Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Stickley Museum

Over the Holiday's I visited the Stickley Museum in Fayetteville, NY . The Museum is located above the Fayetteville Free Library in the original L & JG Stickley Factory and is open Tuesdays and Saturdays. There are examples of early works of Gustav Stickley and L & JG Stickley, and in their various iterations up to the present day.

It was very rewarding to be able to have up close views of some very nice antiques that I've only seen in pictures. Some of the older chairs were shown without cushions which gives a woodworker an insight into the joinery and the structure. They even had one exhibit of a modern dresser next to the 1915 original which showed the internal structure of the drawers and bracing.

My only regret was that flash photography was not allowed, this limited my ability to capture the details I wanted on some of the pieces, so some of the shots my be a little fuzzy, I apologize in advance.

The Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States lasted only from 1900-1915, but the influence of the style and the work of Gustav Stickley, his brothers Leopold, John George, Charles and Albert, Stickley's designer Harvey Ellis, Charles Limbert, and Elbert Hubbard and his Roycroft community have influenced woodworkers and designers to this day. In fact Gustav Stickley created the first truly American furniture, known throughout the world as Craftsman. Some refer to this style as Mission Style, this comes from a mistaken assumption that the style was a reflection of the bulky furniture of the California Mission era. However after a trip to England in 1897 Stickley was inspired by British reformers, John Ruskin and William Morris to create a new line of handcrafted furniture based on honesty and simplicity. In 1898 he opened United Crafts in Eastwood, New York where he introduced his Craftsman line which, by 1900, reflected an indigenous American Arts & Crafts philosophy. His quarter sawn oak furniture incorporated overt structural details such as tenon-and-key construction, chamfered boards, and exposed tenons. His rectilinear shapes were free of any excess ornamentation except for what occurred naturally in the construction, design and material. This revealed not only the excellent craftsmanship that went into each piece, but also the beauty simplicity, and utility of the design. Stickley originally intended his furniture to be all made by hand, but this proved to be too costly for the average family who he was targeting, so he introduced the use of power tools and factory production while still keeping the integrity and handcrafted feel to his line. I found this quote in the museum and found it still true today "The modern trouble is not the use of machinery, but the abuse of it"


John W. Nixon said...

Thanks for this informative post. You've inspired me to take a trip there this summer. I only live a couple of hours away.
If you get a chance to visit the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, you won't be dissappointed. The Inn is stocked with original Roycroft pieces as well as commissioned reproductions that the current-day Stickley factory made for the Inn's anniversary re-opening.

Heather Stivison said...

What a great post! The Audi family has done so much to introduce Stickley and the Arts and Crafts Movement to people who might never have been aware of the style. Their museum is yet another example of the way they help keep the revival alive.

I hope you’ll find time to visit The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms too. The 30-acre site is a National Historic Landmark and a Mecca for Stickley devotees from all over the world. You can get a preview of the museum at