This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
What strikes us most forcibly in perusing this capital little manual is the reaction it indicates, in high quarters, against that juiceless kind of conven-
Carved Cupboard Doors.
From " Wood Carving." By George Jack. (By courtesy of Mr. John Hogg, Publisher.) tionalism which a few years ago seemed destined to rob British design of all vitality. As, rightly or wrongly, this characteristic was supposed to have originated at the great school at South Kensington, it is interesting to note how completely the author of this book and Professor Lethaby, who edits the series, seem to be in accord on this point. In regard to the teaching of wood-carving, the Professor says: "Classes should be provided with casts and photographs of good examples, varying from rough choppings up to minute and exquisite work, but all having the breath of life in them. There should also be a good supply of illustrations and photographs of birds and beasts and flowers, and, above all, some branches and buds of real leafage. Then I would set the student of design in word-carving to make variations of such examples according to his own skill and liking. If he and the teacher could be got to clear their minds of ideas of 'style,'
Details of Carving on Cupboard Door, shown on the opposite page.
From "Wood Carving." By George Jack. (By courtesy of Mr. John Hogg, Publisher.) and to take some example simply because they liked it, and to adopt it just because it amused them, the mystery of design would be nearly solved. Most designs will always be the making of one thing like another, with a difference." Speaking of the accumulation in carving classes of "little carved squares and oblongs, having no relation to anything that, in an ordinary way, is carved," he adds: "To carve the humblest real thing, were it but a real toy for a child, would be better than the production of these panels, or of the artificial trivialities which our minds instinctively associate with bazaars."
In conformity with this idea Mr. Jack reproduces, with approval, one of the rude Swiss peasant carvings, in the round, of a bear of a type with which tourists are familiar, and "The Sheepfold," a carved frieze-like panel of his own, in which realism is carried to an unusual limit, with uncommon ability, in the spirited representation of scampering sheep "rounded up" by a masterful collie whose movements are directed by a shepherd, depicted with flying cloak and crook in hand. To understand how all this, without confusion, is brought within the much-restricted space allowed by the composition, the reader must be referred to the book itself. It is wonderful, but we shudder to think of what the result might have been in less capable hands. While we agree that "animal forms, without some indication of vitality, are the dullest of all dull ornaments," we would commend as a safer example for the student the carved oak covers Mr. Jack did for one of the " Kelmscott Press" books, "Tale of Troy," which he also illustrates. Here we have with less violent action a wild boar, a lion and a stag, skilfully disposed amid cleverly conventionalised foliage. The simply modelled lion was based on a helpful drawing which Mr. Philip Webb, the architect, made for the author, and which is reproduced to show what a carver's first diagram should be - "outlines indicating the right relationship of the main masses, and the merest hint of what is to come in the way of detail."
There are some valuable suggestions as to how far experimental models in clay or wax may be used with advantage by the carver; on propriety of carving on furniture, and there is a capital chapter on architectural carving. From all of these we would like to quote, but to be rightly appreciated these pages must be read in their entirety. In conclusion, we have room only to refer to the specimen illustrations, reproduced herewith, offering "some suggestions for corner cupboards, chosen as giving the largest area for carved surface with the minimum of expense in construction." These examples also call for a minimum of carving, especially the left-hand one, the small amount of foliage that is called for being disposed in small diamond-shaped spaces, sunk in the face of the doors, and there is a little on the bracket below. The other design, somewhat more elaborate, is varied by having a larger space filled with groups of leaves. One of these groups is given herewith on a larger scale; "the oak leaves are shown with raised veins in the centre, the others being merely indicated by the gouge hollows." Mr. Jack, by the way, considers it a violation of the "laws of construction in the carpenter's department," that when foliage appears in panels divided by plain spaces, it should be made to look as if it grew from one panel into the other, with the suggestion of boughs passing behind the solid part." He considers that "it disturbs the effect of solidity in the material." Possibly; yet something may be urged to the contrary, from the point of view of Japanese practice. (London: John Hogg, 13, Paternoster Row. 5s. net.)