"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

08 December 2016


During the Arts and Crafts era, mottoes were a way to keep the ideals of the movement alive in everyone’s home and workplace. The Larkin Soap Company’s Buffalo, N.Y., office building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright had mottoes painted throughout its five-story atrium. Wright’s own home had a fireplace mantel inscribed with the motto, “Good friend, around these hearth-stones speak no evil word of any creature.” The massive 1913 fireplaces at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., have many mottoes painted onto their walls. Not to be forgotten are the copper-hooded fireplaces at Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, which also laud the “joy of work,” most notably in the motto “The lyf so short the craft so long to lerne,” a Geoffrey Chaucer sentiment offered as an inspiration to all visitors.

But most of us are more familiar with the hand-drawn mottoes reproduced on paper by leading Arts and Crafts manufacturers such as Roycroft, Rust Craft, Buzza and other early-20th-century firms. Sizes and paper choices were varied. Large, 11-by 14-inch mottoes were individually printed on handmade or watermarked papers using a letterpress.

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