One of the better ways to find projects to build is to search the Internet. I generally search using the “images” tab on Google. Once the page is filled with pieces that match my search parameters, I scroll down the page and stop at only the photos that catch my attention.
The day I searched for Arts & Crafts stools (the latest project published by 360 Woodworking), I found more than what I had expected. Down the rabbet hole I fell. Who I found was Arthur W. Simpson. A successful woodworker from the English Arts & Crafts period who seems to have been shunned by history – many of the sites I visited began with the same information, “Simpson is one of the neglected figures of the English Arts and Crafts movement.”
Simpson was hell-bent to learn to carve, and it appears as though he paid his dues. He began studying as a carver at the age of 14. His first apprenticeship was with a local cabinetmaker in Kendal, but four years later he began working at Gillow’s, which was a highly respected company in Lancaster, England. Eventually he moved to London where he learned about current trends. It was then that he began to move from his ecclesiastical beginnings.
A few years later, Simpson returned home where he worked on both the ecclesiastical and domestic markets. Much of his work included large carving motifs. Business was good and as it grew and new employees were hired, Simpson moved to a larger facility. In 1888, he set up the Handicrafts workshop and moved forward from there.
At the turn of the century, Simpson became friends with Arts and Crafts designer and architect C.F. A. Voysey. Voysey recommended Simpson to clients, and it was Voysey who designed Simpson’s house in 1908.
For years, until his death in 1922, Simpson continued to carve and build great pieces. After his passing, Handicrafts, headed by Simpson’s son Hubert, was a running concern into the 1950s.
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