More Arts & Crafts Friends — In Unlikely Places

My travels this past week took me to New Mexico, where I filmed a series of television shows sponsored by Minwax. Like most of you, I, too, have a non-Arts & Crafts life. In some instances, however, my journeys on behalf of Minwax also give me the opportunity to make some Arts & Crafts discoveries as well.

My tight shooting schedule did not permit me to make any side trips in New Mexico, but I did route myself home to North Carolina through Salt Lake City, where my oldest son Eric (who some of you know from his twenty years at the Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference) is a University of Utah graduate student in their chemistry department.

As Eric was growing up, I often tricked him and his little brother (both are now over 6′ 3″) into going Arts & Crafts hunting with me. I gave up on the Parent-of-the-Year Award when I discovered the persuasive power of the Happy Meal, which probably explains why neither of them, nor myself, eats at MacDonald’s today.

So, on this trip I had no intention of spending any of our weekend together doing anything Arts & Crafts. You might imagine my surprise, then, when over breakfast at the Blue Plate Diner Eric announced, “There’s an Arts & Crafts store near here.”

Granted, Eric had not been inside the store and his apartment is decorated in Early Castoffs and dirty tee shirts, but, hey, he had noticed it. We finished our breakfasts and headed for our first Saturday morning shop, just like the old days, only now my son was doing the driving….

From the parking lot I could tell that Sugar House Furniture did not deal in antiques, but the sidewalk and spacious display windows were filled exclusively with carefully constructed, well-designed Arts & Crafts furnishings for every room of the home and office. Stepping into the showroom was like stepping into a party of good friends. I immediately spotted Motawi tiles, Ephraim Pottery vases, Anita Munman prints, copies of Style 1900 and Arts & Crafts Homes, and Fair Oak’s line of Teco-inspired vases, along with works new to me that had been made for Sugar House by several Salt Lake City area craftspeople.

But what surprised me the most was this: the showroom was pleasantly full of people, people who knew about Arts & Crafts, people who were making purchases.

And it was contagious, as I started handing items to an energetic Jill Haskell, who informed me, after introducing me to her two grown sons, who were busy ringing up sales, that Sugar House Furniture had been in business for 29 years, the last ten of which they had been selling Arts & Crafts exclusively.

While we could have stood and talked for hours, I recognized that I was soon going to be in the way during a busy day for them. As I reluctantly began making my way toward the front door, I paused to eavesdrop on a conversation one of Jill’s sons had just started with a man close to my age.

“What are you looking for?” he asked politely.

“I need a dining room table and chairs.”

“Round or square?” he inquired.

“Square, with leaves” came the answer as they approached a number of dining tables and sets of chairs, all in the Arts & Crafts style.

“What do you think about this one?”

“That’s it. I’ll take it.”

Like I said, its contagious — and its not going out of style.

Until next Monday,

Bruce Johnson

PS – Jill says she will be at the Grove Park Inn in February, looking for more craftspeople to represent.

You can see pictures at