What’s in a Name? The meaning behind Als Ik Kan

b8e1a8b429f86ff61e5277fc87965185We get a lot of questions about what the name of our site means. We also get a lot of guesses! At our first craft fair, a customer guessed that it was a some type of weird combination of our names. To help you understand why we use it as the name for our site, we need to take a trip into the past (sorry in advance for the history lesson!) and learn about some old dead people!

I first stumbled across Als Ik Kan as a result of my interest in mission-style furniture (see the picture of the bookcase). Some people research cars, guns, etc…I research furniture. Don’t mock me! While doing research on a few years back, I learned about Gustav Stickley,  a leader of the American Arts and Crafts movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of the mission style furniture you see today is inspired by his designs and if you happen to have a piece of his furniture in your attic, I’d be happy to take it off your hands. Besides, it’s not worth much at all and it’s just taking up space in your attic! 🙂

Gustav Stickley (is it me, or do I look a bit like him?)

Gustav Stickley (is it me, or do I look a but like him?).

In designing and building his furniture, Stickley promoted the ideals of “simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth to materials.” Stickley signed each of his pieces with the Flemish phrase Als Ik Kan centered in a joiner’s compass. Doing a little more digging, I learned that Stickley borrowed the phrase from Jan van Eyck, a 15th century Renaissance artist who signed his paintings with the personal motto Als Ik Kan, which is taken from the Flemish saying “As I can, not as I would.” There is some disagreement on why van Eyck used the motto – some believe it was a form of modesty wherein he was apologizing for a lack of perfection in his work, while others Others think it may have been a playful reference to his own name (IK – Eyck).

The pstickley1905-1912hrase, as well as Stickley’s approach to designing and building Arts and Crafts furniture, resonated with me. Why? I think because it embodies my own approach and belief about creating, building, and making. I believe in doing things to the best of my ability. I do not believe in cutting corners or compromising on quality, sometimes to a fault! (This makes for some interesting challenges for me since I am a recovering perfectionist – I’ll explore that in a future post! – and I married a recovering corner cutter.) For me, if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If I am going to pour my time and energy into something, I do it to the best of my ability. So, when it came time for selecting a name for our website and business endeavors, Als Ik Kan seemed the ideal choice (especially considering Nichole wanted to call it “ThatLooksAboutRightToMe.com”).



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Nov 17, 2014 | Posted by in Bill, Gustav Stickley, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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