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The Northwind Hammer

hammer and other blacksmithing tools

The Northwind Hammer in the California shop of David Browne, its first recipient. Image: David Browne

 

“The Northwind brings change. Sometimes a dramatic storm, a swirl of luminescent clouds, or a sensation that precipitates an uneasy ambiance in the valley. Colossal gusts, howling, trees bending, everything moving and swaying. The birds and insects disappear. Slowly…it fades. Vitality is restored and a pleasant stillness remains. Every grace of nature resurfaces. This is the natural phenomena that inspired ‘Northwind’. I’ve created a hammer to exemplify the inhale, expansion, and release of the wind.” —Brent Bailey

 

Just like the north wind, blacksmith Brent Bailey’s handmade hammer is traveling and shifting and altering its surroundings. It moves from place to place, from artist to artist. First California, then on to Virginia and Tennessee and Texas. At each location, the hammer stays for a couple weeks, inspiring its current owner’s work in some way. It is an opportunity, a cue to think differently or try something new. And then it moves on. Twelve different artists will each incorporate the hammer into their forges before it ultimately makes its way back to Brent in California.

 

Andy Dohner and the Northwind Hammer

Andy Dohner holding the Northwind Hammer

 

This spring, the Northwind Hammer made a visit to Andy Dohner. At the time, Andy was in the Penland iron studio teaching our spring 2015 concentration. He and his students, like the blacksmiths before them, assimilated the Northwind Hammer into their studio work. It was both a tool in their creative process and the inspiration for that process. As Andy commented, “The concept we are using with the Northwind is one hammer, eleven students. Together we are working on a sculpture of an astrolabe.”

 

the spring 2015 iron students

Andy and his students in the Penland iron studio this spring

 

The astrolabe is an ancient tool, one which captures the changing positions of the sun and stars in the sky. Just like the north wind, it brings to mind time and travel and strips bare our sense of constancy. And, just like the Northwind Hammer, the astrolabe is a relatively simple tool which opens up new doors for those who use it. How appropriate, then, that Andy and his class selected this subject as the focus of their work. Their completed sculpture combines the nested circles and rule of an astrolabe with the simplicity of the hammer itself.

 

metal astrolabe sculpture

The finished astrolabe sculpture created by Andy and his class

 

The sculpture may be finished, but the Northwind Hammer’s journey is not. From Penland, it traveled on to Jim Masterson at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Tennessee. Next, it made stops in California, Detroit, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Massachusetts, collecting stories and each artist’s touchmark along the way. In these places, the projects the hammer was a part of were as varied as its locations, from sculptural metal feathers to a railing recreation to a patterned table frame.

The Northwind Hammer has one last stop before it returns home to its creator. Its final location and artist are still unknown, but one thing is already certain: the Northwind Hammer altered the creations of the blacksmiths who received it, and they, in turn, altered it. As Brent reflected, the work of each artist “imparts and impregnates their essence into the steel.”

To read more about the hammer and follow its journey, visit Brent Bailey’s Northwind page.

 

 

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Printers in the Making | Fall Concentration with Phil Sanders

Phil Sanders working in a print shop

“Printmaking in and of itself is a very simple idea,” says Phil Sanders. “It’s the transfer of one image from one surface to another.” But this simple definition belies the true complexity and range of options available to the skilled printmakerlayers of ink and paper, levels of opacity, a myriad of textures and techniques. And if one thing is for sure, it’s that Phil Sanders is a skilled printmaker. Lucky for us, he’ll be coming to Penland this fall to teach an 8-week concentration on the ins and outs of his trade, including etching, aquatint, drypoint, and more. The course, as he says, “is a rare occasion to get an intaglio apprenticeship-style immersion.”

Space is still open in this print concentration, and some work-study scholarships are still available. Register here.

 

Printers in the Making

Phil Sanders – As a printer and a printmaker, I understand the difficulty of switching between “printer brain” and “artist brain.” The pull between “how to do” and “what to do” can leave you lost in the middle. Consider this class a technical apprenticeship combined with the creative space to experiment with your artistic voice. We’ll demystify all intaglio processes plus monotype, monoprint, and chine-collé. We’ll make ink, grounds, and drawing supplies, review tool maintenance, paper conservation, and more. We’ll tackle drawing, composition, design, and color theory through drawing calisthenics and composition exercises. This workshop is ideal for artists looking to hone their printmaking skills and artistic voice or working toward becoming professional printers. All levels. Code F00X

Phil Sanders is the director of PS Marlowe, a creative services consultancy firm. He is a former director and master printer at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (NYC) and a former master printer for Universal Limited Art Editions (NY). Phil’s teaching experience includes Stanford University (CA), San Francisco State University (CA), and numerous courses at Penland.

phillipsanders.com

 

Two prints by Phil Sanders

Two prints by Phil Sanders. At left, “Check Mate,” a lithograph with digital inkjet and watercolor. At right, “Black Star (IQ Test),” a six-color silkscreen.

 

Phil Sanders Print

“Presence of Another,” a four-color letterpress print by Phil Sanders.

 

In a 10-Minute Talk created for MoMA, Phil emphasizes that printmaking is a very old and diverse fieldhumans have been making prints ever since the first footprint in the sand. “One of the major reasons that printmaking has survived and continues to thrive is its collaborative nature. Printmaking is never done wholly within in a vacuum. It’s a cumulative knowledge process that we add to as participants in it.” If you want to be part of that rich history, eight weeks of instruction and experimentation with a master printer might just be your chance.

 

REGISTER NOW FOR FALL CONCENTRATIONS
September 20 – November 13, 2015

 

As for the rest of us, we can at least get a taste by watching Phil in this short video on intaglio processes!

 

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Going Deep: Sculpture & Furniture Laboratory with Sylvie Rosenthal

Sylvie Rosenthal in her shop

This fall, Sylvie Rosenthal will be returning to Penland to teach a concentration in the woodshop. Her course focuses on furniture and sculpture, but its audience is far wider than that. Anyone fond of whimsical details, anyone interested in conceptual ideas made tangible, anyone eager to prototype and problem solveall will find something to inspire them in this 8-week laboratory. After all, as American Style noted in a profile of her, Sylvie specializes in being able “to combine function, style and humor in one clean package.” Her work is intricate and detail-oriented, often kinetic, and, in her own words, “steeped in the impossible.” It’s a pretty remarkable combination.

There are still spaces left to take part in the workshop this fall from September 20 – November 13, 2015. Register here.

 

Going Deep: Sculpture & Furniture Laboratory

Sylvie Rosenthal – In this fun and fast-paced workshop, we’ll work in and out of the studio as we make furniture and sculpture for interior and exterior settings. While exploring experimental and traditional construction techniques—including lap, mortise and tenon, and dovetail joints—we’ll make forms, structures, masses to carve, and literal and metaphorical frameworks to support your ideas. Our main material will be wood, but we’ll use other materials—plaster, metal, ceramic, found objects—as projects necessitate. Thinking creatively, solving problems, and keeping safety in mind, we’ll use additive and subtractive processes as we cut, glue, join, shape, break, and fix. Risk taking will be encouraged. All levels. Code F00W

Sylvie Rosenthal is a studio artist specializing in woodworking and sculpture. She has taught at Haystack (ME), Anderson Ranch (CO), University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Penland. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design (NYC) and the Mint Museum (NC) and is in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, the Fuller Craft Museum (MA), and the Kamm Teapot Foundation (CA).

sylvierosenthal.com

 

Desk and stool by Sylvie Rosenthal

Birdie Suite, 2007. This desk and stool set features a kinetic bird sculpture perched next to the mirror. Ask the bird if you look good, turn the crank, and watch it nod a yes. Photo by Steve Mann.

 

Whale sculpture by Sylvie Rosenthal

Ballena, 2011. This 11-foot long “whale with a roof rack” is part of Sylvie’s series of “edificios imposibles,” or impossible buildings. Photo by Ramon C Purcell

 

O'Possum Whiskey, 2005. As Sylvie describes, "The whiskey cabinets beckon as kinetic skulls agree, you should have another drink." Photo by Larry Stanley

O’Possum Whiskey, 2005. As Sylvie describes, “The whiskey cabinets beckon as kinetic skulls agree, you should have another drink.” Photo by Larry Stanley

 

As the images above make clear, Sylvie has a strong background in wood and fine furniture, but she doesn’t let materials or traditions hold back her designs. As Andrew Glasgow put it in American Craft magazine, “Her sculpture has a fine-furniture maker’s sensibility while her furniture…possesses a sculptural quality that exhibits utter ease at flowing between the genres.” Come bend the rules and blur the lines with Sylvie this fall at Penland.

 

REGISTER NOW FOR FALL CONCENTRATIONS
September 20 – November 13, 2015

 

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A Sign Painting Workshop | Fall Concentration with Timothy Maddox

hand painted sign by Timothy Maddox

This fall, we’re lucky enough to have Timothy Maddox returning to Penland to teach an 8-week course on sign painting. Part hand lettering, part brushwork, and part graphic art, sign painting mixes a bit of history with a bit of self-expression and projects it on a large scale. It’s a very tactile approach to design that showcases the uniqueness of the human hand. As Tim himself says, “the human quality and the flaws that are inherent in such a direct form of creation are inspiring.” Space is still available to join the workshop, including a limited number of work-study spots. Register here.

 

A Sign Painting Workshop

Timothy Maddox – This workshop will guide students through a vast array of techniques and practices in traditional sign painting. We’ll start with the basics by learning to draft proper letterforms and developing hand skills with lettering brushes. Then we’ll begin to explore many of the essential skills of a qualified sign painter. Through guided practice and individually developed projects, we’ll cover layout and gilding, brush and material choices, patterns and transfers, and much more. Alongside skill development we’ll discuss practicing this art for profit. This history of sign painting, laced with rich cultural development and identity, will be revealed as we work through materials and techniques. All levels. Code F00D

Timothy Maddox is a studio artist and full-time sign painter who owns Mighty Fine Signs (NC). He has taught at Penland and Arrowmont (TN) and is the recipient of a Windgate Fellowship.

mightyfinesigns.com

 

handpainted "Woolly Press" sign

“I want to see more amateur attempts at sign painting instead of computer graphics printed up in minutes,” Tim remarked in an interview with AIGA. “Give me crude letters, bad paint, whatever. . . Creating something by hand connects humanity and puts smiles on faces.”

We’re all for smiles, and we’re certainly keen to join the recent sign painting resurgence after seeing Tim’s work. If you need more inspiration, check out the Sign Painters documentary featured below. What will your sign say?

 

REGISTER NOW FOR FALL CONCENTRATIONS
September 20 – November 13, 2015

 

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Farewell to Micah, Dustin, and Rachel

Today we bid a fond, sad farewell to three of our resident artists. Micah Evans, Dustin Farnsworth, and Rachel Meginnes have been wonderful community members since arriving at Penland in 2012 and have continually inspired us with their work.

Micah Evans flameworking glass

Micah, our resident in glass, will be heading to Austin, TX to set up a studio there and continue his work. During his residency, he made everything from glass topographic maps to yo-yos to involved decantersall of them exquisite.

 

Dustin Farnsworth with some of his sculpture

Dustin has spent his three-year residency focused on figurative sculpture, producing monumental narrative pieces that are both intricate and immersive. This fall, he will spend the semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Windgate Artist in Residence.

 

Rcahel Meginnes portrait

While at Penland, Rachel moved between painting and textiles, transforming plainwoven fabric into gorgeous and subtle studies of color, texture, and pattern. She is headed to Indiana to teach at Earlham College for the next year but will be back at Penland in fall 2016 to teach a concentration.

Best of luck to each of these three talented artists as they continue exploring new ideas in their work! We’re eager to see where those explorations take them, and we’ll always be eager to welcome them back to Penland.
 

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Photo of the Week: Don’t Yell into the Ear Trumpet

Jeff Goodman animated GIF

Jeff Goodman, who is teaching a photo/video/documentation workshop this session, made this sequence of pictures of studio assistant Laurencia Strauss (listening) and instructor Christina Shmigel (yelling) for a flipbook demonstration. Of course, anything you can make into a flipbook, you can also make into an animated GIF.

 

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A Tradition of Innovation

KT Hancock at Penland

Student KT Hancock working in the Penland iron studio. Photograph by Mike Belleme for WNC Magazine.

 

WNC magazine’s current issue contains an excellent story, titled A Tradition of Innovation, that presents an illustrated overview of Penland School. You can read the article on the WNC website. Here’s a teaser:

The more time one spends at Penland, the more one understands the sense of connectivity and pulse of mystery that’s hard to define to an outsider. Though almost everyone who visits can agree there is a certain magic to the place. “There’s a removal from the day-to-day that happens when you have to drive up and up and up, and then up some more into the mountains, and you come around a corner and there’s that valley with the studios behind it,” says Steve Miller, another trustee who runs the MFA program in book arts at the University of Alabama and has taught at Penland 14 times. “That remove, that temple at the top of the mountain phenomenon—it moves me every time.”

Thanks to writer Brian Barth (who is a relative of Penland’s founder Lucy Morgan) and photographer Mike Belleme for their fine work on this piece.

 

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