Woodworking in America — Arts & Crafts and SketchUp

Last week at this time I was in St. Charles, Ill., at the Woodworking in America Furniture Design and Construction conference. It was a busy time for me as I was giving presentations on both SketchUp and Arts & Crafts furniture. Despite the pace, it was one of the best weekends I can remember. It is always fun for us to meet our readers, and like any other woodworker I enjoyed seeing the people in person whose work I have long admired. My wife and son came along and both of them mentioned that every woodworker they saw had a big smile.

During my presentations I promised to post some links to resources on both topics. I’ll start with some of my favorite Arts & Crafts web sites. At the top of the list is the online version of Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman magazine.Thanks to the digital archives at the University of Wisconsin, the entire 16-year run of The Craftsman is available for free. The magazine is often described (by those who’ve never read it) as a promotional vehicle for Stickley’s furniture. It was far beyond that in scope and content, and if you want to understand what life was like in the early 1900s you can get a good start here. The cover image is from January 1904. That issue marked the debut of the inlaid furniture designed by Harvey Ellis.

I tend to get lost in reading The Craftsman, and that may well happen to you, too. Another great web site is the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. This was Gustav Stickley’s residence in New Jersey. Lots of information online and if you want to see it in person, it is close by our next WIA conference.

If you’re looking to take an Arts & Crafts road trip, the Grove Park Inn is another must-see. We’ve just published a new book about it, Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture, by Bruce Johnson. Bruce is my favorite author on the Arts & Crafts period, and this is the best history available about Roycroft furniture. He also organizes an annual conference at the inn. Last but not least, the stuff I’ve written about the period is available from my web site, craftsmanplans.com.

On the right is a SketchUp model of a Gustav Stickley music cabinet. In St. Charles we introduced a lot of woodworkers to this free program, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of the volunteers who staffed our walk-in clinics. Here at the magazine, SketchUp has made our lives easier, and it has enabled us to share (for free) more than 150 projects. Here is a quick list of resources:

Thanks to all of you I met at Woodworking in America. My family and I had a lot of fun. They played tourist while I worked, but we did manage to sample some great local cuisine and I’m proud to say that my son ate both an Italian Beef sandwich and a hot dog with everything at one sitting.

If you missed it, I hope to see you in Valley Forge in October.

– Robert W. Lang

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One thought on “Woodworking in America — Arts & Crafts and SketchUp

  1. Narayan

    Bob,

    It is clear that your son will grow up to be a fine, fine man. Next time, it’s a beef/sausage combo, one or two chicago dogs, and a chocolate cake.

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