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Make, Show, Repeat: Cross Training for Jewelers with Laura Wood


Laura wood black necklace


Before Laura Wood was a jeweler, she was a dancer. It’s a history that shows in her work—earrings and brooches that flutter and flow, pendants that seem nearly weightless in their volume. In her recent pieces, Laura has been exploring lace-like constructions of delicate metal. Each one calls to mind a certain rhythm and exuberance, as if a spiraling path of movement has been temporarily frozen in three dimensions.

Laura explains that her training in dance led her to “making adornment for the body, activating pleasure and enjoyment through wearing.” As she describes it, “Each piece is very much an effort in creating body-conscious work… I strive to enhance the silhouette of the body and create work to be worn as a celebration of performance and adornment.”

“Celebration” seems like an appropriate word to describe Laura’s approach to her career as a full-time jeweler. Her designs are lively and dynamic, and she is engaged in building and supporting her community of fellow metalsmiths. As a complement to her own work, Laura co-founded Jewelry Edition, an online and pop-up jewelry exhibit that features a rotating selection of emerging jewelry artists and strives to offer “an in-depth view into the process of contemporary jewelry.”


laura wood


For a lucky group of students, Laura will offer an extra in-depth view of that process at Penland this spring. Her 2016 concentration “Make, Show, Repeat: Cross Training for Jewelers” will focus on all stages of creating jewelry, from the idea phase and the technical aspects of making to finishing details and fine-tuning process.

Registration is now open for Make, Show, Repeat, which will run March 13 – May 6, 2016. Scholarships are available for the course. Scholarship applications are due November 28, 2015.


Laura wood jewelry


Make, Show, Repeat: Cross Training for Jewelers

Laura Wood – This workshop will introduce a variety of metalsmithing techniques and material exploration to use as a launching pad for new work or to enrich a jewelry-making vocabulary. We’ll engineer components, embellish surface structures, and hone finishing skills. Other highlights will include mold making, powder coating, etching, stone setting, and idea generation. A progressive timeline will guide the structure of the class to encourage fast development. We’ll share our growth in its various stages through pop-up exhibitions. Basic metalsmithing skills will be helpful, but this workshop is open to all levels. Code S00MB

Studio artist; teaching: Southwest School of Art (TX); visiting artist: Western Michigan University, New Mexico State University; gallery representation: Mora Contemporary Jewelry (NC), Signature Gallery (GA), Quirk Gallery (VA), Society for Contemporary Craft (PA), Gallery 360 (MN), Heidi Lowe Gallery (DE), Gallery Store (OR).


Penland Spring Concentrations, March 13 – May 6, 2016
Books  |  Clay  |  Glass  |  Iron  |  Metals  |  Textiles  |  Wood


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Empty Bowls Follow-Up

empty bowls crew at penland

The fall Empty Bowls event was a great success, raising $1350 that went to Shepherd’s Staff, which runs a food bank here in Mitchell County. Instead of the usual dinner, this event took place for a week during lunchtime in the Penland Coffee House. Each participant donated $20 and got tasty soup from the Penland kitchen in a bowl donated by someone in the fall clay workshop. And, of course, they got to keep the bowl. A poster for the event was made in the print studio with contributions from the clay folks and the sign painters. In the front are Shepherd’s Staff director Martha Gordon (with poster) and board chair Bill Sweetser. They are joined by the students and instructors from the clay studio (Pat Nevin was added to the picture later) and, in the back, the folks from the kitchen who made the soup. Bill said the money would go straight to Thanksgiving dinners. Thanks, everyone, for helping to build community through craft. More about Empty Bowls here.


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Timber! | Timber Framing Concentration with Raivo Vihman

studio, lincolnville, main

Detail of a timber-framed studio Raivo built in Lincolnville, Maine.


“My first frame was raised by hand with a group of a dozen friends, and by the end of the day limitless space was bounded by posts and rafters into the shape of a house. I was bewitched.” So Raivo Vihman describes his first experience constructing a timber frame.

Looking at the many timber frames Raivo has designed and built since, it’s not hard to see the appeal. His structures are at once graceful and solid, intricate and beautifully simple. Together, the wooden beams take the familiar shape of a house or a barn, but individually their knots and exposed grain still speak of nature. His structures are built with wood in the truest sense of the wordeach beam is unique, and each one gives something of itself to the frame as a whole. For Raivo, even after years of building, every new timber frame is an opportunity: “It’s still about the act of creation, the interplay between aesthetic grace and functional design, and the beauty hidden in the wood.”


farmhouse, buckwheat blossom farm

Raivo included these curving boards of live edge cherry as the attic collar ties in this farmhouse in Wiscasset, Maine.


This spring, Raivo will be here at Penland to share his craft—and his love of his craft—with students in Timber!, an eight-week timber framing concentration. Like all Penland workshops, Timber! will be an opportunity to gain technical skills, a deeper understanding of materials, and exposure to new ideas. What makes it extra special is that students in the workshop will come together to build an enduring structure on campus. The resulting timber frame will reflect each of the students who’s hands worked to build it, as well as the Penland landscape it will become a part of.

In fact, the structure has already been set into motion. In spring of this year, Raivo was at Penland preparing wood. He and his studio assistant (and former Penland resident artist) Tom Shields stacked dozens of fir, pine, and cypress beams under temporary roofs. The beams have been curing so that they will be ready to frame come next spring:


Raivo and Tom with timbers

Raivo (left) and his studio assistant Tom Shields with the beams they stacked in preparation for this spring’s class.


Raivo also cut a number of beams from the woods right here at Penland. He wanted the structure to include local trees, and he wanted to incorporate pieces into the design that have natural curvature to them. With the help of some eager Penland volunteers, those logs, too, are awaiting next spring:


tulip trees


Volunteers during last spring’s concentrations pose with the large log they helped Raivo haul out of the woods. This red timber cart was the only one not smiling by the end.


“The class will be tailored to student interests,” Raivo says. He has structured it to introduce students of all levels—from complete beginners to experienced builders—to the details of timber framing. The workshop will move through the complete process of designing and raising a frame, from drafting plans and building models to working with hand tools and different species of wood. For anyone like Raivo who is fascinated by the potential for both beauty and function in this type of building, Timber! will be an invaluable eight weeks.

Register now for Timber!, which will run March 13 – May 6, 2016. Scholarships are available for the course. Scholarship applications are due November 28, 2015.



Raivo Vihman – In this workshop we’ll delve into traditional carpentry as we cut, join, and raise a timber-framed structure that will become a permanent part of the Penland campus. We’ll explore various approaches to timber preparation, layout, joinery design and execution, and compound-angle joinery. We’ll also cover scribing techniques as we incorporate round logs into the structure of the frame. Students will begin by designing and building their own timber sawhorses and will leave the class with the skills needed to design and build their own timber frames. All levels. Code S00W

Carpenter, founder and proprietor of Haystack Joinery (ME); teaching: Waterfall Arts (ME), Miljandi Cultural Academy (Estonia).


Penland Spring Concentrations, March 13 – May 6, 2016
Books  |  Clay  |  Glass  |  Iron  |  Metals  |  Textiles  |  Wood


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Where Hot Glass and Printmaking Meet



Glass instructor Rob Stern finished off this fall’s concentration by introducing his students to a whole new technique that merges the hot glass shop with printmaking techniques. Rob created a large glass cylinder and then he and his students embellished its surfaces with relief designs. Rob wrote “Penland” backwards and created silhouettes of two glassblowing figures with hot glass from the furnace. Then each member of the class wrote their own name backwards using glass cane heated with a torch. They touched up the shape of the cylinder and then rolled it—still hot—onto a flat sheet of paper. The raised designs on the glass cylinder charred the paper where they made contact, creating a lasting print with heat instead of ink. Pretty ingenious!


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Photo of the Week: Clay Studio Friends

Daniel Johnston and Bill Jones at Penland

On the left is North Carolina potter Daniel Johnston. On the right is Bill Jones. In the middle is a pot that Daniel made as a demonstration a couple of weeks ago for the two-month, fall clay concentration taught by Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin. In 2011, Bill was a beginning student in Kent and Suze’s last concentration. He returned in 2012 for a concentration taught by Matt Kelleher. After that, he worked as Daniel’s apprentice for two years. This fall, he’s back in the Penland clay studio as Suze and Kent’s assistant. This is one way to become a potter.


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Artist & Weaver | Spring Concentration with Mary Zicafoose

Tapestries woven in indigo, yellow, and white.

Two recent tapestries in the “Mountains and Ghosts” series by Mary Zicafoose.


Are you a weaver? It’s a question that asks more than whether or not you can weave. At its heart, the question probes our personalities and preferences, asking about the processes that speak to us and the mental spaces which we most like to inhabit. Weaving is not for everyone, but it definitely is for tapestry artist Mary Zicafoose. “From the first moment I sat at a loom, there was not a question in my mind that I was a weaver,” she says. That was over twenty years ago, and Mary has been weaving ever since.

“There is something timeless and inner-dimensional about the process of weaving,” Mary explains. “The work takes weeks. As the planet speeds along, the weaver sits hour by hour, day by day, slowly and steadily building a tapestry. No amount of adrenaline, caffeine, or technology alters the pace of the unfolding. To be a weaver is an almost surreal occupation placed against the backdrop of linear time, and the pace, demands, and deadlines of contemporary life. Nothing in the making of a tapestry happens quickly. It is a deep inward breath, a meditative activity that draws you in, not out.”

So, are you a weaver? If yes, Mary’s spring 2016 concentration Artist & Weaver could be a transformative eight weeks. The class is tailored to intermediate weavers, those who already have some experience at the loom. As such, it will cover the technical aspects of weaving, but it will also go beyond to focus on weaving as an art. Registration is now open.


geometric tapestries woven in red and blue

Three of Mary’s many tapestries: “Counting Cloth #5 – Double Orbit,” “Orange Blue Eclipse,” and “Sun with Shadow.”


How can each artist tell a unique story in a unique voice? It’s a question that Mary has been focused on with her pieces for years. As a weaver, she has developed a distinct expression of ideas through the imagery and colors she chooses. “I use color boldly, with a sure hand, creating strong visual statements in fiber. It is my relationship with color, the use of intensely dyed primaries within large planes and fields of color, which distinguishes my work,” she says. One of Mary’s goals for the class is to help each of her students to develop their own woven voice—be it a bright and bold one like Mary’s or one characterized more by softness and subtlety.

As part of her focus on color, Mary will bring in guest instructor Catharine Ellis for part of the class. Catharine, like Mary, has developed a distinct voice in fiber over the years. Hers is distinguished by the use of natural dyes and innovative techniques in woven shibori. Catherine will share her expertise in dyeing with the class, helping to give each student the palette they need to weave their visions into tapestries.

If you are ready to take your weaving to the next level, or if you would like to work with master weavers and dyers, or if you could simply use eight weeks of focus at the loom—join Mary this spring in the textiles studio.

Register now for Artist & Weaver, which will run March 13 – May 6, 2016. Scholarships are available for the course. Scholarship applications are due November 28, 2015.


Artist & Weaver

This eight-week textile intensive will provide mentorship with the goal of igniting and focusing studio practice. Our main areas of emphasis are as follows: Developing personal voice at the loom: we’ll build tapestries in series using classic and slit tapestry techniques, surface design, compression and resist applications, stitching, and off-loom embellishments. Color: guest teacher Catharine Ellis will lead us in a dyeing workshop that will help students gain creative fluency with both synthetic and natural dyes. Professional practice: the workshop will include a strategic planning curriculum for artists: goal setting, statements, résumés, PowerPoint, social media, record keeping, promotion, exhibition, and more. Intermediate level: prior weaving experience required. Code S00TB

Studio artist; teaching: Arrowmont (TN), Penland, weaver’s guilds nationwide; recent exhibitions: World Ikat and Shibori Conference (China), Joslyn Art Museum (NE); work in 12 U.S. embassies worldwide.


And, just to get you excited for spring classes to start, here’s a short video of Mary talking about her work as a weaver and an artist:


Penland Spring Concentrations, March 13 – May 6, 2016
Books  |  Clay  |  Glass  |  Iron  |  Metals  |  Textiles  |  Wood



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Empty Bowls at the Penland Coffee House


The bowls were stacking up last week in anticipation of the Empty Bowls event at the Penland Coffee House.


Students in the clay concentration with Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin are hosting an Empty Bowls event this week at the Penland Coffee House. Visitors can make a $20 donation to fight hunger, enjoy a simple lunch-time meal of soup prepared by the Penland kitchen, and take home a unique bowl made by a student in the class. The Empty Bowls meal will be available at the Penland Coffee House Monday, November 2 – Friday, November 6 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

The Empty Bowls Project was started twenty-five years ago by Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom, who live nearby in Yancey County. The success of the project spread rapidly, and today communities around the globe join the Empty Bowls Project by offering a simple soup meal served in donated handmade bowls as a reminder of all of the empty bowls in the world. The money raised from each event goes to a hunger-fighting organization chosen by the hosts. The Penland project’s proceeds will go to Mitchell County Shepherd’s Staff, a non-profit organization providing food and heating assistance to Mitchell county residents in need.

With all the rain we’re getting today, it’s a perfect day for some soup!


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