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A Look Forward and Back


Fantasy and futurism are competing with nostalgia and tradition as major themes in the symphony of handcrafted items at the 23rd annual ACC Craft Show this coming weekend at the Baltimore Convention Center.

More than 650 artists will be represented this year, with decorative objects, furniture, jewelry, accessories and clothing.

From a chaise lounge in stainless steel to star-studded glass goblets, the future looks bright for a number of craft artists. Constellations, spaceships and moons adorn ceramics, while sleek, unexpected shapes pop up in upholstered pieces.

In counterpoint, Elvis Presley's image on a wall cabinet and pop-rock stars as chess pieces evince a more playful and backward-looking spirit. Old-fashioned autos and a lamp shaped like a '50s television are other notes of nostalgia among the crafts. Some artists are working in highly traditional forms, such as earth-toned ceramic casseroles and pitchers, and birdhouses in simple shapes.

JoAnn Brown, director of the American Craft Council show, said even returning artists may be showing different pieces from last year. "They are constantly trying to show new work, especially in Baltimore," she said.

The Baltimore show, which is open to wholesalers in the days before it opens to the public, is considered the beginning of the national craft season. That means themes that appear at this show are bound to pop up in shops and at other shows.

The show is produced by the craft council, a nonprofit educational organization based in Highland, N.Y.

When you go:

Hours for the ACC Craft Show are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street. Admission is $8 per person; a two-day pass is $15 per person. Admission for children under 12 is free.

For more information, call 410-962-1122.

With more than 650 artists, the array of crafts can be stunning. The American Craft Council has some tips for visitors:

* Be sure to pick up a floor plan to help you find artists working in the area that interests you -- jewelry and clothing, or decorative objects.

* The slowest day tends to be Friday, especially between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. However, if you attend on a weekend day, arrive early to avoid the heaviest crowds.

* Carry a pen and notebook to make notes of items that appeal to you.

* Not all artists take credit cards, so bring a checkbook as well.

* Bring a shopping list so you can find items for Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries.

* Take a break to take stock of what you've seen so far and to decide what else you want to see (or can afford).

Pub Date: 02/22/99

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