The an­nual Arts & Crafts Con­fer­ence at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., of­fers non­stop op­tions. Here’s how to nav­i­gate. by Brian D. Cole­man

Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS - by Brian D. Cole­man

Nav­i­gat­ing the big A&C Con­fer­ence.

Sem­i­nars and craft shows take place in Arts & Crafts-move­ment hotspots around the coun­try. The one not to miss is the largest: a three­day con­fer­ence and si­mul­ta­ne­ous an­tiques and ju­ried con­tem­po­rary crafts and fur­nish­ings shows, held in the Blue Ridge Moun­tains. This is the 31st year for the Con­fer­ence, al­ways held in Fe­bru­ary. At the shows, well over a hun­dred an­tiques ven­dors and con­tem­po­rary crafts­peo­ple fill mul­ti­ple rooms and line the cor­ri­dors of one wing; you’ll see fur­ni­ture, pot­tery, tex­tiles, met­al­work and jew­elry, light­ing, fine art . . . it goes on and on. Ev­ery­thing is of fine qual­ity.

But what makes this con­fer­ence so spe­cial is its fo­cus on ed­u­ca­tion—deep learn­ing. Hands-on work­shops cover such things as em­broi­dery and print­mak­ing. Lec­tures are of­fered, and small affin­ity groups meet (pot­tery col­lec­tors, say, or peo­ple re­search­ing na­tive plants in Arts & Crafts-era gardens). Op­por­tu­ni­ties run al­most around the clock. House tours and walk­ing tours are ar­ranged.

All this to say, you should plan ahead. I met with Con­fer­ence founder and in­de­fati­ga­ble or­ga­nizer Bruce John­son, who gave me 10 tips for new at­ten­dees:

1. Get your I.D. After check­ing in, make your way to the Con­fer­ence’s reg­is­tra­tion area to get a tote-bag­ful of in­for­ma­tion. Your badge is your ticket to all Con­fer­ence events, so be sure to wear it. 2. Find your bear­ings. The last page of the 88-page Con­fer­ence Cat­a­log is a map of the 513-room Omni Grove Park Inn, which now has two big wings and many lev­els. You’ll need the map. 3. Learn about the Inn. On Fri­day, take one of the hourly, his­tory-minded walk­ing tours of the

ho­tel, which starts at the north fire­place in the Great Hall. You’ll see orig­i­nal Roy­croft fur­nish­ings and light fix­tures, and learn about such fa­mous guests as Scott and Zelda Fitzger­ald, Thomas Edi­son, Henry Ford, and Franklin and Eleanor Roo­sevelt. 4. Take the hid­den el­e­va­tor. En­counter 1913 when you ride the old el­e­va­tor in­side the stone fire­place to the third-floor Palm Court of the orig­i­nal Inn.

5. Cir­cle your fa­vorites. Study the daily Small Group Dis­cus­sions listed in the Cat­a­log, se­lect­ing first and sec­ond picks for each ses­sion, and ar­rive ten min­utes early to get a seat at the ta­ble. 6. Give in to the ex­pe­ri­ence. Yes, you’ll want to visit the world-class spa, but know that you’re here for im­mer­sion. Morn­ing and evening sem­i­nars start pre­cisely on time; turn off your phone.

7. Come pre­pared with room di­men­sions, color sam­ples, etc. if you’re here to find rugs, light­ing, or fur­ni­ture. 8. Bring cash and a check­book. Not ev­ery ex­hibitor ac­cepts credit cards.

9. Ac­tu­ally, come early. Con­sider ar­riv­ing on Thurs­day to take a hand­son, pre-Con­fer­ence work­shop in the af­ter­noon or on Fri­day morn­ing. 10. Then stay late to ex­plore Asheville, a top-ten desti­na­tion city. Walk the down­town area and one of the bun­ga­low neigh­bor­hoods; visit Bilt­more, the Van­der­bilt man­sion; drive the Blue Ridge Park­way. More at arts-craftscon­fer­ence.com

top At the ex­quis­ite 1913 Grove Park Inn, orig­i­nally fur­nished by the Roy­crofters, huge stone fire­places an­chor both ends of the Great Hall. above and be­low The old Inn’s orig­i­nal street-side façade has not changed.

Con­fer­ence founder and fre­quent lec­turer Bruce John­son ex­tends a warm wel­come. far right The An­tiques Show is over­whelm­ing —in a very good way. op­po­site Spe­cially cu­rated ex­hibits en­hance the lec­tures and small-group dis­cus­sions.

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