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arts and crafts

Art & crafts vary from place to place and between every individual culture of the world, but here is how the Arts and Crafts movement began.

The Arts and Crafts movement was believed to have originated in ancient England when with reference to arts and crafts home plans were created in a uniformly Victorian style. Consequently, Victorian interior-decorations in homes became so commonplace that mass production was the order of the day. Some artists felt that mass-producing art made it lose its flavor. Hence, English artists like William Morris preferred to choose simplicity and uniqueness over mass-produced complicated designs. This led to collaboration between respected, like-minded artists and thereby gave rise to the Arts and Crafts movement.

The British and American art movements were very similar in that artists from both places wanted to maintain individuality and not give in to the monotony of mass-production. However, though both movements resembled each other in their ethos, the artists from Britain and America did not work the same way and adopted distinctly different trends and styles.

While in Britain artists started adopting a gothic style with, the American style of art became focused on the natural grain of the product. White-washed walls and medieval-style wallpaper became the norm in British interior decoration while ornate decorative paintings were used to embellish pots. However, as can be imagined, these changes were costly and although one of the main ideas behind the arts and crafts movement was to allow the layman to be able to purchase interesting and unique creations, this became impossible. Finally, such creations could only be purchased by individuals who hailed from wealthier backgrounds.

The main difference between the British and American styles was the cost-effectiveness of the former. American artists were not completely opposed to using machines for part of their task hence cost of manufacture and actual labor was reduced. Thus, these products were more economical and fell within the financial reach of most people.

American colonies also had their own range of arts and crafts. Colonial arts and crafts included the manufacture of wagons, rifles, pewter goods and furniture. Quilt making and painting was also common. Colonies such as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland had a huge immigrant population in the eighteenth century. This resulted in a fusion of artistic styles which naturally was translated onto the works of art of that era.

With worldwide travel and the internet and such tools, there is a global appreciation and understanding of the arts and cultures from all over the world. In fact books on arts and crafts for kids, no matter where they are published, would even include styles that had their roots in other parts of the world. It would not be surprising, for instance, to see a book on childrens arts and crafts with illustrations on Papier-Mache - a traditionally French art form commonly taught as part of preschool arts and crafts - in one part of the book, while Hawaiian Tiki-mask making features in another.

Author ~ Anjana Vaswani


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