Julie Leidel holding her Roycroft Artisan plaque at her home in Evergreen, Colorado.
I've known about the Roycroft Artisans for decades, and in the early 2000s, I told myself "One day, I hope to be one of them." That day came in 2016 when I was accepted by a jury of Master Roycroft Artisans to join this amazing organization. It will always be one of my happiest artistic moments. Becoming a Roycrofter meant the world to me as an artist. To me, it signified that I was truly part of the Arts & Crafts Revival and renaissance movement that has now been alive and strong for longer than the original Arts & Crafts Movement (1880-1920). Last month in April of 2021, I was accepted as a Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan. Words can't express my gratitude adequately enough. I am proud to learn from my peers, to connect with so many amazing artists all over the U.S., and to carry on in the footsteps of the artisans that came before us.
WHAT IS THE ROYCROFT? At the turn of the century, the Roycroft Shops in East Aurora, New York (1895-1938), became one of the leading centers in the U.S. for the production of Arts and Crafts goods–books, leatherwork, metalwork, and furniture. The designs of the Roycrofters were influenced by a host of sources, including the work of Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops, the Wiener Werkstätte (notably in the graphic and metalwork designs of Karl Kipp and Dard Hunter), and French Art Nouveau.
The artistic appeal of Roycroft creations made them very popular, but it was also the business acumen and highly charismatic personality of its founder, Elbert Hubbard, which made Roycroft one of the most successful enterprises of the Arts and Crafts era. In the midst of a successful career with the Larkin Soap Company in Buffalo, in 1893 he abandoned his position to study at Harvard and dedicate himself to writing. In the following year he made a trip to England and Ireland during which Hubbard claimed to have met and been greatly influenced by William Morris, founder of the Kelmscott Press, and patriarch of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Inspired by the ideals of Morris and the beautifully crafted publications of Kelmscott, Hubbard returned to East Aurora where he established the Roycroft Printing Shop in 1895. With his extraordinary aptitude for marketing and self-promotion, the press began garnering national attention for its publications–The Philistine, The Fra, and series of illuminated books and pamphlets, including the politically charged “A Message to Garcia” (1899). Mounting success enabled him to extend the Roycroft campus to thirteen additional buildings over the next ten years, hosting a bindery, leather, furniture, and metalwork shops, and a stained-glass studio, as well as staff housing and an inn for an increasing number of personnel and visitors.
Hubbard’s inspirational leadership eventually attracted nearly 500 craftspeople to his utopian arts community. Roycroft itself became a critical gathering place for contemporary artists, craftsmen, authors, and philosophers of the time.
The original Roycroft mark (the Single R) was trademarked by Elbert Hubbard in 1906. It's inspiration came from a orb and line rising sky-wards, a symbol used in the middle ages by monks in their illuminated manuscripts meaning "The best I can do, dedicated to God" The R stood for Roycroft which symbolized "The Royal Craft" for their high-quality handcrafted works. Suddenly in 1915, Hubbard and his wife died in the sinking of the Lusitania, and the Roycroft Shops were carried on by their son Bert Hubbard, but it entered into a period of decline during the Great Depression, and finally closed in 1938.*
For further reading, this blog post by The Craftsman Bungalow has some great information, and wonderful video clips from a very well-done PBS documentary entitled, Elbert Hubbard: An American Original.
Almost 40 years passed, and the campus and Roycroft name lay in wait for a revival. The ROYCROFT RENAISSANCE In 1976 a group of East Aurora historians, artists and residents with a common interest in the Roycroft Campus and the philosophy of Elbert Hubbard set in motion a plan to preserve those ideals which had made the campus a center of the Arts and Crafts Movement. After several meetings and energetic discussion the Roycrofters-at-Large Association (RALA) was formed. Rixford Jennings innovated the design to incorporate two back-to-back R's signifying the Roycroft Renaissance for the Roycrofters-At-Large Association (shown to the left). When you see the RR mark on a piece of work, be assured it was made to the highest standards with the ideals of using “Head, Heart, and Hand” just as the original mark did.
To become a Roycroft Renaissance artisan, an artist must submit original artwork to a jury of Roycroft Master Artisans. Only artisans whose work exemplifies the following criteria are awarded the use of the RR mark:
- High quality hand-craftsmanship - Excellence in design - Continuing artistic growth - Originality of expression - Professional recognition
An artisan must be juried in annually to demonstrate continued excellence and growth. After five years, if the work is shown to be exceptional, the jury may elect to elevate the artist to Master Artisan status.
Today the non-profit organization is still actively working to keep alive the history and philosophy of Roycroft through special events centered on and around the Roycroft Artisans, the Roycroft Chamber Music Fest, and the Roycroft Campus. Through the efforts of Kitty Turgeon, Robert Rust and the RALA organization, the Roycroft Campus became a National Historic Landmark. If you make it to East Aurora, New York, a stay at the historic Roycroft Inn and a visit to The Copper Shop Gallery, and the Schoolhouse Gallery are a must! I was asked in December of 2020 to join the RALA board, and I am thrilled to be part of this organization not only as an artisan, but also as a board member, helping to serve our artists and communities.
LINKS TO THE LIVING ROYCROFT ARTISANS RALA includes over 70 artisans that are working today, so Elbert Hubbard's dream is alive and well in the 21st Century. Visit www.ralaweb.com to view links to each artisan and see thumbnails of their work. I also have a list of every artisan and their website (or email) listed under my Arts & Crafts Links page that includes over 450 links to everything Arts & Crafts from antiques & conferences, to contemporary artisans working in the style today.
Many of us Roycrofters have our artistic creations in the historic Schoolhouse Gallery - 1054 Olean Road, East Aurora, NY. Master Roycroft Artisans Ben Little and Thomas Pafk graciously run this gallery for the good of all of the artisans, collectively. Here's a great article that was published recently about the Schoolhouse Gallery.
RALA is always looking for more art lovers to join as a member-at-large, so if you love this movement and want to support our artisans, please learn more at www.ralaweb.com. For $50 a year, you can join at the Patron Level, where you will receive a hand-made limited-edition item from a Roycrofter each year when you renew your membership. In June 2021, Roycroft Renaissance Artisan John Monk will be making beautiful hand-hammered tree ornaments inspired by Dard Hunter’s rose motif as the patron gift.
*Adapted from the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) Website, Kevin Tucker, 2011.
Mountain Lakes are some of my favorite landscapes to paint. The peaks rise up out of the water, and the evening sky is changing by the second. Those summer evenings when the sky calls out it's brilliance for just a moment, yes they are magical.
Introducing "Vignette Mountain Lake" gouache on illustration board. Prints are available in 6 sizes, as matted prints, metal, or canvas. I really love it with a double matting, white and black.
This painting is part of a bigger whole. This original painting was a commission and featured her grandchildren roasting marshmallows on their property on Lake Chelan in Washington. The photo showcased the most beautiful sunset, and creating this sky is one of my top 10 favorite moments while painting. Where pink meets orange, that's the stuff of magic in my book.
By not adding text to this painting it can become any mountain lake around the nation. Notable Colorado lakes that this could represent are: Lake City, Lake Loveland, Lake Dillon, Chatfield Reservoir, Lake Granby, Horsetooth Reservoir, Lake San Cristobal, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Boulder Reservoir, Boyd Lake, Sloans Lake, Bear Creek Lake
I had been wanting to create a painting featuring a dove for quite awhile. As tensions have been rising over the course of this year, it was on my heart more and more. Here's a bit of why I created the artwork I did, and the symbolism that it holds for me.
Peace - it's something that takes a great amount of effort, time, commitment, and redirection. It doesn't come naturally to most of us, it needs to be taught - to our children and to ourselves. The idea that peace isn't something that just lands upon us is important to remember. It's a beautiful idea that needs ACTION, not inaction.
"Teach Peace" is inscribed at the top of my Art Nouveau dove as a reminder to find and seek out peace in our own hearts. Others may see our searching and be inspired. The actionable quest to attain peace is also hinted at in my painting. My deconstructed peace sign is in two parts: the circle held within the dove's wings, and the vertical "fork" is being grasped in the dove's hold as a sprig of lavender. Lavender is believed to bring peace and harmony and is regarded as a symbol of love, happiness, devotion and protection by many cultures.
Peace takes work. Breath... stepping back and letting cooler heads prevail. It's never fully constructed, it's always a work in progress. "An eye for an eye makes the world blind." These words are inspired by Gandhi, but not directly attributed to him. All forms of spirituality and religion hold peace on high as a refinement of what we can strive to attain as humans with enlightened spirits and hearts. My art nouveau take on this concept had a perfect home within the theme and feeling of stained glass.
Below is a picture of an Art Nouveau stained glass window from the early 1900s. I stumbled upon in on Pintrest, but sadly there were no identifying marks or information for me to learn more about the artist or the artwork. I loved the light and flow of this design, and you can see my inspiration starting point from this piece.
Oh Happy Day! Metal Prints are HERE for 165 different paintings on my website!
My artwork is printed on premium, high-gloss metal that offers stunning vibrancy, stark contrast (and won’t easily scuff or scrape.) Artwork comes with .25" rounded corners. The colors brightly pop in a way that canvas can't. You will not see the metal through this artwork.
Each high-gloss metal print has an ultra-hard protective, weatherproof, and waterproof coating that’s easy to clean with a dry micro fiber cloth. Each comes ready to hang with a pre-installed float mount frame on the back making your artwork appear to float .5" off of the wall. These look great framed or unframed.
The following sizes are available: 8x10, 11x14, 16x20
I'd love to get your feedback on my art so I've created a short survey. If you can spare 5-10 minutes, I'd be so grateful.
Growth is something I really seek out in my art business. I'm also a big believer in good communication, and I can learn so much from you. If you could spare just a few moments for this short survey, I would be so grateful. Skip any questions you don't want to fill out, or talk my ear off and let me hear your voice on all of it!
As a personal thank you gift for your time, enjoy a 15% off coupon code at the end of this survey for use on my website, www.thebungalowcraft.com
Be The Change by Julie Leidel, 2020. Gouache on Illustration board, 20 x 24.
New Year Greeting Card, artwork by Britsh illustrator Ethel Larcombe, early 1900-10s.
Ethel Larcombe's, 1899 submission to The Studio Magazine entitled "Summer"
1900 children's book illustration by Ethel Larcombe.
The Letter O from Larcombe's 1902 original alphabet design.
One of Lacrombe's many book cover designs.
1917 design work for Sears, Roebuck, & C0. Designer unknown, but fits Larcombe's book design aesthetic.
As the idea for my next painting rolled around in my heart for a few weeks, I knew I wanted to have a strong visual to bring it alive with connection. I wanted this artwork to resonate with the historical time between 1890-1910 when the Art Nouveau Movement flourished and the time in which Mahatma Gandhi lived. The monarch butterfly has represented change across many cultures for centuries.
This female figure in my artwork is not meant to be a fairy however, but it is more of a representation of the "hats" we wear in our lifetime. Similar to putting on a uniform, this is a way we become the job. It's more of a nostalgic take on why a super hero would wear a costume. I've heard many interviews with ordinary citizens put in extraordinary circumstances where the news heralds them "A Hero." Almost always, this hero never feels deserving of the title, they were just doing their part. That's exactly the point behind putting on your wings. We all can be that hero to someone by being the change we want to see in this world.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world" is a beautiful quote, but it's not word for word from Gandhi in printed format. After some research, it is based on his printed teachings from 1913: "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him." In 1989, the L.A. Times asked Gandhi's family about the quote and this was their response. "The Gandhi family states that M. K. Gandhi was known to say this verse many times in his lifetime and believes it to be original with him." So to be as accurate as possible, this is why I wrote "Inspired by Gandhi" on the artwork. Notably in 1976, Arleen Lorrance wrote with the same idea "Receive all people as beautiful exactly where they are. Perceive problems as opportunities. Be the change you want to see happen instead of trying to change everyone else..."
Many times the idea for my art's verse, and the idea for my art's composition & visual layout don't happen at the same time. I knew I wanted to base a painting off of Gandhi's teachings in Sept. of 2019 and include monarch butterflies. For my creative process, I muse over different ideas (usually just in my head) as the artwork starts to take shape in a very natural way. I keep my mind open and on the look out for inspiration. New Year 2020 comes around, and I can always count on my dear friend Robert Rust, co-author of The Arts & Crafts Home, and Arts & Crafts Architecture & Design Library to post the most wonderful, antique illustrations & cards on social media. I saw this amazing greeting card drawing, and I was in love.
I stayed up all night on Dec. 29, 2019 creating my conceptual layout for the art. At the time, I didn't know who "LE" was, and neither did Robert. Weeks later, Laura Euler, author of The Glasgow Style, and Arts & Crafts Embroidery, gave us the missing link. LE is British illustrator Ethel Larcombe (1876-1940.) Anytime I can stumble across a new (to me) female A&C illustrator, I'm all in. I want to share my research of this amazing artist that was also thriving in the time of Gandhi (1869-1948), albeit in a much lesser known capacity.
Ethel Larcombe was born in 1876 in Exeter, England where she lived all her life. Not to be confused with Ethel Thomson Larcombe (British tennis player, 1876-1965.) Her early influences included the book illustrations of Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway, whose work she studies and copied. William Morris’sKelmscott Chaucer in 1896 inspired her to explore the Arts & Crafts style, and her artistic influences shifted to painters like Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
In the following years she decreased her use of medieval elements and concentrated on more modern Art Nouveau designs and winning many competitions. Her work was featured in The Studio Magazine.Other publications that featured her work were Stone, Von Larisch, and Salwey. Her typographic lettering was shown in 1902 in Italy, and a German publication alongside an original alphabet by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
This style soon caught the eye of prolific book designer Talwin Morris, the Art Director of Blackie & Son in Glasgow. He commissioned her to design several book bindings for the firm and its London subsidiary, Gresham, between 1904 and 1912. Today, many of Larcombe's bindings are misattributed to Talwin Morris. Larcombe’s work was usually more compact compared to Morris’s. She also provided the title pages and initials to Walter Shaw Sparrow'sWomen Painters of the World, published in 1905, seen below.
In the Spring of 1917, American retailer Sears, Roebuck, & Co. hired her to design green-bordered cotton textile "coverettes" and catalogues to appeal to the female buyers looking to decorate children's rooms. Ethel is also well known for her illustrated "rag books" for Dean & Son. Her designs were also used in postcards printed by E. W. Savory Co. and she provided graphical design work for Arts & Crafts furniture designers Neatby & Evans. Not much is known about her personal life, sadly. Ethel Larcombe died in Exeter in 1940.
This is one of my favorite things about being a Revival artist; I love to bring back not only the style of the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements, but also I love to raise awareness to some of my personal unsung heroes, the lesser known artists from this era. As I was writing, I discovered a lead on the 1917 Sears pamphlets. The last two images posted below have decorative designs that stand starkly against much of the other design work produced by Sears at that time, so I did a little more digging. I have a hunch both of these are Ethel's designs. The Glasgow School of Art put together a wonderful "Treasures of the GSA Library" online after GSA lost their centuries-old library collections in two separate and devastating fires in May 2014 and again in June 2018 before all renovations were complete. I don't believe this digital collection was available before the fires. This image below shows Ethel's 1905 cover (left) next to a 1917 Sears ad (right). Ethel Larcombe's unique typography is unmistakable in both.
Lastly, I want the reader to understand that artists are inspired by other artists and have been since the beginning of time. Art history shows us time and time again how peers (and rivals) have influenced, innovated, and copied each others work whether they are living at the same time, or are divided by a century or more. When I saw this 1905 title page of Women Painters of the World illustrated by Ethel Larcombe, the first artist that popped into my 21st century mind was none other that of Mary Engelbreit. I'd be willing to bet she's been influenced by this book illustrator too. It's a small world, after all.
I want to help bring balance to people’s lives through art. Simply put, I want my artistic expression to be a reminder to seek out genuine human connection and true closeness to nature (and the divine) while focusing on the present moment. As I write, I realize I want to explain more about why I have this goal, not only for my art but for my life.
I want to be part of a movement to wake people up from the zombie-like state that technology can trap us in. We are near people every day without connecting to them. We reach more people than ever before in history through technology, sometimes without a single thought of making a positive interaction. We tend to over-correct in response to this over-stimulated, over-busy, over-stressed society we live in by shutting out true connections and replacing them with artificial ones. We walk into people on the street absentmindedly, or crash our cars into other cars because we are too busy “connecting” to people through our smart phones.
Technological development has paved the way for invention, innovation and improvement in almost every aspect of our modern lives, yet this constant hum of synthetic reality has become a replacement for genuine human connection.
We are in close proximity 24/7 to other humans around the globe, mostly through artificial devices: smart phones, computers, automobiles, head phones, televisions, Apple Watches, iPads, gaming consoles, video surveillance, virtual reality, and many more. Technology is swirling around us all the time through apps, social media, websites, email, radio, texts, pod casts, news casts, movies, gaming, programming, and the list goes on and on. We can stand feet or even inches away from people without acknowledging them. We can sit with loved ones to share a meal without even talking to them, looking down at the technology in front of us instead. I see each of these advancements as a possible brick in a larger wall of isolation around our souls if we aren't careful to find balance. The way technology fosters multi-tasking and hyper productivity in our daily life is also a major cause of stress, overwhelming us with a sense of being too busy for honest, heart-felt connection to one another.
We, as the human race, have morphed into human doings, not human beings. I find it interesting that the Oxford dictionary definition of human being is this: “a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.” Think about this for a moment. Has our superior mental development (as it relates to our constant use of technology) hindered our power to articulate speech with our actual vocal cords? Has it even cut into our ability and opportunity for upright stance on a regular basis? Has our artificial, constant closeness to people mindlessly changed our ability to really “plug in” to a human connection on a soulful and healthy level?
Has technology changed how we human? (Yes, I’m changing “human” to a verb for a second.) Human connection isn’t just about those closest to us. It doesn’t stop at our family and friends or our co-workers and classmates – those souls that we have put more effort into, or those people that we have just spent more time around. Human connection to me also happens as we walk on the sidewalk, as we drive down the road, as we take up space in a room of a building, as we stand on our earth, under the sun or moon, and of course as we use our various technological devices. But, we have literally thousands of opportunities for human connection every single day to the people that are right next to us, physically not just virtually.
I’ve been selling my artwork at art shows and festivals for nine years, and I’ve had conversations with literally tens of thousands of people. For the last two years of my journey, I changed my focus when I’m at a show meeting new people. I very purposely set a new intention for that part of my life, which ends up being over 50 full days a year. I actively talk to strangers that end up walking out as friends. I didn’t want my focus to be solely on selling my art (to make a living) but my purpose shifted to really, genuinely connect with people in the here and now. I want to hear their stories of connection to the land and nature, and also to each other. I want to listen to their memories that my paintings may bring to the surface. Over the last two years especially, I’ve paid attention. I see the human spirit in beautiful new and surprising ways. I see people struggle with the same things I struggle with, while at the same time seeing how unique and special and different they all are. My empathy and compassion has increased, and my judgement has slowed. I want to learn from others, even if we only cross paths for a few moments in this lifetime. I can’t tell you how much this has changed by artwork, and my perspective on life. I was scared to be that present, to make it my goal to really connect because I really thought it would be draining at first. I’ve been blown away by how much this focus has filled me up, in direct contrast to my fears. I literally find myself some days trying to figure out why other artists are starting tear down so early, only to discover that the day has flown by because it was filled with so many great conversations. That said, I screw up this goal all. the. time. I forget to focus on my intention to connect. I get tired and hot, or worried about that big dark cloud, or the fact that I have to use the restroom and I don’t know how to sneak away for a second to take care of me. I get annoyed at thoughtless comments by others. I forget to turn off my inner monologue to focus on listening to the person in front of me. I can give so much to new people during the day, that I may forget to give that same attention and 10 times more to my own family and friends. But, I know I’m making progress. I know I can turn that mindful, present-moment focus on quicker and more often when I practice it regularly. I know there’s always room for improvement.
I know that my life is richer and more colorful and inspired and full, not because of the technology that makes my life easier, but by the human beings that cross my path each day and their openness to connect to me, especially if they see the door is open. This is what I want people to take home with them in my artwork too: Genuine human connection and true closeness to nature (and the divine) while focusing on the present moment.
I share this long manifesto with you today because I’ve also made it a goal of mine to define my mission as an artist (as it turns out) on virtual paper, not just in my head alone. I hope this is the beginning of many new experiences I can open myself up to as a business owner, dreamer, artist, and of course, human being.
Looking for Help: I've recently found out that someone is actively selling paper prints and reproductions of my EXACT artwork without permission, or compensation to me as the artist. They have been selling in the Colorado Springs area in April, and may be in more retail locations and shows. I'm asking for help my friends. If you see a store or booth location with my artwork out there (and I'm not there, or they aren't on my current list of locations: https://www.thebungalowcraft.com/shows--locations.html) will you please grab the sellers information and post a picture of them and my art for me here? It would mean the world to me. Thank you deeply for your help in catching an active thief. Just post a pic and tell me when and where you saw my work and I'd be happy to verify that it's legit. Much love and gratitude...