Monday, February 11, 2008

Inlays for your Arts and Crafts Furniture made easy

Inlays were used extensively in the Glasgow School of Arts and Crafts but did not make a huge impact into the American Arts and Crafts movement until the addition of Harvey Ellis to Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Furniture company. Stickley saw Ellis's work at the an exhibition of arts and crafts decorative arts at Rochester's Mechanics Institute. Ellis was a founding member and president of the Rochester Arts & Crafts Society, one of the earliest such organizations in the country. In 1894 he helped organize the Society's first exhibition, a display of Japanese prints and modern French posters.
In 1903 Harvey Ellis made the arrangements to display an extensive exhibition of arts and crafts decorative arts. The display was organized by Gustav Stickely and first shown the previous year in Syracuse. Following the exhibition Harvey Ellis moved to Syracuse at the invitation of Stickley to write for The Craftsman. Ellis published several articles that included his designs for arts and crafts homes and interiors. Ellis's use of curves and inlays brought a more elegant and lighter style to Stickley's "mission" furniture. Ellis died in 1904 from complications of alcoholism.
Inlays of this detail are beyond the scope of many craftsmen making arts and crafts furniture. But luckily for all of us inlay challenged individuals Mitchell Andrus is producing inlay veneers and furniture parts available through his website, http://www.missionfurnishings.com/ . You can find complete finished pieces, and several pre-assembled veneers all taken from the original Ellis and Stickley designs. You can even find pre inlayed chair backslats ready to make a Stickley Rocker.
The website gives a very nice example of the process, the veneer arrives complete as you see here. These pictures come from the website.
One extremely nice thing that you can get with these inlays is a staining stencil, its a precut vinyl mask that shields the inlay from stain while you finish the piece.
You can see that you carefully align the mask over the inlay and thanks to the clear backing sheet you can get easily do this.
You then roll it flat so that no voids are left to allow stain to seep in.
Then you can remove the backing sheet leaving your inlay completely masked.
The surrounding veneer can be carefully stained and once dry the overlay removed leaving the inlay unstained and ready for finishing. What you are left with is a very impressive inlay that is period correct and ready to decorate your next arts and crafts piece. Now, if you are more ambitious and want to make your own inlays you can find shop drawings complete with instructions in Robert Lang's book Shop Drawings for Craftsman Inlays & Hardware: Original Designs by Gustav Stickley and Harvey Ellis .
A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.
John Ruskin

1 comment:

archie said...

Nice post. It was an interesting read. Thanks for the pics showing the process of creating art on wood. For Decorative Arts you can check out this link.