Rago Arts & Auctions: Highlights


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Rago Arts & Auctions recently updated and enhanced their website, offering a more complete catalog of available "passed lots" - items not sold at previous auctions - as well as memorable highlights from recent auctions. Some amazing stuff, there; kind of neat to see price records for really excellent examples.

The most recent Early 20th Auction was this past Friday, October 1 2010. Some highlights are pictured above.

the copperwork of Santa Clara del Cobre

Our friend Jean Emery recently returned from visiting her daughter in Michoacan, and visited the town of Santa Clara del Cobre [photos from various Flickr users] while on her trip. Santa Clara is a village of copper artisans near Patzuaro; Jean tells us they've been making copper goods there since pre-colonial times:

They make sinks. bowls, vases, bathtubs - it's all totally gorgeous and of course looks great in an Arts and Crafts setting.  I bought a huge hammered organic-formed vase - sort of pumpkin shaped - for under $100.

Here's a link to an article in a Mexican folk arts blog; the pictures are good but really just barely begin to capture the gorgeous shapes and finishes available.

Live Auctioneers has plenty of treats

Picture 1 Live Auctioneers are a gateway / aggregator to hundreds of live (and non-live) antique auctions. Among the thousands of items viewable and biddable, there are hundreds of terrific items of interest to Arts & Crafts aficionados. Here are a few of my favorites from upcoming auctions:

Voysey clocks & more

from our friend Christopher Vickers:

Following on from the CFA Voysey Clocks postings here last August [Voysey clocks; Chris Vickers & Voysey], readers may be interested in Christopher Vickers new page featuring many of the period Voysey clocks still known to exist.

Chris would be very interested to receive further information / images of Voysey clocks, or really anything at all designed by Voysey!

Steven Handelman, iron artist & craftsman

Steven Handelman, a Santa Barbara-based metalworker, has been making beautiful custom early 20th-century chandeliers, lanterns, sconces, firescreens and other decorative iron since 1973. His work is as beautiful as it is well-designed and well-crafted, and can be seen at the homes and businesses of clients all over California (and the rest of the country).

What really makes Steven & Co's work stand out is not just the high quality of the pieces, but the influences: where some craftspeople are content to concentrate on a single historical or geographic area or style, Handelman's influences range from the Mission Revival to early English designs and, in much of his  recent work, plenty of north African / Moroccan detail. Santa Barbara's beautiful Granada Theater, recently reopened after a long restoration project, is a great example of this; Handelman supervised his staff's recreation of more than 250 individual fixtures for this long project, which finished with the reopening of the theater this past February.

Should you be in the area, certainly stop & visit their showroom.

Voysey's clocks: miscellany

After Wednesday's post, I've been reading a lot about Voysey and his clocks.

He didn't design all that many, but many contemporary designers - and several contemporary to Voysey - have built clocks in his style. Here are a few originals & paeans to them:

Christopher Vickers & CFA Voysey

Wallpaper_advert I first encountered Christopher Vickers' work when a friend showed me photos of a clock he built (he's also reproduced another famous Voysey clock with which you may be more familiar). Based on C. F. A. Voysey's original plans, the clock is built from 7,000-year-old bog oak, and is inlaid with (faux) ivory. The original was built by Voysey in 1921 for a client - the same one for whom Voysey designed the beautiful Holly Mount in Beaconsfield. Voysey was known for his clocks, of course; apparently, he loved the confluence of lettering, machine, and furniture that these tiny and complicated objects represented.

Vickers is a scholar of all things Voysey, and 20th-century British design in general, with quite a bit of background on this great and often overlooked designer / artist / architect on his website; my own love of Voysey's work springs mainly from my interest in typography and Voysey's wonderful and expressive hand-lettering (see the wallpaper advertisement here, taken from Mr. Vickers' site) - so seeing Vickers' exceptional work, and through it his obvious love for the combined subtlety and detail that I've always appreciated in Voysey, really impressed and resonated with me.

My favorite piece of Voysey-designed furniture in Vickers collection is this replica dining chair with arms, originally designed in 1902. Vickers' reproduction sells for £1850, and appears to be completely true to the original.

Other impressive bits of Mr. Vickers' work include unique items of Arts & Crafts lighting; a number of beautiful and useful chests in a variety of sizes and configurations; beautiful and sturdy tables, including some based on Voysey designs for Hollymount and other homes; inlaid wooden boxes; cabinetry and shelving, including several that feature hardware hand-forged by Vickers; and a number of pieces of metalwork, produced in the Gimson-Cotswold tradition in just the way we like it: "by hammer & hand."

Vickers' work is art and craft, and some of the finest contemporary A&C furniture I've seen. If you're interested, you can see pieces on display from September 10 to 24 at the 2nd annual Arts & Crafts Exhibition in Gloucestershire's Prinknash Abbey Park; from September 13 to 28, you can actually visit his workshop in Frome, as it will be open to the public during Somerset Art Weeks. His work will also be included in the Ernest Gimson and the Arts & Crafts Movement exhibit in Leicester, November 8 2008 through March 1 2009.

James Mattson Coppercraft


James Mattson fell in love with the idea of making his own light fixtures when he saw a picture of a 1910 Limbert copper, mica and oak lamp. After building a similar lamp for himself, he learned the fundamentals of etching copper from an ancient Popular Mechanics article, and kept at it until his hand was sure. Today, he makes absolutely beautiful chandeliers, table and floor lamps, lanterns and sconces, switchplates, and other bits and pieces (and a few larger-scale commissions) all of it in stunning etched copper, hand-made art glass, mica and oak, and all of it of his own design.

Jay Curtis: "ArtGlass & Metal" in the Arts & Crafts tradition

Jaycurtisglassclose Jay Curtis is a craftsman specializing in etched glass and metal, and his techniques include "water-jet cutting, hand painting, airbrushing, leading, beveling and glue-chipping." His work ranges from the whimsical to the elegant, and much of it is very strongly influenced by the floral designs of the Arts & Crafts Movement.

One recent line of products includes etched "special occasion" bowls, available for sale through the website.

Photos of Jay's more Arts & Crafts-influenced work are up in our art glass album on Flickr.

David Surgan's Heintz Collection


Brooklyn-based David Surgan collects and deals in Heintz metalware - the distinctive silver-on-bronze designs made by Otto Heintz's Heintz Art Metal Shop in the late teens and early twenties. The striking Heintz motifs, on vases, bookends, bowls, lamps, desk sets and all sorts of other miscellany, are applied in silver on top of a base of bronze in a variety of colorful finishes - a green "verde" patina, a deep black called "royal," brown and blacks and deep, chocolatey, almost purplish browns. It is without a doubt some of the most detailed, original and beautiful metalware of the entire A&C period.

I had the opportunity to chat a bit with David at a show in 2005, and found him to be a warm, pleasant, funny guy who really loves what he sells and is eager to educate others. His advice is good and he'd be happy to talk to you about Heintz, should you have any questions; his new website is as much an educational resource as it is a catalog of his own stock. He exhibits at a number of shows, from the Asheville annual show & conference to the San Francisco show and plenty more on both coasts and in between. Drop on by and say hello, and consider investing in one of these especially beautiful and  important pieces of American craft history.

Steve Lopes, Blacksmith

MorgancolumnSteve Lopes is a Washington-based blacksmith focusing primarily on architectural metalwork. His portfolio includes extensive examples of his lighting, door hardware, and other work. One of the two home tours up on his web site shows off some really magnificent work in (and around) a modern Craftsman-style home in his area. The house, designed by Schuler Architecture and Roger Katz, two Seattle-based firms who are no strangers to modern Craftsman-inspired residential work, is a pretty amazing piece of work, integrating art glass, rough-hewn wood, soft Asian lifts, a huge volume of unpainted shingle, textile-block decorated concrete, some ingenious joinery and of course Lopes' own carefully-wrought iron and other metalwork throughout.

Practical Painting: the Pre-Raphaelites

Theflowerpicker_waterhouse_bigPractical Painting showcases particular artistic techniques and movements in short illustrated essay form. This month, Denise includes a brief history of the Pre-Raphaelites, retrospectively considered part of the UK Craftsman Movement, although in fact they were more an influence upon William Morris and the still-forming Movement than part of it. Artists such as Burne Jones, DeMorgan, Waterhouse, Millais, Alma-Tadema, Rossetti, and Hunt were the central Pre-Raphaelites, and are all represented in the gallery that accompanies the article.

pictured: Waterhouse's Spring (The Flower Picker)

Object Fetish: Ebay, April 2005


Lots of good stuff on Ebay this week - tomorrow I'll go through A&C items on various Craigslist regional sites, but today I've got a few deals from ebay to share.



Pete Maloney in Norcross GA points us to his site, which in addition to links to the dealers' various auctions also includes a collaborative antique shop that brings together selected items from a number of different dealers. Selections from Stuart Solomon's wonderful shop in Northhampton MA are featured, as are pottery and metalwork items from Jack Pap; Barbara Gerr, a dealer in Roseville pottery out of Absecon NJ is also part of the group, as are Pearce Fox / Fox Mission in Philadelphia and webmaster Pete Maloney himself, who specializes in all sorts of Arts & Crafts ceramics.

Sotheby's: Greene & Greene

GreenelightRich Muller notes that "many of the pieces that have been in the Huntington's Scott gallery are now up for auction (through Sotheby's). There are a lot of high-resolution images that I've never seen anywhere else. Get your checkbooks out, or at least download some of these images!  There is also information on each lot." Catalogs are US$43; the least expensive item up for auction is significantly more expensive.

Of special note, at least to those interested in the graphic arts: some of the most expensive cuts (of such a small size, at least) ever.

Van Ostrand Metal Studio

VanclockRon Van Ostrand works with various metals - copper, silver, gold and steel - at his studio in Holland, NY. Almost everything he makes is in the A&C style, specifically the Roycroft tradition of metalsmithing. His newest completed works include a number of different jewelry designs, many integrating the Roycroft square rose motif. The showing of vases currently for sale through hisstudio is large and impressive, and the same goes for the switchplates and clocks. Some jewelry and other items are also for sale via his ebay store.

Roycroft Copper

Roycroft Copper is the most complete (and interesting!) resource out there for owners, collectors and aficionados of Roycroft copper goods. David Kornacki's extensive knowledge on the subject is a huge boon to anyone evaluating or researching their own collection, and the excellent image gallery he's compiled is the best overview of the range of Roycroft copperware that I've ever seen in one place. History, interesting facts about the Roycrofters, tips on collecting and estimated current values of a huge number of Roycroft items are all available on the site; Kornacki even has some especially good looking items for sale.

Archive Designs

Archive Designs create original designs in copper & iron "in the spirit of the Arts & Crafts ... Rustic and Mid-Century" movements. From farmhouse sinks, fireplace hoods and surrounds, wrought-iron gates and rails, a wide variety of light fixtures, to metal tiles and mailboxes, principal Joseph Mross' work is detailed and beautiful. Mross is also an architectural designer, and images of his work in this discipline are also available on the Archive Designs site.

San Francisco open studios

Vince-Meyer-TablesMany communities throughout the Bay Area hold an "open studio" weekend (or week, or, in the case of this month-long 29th annual event in San Francisco, month!), where a large number of artists - sometimes hundreds - open their workspaces to visitors. This is a great way to discover new artists and designers, and to find wonderful work at low prices. This year's event in San Francisco will take place from 11 am to 6 pm every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of October at more than 800 studios across the city; each weekend a new neighborhood of studios will open its doors to visitors, culminating with the huge number of open studios at the now-decommissioned Hunters' Point Naval Shipyard.

pictured: Vince Meyer's Japanese-influenced tables

Guild.com: 21st-Century Arts & Crafts

cherylwilliamsBuilding on the Arts & Craft movement of an earlier time, Guild.com is a treasure trove of current artists working in metalwork, ceramics, printmaking, painting, fiber, glass, wood, lighting, furniture and tableware.

The Arts & Crafts masters of yesteryear would have enthusiastically approved of The Guild's Philosophy: In a nutshell, we believe that when you live with art that you love, and it's made by a gifted artist with skill and care, it adds something rich and sweet to your life, every day.

Continue reading "Guild.com: 21st-Century Arts & Crafts" »

Treadway & Toomey auctions

metal-vaseAuctions have come a long way in the last few years. Treadway & Toomey, one of the largest of the antiques auction houses to specialize in American Arts & Crafts, has one of their largest auctions of the year coming up on September 12 at their gallery in Oak Park. The online portion of the auction is presented using technology from icollector.com and will occur live on Ebay. Over 1000 lots of furniture, artwork and other decorative items will be sold, and you can preview the lots online. As at any Treadway & Toomey auction, there are some really gorgeous items up for sale.

Arts & Crafts jewelry design today

bracelet-2A number of talented contemporary jewelry artists continue to produce interesting original work (and faithful reproductions) in the Arts & Crafts style. Among them are the designers of Dard Hunter Studios, whose strongly deco-inspired work reflects quite well upon thier namesake. The folks at Craftsman Home carry several lines of Craftsman-inspired silver and copper jewelry, including a few Roycroft pieces, and Ron Van Ostrand, a juried Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan, sells his own work via Ebay.
See Jewelry & Metalwork in the Arts and Crafts Tradition for a much more in-depth look at this subject.

Continue reading "Arts & Crafts jewelry design today" »