As I am researching America’s version of Arts & Crafts – known as Craftsman – I have uncovered a few interesting tidbits that I found beyond interesting. While determining a design concept, I happened upon several examples of seahorses used in Craftsman interiors. Seahorses surrounded by a sea of chestnut wood…hmmm, I had to get to the bottom of it. This is what I found:
Denslow was a cartoonist and illustrator, and was most widely-known for his illustrations of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Prior to that gig, he had worked for Roycrofters in East Aurora, N.Y., which was a reformist community of craft workers and artists, founded by Elbert Hubbard. According to http://www.dardhunter.com/wwdens.html, W.W. Denslow had provided cartoons of humor and social commentary to the Philistine magazine at that time. His trademark signature included a stylized rendering of a seahorse (which Hubbard was quite fond of-reproducing the image in accessories and eventually adapting it as a Roycroft logo). These andiron dandies recently sold at auction for $12k, not shabby for stylized metal. Denslow, by the way, purchased an island off Bermuda with his riches from his “Wizard of Oz” fame, where he crowned himself “Denslow the First.”
Edward Timothy Hurley was the leading artist of Rookwood Pottery, a leading pottery-producing company during the height of the Craftsman style based in Cincinnati, Ohio. But he was also highly acclaimed in etching, painting, and illustrating, which then led him to become a major architectural and landscape artist of his native city of Cincinnati.
The Seahorse theme during the Craftsman style peaked my interest because it seemed somewhat out of place in an interior filled with land-related elements (wood, pinecones, copper). This led me to discover the cross-over talents of W. W. Denslow and E. T. Hurley, and they will be proudly displayed within my next Design Styles project.
– Jules, ID/LA