Preparing For Another Little Journey

I didn’t really go anywhere this week, which is probably a good thing, given the fact that it is November and the National Arts and Crafts Conference is now only three months away. Unless, of course, you count two trips up to the Grove Park Inn, which, even after 28 years, is still an exciting Little Journey to me.

If you are a Roycroft collector, as I started out to be when I was still a high school teacher in Iowa, one of your first introductions to the Grove Park Inn may have been in the reprint of the 1912 Roycroft Handmade Furniture Catalog, in which Elbert Hubbard described the inn, as it was under construction, as “minus the bizarre, the tawdry, the flashily foolish.”

Of course, he modestly added, “The Grove Park Inn could never be complete in its fulfillment of purpose without the assistance of The Roycrofters.”

And, as was so often the case, Elbert Hubbard was right.

He went on to describe the lighting fixtures Victor Toothaker and his coppersmiths were hammering out in their shop across from the Roycroft Inn as “being made after special designs, with the loving marks of the hammer still on them.” That phrase has always been one of my favorites, and is serving this year as the title of coppersmith Ronald VanOstrand’s seminar on Arts and Crafts metalware scheduled for Saturday morning, February 22, in the Heritage Ballroom.

It is one of seven seminars to be held at the conference, all of which promise to be among the finest we have ever had the pleasure to enjoy, covering the topics of Arts and Crafts pottery; the events of the year 1901; how the movement influenced 20th century architecture; Arts and Crafts lighting; art tiles of the period, and fine art photography, including the documentary movie “The Mystery of George Masa, Art Photographer of the Mountains.”

A reporter from a regional magazine called this week and asked, among other things, about my statement: “People don’t collect Arts and Crafts because it’s different; people collect Arts and Crafts because they’re different.”

And let’s face it, if you take the time each week to come to a website called Arts and Crafts Collector and you read our news stories, collector’s guides, and my Monday morning musings, you’re probably different from everyone you work with. And that’s a good thing.

I attempted to explain to the young reporter how unusual it is for people to take three or four days off from their work and away from their families to make their own Little Journey in February to the 1913 Grove Park Inn overlooking Asheville, which while the weather is typically mild is certainly not our most famous month.

(But, in Asheville, the Arts and Crafts Conference has made February a famous month.)

People who collect classic automobiles don’t drive them; people who collect stamps and coins don’t spend them; people who collect vintage clothes don’t wear them, at least not daily, but people who collect Arts and Crafts not only use what we collect, we live with what we collect. We surround ourselves with it. Literally and figuratively.

And on February 21-23, we will surround ourselves with our Arts and Crafts friends, not only to hear great seminar speakers and to browse more than 100 booths of both antique and contemporary Arts and Crafts furnishings, all the while immersing ourselves in small group discussions, workshops, and demonstrations, but also to renew our treasured friendships.

And to return home reassured as to why it is we feel so gratified to be surrounded by furniture, art pottery, metalware, fine art, and textiles that reflect the spirit of the Arts and Crafts era and the value of handcraftsmanship.

And that is a Little Journey worth taking.

Until next Monday,

Have a great week!


Center Photo: A typical Small Group Discussion.

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