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Through a Student’s Lens

students and instructors working together in Penland's hot glass studio

Penland glass studio photo by Andrew Peter King


Fine art photographer Andrew Peter King joined us as a student for Jo Whaley’s session 1 class “The Theater of Photography.” In addition to learning some new approaches and techniques for lighting while at Penland, Andrew also took some captivating images of his fellow students and their work.

Head on over to Andrew’s blog post on Penland to read more and view the images he took for Jo’s class. And don’t miss his second blog post with dramatic photos of Penland’s hot glass studio!


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Photo of the Week: Kiln Break

Michael Kieghery at Penland

Internationally-known ceramic and performance artist Michael Kieghery taking a break in the Penland wood kiln. Michael was part of a special summer session that was taught entirely by artists from Australian National University.

“What’s it like in there, Michael?”
“It’s wonderful! I have a beautiful view of the mountains, it’s cool, and nobody cares if I smoke.”


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Photo of the Week: Steel Bird

Andrew Townsend at Penland School

Student Jane Petitt and instructor Andrew Townsend making a component for Jane’s emerging steel bird. Andrew is co-teaching with Suzie Bleach and everyone in the workshop is fabricating an animal form. Andrew and Suzie are part of a group of artists from Australian National University who are teaching all of Penland’s second-session workshops.


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Rebuilding the “Julia”

“Penland has plenty of kilns sitting outside the ceramic studio – and the kilns have names. There’s Lucille, for one. There’s Jin Jin for another. Then there’s the Julia kiln. “Julia” is named after my wife Julia Terr, a former student and teaching assistant at Penland. She died in 2009.

“The original Julia kiln was built with the help of the Julia Terr Fund for Ceramic Arts which was formed to help support non-profit clay communities to underwrite the building or purchase of kilns. When word spread on social media that the Julia kiln at Penland was being rebuilt, I received messages from friends and total strangers describing to me the pots they took from the shelves of Julia over the past four years. The Julia kiln fired hundreds and hundreds of pots during its time, pots that got cleaned up, packed up and taken home to keep as reminders of knowledge gleamed in workshops. A friend told me she owns a bowl from the Julia kiln that has served her granola and yogurt every morning for the past two years.




After repeated firings, the Julia kiln required repairs; our fund stepped in to help. In April, I traveled to Penland to assist kiln-builder and potter Will Baker to construct “Julia 2.” As I handed bricks to Will, the floor and the walls of the new kiln began to appear, rising up off the kiln pad as if it were the most natural thing in the world. In a flash, I pictured the interior of the new Julia kiln, and how it would house and fire another generation of Penland pots.  I could almost imagine the hundreds of cups, mugs and bowls and the people behind theses pots. The feeling was remarkable to experience, to visualize this new kiln as a tool for future potters at Penland and all the potential this new possibility encompasses for an artistic community. To me, kilns feel like instruments of hope: a glance inside a kiln and one can only imagine what will result, what shapes and forms will materialize as the temperature rises, what beautiful pots will finally emerge from the miracle of the heat.

“The kilns at Penland touch the lives of so many pots and, by extension, so many people. A new kiln called Julia 2 will impact more lives in the years to come. “Julia 2″ had its first firing in the Cynthia Bringle’s spring clay concentration in April 2015.”

–Vince Montague

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Working in Three Dimensions

Alex Stasko in the Penland clay studio

Student Alex Stasko working on a clay self-portrait in a first-session workshop taught by Pattie Chalmers. (Photo by Robin Dreyer)


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“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!

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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)


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