Conference Seminars, Virtual Tours, and Discussion Groups: The Virtual Experience in February 2021

by Kate Nixon


Often seen as an annual retreat for some, an official induction into the world of Arts and Crafts for others, the National Arts and Crafts Conference has supplied collectors and enthusiasts of the Arts and Crafts Movement with 33 years worth of education, connection with a community that spans several countries, and an all-encompassing colorful environmental filled with artisans, antique dealers and organizations set against the backdrop of the iconic 1913 Grove Park Inn. However, with everything in the year 2020, Covid-19 threw a curveball. After consistent talks with the Omni Grove Park Inn, the National Arts and Crafts Conference decided to offer a virtual event for an entire month in lieu of having their traditionally large community meet in the beloved Arts and Crafts style hotel. In fact, they are declaring February Arts and Crafts month.

While many are disappointed to not be able to meet in 2021, Conference Director Bruce Johnson found it to be the best solution to protect the community and still offer up a chance to connect the dedicated customer with dedicated business owners and artisans in the Arts and Crafts community. “While we have worked our way as a community through this challenging year, we are doing our best to connect customer with the providers of works in the Arts and Crafts style. It’s our job to keep the legacy going no matter what and luckily, we’ve got the technology to make it happen online,” says Johnson. “While the joy of meeting our community at the Grove Park Inn is a really memorable and beautiful occasion and this year looks very different, it is the connection with each other and educating each other that we are striving towards and will succeed in doing this upcoming February.”

While the virtual exhibitor shows are free for the general public to access starting February 1st at (and does not require any registration), the conference side of the virtual event will be accessible to participant pass holders – and does require registration. Annually providing educational seminars, Small Group Discussion sessions, tours and demonstrations, etc., this year all will be virtual and ranging from pre-recorded events to live events.


Educational Seminars: A Celebration of Past and Present

A new element to the National Arts and Crafts Conference will be the presence of archived educational seminars, accessible only for paid conference participants. In addition to the new seminars produced for 2021’s conference, seminars from the past 10 years of the conference will be pulled from our archives and be available for conference participants to watch. Our seminars from the archives include popular seminars such as:

  • Susan Montgomery’s “The Tile Collection of Two Red Roses”
  • Brian Coleman’s “On the Trail of Charles Renee Macintosh”
  • Michael McCracken’s “The Evolution of Stickley Furniture”
  • Rosalie Berberian’s “If Jewels Could Talk: Stories to Share with Friends”
  • Susan Futterman’s “The Odd Couple: M. Louise Stowell and Harvey Ellis”

To see a list of the seminars offered as daily featured videos, please see our conference schedule on our website

The 2021 Educational Seminars will be pre-recorded with a number of speakers offering a Q&A session or Small Group Discussion on their topic. There will be at least one new seminar a week and multiple archived seminars to enjoy. In addition to conference director Bruce Johnson speaking on a number of topics including Arts and Crafts in the Midwest and the South, the following speakers have been scheduled for the 2021 National Arts and Crafts Conference:


“Sewing the Seeds: New England’s Contributions to the Arts and Crafts Movement” by Marilee Meyer

After exploring 19th century Europe, citizens of Boston and other Northeastern cities brought back the ideas that would eventually turn into Arts and Crafts societies and would establish the iconic sites and organizations that make up New England’s notable contributions. Marilee Meyer presents an exploration of this area of the country showing the educational institutions, which introduced students and craftspersons to opportunities, ideas, and designs.



“Ruskin, the Roycroft and the Photograph” by Peter Potter

Roycrofter-at-Large photographer Peter Potter will introduce John Ruskin: the photographer. Ruskin was an early adopter of the photographic process and his thoughts about the medium changed through time. Some of Ruskin’s recently discovered lost daguerreotypes of Venice will be shared.



“Arts and Crafts in the Pacific Northwest” by Lawrence Kreisman

Local artisans in the Pacific Northwest contributed to this rich heritage making furniture, metalwork, ceramics, and stained glass to fill civic and commercial buildings, along with thousands of Bungalow, Craftsman, and Mission style residences throughout the Pacific Northwest. Lawrence Kreisman will explore the rich history of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Oregon and Washington.




“Something Borrowed, Something New: The West Coast’s Contribution to the Arts & Crafts Movement” by Andre Chaves

The lecture will focus on what the West borrowed and what it contributed to the movement.  This will be based on key individuals and their accomplishments. Andre has been a long time attendee of the National Arts and Crafts Conference, a dealer in books about Arts and Crafts, a Small Group Discussion leader and has been fortunate to be invited to speak on three occasions. While Andre will be participating virtually, his heart remains with his community, however far.




Virtual Tours and Demonstrations

Along with a special Arts and Crafts Tour of the Grove Park Inn (which Bruce Johnson will comprehensively provide this year including a look at the historic main inn), Biltmore Industries Tour, and the Historic Homes Tour – the annual fundraiser tour for the Preservation Society of Asheville – our virtual conference will offer a number of other tours available for conference participants. Among the several tours available are: a Sneak Peek at the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement in St. Petersberg, FL., a tour of the Roycroft Campus, a tour of the Log House, new Education Center and a stroll around Craftsman Farms, the Riordan Mansion, a tour of Rose Valley with Ryan Berley, and others.

In addition to the virtual tours, a number of Contemporary Craftsfirms exhibitors have volunteered their time to provide demonstrations. These pre-recorded demonstrations are available to view throughout the month for conference participants. The following exhibitors will be providing demonstration videos during the virtual National Arts and Crafts Conference:


“The Making of a Block Print” with Laura Wilder
“Greene & Greene: A Style” with Tom Gallenberg, furniture maker.
“The Basics of Embroidery” with Natalie Richards
“Stephanie in Her Studio: Adventures in Carving Porcelain” with Stephanie Young
“Interior Color Choices Made Easy” and “Exterior Color Choices Made Easy” with Karen Hovde
“A Potter’s Craft” with Julie Calhoun-Roepnack
“The Bungalow Craft: Studio Tour and Painting Demo” by Julie Leidel


The LIVE Small Group Discussions

The National Arts and Crafts Conference are proud to continue to offer our annual schedule of Small Group Discussions over Zoom as a way of having a live environment to connect in. The sessions will occur on weekdays throughout the month of February: at least one discussion will happen per day. These sessions will be recorded and will be able to be accessed through a special Video On Demand service for conference participants.

For the most up-to-date schedule of Small Group Discussions, please visit the Conference Schedule page on the conference website.

It is highly recommended that participants download Zoom and save their login information in a safe place prior to February 1st so they can easily access Zoom and simply enter the Small Group Discussion session with a click of one link. Please see Conference Director Bruce Johnson’s article on taking our Small Group Discussions virtual in this week’s Little Journeys by clicking HERE.


For more information, please visit