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The Arts and Crafts Movement and The Roycroft
 

The Arts and Crafts movement originated in England in the late 19th century and was a reaction against the conditions and ideology of the industrial revolution. The British poet and designer William Morris, one of the movement’s main protagonists, rejected the techniques of mass production and the opulence of the Victorian style. He and Robert Ruskin, a British artist, art and social critic, favored the virtues of simplicity, fine craftsmanship and good design. This movement found many sympathetic followers in North America including Elbert Hubbard, a philosopher, lecturer, critic, publisher, novelist, essayist, and biographer.

In 1895 Hubbard established The Roycroft, a communal business and crafts colony in East Aurora, New York, just south of Buffalo. The Roycroft was one of several utopian societies that formed during this period and Hubbard’s followers devoted their time to producing furniture, pottery, metal-work and hand printed, tooled leather bound books which exemplified the principles of quality, beauty and the worthwhile life. Elbert Hubbard’s artisans used a single R in the orb to mark their work. The work produced in the Roycroft shops are some of the most desired pieces sought by discerning Arts and Crafts collectors.

Unfortunately the depression took its toll on The Roycroft and it remained dormant for decades. In the 1970s a group of individuals, inspired by the Roycroft’s principles, decided to develop a new community of independent artisans and the Roycroft Renaissance was established. This new group unanimously adopted the double R mark.

Individuals wishing to become Roycroft artisans must submit their work to a jury comprised of Roycroft Master Artisans who employ the following criteria:

1. High quality of hand craftsmanship
2. Excellence in design
3. Originality of expression
4. Professional recognition
5. Continuing artistic growth

Periodic reviews of all Roycroft Artisans work are mandatory in order to maintain the integrity of the movement. When you see the double R mark on a piece or work, be assured it was made to the highest standards of Elbert Hubbard….with “Head, Heart and Hand.”

Selected Links:
Roycrofters-at-Large Association (RALA) www.ralaweb.com
Laura Wilder, Rycroft Master Artisan www.laurawilder.com
Ronald VanOstrand, Roycroft Master Artisan www.vmstu.com
phone: 716.688.8232 email: barry@yavener.com
 

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