This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Requests have lately reached us from different parts of the Kingdom asking us to give suggestions for the formation of local "Arts and Crafts Clubs." It will be a genuine pleasure to do so; for next to an Art School there is nothing so helpful as a local art students' club; it stimulates study, promotes emulation and brings about a healthy interchange of ideas. There is scarcely a town or hamlet in the Kingdom but where there may be found a few persons of artistic feeling or with a natural leaning towards some artistic craft, but lacking the opportunity for development. Even half-a-dozen young men and women with such tastes might constitute the membership of an association for mutual improvement. The outlay should be insignificant. There need be no expense for rent, for the club can meet at the residence of one or another of the members in rotation. A small initiation fee is desirable, and there should be regular dues, so as to raise the club above the level of a mere casual assemblage. There need be no officer except a secretary, and he can also act as treasurer: whatever may be his artistic qualifications he certainly should be the most energetic and business-like member of the association. Meetings should be held at least once a week and as much oftener as may be desired. For a working art club three or at most four evenings a week would be sufficient, and the work done by the members during the rest of the time should, by all means, be presented for general inspection and discussion at these meetings. The debate and criticism called forth would go far towards correcting errors and encouraging perseverance.
A question will naturally arise as to the relative prominence that is to be given to certain arts and crafts. That can only be decided by the circumstances in each particular case. In some districts affected by the particular industry of the locality, it is easy to foresee that certain crafts will have a preponderating influence. Instead of spending on casts and prints the money got from initiation fees, the majority of members may demand a carpenter's bench and wood-carving tools, a "Hobbies" combination tool and table for bent-iron work, and, perhaps, a jeweller's muffle furnace for firing enamels. I hear, by the way, that there is soon to be put upon the market a wonderful little gas furnace, which, by means of a simple Bunsen burner, will produce a heat capable of melting any metal. This is not easy to credit, but the statement is made on the authority of the inventor, a noted craftsman. One can imagine what a delightful acquisition this would be to the equipment of the workroom of any local Arts and Crafts Club. In a manufacturing district no doubt it would be easy to bring in some expert in metals, from time to time, to give a demonstration to the members. I do not know what is to be the price of this miniature furnace; but it is to be very moderate I am told. Such a jeweller's furnace as is needed for firing enamels may be bought for thirty-five shillings.
But I am afraid I am departing somewhat from the original idea suggested above, viz., that our local club is to be a very small affair to begin with, and that at first its gatherings are to take place at the residence at one or another of the members in rotation. Still, this initiation stage, happily, may soon be passed, and the club rejoice in its own rooms, and by and bye, perhaps, in its own house.
Most of the prosperous art clubs in the Kingdom have developed from small beginnings.
Ox another page Mr. Cunynhame is quoted as girding at buyers of counterfeit "old" Limoges enamels, who, posing as connoisseurs, tell you that "the old colours cannot be matched" and that " the old secrets have disappeared." This recalls to me the following tale, with its moral, told by M. de Fourcaud: - " It was in 1882, during the sitting of the commission charged to investigate the condition of art industries and of the workers in them, of which I had the honour to be one. The witnesses, without exception, one after the other, brought us the same complaints about the strange tastes of self-styled refined people, who are deplorably inclined, so they said, to the modern antique. One of them, Mr. Soyer, a clever enameller, made known to us an interesting experience: ' I was shown one day,' said he, 'an enamel representing the death of the Duke de Guise, which I was asked if 1 could repair. I replied that it was easy, since the enamel was not separated from the ground and was not much damaged. Still, one part I would have to do over again. "How will you do it ?" I was asked. "In the same way as when I made the piece." "How ! I paid ten thousand francs for this enamel, and you pretend to say that it was made in your shop ?" "Certainly; it is a design of Philippoteaux's which I found in 'L'lllustration,' and which I have arranged. If you wish, I will show you the enlargement." "But it is not possible; it was black with dirt when I bought it; you do not know what a time it took to clean it." "Oh, I understand. They simply put a 'culotte' on it. I will show you the tracing of the design" - which I did." If the reader would see for himself what that wonderful craftsman, Paul Soyer, can accomplish in the reproduction of old enamels, let him study the copies of the pieces from the Louvre at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Daniel Vierge. Sketch by Himself, Engraved by Clement Bellhnger.
(See " Pen Drawings by Vierge," page 120)
Conference of Art Teachers.