Making Everything Beautiful A lesson from the Arts and Crafts Movement

“Espresso Cup and Blue Napkin”
oil on panel, 5×5 inches.
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Not too long ago I came across an article online about the Arts and Crafts Movement, which was a design philosophy that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century (William Morris is the most well-known name associated with the movement).

Among other things, it put strong emphasis on traditional craftsmanship and hand-made products – in opposition to the conformity and mass production sweeping the world in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.

While I’m deeply sympathetic to those principles, there is one idea the Arts and Crafts Movement espoused that speaks to me the most: That everything in our lives should be beautiful.


Wallpaper, silver ware, towels, door handles… all the things around us, immersing our lives in the experience of the Beautiful, wherever we look.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”, to quote Morris exactly.


This little espresso cup seems to perfectly emobody that spirit, even if it was made in a different time and place.

As a handmade piece, somebody spent a good deal of time and energy giving it such elaborate decoration.

There is no good practical reason for that.

It will hold the espresso just as well without.

The decoration won’t keep the coffee warm.

It won’t make it taste any better.

It won’t make it last longer.

But it will make my day – and my life – just a tiny bit better.


By putting even humble utentsils into the service of beauty, our lives can indeed be elevated.

Seeing this intricately painted pattern as I sip my beverage raises the vibration of my mind just a little bit, reminding me that I am surrounded by a rich and beautiful world, if I would just go and seek it out.

I certainly felt some of that as I worked on this painting.

It’s my hope that – in a very small way – seeing this lovely little espresso cup and thinking about the care that went into decorating it raises and enriches your day as well.