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Arts & Crafts Design Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879056991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879056995
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Contents Divisions of Industrial Arts Design The Primary Mass and Its Proportions Horizontal Major Divisions of the Primary Mass Vertical Major Divisions of the Primay Mass Appendages and the Rules Governing Them Enrichment of the Contours or Outlines of Designs in Wood Enrichment of the Contours or Outlines of Designs in Clay Enrichment of the Contours or Outlines of Designs in Base and Precious Metals Surface Enrichment of Small Primary Masses in Wood Surface Enrichment of Small Primary Masses in Wood (continued) Surface Enrichment with Minor Subdivisions of Large Primary Masses in Wood Surface Enrichment of Clay Surface Enrichment of Precious Metals. Small Flat Planes Surface Enrichment of Large Primary Masses in Base and Precious Metals Color: Hue, Value, and Chroma; Stains Color and Its Relation to Industrial Arts Design. Large Surfaces of Wood; Wall and Ceiling Areas Color and Its Relation to Industrial Arts Design. Small Surfaces in Clay and Metal Complete Summary of Rules Appendix Index

From the Back Cover

"In this relativistic age in which de gustilrie non disputandum est (it is undisputed that each person has their own sense of taste), it is refreshing to look back to the early twentieth century when at least a few people were certains that there are universal rules for good art and also that they had themselves mastered these precepts and could pass them on to a society that loved commonly held values. William H. Varnum was one of those people. He offers here a textbook that will, if followed, allow students to 'directly apply well-recognized principles of design to specific materials and problems.' No situation esthetics here. In fact, he followed these principles in designing the logos representing his tools and ratio system on the cover of his book. "The publisher of this new edition has added a useful foreword and substitued the title Arts and Crafts Design for the original (1916) Industrial Arts Design, an appropriate modification since the term "industrial" suggests factory production whereas Varnum referred to objects that today we call "Craftsman"--Rookwood pottery, Stickley furniture, Jarvie candlesticks, etc. A delightful touch is that Varnum included pictures of these objects alongside the principles by which he believed they were designed. Varnum's book offers an enlightening, if somewhat technical, insight into thinking about design before World War I. There is no doubt that the Arts and Crafts period during which the principles of simple beauty married so neatly with function can be better understood and appreciated today through Varnum's perceptions." Robert Winter

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Darrell Peart Furnituremaker on July 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
Varnum's book is an absolute must for the beginning designer. I recommended it in my book Greene & Greene: Design Elements for the WorkshopKindergarten Chats And Other Writings.

There are many valid methods and formulas for unlocking the secrets of design, but their practical application can often be vague. This is where Varnum succeeds in a big way - his rules are simple and easy to apply in the real world. They lay down an essential foundation for the beginning designer.

As much as I like Varnum's book though, I must interject a word of warning here. The basic rules of design (such as Varnum's) cannot be ignored, but they cannot be adhered to as if set in stone either. If intuition is not allowed to play a part in the creative process, your designs will likely appear sterile and lifeless. Intuition that is not tempered with an understanding of the basic rules though will falter and fall short. The rules and intuition need one another, but in the end intuition must be allowed to rule the day.

Louis Sullivan (who was called "the Master" by Frank Lloyd Wright's) said:
"......formulas are dangerous things. They are apt to prove the undoing of a genuine art, however helpful they may be in the beginning to the individual. The formula of an art remains and becomes more and more rigid with time, while the spirit of that art escapes and vanishes forever.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Diana B on November 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you are restoring a Craftsman Bungalow home or furniture or are building new versions, and need DETAILS of "how they did it", then this book is a must.

It is written to a hands-on audinece, for people interested in creating items with the distinctive Arts& Crafts design detail.

Ceramics, jewelry, metal-smithing (copper) etc, are also covered in a very complete review of the Craftsman style esthetic. To the point of including color formulas for wood stains, ceramic glazes and building instructions for simple woodworking and metal fabrication projects.

THIS IS THE REAL THING!, Not a modern review, or opinion.

If you want a coffee table book with big color pictures,and not too many words, then move on to another selection.

If you need a concise beginner/intermediate source for Arts & Crafts era design elements, give this one a try....

Just in case you want to know a bit of why I have such a strong approval of this book, I have a background in art/architecture/design which started as I grew up in the Belmont Shores burb of Long Beach, CA...in a Craftsman Bungalow home. I have worked in the design trade for 20 years, with 2 Bungalow restoration projects currently in progress in California... it's an educated, and more importantly, an experienced opinion.

If you are a student or a trades person interested in the Arts & Crafts style, you will probably keep this book in reach as sourcebook.

Crafters, woodworkers, metal smith-ey, potters...will enjoy making one or two of the projects detailed in the chapters!
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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sherman A. Thompson on May 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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I was looking forward to an Arts and Crafts treat but, alas, received a thoroughly boring textbook full of questionable design theories and rules that are largely the author's pontifications. I have a university degree in art and am no stranger to professors, textbooks, theories, and rules. A really good professor needs no text. Thank God I didn't have Varnum as a professor!
Understand that Varnum wrote this text in 1916 and Hansen merely wrote the short preface to its reprint in 1995. This is an Industrial Arts Design textbook and not an art book, per se.
From start to finish this book is loaded with theoretical design minutia, formulae, and "rules," many of which have little obvious relevance to aesthetics. The text even includes test questions.
Aesthetics involves feelings and emotions, not cook-book formulae and rules. I am convinced that this book is the result of Varnum's inner need to organize the subject matter in his own mind rather than to impart knowledge and a "feel" for design to the reader or student. As such, it is both tedious reading and boring. I would rather suffer through another graduate statistics text than wade through Varnum's self-proclaimed rules, many of which are just Varnum's personal opinions and make no sense to me.
I give it a generous two stars because of the small pictures of furniture and fittings of the period scattered throughout the text. Save your money and buy one of the many good books on Stickley, Morris, Mackintosh, or the wonderful eras of Arts and Crafts, Craftsman, or Mission.
Al Thompson, Brady, Texas
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