Lighting the Spark and Passing the Torch

Editor’s note: this article has been republished. Original date of publication: Oct. 24th, 2011.


As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I made a journey back to Craftsman Farms last week to speak at the “Catch the Spark” forum celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of Gustav Stickley’s home in Morris Plains, New Jersey.

My topic: “Passing the Torch: Will the Next Generation Care About Arts & Crafts?”

As the father of two college-age sons and as someone who has more than just a passing interest in the future of the Arts & Crafts movement, I was willing to attempt to explore that question — in forty minutes or less.

There is no doubt that my sons and their generation have more interest in iPhones and Facebook than they do in Arts & Crafts or, for that matter, collecting any style of antiques. But let’s face the facts: who under the age of 35 can afford new Arts & Crafts, let alone Grueby, Roycroft or Stickley?

Most are unemployed or under-employed, paying off student loans, starting a family, making car payments, or are one bad week away from moving into their parent’s basement. Do we really think they’re going to buy a Marblehead vase?

What we have discovered, but sometimes seem to forget, is that Arts & Crafts isn’t a style, it’s a lifestyle. Those objects we collect are but symbols of a way of life; not a quest, but a fight to keep our lives in control, to keep them simplified and uncluttered. To keep them focused not on new cars, more clothes, meaningless meetings, the next promotion, or a bigger house, but on our spouse, our children, our family, and our community.

Gustav called it “doing away with needless ornamentation.”

And he wasn’t just talking about furniture, you know.

We teach best by example, not lectures. We all, regardless of our age or generation, get up each morning and choose the way we lead our lives, one day at a time. That doesn’t mean we’re happy with everything we have to do, but it does mean that we recognize the need to fight for The Simple Life, to eliminate the needless ornamentation in our own lives and to share that challenge — and its rewards — with the next generation.

Want to pass the torch, but worry you would have to join Facebook or Twitter?

It’s easier than that.

Pick someone out: someone at work, someone in your church, someone in your neighborhood, someone in your family. Give them tickets to the next Arts & Crafts event in your area. Leave a copy of Style 1900, American Bungalow or Arts & Crafts Homes on their desk. Make them members of the American Art Pottery Association, the Craftsman Farms Foundation or a local Arts & Crafts society or organization. Email them the address to this website — and its free.

Just reach out to someone. That’s all it takes.

Together we grow stronger.



Until next Monday,

– Bruce


“People don’t collect Arts & Crafts because it’s different.

People collect Arts & Crafts because they’re different.”