Finding Comfort Amid Confinement


I don’t know what it is like to not be a collector, but I do know that during these times of self-imposed restrictions and confinement, my collection gives me comfort.

My Arts and Crafts collection has never been of museum quality. Raising two sons and countless pets always meant that if I was fortunate enough to come across a piece which was of museum quality, it quickly went off to auction. Leigh Ann and I freely mix antiques with contemporary examples of Arts and Crafts furniture, art pottery, artwork, and metalware. I have more piece of furniture that have been refinished or restored than I do with a pristine original finish. Some of our pottery has chips, and my young sons may have added a few small dents to some of our hand-hammered Roycroft metalware.



But what each piece in our home does have is a story:  finding a Roycroft – GPI chair in an Asheville bar; driving across Iowa in a blinding snowstorm to get a Stickley desk before it disappeared; letting my eight-year-old son bid for me at Johnny Penland’s auction; retrieving my father’s mission oak desk from our family attic; even holding my breath during an online auction waiting to see if my final bid was going to be trumped.



My stories aren’t any different than many of yours, for Arts and Crafts collectors relish the hunt, the adventure, and the adrenaline rush almost as much as when the piece is safely in our home and we step back for that first moment of relief, awe, and appreciation.

I began as a coin collector while I was still in grade school, and for no good reason except sentimentality I still have my tattered blue Whitman coin folders with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from my afternoon paper route pressed into the openings above each year. As much as I enjoyed the challenge of filling as many of the slots as possible, once I was done admiring them, the Whitman folders were put safely away inside my desk.

But our Arts and Crafts collection of chairs, tables, vases, bowls, bookcases, artwork, and lamps doesn’t slip out of our sight. Now that we are all staying home more than ever before, we can sit back and admire each of them for their beauty and their craftsmanship. And we can silently relive the emotions we felt with each discovery and share our stories with fellow collectors who nod and understand.


Walking tour at the National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, February 21, 2014. Photo by Ray Stubblebine


We would typically be spending the third weekend of February at the Grove Park Inn with many of our fellow Arts and Crafts collectors, but instead we will be at home with our collections. Each day of the month, however, we will have the opportunity to see via Zoom our Arts and Crafts friends or to listen to one of our esteemed seminar presenters share with us their research into what we collect, deepening our appreciation for those craftsmen and craftswomen we admire.

We will also be able to shop our annual Arts and Crafts shows, as our website will be providing you with links to the websites of all of our exhibitors, many of whom have also become your trusted friends.

Yes, it is a time like none other, but the human spirit endures, nourished and strengthened by friendships, fond memories, and renewed hope for the future.


P.S. To attend our all virtual, month-long conference and take advantage of Virtual tours, Educational Seminars, Small Group Discussions, and of course, shop our virtual exhibitor shows, please click the link below to be taken to our Registration page.

To see the Conference Schedule, please click below:


Until next week,


“He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” – Thomas Carlyle