Why the hyperbolic tirade of abuse against poor dead old Frank? In
the time and place of his life, he egotistically held to a personal
philosophy of design and commanded an elitist architectural trade;
then, proceeded to crown himself the grand poobah to a cultist
society, dedicated to his honor and glory, just like Charlie
Manson...or perhaps, he was just living his trade...
I would reiterate...
Still, one cannot deny that his name is identified with certain key
elements of design, good or bad. But, even the best of design is no
more than creative plagarism. Thomas Chippendale is a name that
resounds, not only through history, but throughout today's furniture
industry...yet, every design that he is credited with can be traced to
an earlier time and place.
An acquaintance, who happens to be a seventh-generation woodcarver,
once told me, if I tell you it is Chippendale, it is Chippendale...not
by faithful reproduction of design, but rather, because I use the same
tool and the same technique as taught to me by my great-grandfather,
who was taught by his great-grandfather, who was there...in that time
The significance, of which, is illustrated in the treatise of the
Boston master furnituremaker, that Greg provided a url to, in that the
master, even a master industrialist like Chippendale, would not have
time to pick up a tool himself; his time consumed by correcting the
mistakes of others and chasing his clients for money...and therefore,
not above plagarizing the expertise of one of his journeymen to effect
a salable design.
And then, even though...
...it doesn't mean I am going to go. If it is an elemental recreation
of design, where I can input my own sense of proportion...perhaps.
Ah, Watson...it reminds me of the preacher who no longer believes in
God, but is still willing to preach for a fee. Or perhaps, a retired
woodworker, who still maintains a website for the display of past
works, just in case. Or worse, a master of philosophy...who will not
philosophize. It needn't be original thought, Watson, try creative
plagarism...what are your thoughts on living trade?
But, let's not get pissy...have some fun...even at my expense.
Indeed...and, of course, there is no guarantee that my own
interpretations would be any better...or, that I would receive credit
if they were...
For comfort, I would take a well proportioned Morris chair with the
accompanying foot stool. And, I like the design influences of Harvey
Ellis, who worked for Stickley in 1903, but died after only nine
months of employment.
Stickley had a number of brothers, some who preceeded him into the
arts and craft genre; and they owned a half-dozen companies between
them, where it is calculated that some two-hundred people had
contributed to product design. Yet, public credence allows Gustav to
be responsible for an entire arts and crafts era, when in fact, he was
more a beneficiary in time and place.
Thomas Sheraton, whose name denotes an era of Greek Revival
furnitures, was anything but a manufacturer. He apprenticed as a
cabinetmaker, excelled at woodcarving, but had no workshop of his own.
Sheraton made a meager living designing work for other
manufacturers...living in a sawdusty house surrounded by his tools, he
never made anything in his own name beyond the prototyping of his own
concepts; but, has become synonymous with the genre by the several
books he published, and a collection of his designs that found a
publisher after his death.
Now, I think, the Balderstone Era has a very likely ring to it...got
my dear, Watson...
are you not just skirting the issue, here?
Perhaps, you should post the thesis, upon which, you were declared a
master of philosophy. Or better yet, why not tell us about the event
in your life that turned you out from the hedonistic halls of
academia; and, how working wood has been your refuge. If philosophy
was your meat, why is it now your gall?
Your penchant for the defamation of character is well noted. I
suppose, that if poor old dead FLW can take the heat, so can I...hell,
I am honored; except, ya sneaked off to another thread to do it.
I have visited your website, I told ya so. I saw some very good work,
and enjoyed a couple of your articles. I enjoyed the poem you
What I don't understand, Watson, is after all your work, why would you
deny the existence of a fundamental philosophy in the working of
wood...were you not paying attention? Did you learn nothing? Such
ignorance is uncomprehensible in a man with so much information within
If you are indeed curious, I would be happy to discuss my lignum
vitae; but, prefer that such time be utilized in philosophical
discussion; I do not need accolades over dead projects, or advise on
which saw to buy. Yet, I come here to learn...and you say there is no
philosophy. But, you are wrong.
No two men have the same set of tools, or the same set of experiences;
therefore, no two men may have the same knowledge or understanding of
working wood. No man is master, we are apprentices all of our lives.
Thus, the working of wood is living trade; an infinite phenonomen.
If this basic premise is invalid, then prove it. Show us your bona
Although the navigation is a bit clunky at first, http://www.chipstone.org
contains a great reference and pictures of items in their collection.
Caution, you can get stuck in here just looking for quite a while.
Go here for an interesting read, the genre should appeal to you.
Uh, Greg, I don't mean to be a pain in the butt, but the Arts and Crafts
movement started in the late 19th century and Wright did most of his work
in the early 20th. He was still working when some of the older
participants in this newsgroup were borne. Chipstone, while it looks to be
a very useful resource, deals with an earlier era.
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
Well, I got a good laugh out of this, what a dumbass I am. I can only plead
a 13 hour day prior to the post, you are, of course, quite correct. Still,
the reference is well worth the visit for anyone who hasn't been there
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