Archive | March, 2014

Photo(s) of the Week: Painted Warps

alke groppel-wegener painting a warp at Penland

Student Alke Groppel-Wegener experimenting with warp painting in the weaving studio. Alke teaches writing to art and design students at the University of Staffordshire in England. The university gave her a term off so she could take Robin Johnston’s weaving Concentration. The class was introduced to painted warps by visiting artist Andrea Donnelly.

 

painted warp

This is a single warp with a section painted by each member of the class. It will be wound onto a loom and woven into one long piece of cloth.

 

 

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A Short Story About a Knob

ultrasonic cleaner

A couple of weeks ago, staff member Elaine Bleakney posted this picture on our Instagram feed. It was captioned with an interchange she had with metals coordinator Ian Henderson, which mentioned the missing knob. (If you can’t read it, click on the picture to make it bigger.) Our friend Joe Lee (a.k.a. @clockfeathers on Instagram) suggested that someone could 3D print a new knob.

 

ian hendrson and daniel beck with printrbot

Joe follows Penland pretty closely, so he probably knew, from this blog or Facebook, that Ian (left) was half owner, with iron coordinator Daniel T. Beck (right), of an assemble-it-yourself 3D printer called a Printrbot.

 

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Here’s the printer, fully assembled.

 

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So Ian, who is quite the tinkerer, designed this knob in the 3D modeling software, which he had learned quite a bit about while working on this excellent project.

 

ultrasonic cleaner

He sent the file to the printer, and here is the ultrasonic cleaner, made whole again.

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Smash Party

 

Smash party. Definition: a gathering where breakable objects are hurled at the concrete.

Inside a certain coffee house at a certain craft school located in the (usually) tranquil Blue Ridge Mountains, a smash party occurs when a certain Crystal Thomas declares to a certain Loring Taoka: smash party. Then they wait. They wait, their caffeinated hearts pounding, until the aforementioned coffee house is clear of those with more delicate sensibilities.

At this point, a sacred box of chipped or broken mugs and glasses– set tenderly aside for the purpose of the smash party–is brought to the counter.

 

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The first rule of smash party: smash.

Second rule: enlist a certain Y-Sam Ktul to sweep up the pieces.

The third rule of smash party: destruction enables creation. Or something like that.

 

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Video: Moving Parts

In the summer of 2013, Penland School had an unusual number of workshops that involved motors, switches, gears, Arduino controllers, levers, sensors, mechanical arms, cranks, and other moving parts. Here is a sample of the results.

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Lydia and Megan

friends

I didn’t ask if they had coordinated their outfits. I did ask if they’d met before they came to Penland (they had, at Pilchuck).

Johnny Cash came on and we were about to be enveloped in his sound. “What are you both working on?” I asked Lydia (above, on the right).

“Oh, a piece I’m making–but I need these little pieces for it. So I asked Megan to do them. She’s really good at them.”

 

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Studio Visit: Rachel Meginnes

rachel meginnes at penland

In December, Rachel Meginnes’ sewing machine broke. She asked her friend, fellow resident artist Robin Johnston, if she could borrow hers. Nervous about roughing up Robin’s machine by sewing on paint (which is how Rachel broke her own machine), she stopped herself. “I thought about building up texture with more paint instead of by sewing,” she said. “I’m interested in pulling color from the cloth in ways I haven’t before.” From a busted sewing machine, Rachel’s process busted too.

Correction: processes–there are many. Rachel is a relentless pursuer of textures–“texture” having arrived to us from texere in Latin: to weave. Weaving is where Rachel started, and her creation of textures extends from a consideration of fibers, patterns, and their possibilities. How might an artist trained as a weaver accommodate painting methods and material foreign to the loom? Where would that take her? Rachel has gone far, far out with these questions–not unlike the child in the outfield who forgets, the second she looks up and sees all kinds of blue roping through the clouds, about being in a baseball game. Behold the wall of current Rachel Meginnes experiments:

 

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“If they fail, they fail,” says Rachel, about these ideas: gessoed paint build-ups, magazine transfers on cardboard, abraded surfaces, color behaving and misbehaving, thread and weave, articulate paper folds, that ominous X. Looking at each moment of texture, one begins to see the depths of Rachel’s experiments. “What happens when I can’t sand away?” she says, noting one of her techniques. Rachel’s studio time this past winter has involved voicing her  internalized methods and then veering away–toward discomfort, change, and not knowing what will happen. As a testament to her endurance in this process, check out her bowl of paint-shocked pins:

 

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Enduring a winter of self-imposed counter-intuitive experimentation might sound, well, painful. Perhaps the pain, for Rachel, is eased by an adherence to the grid–that endless, giving pattern she uses repeatedly. As I entered her studio, Rachel was applying white strokes of gesso to a fabric made from handwoven scarves that she had bought in bulk, cut up, and then re-pieced. She began to talk about the observational part of her work: watching, day to day, how paint affects not only the surface but the stretch of the fabric. I was immediately reminded of Agnes Martin: how the grid is a constant chance for alteration, for something else to happen. Rachel readily cites Martin, Robert Ryman, and Mark Bradford as influences.

The studio isn’t all action. Set away from a table populated with tubes of paint, there’s a small desk next to a well-tended bookshelf. On the desk, quiet arrangements: a draft for a dragonfly, an old issue of American Craft featuring the image of Ruth Asawa, who said once: “An artist is not special. An artist is an ordinary person who can take ordinary things and make them special.”

 

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Photographs by Robin Dreyer and Elaine Bleakney; writing by Elaine Bleakney

Read Kathryn Gremley’s 2014 essay on Rachel Meginnes’s work from Surface Design Journal here

 

 

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Thaumatrope

This video (by studio assistant Kyle Durrie) shows a thaumatrope, which a technique presented by instructor Rory Sparks as the first project in her spring workshop combining letterpress and animation.

 

Or maybe you prefer this GIF version (by Robin Dreyer) featuring Rory herself:

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