Motifs of the Revival: Wading Birds - Design for the Arts & Crafts House | Arts & Crafts Homes Online

Motifs of the Revival: Wading Birds

Herons, storks, and other wading birds are a design theme that has appeared in Arts & Crafts furniture and accessories for over a century.
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‘Great Blue Heron Table’ in black walnut, Zito Schmitt Design

‘Great Blue Heron Table’ in black walnut, by  Zito Schmitt Design.

Heron, egret, crane, stork: Tall water birds conjure up many associations. The graceful crane, for example, is a Japanese motif and the most popular figure in origami. The heron or egret is known for its otherworldly patience and perseverance—standing like a statue and then, lightning-fast, thrusting its beak into a fish beneath the water’s surface. The stork is associated with devotion and childbirth.

Herter Bros. ‘Tiger and Crane’ fill paper, Bradbury & Bradbury

Herter Bros. ‘Tiger and Crane’ fill paper, Bradbury & Bradbury

We’re forgiven if we can’t always tell the birds apart. Apparently the taxonomy is confusing and each category (or family) has many varied species. With its long neck and legs and a pointed bill, a heron is any of various wading birds of the family Ardeidae. Herons are solitary, symbolic of independence and tranquility. The word egret is most often applied to heron species with white or decorative plumes.

A stork hinge from House of Antique Hardware

A stork hinge from House of Antique Hardware

Cranes belong to the family Gruidae, with only two species native to North America: the whooping crane and the sandhill crane. Cranes are social creatures.

Crane-motif-furniture hardware by Whitechapel Ltd.

Crane-motif-furniture hardware by Whitechapel Ltd.

And storks are large, long-necked wading birds who nest in dry places, part of the animal family Ciconiidae. As seen in art as in nature, a heron flies with its neck retracted; cranes and storks extend their necks when flying.

'Stork Delivering Baby' is a reproduction of a Low Art Tile by L'Esperance Tileworks, in fern green crackle glaze.

'Stork Delivering Baby' is a reproduction of a Low Art Tile by L'Esperance Tileworks, in fern green crackle glaze.

Art Glass by Anne Ryan Miller

A custom panel featuring wading birds by Anne Ryan Miller Glass Studio.

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