Tuesday Morning: Arts and Crafts Week

It’s a bit eerie sitting here in my office at five in the morning, as half of my Arts & Crafts furniture is gone to an exhibit at the Preservation Society’s 1909 office as part of their house tour this weekend, many of my small North Carolina Arts & Crafts pieces are in a different exhibit at Pack Memorial Library downtown, and the boxes and tubs and files that had littered the room yesterday are now closed and neatly stacked, awaiting their ride to the Grove Park Inn today.

Last night I kicked off Asheville’s Arts & Crafts Heritage Week with a talk entitled “From Mountain Crafts To Arts & Crafts: The Arts & Crafts Movement in the South.” The staff at the Renaissance Hotel was kind enough to give us a meeting room for free, but when pressed for how many people I expected, I paused.

I had a flashback to perhaps my most embarrassing moment as a public speaker when a poorly advertised (not by me!) presentation found me standing in a large room in front of an audience of one.

Literally, one man.

And he insisted on hearing my talk.

So, with a deep breath, I pushed that image out of my mind and confessed that I had no idea, but that I hoped for ten or so. Ignoring my advice, the staff set the room for sixty and, to my amazement, they had to scramble to assemble additional rows in the back as people kept arriving for my 5:30pm presentation. By the time I had finished my introduction, the room was packed, reminding me of something one of the first speakers at the Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Conference had said to me after a lackluster performance on her part, “If I had known this many people were coming, I would have worked harder on my talk.”

Thanks, I said.

I was surprised at how nervous I was last night, although with several friends in the audience, many of whom were more qualified than I was to address the topic of Arts & Crafts in the South, it was easy to understand why. My audience on Sunday morning at the Grove Park Inn will find me a bit more composed and my talk more streamlined after some serious edits following last night’s presentation.

So today is a day of heavy lifting, setting up the Registration Desk for Alex, as well as my coatroom office down near the shows. The weather will be cool, but clear, making the transfer a bit easier. My day at the Grove Park Inn concludes with a meeting with all of the department heads, going over details and potential problems, bringing each other up to speed on last minute developments.

And then I’ll head over to the historic 1914 Masonic Temple, designed by Asheville’s famed architect Richard Sharp Smith, for a tour and panel discussion organized by the Preservation Society as part of Arts & Crafts Heritage Week. Again, I am hoping for a good turnout. The topic, “Problems and Solutions In Restoring an Older House,” should appeal to many homeowners in Asheville, if they got the news….

Until tomorrow morning,

Thanks for checking in.


Photo: A walnut bowl, hand turned and hand carved around 1910 in Asheville at Biltmore Industries. Note the dogwood motif, a popular theme in Southern Arts & Crafts pieces. You can use your cursor to enlarge the photograph and to appreciate the depth and detail of the carving.