When we say “Craft School Experience,” we’re referring to the total immersion workshops offered at Penland and our sister schools Arrowmont, Haystack, Peters Valley, and Pilchuck. We’re referring to the beautiful and often isolated environments of these schools, their deep history, their shared eating and living spaces, and of course their well-equipped studios that support top-notch instruction. The craft school experience means the special community atmosphere that inspires creativity and motivates new discoveries, new ideas, and new connections. It’s common to all these schools, but it’s also an experience that looks different for every individual who sets foot on our campuses.
Over at CraftSchools.us, the Craft School Consortium has been collecting stories and anecdotes to illustrate the craft school experience. Two recent ones on their blog are particularly near to our hearts. The first is by Robin Dreyer, who wrote a beautiful piece about a recent trip to Haystack from his perspective as a Penland staff member, instructor, and student of nearly twenty years. “Getting to the end of the road before I could see the school was a good indication that, while Haystack and Penland may be sisters, they are not twins,” Robin writes. He goes on to describe Haystack’s campus and facilities, its historical connections to Penland, and the little delights and surprises he experienced at this place that felt at once so familiar and entirely new.
In another post, clay artist Bill Griffith describes the unexpected roads that opened up for him after a one-week workshop at Arrowmont in the summer of 1983. We won’t spoil the details of his journey, but we can give you a few hints by saying that he has spent many years at Arrowmont as the assistant director, program director, and now the outreach and partnership liaison. In addition, he’s a working studio artist and clay instructor. In fact, he’ll be teaching a slab-built pottery workshop at Penland during session 7 this summer!
If you haven’t had a craft school experience of your own yet, signing up for a workshop is the best way to start. We can’t be sure where it will take you, but it’s likely to be an intense and creative burst that you won’t soon forget.