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Photo of the Week: New Studios!!


This building, which is almost finished, will house new studios for drawing, painting, and book arts. It shares a roofline with the letterpress and print building (to the right). The construction crew is working on their final punch list and Penland staff are starting to move equipment in. It’s going to be a beautiful place to work. (And yes, we are planning to move that power pole out of the view.)


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Char Walker Releases a Hawk

On April 24, we had a visit from Nina Fischesser, director of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute at Lees-McRae College. Nina was accompanied by her student Shannon Grangier, three red-tailed hawks, a barn owl, and Char Walker, who is a volunteer at the institute, a glassblower, and a veteran of twenty Penland glass Concentration workshops.

They were at Penland because Nina thought it was an ideal place to release Gunshot, a red-tailed hawk that was rehabilitated at the institute after being injured by shotgun pellets. She invited Char to do that actual release. (See video above.)


red-tailed hawks at penland school

The other hawks that came along are the institute’s “ambassadors.” These are birds who would not survive in the wild. They are trained to be calm around groups of people and are shown to visitors and at public events as a way of promoting wildlife conservation and the work of the institute. Here we see Shannon on the right with a red-tailed hawk and Nina on the left with a leucistic red-tailed hawk. Leucism is a genetic condition in which parts or all of an animal’s body surface lack cells capable of producing any type of pigment.


char walker with barn owl at penland school

Here’s Char with a barn owl.


hawk release at penland school

The event was attended by students, staff, and neighbors. As we were walking off the knoll, everyone kept repeating some version of, “Wow, we were here for that.”


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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.


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Photo(s) of the Week: Easter Eggs!

Muybridge photo eggs
Hand-decorated duck egg
Bunny eggs
Quilted cloth
Yeah, we got 'em.

Here are a few of the handmade eggs that showed up for our annual Easter egg hunt. It’s possible that a few of them are still out there…



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Photo(s) of the Week: Community Open House 2015

Mobiles in the school store
Metals (enameling)
Photo (in the darkroom)
Hot glass
Pastepaper painting


Penland’s 2015 community open house was a lovely, lively event. More than 350 visitors and 150 volunteers braved the ice and the cold on February 28 and worked together in Penland’s studios to make enameled buttons, clay pots, glass vessels and beads, rebus mobiles, black and white photographs, wooden train whistles, steel garden stakes, letterpress printed books, woven samples, and more. Here are a few pictures of the fun. Join us for next year’s open house on March 5.


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An Unconventional Gift

Jim Adams and Laurie McIntosh, courtesy of The State.

Jim Adams and Laurie McIntosh

Blacksmith and sculptor Jim Adams and mixed media artist Laurie McIntosh took collaboration to another level after meeting at Penland last winter. This fall, they put on Penland Connections, a show of their works at Gallery 80808 in Columbia, South Carolina. (The show closes tomorrow, for those in the area.) In recognition of their memorable Penland experience, Adams and McIntosh decided to do something out of the ordinary: donate a portion of their earnings from gallery sales to Penland’s work-study scholarship program.

“[Penland] is not like any art place I’ve ever been,” said McIntosh in a radio interview with the South Carolina Business Review. “You eat, sleep, everything is art. Every time I’ve ever been [to Penland] has been a complete milestone in my career.”

Almost half of Penland’s students receive financial assistance. Penland’s work-study scholarships serve as a major vehicle in bringing students from diverse economic backgrounds and locations to our studios–a fact not lost on Adams and McIntosh. Students and instructors donate some works they have made during their session at seasonal work-study scholarship auctions. Monies raised go back to the work-study program. The next Penland work-study scholarship auction is Thursday, November 13, beginning at 8:00 pm in the Northlight building.

Thank you to Jim and Laurie for their unconventional gift. To find out more about Penland’s work-study program and how to create a scholarship, go here.

Interested in a scholarship to Penland? Our scholarship deadline for spring 2015 concentration workshops is November 28.

Photograph courtesy of The State newspaper.


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Penland at SOFA

Photograph of SOFA 2013 by Cheri Eisenberg

Photograph of SOFA 2013 by Cheri Eisenberg

Penland will participate in the always thrilling SOFA Chicago, which runs at Navy Pier, November 7-9. If you’re attending, please stop by our information table and say hello: we will have a preview list of our Summer 2015 workshops available.

You will also find us at SOFA 2014 involved in a project with four other craft schools promoting the craft school experience. This group will have a booth with information and a small collection of work by artists connected with the different schools. The group of craft schools will also present a panel discussion about craft workshop education.

And, if that’s not enough, Penland’s director Jean W. McLaughlin will moderate a panel discussion titled The Artist’s Perspective on Growth and Change with Penland instructors Raissa Bump, Cristina Cordova, Arthur Gonzalez, and Tom Huang.


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