English Arts & Crafts Furniture explores the Arts & Crafts movement with a unique focus on English designers. Through examination of details, techniques, and historical context, as well as projects, you’ll discover what sets these designers and their work apart from those that came before and after, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the Arts & Crafts movement and its influence. Three complete furniture builds provide a glimpse into the breadth of the movement’s ideals.
“[T]is is a rare woodworking book. The kind of book that makes me jealous that I didn’t write it myself. (Or at least come up with Hiller’s fascinating way of combining biography, history, sociology, workshop instruction and butt jokes.)–Christopher Schwarz, Lost Art Press
Read his full review here.
“For many people, the Arts & Crafts furniture style is synonymous with the work of Gustav Stickley: massive pieces in white oak with few curves and little ornamentation to speak of. The truth of the matter is that the style spans a wide range of forms and includes makers from many countries. A new book by Nancy Hiller offers a detailed look at the work produced in England by a number of makers and is a must-read for any woodworker endeavoring to work in the style. In English Arts & Crafts Furniture, Hiller’s scholarship is thorough and detailed, but her clear and engaging writing style keeps the text from feeling dense and overly academic. Not only is Hiller well-versed in the style, her passion for it is evident as well.
What makes this book particularly useful for furniture makers is that Hiller is one as well. A seasoned craftswoman well versed in the style, Hiller uses her building experience to offer additional insights for woodworkers as well as historians. While not necessarily a project book, Hiller does provide drawings and construction photos for three classic examples of the movement. Each piece serves as an introduction to prominent makers of the time. A dining chair based on work by Voysey, a sideboard in the style of Harris Lebus, and a classic hayrake dining table fashioned after an Ernest Gimson table demonstrate the breadth of creativity of the makers within the movement. Together they offer insights into traditional construction methods as well as a thorough history lesson that anyone interested in the style would benefit greatly from, myself included.”–Mike Pekovich, for Pins & Tales, the newsletter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers
“A most welcome addition to my bookshelves, @nrhiller’s English Arts and Crafts is simply stunning. If you’ve read any of Nancy’s other work, you already know that she puts as much craftsmanship into her writing as she does into her furniture. And yet this book still pleasantly surprised me in a few ways:
1) The book has the most elegant endpaper of any on my woodworking shelves. An excellent departure from the monotony of the crowd. [Beautiful endpapers were part of Megan Fitzpatrick’s vision for this book from the start. I am grateful to the publisher for adding this bit of beauty to the budget, and also to book designer Linda Watts for making it happen.]
2) While there are plans for a few designs inside, the book is not your typical project-by-project guide. Instead, it is an accessible and engaging conversation about the history, aesthetics, and philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, all beautifully interwoven with projects and techniques from some of Nancy’s most recent works.
3) Throughout, the pictures are beautifully human. Archival photos and museum pictures blend seamlessly with portraits of Nancy’s craftsmanship. [We have Scott Francis to thank for this dimension of the book. He put a ton of work into procuring archival images and arranging the material for the most meaningful impact.] But the in-process photos from her shop are my favorites. Nancy’s workspace looks humble, mortal. Her lighting is not always perfect. These “flaws” combine to bring the images back into dialogue with the text, to create a harmonious tone of real-world art and craft.
I now regret putting off this purchase for the past few months. But at least the dog days of summer afford me some extra reading time inside. Highly recommended. A real coup for @popularwoodworking, and hope to see more titles like this from them in the future.”–Brian Clites, @thewoodprof via Instagram
“English Arts & Crafts Furniture is a powerhouse of a new project book from author Nancy R. Hiller and publisher F+W Media. I’m a collector of woodworking project books. Most project books tend to be straight to the point with pictures, materials lists and some tutorial info. This book is quite different.
The included projects are presented with comprehensive historical background on the creators and designers along with templates and rough isometric sketches. There are good clear tutorial photos showing construction details to fill out the accompanying instructions. Materials lists are complete and detailed. The historical and biographical information is what really sets this book apart. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed reading it cover to cover and devouring the history and lore behind the pieces. I loved the old photos and seeing the furniture in its natural environment.
This is emphatically not a beginner’s book. There is no hand-holding here. The instructions and tutorials presuppose a good working knowledge of woodworking along with access to a variety of tools. The projects are complex and quite demanding (but oh so gorgeous). The aesthetic of these pieces appeals to me on a visceral level.
The projects are interwoven with background information for each one and they get their own complete chapters in the book. By my rough count, a little less than 50% of the content is actually devoted to the projects; the rest is history, philosophy and biographical information. There are three projects included: Voysey Two Heart Chair, Harris Lebus Sideboard, and the Gimson Hayrake Table. They are all three beautifully made inspiring pieces and worthy of the effort.
One thing which is absolutely vital in design is understanding context and the philosophy behind the things we create. If the only criterion for making something on which to sit were functionality, we could chop a slice out of a tree trunk and call it a day. The furniture we use and love most on a daily basis didn’t just spring fully blown into existence. It evolved and were designed (hopefully) with functionality and some philosophy and design. This book does a stellar job of speaking to that ‘soul’ of creativity and philosophy.
The author’s writing style is somewhat academic but gently humorous and easy to read. The research and the historical notes are uniformly good. I’m very impressed.”–Annie, reviewed at Nonstop Reader
“I recently ordered your book on English Arts & Crafts Furniture. It came in the mail yesterday and I have devoured it since it arrived. Wonderful book. I love the history portion of the book as well as the three pieces you outlined. Very well done and a book I look forward to working out of in the near future. Thanks for making this book.”–Scott Adams, via Instagram
Buy the book
Buy a signed copy from the author
Buy a signed copy of English Arts & Crafts Furniture from the author. Provide your desired inscription to NR Hiller during checkout, using the text box found in the Cart.
Price includes packing and shipping within the mainland United States.
Also for sale: Paper templates for Voysey two heart chair
One sheet of tracings from the templates I used to build my chairs, 30” x 42” rolled and mailed in a carton. Directions: Cut each template out with scissors, then tape onto your work piece (or use the paper templates to make a set in plywood).
These drawings are based on tracings made at The Wilson, Cheltenham, UK and drawings by C.F.A. Voysey but reflect interpretation in some details. They are not appropriate for a museum-quality reproduction.
Price includes shipping to mainland U.S. Shipping is via US Postal Service Media Mail, which may take up to 2 weeks. For expedited shipping, please contact NR Hiller via the NR Hiller Design website “contact” page.