Anyone who knows me or my brand well knows that high on my list of design inspiration is one amazing bearded fellow named William Morris. His quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, has graced my studio walls in every creative space I’ve worked from. It is a constant in my mind when I am working on a new design or product and I have adopted it as the ethos of my weather&noise mission statement.
So, I’m gonna give you a little history lesson. I mean, I just graduated from college, so I’ve gotta have an outlet for report writing somewhere. William Morris was an artist, textile designer, writer, and widely accepted as the Father of the Arts & Crafts Movement in England and America. His writing inspired J.R.R. Tolkien and his design and pattern work inspired Liberty of London as they were starting to design and create textiles in the late 1800’s. I’ll let you in on a little secret, I haven’t actually read any of his books yet, but a few are on my summer reading list. In the description for News from Nowhere (1890) you can get an idea of Morris’ utopia and ideals:
“a classic work combining utopian socialism and soft science fiction. In the book, the narrator, William Guest, falls asleep after returning from a meeting of the Socialist League and awakes to find himself in a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. In this society there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems. This agrarian society functions simply because the people find pleasure in nature, and therefore they find pleasure in their work.”
Morris grew up in rural England in the early 1800s, spending his days wondering the acres of forest that surrounded his home. In his mid-twenties he moved to urban London and formed Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, a decorative arts company. With the company, Morris and his partners hoped to reform standard British manufacturing and production practices and return to a system of well made, but affordable goods for the home. It was at this time that Morris started focusing on pattern design for wallpapers and textiles, which is what made me fall in love with his work.
Later in Morris’ life, he developed an interest in typography, calligraphy, and preserving historic printing methods, which also makes me swoon a bit. He spent his late years designing illuminated text for his earlier works of writing and learning the Icelandic language and about Scandinavian folklore. Again, swoon-worthy. Morris’ tapestries were often made of fibers which he would dye himself, using vegetable dyes rather than of chemical dyes that were becoming popular in manufacturing. And this was in the 1800’s before it was hip to go natural with things, quite the opposite in those days when modern manufacturing was becoming more and more about machines and chemicals. Morris was also skilled at embroidery and after mastering the craft, he trained his wife and her sister so they could execute his elaborate designs. Religious embroidery for vestments, sacramental cloths, and tapestries were a main part of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co’s revenue.
As his love of printmaking and typography grew in his later years, he founded Kelmscott Press, “to refashion Victorian typography and to create beautiful books based on medieval manuscripts. The press was founded in order to produce books by traditional methods, using, as far as possible, the printing technology and typographical style of the fifteenth century. In this he was reflecting the tenets of the Arts and Crafts movement, and responding to the mechanization and mass-production of contemporary book-production methods and to the rise of lithography, particularly those lithographic prints designed to look like woodcuts.” Kelmscott Press became one of the most famous presses of the Arts & Crafts Movement.
His deep involvement in the Arts & Crafts Movement is just one more reason to love Morris. He fostered craftsman ideals by having apprentices, teaching his skills to many and working to form communities of makers and encourage society to support these skilled craftsmen.
“Because craftsmen took pleasure in their work”, Morris wrote, “the Middle Ages was a period of greatness in the art of the common people. … The treasures in our museums now are only the common utensils used in households of that age, when hundreds of medieval churches – each one a masterpiece – were built by unsophisticated peasants.”
William Morris died peacefully in October 1896 in London. His family doctor pronounced that he had “died a victim of his enthusiasm. The Disease is simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most ten men”. Want to see more? Check out one (or all!) of these
The first exhibition devoted to William Morris and his influence on twentieth-century life, entitled Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy, is to open at the National Portrait Gallery in London this autumn. The exhibit will focus on Morris’ far reaching politics, thought and design and will include portraits, furniture, books, banners, textiles and jewelry. The collection highlights the element of anarchy within the ‘art for the people’ movement which demanded a total overturning of accepted values. The exhibition extends beyond Morris’s own death in 1896 to show how his radical ideals developed through the Edwardian decade; It explores the ruralist revival of the 1920s and 1930s when leading craft practitioners – the potters Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew, the weaver Ethel Mairet, the hand-blocked textile printers Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher – evolved their own alternative ways of life and work in an increasingly materialistic age. I so deeply wish that I could go to London for the exhibit next year to see the work of the man that has shaped my aesthetic and my brand and to see some of his work in person and celebrate his life. And that beard.
As my winter break is starting to wind down, I decided it was about time to enroll in my spring classes. It may seem like I’ve been working on my degree forever, and I kind of have – I’m taking classes about 3 at a time because that’s what my financial aid allows. After this semester, I’ll have exactly 10 classes left until I’ll have my BFA and can start working on getting NCIDQ certified. This semester I’m taking Fabric & Fiber Technology, History of American Illustration, and Sustainable Design. I’ve been feeling pretty burned out with school and antsy to finish, but I did get my copy of my Associate’s degree in the mail a few months ago – so that sort of made me feel like all of my work (and $$) was going towards something..
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve really blogged much about my school, or any of my projects, which is odd since it’s been such a big part of my life. So I decided to post a bit of what I’ve worked on over the past few years.
These are just a few of the things I found stashed away in my school folder on my laptop. Most of my work is on our desktop computer.. maybe I should upload it all to flickr. Oh, one of these days..
It’s been a long, long ride, but I’m really happy that I can draft a floorplan by hand or with AutoCAD, make cut sheets & color boards like nobodies business, and all of the other valuable things that I’ve
gone into immense debt for learned.
I have some pretty big news to share later this week, so check back!
I’ve been doing some general organizing around the house lately. As some of you know, my main “office” workspace has been in my living room for quite some time. My studio is upstairs, in one of our spare bedrooms, and my sewing machine moves from space to space depending on where I feel like working. This “system” has been okay for a while, but leaves me feeling a bit fragmented. In an attempt to simplify more things into one space, I decided last week that I wanted to set up shop in our (almost never used) formal dining room. I got the go-ahead from the husband and set to moving furniture. After a few days of total mess and chaos, things are coming together.
|One of my yarn stashes|
In fact, I’ve even submitted my space to the CB2 / The Selby contest. Please vote for my space if you so kindly would! I don’t think I have much of / any chance of winning, but I thought I’d at least submit some photos for fun. My pictures aren’t greatly shot and I’m just too tired to really work on creating a nice vignette.. Goodness, did I mention that I have this awful summer cold. I was hoping it was just allergies, but I’m going on 4 days of stuffiness and exhaustion now. I guess it’s time to give in and take some meds. boo.
|The bedroom – as it is now..|
In other news, I got word that I was accepted as a vendor at the Jingle Bash in Dallas in November. I went to Jingle Bash as a shopper last year and had a great time, and bought some lovely letterpress prints, but I’m just so darn excited to be there as a vendor this time around. And it looks like I’m the only vendor that’s NOT from Texas.
I’ve got some photos from recent make:Tulsa events that I’ve been meaning to post.. will be back with those tomorrow!
Happy Thursday friends!
You may remember my heartbreak last year at the news that Domino magazine was no more.. If not, you can read here. I’m constantly pulling out my old copies to look at something and have been scouring yard sales and the internet for the 3 copies that I’m missing. One of the saddest things about Domino’s demise that all of their online content disappeared as well.
Speaking of design, has anyone been watching this season of ‘Design Star’? I’ve loved this show in the past, but have been a little underwhelmed so far with this season.
I’ve missed blogging about a bunch of things over the past few weeks, but I’ve been working on schoolwork so much that I have not been blogging/twittering/playing online really at all. Really, 3 classes does not sound like a lot, but I’m working 7ish hours a day on schoolwork and I’m still struggling to stay caught up. My intent here is not at all complaining, I really love what I’m learning and I feel fortunate to be studying art/design, but one of my classes has an overwhelming amount of work…
So, a few things. In list format because that’s how my brain is working right now.
Thursday – Tulsa Craft Mafia article in Urban Tulsa!
Friday – Craft O Rama show at OU. Really nice people, neat building, but I didn’t sell all that much.. lots of MLM vendors.
Saturday – Tulsa Art Studio Tour – loved it! Really, this was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long time. I’d wanted to go to this for a few years, but schedules conflicted.. This year we were finally able to go. Really fun and inspiring. We came home that night and worked on my studio (yeah, I’m changing it around again already!). I’ve decided to separate art from craft! I’ve pretty much taken over our theater room with the “craft” and left my studio for fine arts. And fabric storage.
Sunday – Tulsa Craft Mafia meeting – Sadly the last one at the Collective as we received word Monday morning that our favorite spot closed. I’m really, really bummed about this. Definitely going to the “cry and get shitfaced with us” party tonight. $1 drinks, yo!
Couponing… I’ve been studying the ins and outs of how to use coupons and save money.. In fact.. I’m going to the 918CouponMom party tonight before the party at the Collective. That’s right, a coupon party! I’m actually pretty excited about it.
Indie Emporium 09 – I finished working out the details today, we will be at VFW again and dates are October 9/10. Going to work on the new applications and website asap.
NeoCon – I’m registered!!! I’m more excited about this than I probably should be about anything, but seriously, I cannot wait!! For those that don’t know, “NeoCon® World’s Trade Fair is North America’s largest conference and exhibition of contract furnishings for the design and management of the built environment. Showcasing thousands of new products from hundreds of the world’s top manufacturers in commercial, residential, hospitality, institutional and government design products, NeoCon promises to impress its design-savvy audience with the latest trends throughout the world. ” CAN NOT WAIT! I think a group of students from my school will be attending with the head of the IAD dept, and I’m hoping to join them.. or go alone, whatev, just so long as I’m there.
Funky Finds – I’m going to be setting up at Funky Finds in Fort Worth on April 25th. The husband and I will spending our 5th anniversary there. Fun!
I registered for summer classes today. I’ve been putting off 2 classes for quite some time and I’ve decided to take them both in summer (ie 6 week) format. It’s going to make summer no fun, but I’ll be glad to have them finished. AutoCAD and Building Construction (drawing plans for how to build cabinets, door frames, etc.. things I never plan to do).
There are more things floating around in my brain that I’d love to share, but I’ve got to get ready for my coupon party! I’ll leave you with some of my recent prints and the plans I drew for the San Francisco Visitor’s Center today.. Thrilling stuff, right??