Tag Archives: William Morris

The Arts and Crafts style: Mary Philpott and Spokane, Washington

Close to Cannon Hill Park, this early example of a classic craftsman bungalow was built in 1911. It is located at 721 W 22nd Ave.

This craftsman bungalow was built in 1910. Located at 712 E 19th Ave., Spokane Washington. Once a less desirable area, the eastern side is being gentrified.

William Morris age 53

Portrait of William Morris, aged 53. J. W. Mackail, Author, “The Life of William Morris” in two volumes, London, New York and Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co., 1899. Frederick Hollyer via Wikimedia Commons

William Morris 001

William Morris (1834-1896), “Guinevere,” oil on canvas, 1857. Tate Gallery, London. William Morris via Wikimedia Commons

Morris Woodpecker tapestry detail

Detail of “Woodpecker” tapestry designed by William Morris. (The complete tapestry has a border and inscription. William Morris via Wikimedia Commons

It feels a little strange. I will be dropping down into the United States from Canada for a family celebration and, while there, I  will make a special trip downtown to look at some exquisite ceramic tiles that are made in Canada. My purpose is clear; I aim to have a second look at work by ceramist Mary Philpott, whose work I very much admire. She hand-carves porcelain then applies layer after layer of translucent porcelain with multiple firings. The effect is jewel-like. The tiles have heft, with medium to deep relief. Last year, I was delighted to find her tiles  in downtown Spokane at Artisans’ Wares in Riverpark Square. I had seen her website on the Internet before but had no idea I would be able to see her work when I went home to see my family. Philpott states that her studio, Verdant Tile Co., is located in the “historic Grand Trunk Railway Station” in Stratford, Ontario. The brick and antiquity would set accent her work well. This talented woman has the type of curriculum vitae that makes me want to weep with joy. Her work and interests represent much of what I love in terms of style and approach, right down to her membership in the William Morris Society.  I think her work is achingly beautiful. Photos of her work can be found on her site and I hope you can take the time to have a peek, as I cannot post them here. No worries; it’s just a click away…. She also has a blog called The Running Hare and if you peruse it, you’ll have a chance to see works in progress.   Much of her work is in the classic Arts and Crafts style and Spokane, Washington is one of those little niches in the U.S. of  A. that is bungalow heaven. Philpott either did her art market ‘homework’ well, or was approached by Spokanites who wanted to sell her work there. Mary Philpott has the distinction of holding RoycroftMaster Artisan status, well-earned, no doubt, and she is a tile designer and full-time studio potter. It might sound like I’m going about seeing her work in a roundabout manner, since she lives in the same country I do, but it is the only way I can see her work in person. She sells her art work in Canada, the United States, England, and France, but nothing can be had in the Metro Vancouver area. It makes sense; only a few original bungalows grace the Vancouver area, most having been replaced by later architecture and, to my mind, wretched architecture. (Michael Klucknerhas written extensively about it.) But, refreshingly, a trip to Spokane means a trip to all things bungalow and I am sure Canadian Mary Philpott does a good trade there. Spokane’s bungalows are peppered throughout the city, but they are  mainly on the South Hill, the area to the south of the Spokane River. For a kick, I recently researched Spokane real estate and found many classic bungalows on the market there. While the rest of the city’s real estate is experiencing the same lows as throughout much of the U.S., the bungalows seem to be holding their own. While what you would pay for a bungalow there equals the amount one would spent for a mere lot here in Metro Vancouver, it’s known that the market here doesn’t reflect the actual value of homes for sale. Real estate is very inflated here, the most expensive in Canada. So, seeing these bungalows at such reasonable prices is eye candy for me. Mary Philpott’s artwork would fit in very well in any of these homes. I look forward to having the chance to see it again and now I have to start thinking about which of her pieces I’d like to add to my collection.

“A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for health and happiness.”

— John Ruskin; the Roycroft “creed”



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Display racks to enhance your artisan tiles

Tiles by William De Morgan, 1872-1882, manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This summer, I learned that a tile I’d given for Christmas wasn’t being displayed. Well, I know that when it starts belonging to someone else, it is their business and what they do or do not do with it doesn’t pertain to me. Still, it did ‘ouch’ and brought up an issue: my lack of sources for displaying the things I make. The display hardware I’ve seen consists of wooden racks, Chinese style, and brass plate hangers that grip the piece from behind. Neither works well for my style of work. So, I decided to investigate, as I’ll soon be needing some. What I’m looking for are nice racks for my artisan tiles, something that would be sturdy, yet not detract, and nothing that feels modern. My tiles are Arts and Crafts style. This timeline spans the second half of the 19th Century in Great Britain and 1905-1925 in the U.S. In addition,  Orientalism was the rage for a decade, starting with the 1880s. Think Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” Ostensibly, these modern Chinese stands could be used, but I think they would detract from my tiles because of the ornamentation. Originally, such tiles would have been inset into wooden furniture, wall panels, and around fireplaces. Plate rails would have been used, too. But not all tiles would have been displayed that way. Because I am unable to try any of these out on my tiles, I am going to do a bit of photoshopping…will ‘place’ my tiles one-by-one behind the racks to see what I think looks best. If you know of any sources I might like, in addition to the one listed below, please let me know. I’d appreciate it! — Jan

Part of a panel of tiles designed by William Morris for Membland Hall and executed by William De Morgan, 1876. Source Wikimedia Commons

Tile Racks: Fine Home Displays carries some nice items. It also has Better Business Bureau accreditation and takes orders from Canada. The following are called plate holders, but they could easily double for tile racks, ones that hang.

  • The Loop Design is black with a matte finish and retails for $12.89-$14.89; comes in two different sizes.
  • The Scroll Style holder goes for $15.89-$18.89; comes in these colors: gold, steel, dark steel and black. Two sizes.
  • The Iron Easel is black and quite plain and I like it. Sells for $15.89. It’s quite large and can double as a bowl rack.
  • Chair Motif Bowl Holder for $19.89. Lovely; must include it! Wrought iron, an antique gold finish, it is now out of stock, but you can be notified when it’s in.

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