Date of this Version
Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.
Although not as consistently well-preserved or heavily studied as furniture, pottery and other decorative items of their era, American Arts and Crafts textiles from the first decades of the twentieth century were often less expensive and more readily attainable than other home furnishings of the same style. These textiles offered middle-class Americans an opportunity to incorporate the Arts and Crafts aesthetic into their homes. As this paper will show, artist and designer Harriet Coulter Joor (1875-1965) not only helped to establish the prevailing stylistic conventions of Arts and Crafts textiles in the United States, she also encouraged American women to create their own domestic textiles by hand. In doing so Joor introduced and popularized the ethos of the Arts and Crafts Movement - an outlook that prized objects made by hand using simple, humble materials. Recently it has come to light that Joor designed many of the needlework household textiles sold by American Arts and Crafts impresario Gustav Stickley. She also wrote instructional articles on textile design, published in many popular shelter publications and women's magazines of the time including House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, and Stickley's magazine The Craftsman - the leading mouthpiece of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States. This paper will examine Joor's contribution to the aesthetic conventions of American Arts and Crafts textiles in the early twentieth century, and consider how her published design articles advocated for the incorporation of handicraft into the lives of newly emerging middle-class American women.