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One Weekend, Two Shows

Penland has not one but two groups of super-talented artists living and creating on campus: our resident artists and our core fellows. And next weekend, they will put on not one but two gorgeous shows to display their recent creations. Mark your calendar down for the evening of October 9, and mark down the afternoon of October 10 as well. Both openings will be well worth attending.


Core show poster


Personal Effects: Core Show 2015
Opening Reception October 9, 8:00-11:00pm, Northlight Hall

Personal Effects brings together pieces by Penland’s nine talented core fellows: Jamie Karolich, Joshua Kovarik, Meghan Martin, Emily Rogstad, Tyler Stoll, Elmar Fujita, Daniel Garver, Morgan Hill, and Bryan Parnham. The core fellows design and curate the show, and it’s a rare opportunity for them to display the sum of all the thinking, learning, and creating they do in their individual classes and studio practices.

If you can’t make the opening (or you just want a second look), the core show will also be open to the public from 12:00-6:00pm on October 10 and 11 and from 4:00-6:00pm on October 12 and 13.


promotional image for the upcoming resident artist show


The Barns: 2015
Opening Reception October 10, 4:30-6:30pm, Gallery North

The Barns: 2015 will be the first opportunity to see work from Penland’s current group of resident artists all together. Our newest residents Dean Allison, Maggie Finlayson, Seth Gould, and Tom Jaszczak will display their work alongside that of Annie Evelyn, Andrew Hayes, Mercedes Jelinek, and Jaydan Moore, who joined the program a year ago. The show will reflect the varied interests and talents of our residents, with works in cast glass, clay, metal, and photography alongside furniture, printmaking, and mixed media sculpture.

The Barns: 2015 will be on view this fall in Penland’s Gallery North from October 6 through November 15. Students and guests on campus are encouraged to stop by during their visits.


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50 Years of Glass at Penland

Though small in physical scale, a single innovation changed the course of glass making in America: in 1962 Harvey Littleton, with the help of Norm Schulman and Dominick Labino, built and demonstrated a studio-scale glass furnace at a workshop for university ceramics professors held at the Toledo Museum of Art. Prior to their demonstration, glasswork had been closely linked with production factories, and a studio glass practice was pretty much unheard of.

Two years later, a fortuitous meeting between Littleton and Penland director Bill Brown at the World Craft Conference, held at Columbia University in New York City, triggered another turning point. Once again, Littleton built and demonstrated a small glass furnace, and Bill Brown left that conference determined to build a glass studio at Penland School of Crafts. In 1965, Bill Boysen, a student of Littleton’s, arrived at Penland to build that studio, and hot glass at Penland became a reality. Penland’s first formal offering in glass was the following summer when Boysen taught two classes. Glass has been a vital component of Penland’s program ever since.


man blowing glass

Bill Boysen in the Penland glass studio in 1965. Photographer unknown, Penland Archives.


Cynthia Bringle, longtime Penland clay instructor and local resident, was here when Boysen arrived to build the studio. When asked what that felt like, she says, “Like many of the early studios, everyone was just doing what it took to make it work. Bill Boysen came down and did it. I just came down and helped!” She remembers early work made from melted glass marbles (one of the forms you could buy raw glass in back then). Clay and glass remained intertwined in the early years: Norm Schulman, local resident and Penland clay instructor, worked in both media and was an advisor for Littleton’s furnace design. When Richard Ritter was a resident artist in the 1970s, Bringle made ceramic collars for him to use for making glass murrinis, and she filled in as an impromptu gaffer.


woman in a glass shop

Cynthia Bringle working in the Penland glass studio in 1965. Photographer unknown, image courtesy of Kate Vogel.


Littleton’s technology and Brown’s vision for a glass program at Penland acted as a springboard for the studio glass movement. The technology was accessible, and Penland’s glass program became an influential hub. Penland’s resident artists program—a unique program offering long-term housing, studio space, and creative community to a group of craftspeople—was instituted by Brown in 1963. The first resident in glass, Mark Peiser, arrived in 1965. That program and Penland’s immersive learning environment, along with the progressively more sophisticated glass studios, made Penland a magnet that attracted a community of glass artists to the area surrounding the school. In the late 1970s Littleton retired from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and built a home and studio in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, close to Penland. He was part of Penland summers as a visiting scholar for eight years between 1976 and 1984.

Fifty years after the first glass studio at Penland was built, there are, according to glass artist Kate Vogel, approximately sixty active glass artists living and working in the surrounding community—about forty of whom work full time in glass. The Glass Art Society was founded at a gathering at Penland in 1971 and has held their annual conference here a number of times. The second Penland glass studio, the Bonnie Willis Ford Glass Studio, opened for classes in 1977. The current studio, the Bill Brown Glass Studio, was dedicated in 1995 during a Glass Arts Society conference. Many glass artists, from all over the U.S. and the world, have come to Penland to teach and to learn: in fifty years over 700 classes in glass have been offered, taught by almost 300 different instructors, and 27 resident artists in glass have worked in the glass studio at the Barns. In that time, Penland programs have stretched the boundaries of how glass can be worked at the studio scale, all the while fostering a global community of glass artists.

Carey Hedlund, Penland Archivist


Micah Evans working on a flameworked glass piece

Former resident artist Micah Evans working on a piece in the Penland glass studio in 2011. Photo by Robin Dreyer.



Byrd, Joan Falconer. Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass. New York: Skira Rizzoli Publications Inc., 2011. Print.

Documentary by WGTE television, Toledo, OH: features film footage of the Toledo workshops and interviews with Littleton, Labino and Schulman:

Glass Arts Society website:

Penland School of Crafts, Jane Kessler Memorial Archives

Conversations with Kate Vogel and Cynthia Bringle, August 2015


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Penland’s Core Fellowship (Applications due Oct 15)

Core fellows got their name because they are at the very core of the Penland community. They are fully engaged with life at the schoolthey take classes, work in their own studios, live together on campus, and keep the school running alongside Penland’s staff. It’s a pretty special and unique opportunity for emerging artists, and most core fellows find that their two years here are transformative in ways they didn’t even anticipate.

Here’s how some past core fellows have described the experience in their own words:

Amanda Thatch


“I have learned so much about so many different materials and so many different approaches to art and living in community. Because I make things, I get to have experiences that I would never be able to have otherwise. As a core student, I’ve been able to take fourteen Penland classes in two years. That’s a pretty incredible gift.”  Amanda Thatch



Daniel Beck


“We work so closely together and influence each other so much that the program is like an idea factory. It’s definitely a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We work hard, but we get a lot for it. I find that the work makes me feel more integrated into the whole school.”  Daniel Beck




Courtney Dodd


“I learned so much from being exposed to different teachers and different ways of doing things. I also learned about many things other than craft or art: I learned about landscaping and cooking, for instance, and, more than anything else, about communicating with other people. I think I’ve grown more in the past two years than in any other time of my life.”  Courtney Dodd



Jack Mauch


“My time as a core student has been seminal in every regard. I have grown immensely in my understanding of material and process, and in the sophistication of my artistic vision. I have lived, worked, and learned with people who have had a profound impact on me, and whose influence I will carry forever. I have had the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and the most cups of coffee.”  Jack Mauch



Rachel Mauser


“Being a core fellow at Penland is an incredible blend of being an artist, a staff member, a student, and living in a very close community. Everything is intense: so much more than I think it normally would be. Living with the other core fellows and learning from themas artists, as colleagues, as peoplehas been amazing.”  Rachel Mauser




If the Core Fellowship Program piques your interest, then mark down October 15, 2015 on your calendar. That’s when applications for next year’s core fellowships are due. For more information, visit the Core Fellowship page.



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Stuart Kestenbaum: Tinker Poet

Stuart Kestenbaum spent two weeks at Penland in July as this year’s Andrew Glasgow Writing Resident. Stuart is the author of four books of poetry and a book of essays on craft and creativity. His work has been published in a number of magazines including Tikkun and The Sun and has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. He sent us this account from his time at Penland. Scroll to the bottom to see a video of Stuart reading a couple of poems.


Stuart Kestenbaum at Penland

Stuart Kestenbaum reading a poem in the metals studio.


During my last week of the job I had held for 27 years, I received a call from Penland’s program director Leslie Noell asking me to be the Andrew Glasgow Visiting Writer at Penland for a two-week summer session. Sometimes before picking up a ringing phone I reflect for a moment that it could be either a wonderful opportunity or really bad news. Most times the call is far more mundane than that– a reminder of a dental appointment or a robo-call from a nonexistent bank. The call from Penland, though, was of the rare wonderful opportunity variety, particularly since the job I was leaving was as director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, a program in Maine so similar in concept to Penland that we think of ourselves as sister schools. Penland inspired the founding of Haystack in 1950, and Bill Brown, who was assistant director at Haystack, became director of Penland in 1962. We’ve been sharing faculty and educational strategies for a long time.


At Penland I would be able to experience the powerful creative energy of a community of makers—much like what I’d lived with at Haystack—but without any of the responsibility. Someone else would be thinking about plumbing, food, kilns, and fundraising. And, while I always loved the group energy of each session at Haystack, there was rarely time for my own work; these two weeks at Penland would give me time to focus on my writing.


A number of the workshop leaders—Bob Ebendorf, Jason Pollen, and Patricia Wheeler—had all taught at Haystack, so I had connections with the studios from the very start of the session. At Haystack I would introduce evening program by reading other people’s poems, so Bob invited me into his workshop to read poems to his class in the mornings. He said that I was like a tinker, traveling to the studio with poetry. I responded by saying that I would be more like a tinker if people gave me words that I could turn into a poem—repairing them or giving them new life in a sense. I would be a tinker of words. This began a series of daily poems with words from Bob’s class and later words from Kip O’Krongly’s clay class too.


It was liberating for me to use words that weren’t of my own choosing and exciting for the people in the studios to see their own words transformed. Each morning I’d return with a poem from the day before—some a little crazier than others—but the writing had allowed me make discoveries. And isn’t that what we want from our making? To employ what skills we have to travel along an unknown path into a new place. Using other people’s words provided me some distance from my writing self and allowed me to go inside more deeply, or at least differently. When the clay group left me a list of sixteen words (marsupial, mountain, basket, cleft, immense, bacon, pattern, noodle, anxiety, rigor mortis, stoicism, applesauce, stressed, passion, silhouette, and bedfellows) here’s what I wrote.


Hermit’s Dream
Living on the mountaintop, I missed
coffee and bacon at first—who doesn’t?
and later began to dream of simple things like
applesauce and noodles, since I was living
on air. Passion takes many forms,
my master had always stressed.
Look for patterns he said.
Being and non-being are strange
bedfellows. One day anxiety left me, drifting
off and settling in a rock cleft far below.
When the light was right, I could watch
its silhouette moving wildly.
I learned the names of my fears
and put them in a basket. Each day I would
climb the ledges, remembering who I
had been, feeling like a marsupial carrying
all those personalities in my pouch.
Then there was nothing. But it’s not what we
fear. No rigor mortis. I was alive and
dancing in this immense emptiness that
is everything. Stoics were laughing. Birds
were singing. First morning.


It was a dynamic partnership with the studios that I would look forward to each day. I’d receive my list of words in the late afternoon and work on the poems at night, ready for delivery to the workshops in the morning. I had my materials and I had a deadline—two key components of any creative process—and people eager to listen to poetry. What more could a writer want?

–Stuart Kestenbaum, September 2015



Here’s an excerpt from Stuart’s reading at Penland.





Stuart’s only complaint about his time at Penland was that, for some reason, nobody was playing frisbee or volleyball that session. He left us this poetic visual comment.




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When Ceramics and Animation Meet

man working on stop-motion animation

En Iwamura arranges ceramic elements he sculpted for his animation sequence “Mature Table Manner”


Many people who have spent time around Penland know Cristina Córdova, a former Penland resident and established ceramic artist whose studio is just down the hill from the Penland Gallery. Cristina’s sought-after sculptures are figurative and expressive, often mesmerizing and sometimes haunting. Once you’ve seen her deft and intuitive approach to clay and the human form, it’s not hard to see why one of her workshops would produce some very compelling art.

But this summer’s Sculpture in Motion class was far more than just remarkable ceramic sculpture. To teach the course, Cristina teamed up with her younger brother Arturo Córdova, an artist in his own right. Arturo trained as an animator and also works out of Brooklyn, NY to build sets and props for commercials and films. Together, they proposed and developed a workshop that combined both of their talents together in the form of stop-motion animation.

Students in Sculpture in Motion first constructed intricate ceramic sculptures, each one articulated to allow for re-positionable movement. Next they built sets for their figures to inhabit. Once these visual pieces were in place, they used digital software to shoot individual frames and compile them into animation sequences. Somehow, all of this work fit into one two-and-a-half week whirlwind, and the results are bursting with the session’s creative energy. From a cartoon rabbit and a blooming flower to curling tentacles and disappearing heads, the animations are as varied as they are awesome. View clips from the workshop here, and prepare to be impressed.


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Explore Shibori with Carol LeBaron

Carol LeBaron in her studio

The Japanese art of shibori, or shaped resist dyeing, is as old as it is varied. Since the first known example of the technique in the 8th century, artists have used shibori methods to produce patterns of miniature dots and bold lines, sharp angles and soft curves. Shibori has traditionally been done with indigo dye on natural fibers such as silk and hemp. And the intricate patterns it produces often echo the natural world as wellfrom the driving diagonal lines of a rainstorm to the rippling patterns on the surface of a lake to the delicate symmetry of a spider’s web.

Textile artist Carol LeBaron’s work is, at first glance, a far cry from the indigo and white designs that many people associate with shibori. But she is one in a long line of artists using and reinterpreting these techniques. Much of her current work draws from itajime shibori, a method of folding and clamping to produce pattern on cloth. And her imagery, like many traditional shibori patterns, also reflects nature. Her fabrics are rich with colordeep greens and saturated reds outline leaf shapes, while bright golds and oranges suggest dappled sunlight filtering through a forest canopy. As Carol explains, each piece “elicits the specificity of a particular time of day, weather, or place.” She describes her work as “a combination of contemporary aesthetic, modern technology, and ancient techniques.


textile piece by Carol LeBaron

A detail from “Taming the Forest,” a large installation piece Carol made using her clamped resist technique.


This fall, Carol will bring her knowledge of those techniques to Penland when she teaches “Explore Shibori: Acid Dyes” from October 18-24. Like Carol’s work, the one-week course will use traditional shibori methods as a jumping-off point to create new layers of pattern and color on cloth. Students of all levels will get the chance to put their own spin on techniques that have captivated artists for centuries. Space is still available to take part in Explore Shibori. Register here.


Explore Shibori: Acid Dyes

This workshop will explore the limitless possibilities inherent in acid dyes. We’ll begin with simple immersion techniques, creating a base and adding layers with direct application. We’ll explore shibori techniques in the hot acid dye pot, which can cause wool and silk to hold the shape when dried. This week will be an investigation that will result in a rich assortment of samples and many techniques and ideas to follow up in your own work. All levels. Code F02TA

Carol LeBaron is a studio artist who has taught at Haystack (ME), Arrowmont (TN), Campbell Folk School (NC), Peters Valley (NJ), and East Tennessee State University. Her textile work has been exhibited at the Nashville Airport, the Textile Museum (DC), and the International Shibori Symposium (Hong Kong) and has been included in publications such as Surface Design Journal, Fiberarts Design Book Seven, and 1000 Textiles (Lark Books).


Spring Growth by Carol LeBaron

“Spring Growth,” resist-dyed wool, acid dye, hand stitched, 48 x 96”


October 4 – 10  |  October 18 – 24  |  November 1 – 7


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The Nature of Glass with Linda Sacra

blue and clear glass bead necklace by Linda Sacra

“Moons of Triton” flameworked necklace by Linda Sacra


To look at Linda Sacra’s necklace of flameworked glass beads is to wonder about the scale of things. For a moment, it seems possible that the beads are not beads at all, but individual glistening cellsor perhaps entire swirling planets? A central air bubble trapped in those colorful whorls could as easily be a delicate nucleus as it could be a dense planetary core. Either way, the beads draw you in for a closer look and start your imagination flowing. It’s clear to see why the entire process of flameworking hooked Linda after she first tried it in 1992.


seashore beads by Linda Sacra

Linda lives near the ocean, and many of her beads mimic seashells and other treasures in miniature.


This fall, Linda will bring her love of flameworked glass to Penland for a 1-week session October 18-24. Her workshop will guide studentsboth complete beginners and those with experiencethrough the techniques she uses to achieve depth and color variation and unusual shapes in her glass beadwork. Registration is open, and space is still available to take part in the workshop.

But be careful, you might just get hookedthat’s exactly what happened to weaver and longtime Penland friend Edwina Bringle, who will be one of Linda’s students in October. Now retired after 24 years teaching weaving and textiles at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Edwina first tried flameworking at Penland’s Community Day about ten years ago. “As a weaver, I’m a colorist, and working with glass is another way to play with color,” explains Edwina. “I enjoy trying to improve my skills with flameworking. I enjoy the concentration of it.”


Edwina Bringle flameworking

Edwina Bringle concentrating on a project in the Penland flameworking studio


The Nature of Glass

Linda Sacra – Working in the flameworking studio with soda-lime glass, we will begin with basic shapes and then move on to more advanced shapes. We’ll use frits, enamels, fine silver, and etching to create surface depth and design. We’ll mix glass for a whole new palette and pull multi-color stringers and latticino for detail work. Daily demonstrations and one-on-one instruction will address the needs of students with different levels of experience. All levels. Code F02GB

Linda Sacra is a studio artist and returning Penland instructor who specializes in flameworking glass beads. Her pieces can be seen in galleries including Glassworks (NC), Sandpiper Gallery (SC), Edward Dare Gallery (SC), Watson MacRae Gallery (FL), and The Fat Cat Ltd. (NC).


October 4 – 10  |  October 18 – 24  |  November 1 – 7



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