Archive | Classes RSS feed for this section

“It’s a Boot Life” with Lisa Sorrell

Bespoke cowboy boot maker Lisa Sorrell, who taught Working with Leather in the textiles studio last month, has made a video (#59 in her ongoing series “It’s a Boot Life“) about her Penland experience:



In this 10-minute webisode, Lisa shows off work by her Penland students, takes a glassblowing lesson with hotshop instructor Nancy Callan, and teaches you how to trim a leather insole. Enjoy!

Comments are closed

The Antipodean Session

caran florance broadside

Caran Florance, Night Sonnet, letterpress-printed broadside, text by Sarah Holland-Batt


This is an updated version of an earlier blog post. We still have spaces in a number of classes for this exciting session, so we thought we’d make a little more noise.


This June, Penland will turn Australian for two weeks when seventeen artists and educators from Australian National University’s School of Art in Canberra take over our fifteen studios–all during the same summer session, June 7-19, 2015. ANU’s teaching philosophy dovetails beautifully with Penland’s, and we couldn’t be more excited about this experiement. It is not too late to take a Penland workshop this summer and it is not too late to be part of this excellent session.


Richard Whiteley, head of the glass at Australian National University, and Ashley Jameson Eriksmoen, ANU’s head of furniture, developed the all-Aussie session with Penland programs director Leslie Noell. Both schools share an innovative, practice-centered philosophy, and the session presents an unprecedented chance for makers to study with ANU faculty in the U.S.


Students who attend the session will work with Australian artist-educators at the height of their craft. These artists include Richard Whiteley, gold- and silversmith Simon Cottrell, textile and installation artist Jemima Parker, book and multimedia artist Nicci Haynes, and the artists listed in the teaching studios below.

“There is always an easy, open conversation between studios at Penland, and I hear from students and instructors all the time that this creative exchange across media is one of the things that, in addition to the daily focused classroom experience, makes their time at Penland even more rich, said Leslie Noell.

“Now imagine what this conversation will be like with seventeen vibrant instructors who have all known and worked together for years. (Not to mention the accents!) I expect the entire campus to crackle,” Noell said.


Ashley Eriksmoen, who ​previously ​taught at Penland​ ​and will teach woodworking during the 2015 session, sees a progressive synergy between ANU’s ​hands-on ​approach to​ teaching​ craft in the academy and Penland’s intensive workshop context.

“[ANU’s] ​undergraduate and graduate programs​ are centered on thinking through a material,” said Eriksmoen. “Our workshop discipline​​s​ involve art, craft, and design–and​ are closely aligned with those at Penland. We offer a high-caliber program Down Under. At Penland, we’ll offer it to students who wouldn’t otherwise make the antipodal journey.”

Here are a few of the Australia-based artist/educators who will be teaching during the session:

Wave 1 Gilbert Riedelbauch




Gilbert Riedelbauch, who will teach a workshop, for artists working in any medium, on the relationship between two-dimensional and three-dimensional design. Gilbert is the head of foundation studies and the coordinator of the design degree at ANU. See more of his work here.


AA IMG_8464-8459-8462


Simon Cottrell’s jewellery and objects have been extensively published and exhibited worldwide since 1996. He is currently a researcher and professor in the Gold and Silversmithing Workshop, School of Art, at ANU. Metalsmith magazine published an 8-page feature article on his work and practice, which can be read here.











Nadege Desgenetez creates glass work that reflects memory, identity and belonging. “My work,” she says, “draws from an array of autobiographical considerations to explore the sculptural language of glass.” Her Penland workshop will focus on the dialogue between form and color. Learn more about Nadege here.






work by Suzie Bleach and Andrew Townsend





Suzie Bleach and Andrew Townsend are collaborating artists who create award-winning, large-scale animal representations from steel. They will lead their Penland students through the whole process of designing and creating a steel, animal sculpture.






Caran Florance, whose work is shown at the top of this post, publishes her work under the name of Ampersand Duck. She will lead a workshop titled Bespoke Poetry: Press Poetics that will explore the ways in which letterpress printers can use handset type and creative layout to enhance the experience of poetry.


All-Aussie Penland Session 2: June 7-19, 2015

Click here for full course information.

Click on the names below for websites of the artists.


Books: Nicci Haynes (waiting list)

Printmaking: John Pratt (space available)

Letterpress: Caren Florance (space available)

Upper Clay studio: Greg Daly (waiting list)

Lower Clay studio: Michael Keighery (space available)

Painting: Ruth Waller (space available)

Glass: Nadege Desgenetez (space available)

Glass casting: Richard Whiteley (waiting list)

Upper metals studio: Simon Cottrell (space available)

Lower metals studio (3-D design): Gilbert Riedelbauch (space available)

Iron: Suzie Bleach & Andy Townsend (space availalbe)

Photography: Matt Higgins & Denise Ferris (waiting list)

Upper textiles studio: Jemima Parker (waiting list)

Lower textiles studio: Valerie Kirk (space available)

Wood: Ashley Eriksmoen (space available)


Comments are closed

Photo(s) of the Week: Upholstered Furniture

working in the Penland wood studio

Core fellows Meghan Martin and Elmar Fujita during the last few days of Annie Evelyn‘s workshop on upholstered furniture.


upholstered furniture at Penland

Here are their finished chairs at show-and-tell.


Comments are closed

Cooking Out, Minoan Style

jerolyn morrison minoan dinner at penland

Jerolyn Morrison


A few weeks ago, students in Penland’s spring session had a special meal that included lentils, chick peas, and other dishes cooked using methods reconstructed through artifacts from the late Minoan civilization of 1200 – 1500 B.C.E. The dishes were cooked over glowing coals in earthenware pots made by students in Cynthia Bringle’s spring workshop. The project was led by Jerolyn Morrison, who was a guest teacher for two weeks.

Jerolyn’s history with Penland goes back to 1996, when she came as a student just after finishing her B.A. in ceramics at Baylor University. She spent most of the next four years at the school, serving variously as studio assistant, coffee house manager, breakfast cook, and volunteer coordinator for the auction. During this time, she says, she became interested in the “life of the object.” This interest led her to a Masters in anthropology, a Fulbright for study in Greece, and, most recently, a Ph.D in archeology from the University of Leicester in England.


jerolyn morrison minoan dinner at Penland

Taste testing


The teaching and cooking she did this spring at Penland were based on her Ph.D. project, which involved reproducing both Minoan cookpots and cooking. Drawing on 100 years of archeology, she began reproducing the cookpots using the local clay in Crete. Then, working from studies of charred food remains, burnt seeds, and residue extracted from 3,000-year-old pots, she assembled what she refers to as the Minoan grocery list. “The clay, the pots, the wood that was burned, the food that was being cooked: once you have this,” she said, “then it’s interpretive.” Which is to say, there’s no way to know exactly how Minoan food tasted. She also had to learn, through experimentation, how to cook in the three-legged earthenware pots. Present day residents of Crete, she explained, still cook on open fires, but they have forgotten how to cook in ceramic pots.

Having completed her Ph.D., Jerolyn continues to live part of the year in Crete where she runs a business called Minoan Tastes that caters special events using the pots, techniques, and recipes she developed through this work. A cookbook is in process. “It mixes anthropology and archeology in a way that’s informative rather than academic,” she said.


jerolyn morrison minoan dinner at Penland

Flatbread over the coals


Her recent stint at Penland was literally a dream come true. “I had this dream, an actual dream,” she said, “ that I was doing this at Penland. So I called Cynthia Bringle to ask her if there was any way I could make this happen. She was, at that moment, planning her spring workshop and invited me to join her for a few weeks.”

“It was great,” she said. “We got to talk about archeology and pottery as we were working. The rest of the workshop was throwing and these pots are all made with handbuilding techniques, so it expanded the scope of the class that way.”


jerolyn morrison minoan dinner at penland

There were benefits for Jerolyn as well. She appreciated that her Penland students did not stick to reproducing traditional Minoan cookware. “They decorated the pots, which the Minoans didn’t do,” she explained. “And they had no cultural constraints about what the pots should be. It was freeing, and I’d like to work a little more like that. This was a gift they gave back to me.”


jerolyn morrison minoan dinner at penland

And there was consensus that the dinner was delicious.

-Robin Dreyer


jerolyn morrison minoan dinner at penland

Cynthia Bringle, Jerolyn, and the whole class.


Comments are closed

Photo of the Week: Nancy Callan Glass Demo


Instructor Nancy Callan making one of her glass clouds.

Comments are closed

Photo of the Week: Zones and Tones

Dan Estabrook at Penland School of Crafts

Instructor Dan Estabrook and student Cynthia Cukiernik discussing the fine points of exposing black-and-white film. (On a fine spring day.)


Comments are closed

Heft & Light



One day last winter, I ran into Daniel Beck in the coffee house, and asked him how he was. “Not great,” he said. “I’m down. Not really sure why.” He said it to a few of us. Nothing in his voice induced worry. No one clipped the moment with concern or sympathy. The room paused, and held what he said. That was it.

Months later I’m looking at “Entry,” Daniel’s inflated steel sculpture, shown above. The coffee house moment comes back. How do we make space for what we can’t say? Outside the fond ambush of being social—how do we make ourselves known? “Entry,” for start, might give someone’s lonesomeness a landing place.

“Entry” began, Daniel says, with an idea about thought bubbles: white, graphic space that hosts speech. The  steel is thin to the touch, and the welded seams at the sides of the hollow add another signature of intention. “I get super snapped in, welding those,” Daniel says about the seams with firm delight. “I want to make work that’s visually direct, but the process, for me, needs to be challenging.”

Part of the directness in this piece is the black strip: coal dust and fire scale applied to white paint that continues, down the “soft square,” below the seam. “The black mark is the material,” Daniel says, “a way to keep with the material’s integrity.” And then he adds, in his thorough chuckle, “It’s totally a door to me.” Daniel’s friend, Ian Henderson, recently wrote about “Entry” and Daniel’s work at large for the Penland Benefit Auction e-newsletter. (“Entry” will be auctioned at this summer’s event.) Ian marvels: “Nimble, efficient construction somehow produces visual heft in one piece and cloud-like lightness in another.”




This winter, Daniel set up his studio space in what used to be Canipes Wrecker Service in downtown Spruce Pine. He also worked on multiple projects in Penland’s iron studio. One, a huge steel frame to anchor a roadside sign welcoming drivers to Spruce Pine. (One end of this frame can be seen behind Daniel’s shoulders in the portrait above). In another wintertime feat of heft, Daniel made a blacksmith’s ideal work table, constructed side by side with his friend, resident artist Andrew Hayes.

As Penland’s able and amiable iron studio coordinator, Daniel finds ample chance for friendship, collaboration, and a consistent soundtrack of power hammers and forging. Quiet can be hard to come by. Why not take over a local auto-body shop in the name of space, time, thought, and abstraction? We won’t intellectualize it. We’ll call it awesome and leave it at that.

Read Ian Henderson’s writing about Daniel T. Beck and his sculpture here.

Follow Daniel on Instagram here.


Writing by Elaine Bleakney; portrait of Daniel T. Beck by Robin Dreyer


Comments are closed