This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
By Ernest E. Clark.
The first step toward practical Design being the making of studies direct from Nature, the question is, What forms of Nature, and it is answered satisfactorily by this volume. The author, who is Head-master of Derby Technical College, anticipates the objection that there is danger in putting before the student ready-made diagrams for reference and use in decorative studies, and justly observes that it may be met by a consideration of the difficulties experienced in obtaining, at any given moment, the right plant, or the information concerning such plant, which is essential, in order to make an original drawing. His subjects, mainly typical English wild Fowers, are drawn with sound knowledge of their characteristic growth and structure.
It may be assumed from the diagrams we reproduce herewith, that it is part of the scheme of the book to supplement the plant drawings with examples of their decorative application to given spaces. This is not the case, for Mr. Clark thinks that, had he done so, "a check might possibly have been put upon the student's originality." For our own part, we do not share this view. On the contrary, it seems to us that the more variations on a given theme a student becomes familiar with, the greater will be the stimulus to his capacity for originality in supplying further examples, and if he does not find them in one book he will be pretty sure to consult another which gives them. We have, however, no cause to quarrel with Mr. Clark because the scope of his work does not extend beyond its self-imposed limitations. What he has undertaken to do he has done exceedingly well. Indeed, he does more than he promises. Besides the admirable introductory article on Design and 100 plates giving the natural representation of each flower included and its decorative (not botanical) analysis - to some subjects, such as the horse-chestnut (which we illustrate), there are as many as four full pages of illustration - he-scatters through the volume, with delightful prodigality, scores of charming little decorative bits treated stencil-wise, in the fashion of Fig. 3, which to the marquetry worker especially would be a perfect god-send.
Speaking of Fig. 3 brings us back to our particular reference to it in our second paragraph. The diagrams, as we were about to say when we flew off at a tangent, are to show one way of beginning a design to fill a given space: "There arc several ways. . . First of all, the student should carefully consider the plant in relation to the space itself; some plant forms lend themselves to certain shapes much better than others; One will compose within a rectangle much better than in a square; another in a square better than in a circle, and so on; but much of this depends upon the ingenuity of the student, and no recipes can be given. "Having finally settled upon the plant and the given space, a good method is to commence by lightly sketching in the construction or main lines of the design, getting these to balance each other