The Art of Illumination

Old House Journal Art of Illuminationartile-ohj02

“The Art of Illumination— These 8 Arts & Crafts lighting artisans prove that the spirit of the original movement remains alive and well in today’s studios. ”
By Clare Martin in The Old House Journal

The Arts & Crafts movement in its original incarnation may have lasted just a scant few decades at the beginning of the 20th century, but, more than a hundred years later, the philosophies that spurred it continue to thrive. The evidence is all around, embodied in the vast number of artisans working today in the Arts & Crafts style. Creating everything from furniture to textiles to art glass, these modern-day craftsmen and -women have replicated and adapted the traditions of the past, adding a dose of their own imagination along the way to deliver a new generation of heirlooms. Nowhere is this renewed spirit of art and craft more pronounced than in the area of lighting, where visionary artisans fuse polished wood, hammered metal, and fanciful art glass to bring time-honored Arts & Crafts forms back to life. Just as they did during the original movement, these lights run the gamut of period styles, from no-frills rectilinear lamps to chandeliers with intricate detailing inspired by nature.

The Artisan: Jim Webb of Studio 233 His Craft: Although he holds a master’s degree in economics, ceramics have always been Webb’s passion; as an undergraduate at Princeton, he studied with renowned ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu. When he opened his own studio in the late 1970s, he began by making ceramic tile, but soon switched his focus to lighting after collaborating with Berkeley-based lamp designer Sue Johnson, who still contributes the mica shades for his signature collection of lamps. (The lamps also are outfitted with paper shades, made by Webb’s wife, Barbara.) Webb’s hand-shaped, squared-off bases, each one incised with a geometric carving, are finished with a combination of glaze and metallic oxides to produce a richly toned, slightly burnished effect.

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