Summer at Penland is serious studio time, but it’s also so much more—the views, the people, the porch sits and volleyball games, the new ideas, the focus, the late nights, the energy, the community. The entire experience can be hard to put into words, so we were honored to have a crew from Charlotte here last summer to distill some of it into a short TV segment.
We’re in the final week of clay winter residencies, which means a flurry of glazing and firing and a lot of full tables. A quick visit to the upper clay studio yesterday revealed two very different approaches to surface decoration. Above, core fellow Eleanor Anderson goes big with color and pattern and waxes and underglaze. Below, winter resident Irvin Carsten keeps his cleanly angled forms a bit more muted.
If you’ll be around campus this Friday, February 16, stop by the clay studio at 5 PM for the final show and tell of ceramic work—this year’s residents have been prodigious!
Will Maguire, from Elderslie, Australia, and Sven Bauer, from Womrath, Germany, spent the last two weeks of January in the Penland iron shop as part of this year’s winter residency. They met a decade ago when they worked for a time in the same blacksmith’s shop in England. After returning to their respective countries and being out of touch for a few years, they reconnected through their mutual friend Rick Smith, who is a Penland instructor and a former resident artist. Rick had told both of them about Penland, and they decided to use the winter residency as a chance to work together again.
“We work in small shops by ourselves, and this was a good chance to do some work around other people,” Will said. Their plan was to make collaborative work, but the projects they set up for themselves didn’t really gel. The attempt did result, however, in great conversations and useful critiques. And everyone who passed through the studio could attest to the fact that they each made some beautiful work.
Asked why they wanted to have this reunion at Penland, Sven answered, “I don’t know of any place in Europe where we could do this—to be able to do an artist residency of a few weeks in a shop with this kind of equipment. This does not exist for blacksmithing. There are programs like this for musicians, writers, and painters, but not for what we do. It’s also been great to visit the other shops, see what everyone else is doing, and talk to people working on other mediums with a similar intent.”
They expect to meet up at Penland again, and we hope they will.
On December 31, 2017, Jean McLaughlin retired as Penland’s executive director, a position she had held since May, 1998. During her two decades at Penland School of Crafts, Jean led the school through a remarkable time of change, growth, and stabilization.
This is a slideshow assembled as part of a tribute to Jean at her last board of trustees meeting in November, 2017.
You can read more about Jean here and about her successor, Mia Hall, here.
Raven Skyriver will teach the hot sculpting class Asymmetry this April 22-28, 2018 in the Penland hot shop. Register now.
Raven Skyriver’s pieces start out like most other pieces in the hot shop: a blob of molten glass on the end of a pipe, a bubble, the whole thing constantly rotating to remain on center. The glass moves from the bench to the glory hole and back; it gets marvered, colored frit is added. But somewhere along the way, the piece morphs into something different and truly impressive. For one thing, Raven works large—his off-hand sculpted pieces are often a full two or three feet long, some closer to four. For another, he succeeds at an impressive realism in his sculptures. The finished pieces are not simply a whale or a shell, but rather a sperm whale or an abalone shell complete with the coloration and subtleties of shape that distinguish one species from another.
“My work is almost exclusively derived from the marine ecosystem,” Raven explains. “I attempt to place the creatures back in their environment by capturing the fluid nature in molten glass and transferring it into the perceived weightlessness of a swimming creature. I always strive to imbue the work with a hint of life.” Indeed, each of his pieces is evidence of his keen and dedicated observation—from the detailed patterns and textures of a turtle’s back or the scales of a salmon to each creature’s movements and personality.
There’s an intensity to Raven’s hot shop process quite in contrast to the serene beauty of his finished pieces. To make Gyre, his 28-inch green sea turtle, Raven worked with a whole team of skillful glass artists, each one spinning, paddling, rotating, holding, directing, and responding in concert. No fewer than three torches heat the turtle’s fins, tail, and neck while Raven, in the middle of it all, works with expert speed and skill to incise a crease here or elongate an eyelid there. The mounting tension is palpable as he meticulously draws out the turtles’s likeness from the molten glass. It becomes plain that Raven’s work really is a team effort, and any slip or misstep could send the whole endeavor crashing to shards on the floor. (Watch Gyre come together in this awesome video!)
“The nature of glassblowing is teamwork,” Raven states. “The process in the hot shop is my biggest passion.”
We’re thrilled that Raven will be at Penland this spring to share that process and his expertise in the hot shop with Penland students. His 1-week workshop Asymmetry will run April 22-28 and will give experienced glass students new insight into sculpting out of round, working effectively with a team, and addressing technical challenges. See the complete workshop description below and then register now to up your glass game.
Raven Skyriver April 22-28, 2018
This hot glass workshop will be all about sculpting out of round. We’ll focus on team work, timing, and problem solving on the fly, giving students a foundation on which to build intricate asymmetrical forms and teaching them how to overcome technical obstacles. If you are someone who works on symmetrical forms and you want to change it up, or if you simply want to sharpen your hot sculpting skills, this workshop has a lot to offer. Advanced level: your application must be accompanied by a CV detailing your experience in glass and five images of your work. Send these to firstname.lastname@example.org. Studio fee: $40. Code S03GA
Studio artist; teaching: Pilchuck (WA), The Studio at Corning (NY), Niijima Glass Center (Tokyo), Glass Furnace (Turkey), Aya Glass (Japan); exhibitions: Glasmuseet Ebeltoft (Denmark), Island Museum of Art (WA), Maryhill Museum of Art (WA), multiple solo shows at Stonington Gallery (Seattle).
Summer at Penland boasts the Annual Benefit Auction and the Fourth of July parade. The spring season gets the Community Open House and the Easter egg hunt. In the fall, there’s the annual Halloween party and the final scholarship auction of the year. But it may be winter that hosts my favorite Penland event of all—Table in a Day in the wood studio.
Like these other Penland traditions, Table in a Day distills so much of what’s vital to life at Penland: fine craft, camaraderie, a bit of hustle, and a lot of fun. Participants have the twelve hours from 9 AM to 9 PM to construct a table of their own design, from milling the wood to joining and finishing the pieces. Now in its fourth year, it’s a frenzy that never fails to result in beautiful work and good laughs.
By this year’s 9 PM finish line, when pizza magically appeared on the studio tables and residents from all over campus came to marvel at the results, artists in the wood studio had transformed rough boards and ideas into a stunning variety of actual tables. Some were colorful and adorned with patterns, while others boasted elegant curves and thoughtful joinery. Wood studio coordinator Ellie Richards incorporated flooring from the old Northlight building into her three-part design, while core fellow Corey Pemberton used the strength of plywood to his advantage in a series of thin splines that support a circular top (both pictured above).
And, this year, the Penland community proved that you don’t have to be a wood resident to join the fun. Other entries included a 3D-printed miniature table in hot pink plastic (complete with pink plant accessory!), a table-shaped box made of book board, a clay dish decorated with an image of an intricate hall table, and screenprint embellished with drawing to make a pool table. There was even a remote Table in a Day entry from fall concentration instructor Christina Boy from her wood studio in Virginia!