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Highlights of the 2016 Benefit Auction


With concentrations set to start this Sunday, we’re working on wrapping up the last details of summer so we can turn our attention to the fall ahead. But we certainly can’t move on to a new season without mentioning one of the big highlights of every Penland summer: the Annual Benefit Auction!

This year’s was a rousing success, and we owe that success to the hard work and support of so many of you in the Penland community—from our 263 contributing artists and 216 volunteers to the 161 newcomers who joined us this year for their very first auction weekend. Through art sales, ticket sales, gifts, sponsorships, and more, you helped us to raise over $698,000 of income for Penland programs, including $141,810 of Fund-a-Need support for Penland’s new Northlight building. We are beyond grateful. As Kari Rinn said during her art talk over auction weekend, “Just a few days at Penland creates an impact that can be felt for years or even a lifetime.” Your support means Penland can continue to serve as an inspiring and vibrant community for artists well into the future. Thank you.

Auction weekend is also a time to recognize those in our community who have made a particularly lasting and cherished impact on Penland students. This year, we couldn’t have chosen a more deserving soul than Paulus Berensohn to name as our 2016 Outstanding Artist Educator. Paulus is an embodiment of the generosity and creative discovery that make Penland so special, and it was an honor and a joy to celebrate him as an instructor, neighbor, and friend. The tribute to Paulus below was presented under the tent on August 12.



We hope you can carry forward this summer’s spirit of creativity and celebration into the season ahead. If you need a little help, might we suggest taking a peek at the pictures from the auction photo booth below for inspiration?

Auction Weekend Photo Booth
Volunteer Party Photo Booth


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Happy Birthday, Miss Lucy!

It’s September 20th once again, and time to celebrate the birth of Lucy Morgan!



Lucy Calista Morgan (1889-1981)


Lucy Morgan came to Penland in 1920 to work at the Appalachian Industrial School, an Episcopal school for children. In 1923 “Miss Lucy” traveled from Penland to Berea College in Kentucky to learn to weave. She returned with three looms and the intention of helping local Penland women supplement their family incomes through the cottage industry of weaving. In 1929 Morgan founded the Penland School of Handicrafts, which became today’s Penland School of Crafts.

When Morgan first came to Penland there were very few roads and most of the traffic was on foot. In Gift From the Hills, her memoir, she describes searching out one of the remaining old-time weavers in the area, a trip she expected to be two and a half miles long:

“We walked down hill and up, and down again, over rocky, furrowed roads, through short cuts, along bypaths, around big rocks, over fallen tree trunks. After miles of walking we met a man and asked him how far it was to Aunt Susan Phillips’ house… ‘Nigh on to two miles and a half.’ [he said].

…We trudged on, relieved when we came to a downhill stretch but discouraged when we began another uphill climb. We crossed small streams, pushed brambles and vines out of our way to keep to the twisting path, and plodded across hollows. Then we met another man. We told him we were on our way to the home of Aunt Susan Phillips…

‘Right from here, best I can figure it, ‘twould be about two miles and a half.’ [he said].

…When we were certain we had walked the third two miles and a half, we came to an open place and saw in the field down below us two sunbonneted women planting corn. We called down to them: ‘Could you ladies please give us directions how to get to Aunt Susan Phillips’ house?’ One of them pointed to the other. ‘Here she is.’”

We invite you to join us in celebration of this woman of indomitable spirit, honoring her birth and her vision for a crafts school in these mountains.


—Carey Hedlund, Penland archivist












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Remembering Jane Hatcher


This Saturday, we’ll celebrate the life of Penland’s dear friend and close neighbor Jane Hatcher, who died last month at age 77 after a long and courageous struggle with vascular dementia. Jane and her partner, Mary Anglin, lived for decades just around the corner from Penland. She was a frequent visitor to the school–a person we saw often at the coffee shop and show-and-tell and occasionally as a student or yoga instructor. Jane was caring, funny, energetic, and enthusiastic: about life, about creative work, about other people, about nature, her home, and whatever she was learning at that moment. Any day that included a conversation with Jane was a better day.

Mary wrote these words about her partner:

“Born in Columbus, Georgia, Jane had a successful career as an educator before moving to North Carolina in the 1970s to take courses in clay and participate in the Resident Artist Program at Penland. In addition to her career as a studio potter and a teacher in Penland’s clay program and through the “artist in the schools” program, she worked for many years as a massage therapist and practitioner/ teacher of yoga. Above all, she was an ardent student of life; a reader of poetry, literature, philosophy, and systems of healing; an artist who continued making work throughout her life; and friend to all she knew.”

There will be a short ceremony on the knoll at Penland at 2:00 PM on Saturday, September 17. This will be followed by a reception at The Pines, with a slideshow and a display of Jane’s work, including some pots and paintings made in the last few years. The reception will be catered but anyone who wishes to is welcome to bring food to the celebration. Please come a few minutes early to find parking.

The family has suggested that memorial gifts be made to Hospice of Yancey County (856 Georges Fork Road, Burnsville, NC 28714), the Jane M. Hatcher Scholarship at Penland School (PO Box 37 Penland, NC 28765), or  Memory Care (100 Far Horizons Lane, Asheville, NC 28803.


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Our New Favorite Podcast

Make/Time podcast


We’re excited to share the news about Make/Time, a new podcast series and our current favorite listen. Hosted by Stuart Kestenbaum, the series explores fine craft, inspiration, and the creative process through interviews with established craft artists from across the field.

“Having conversations with leading and emerging craft artists gives me the opportunity to dig deeply behind the scenes,” says Kestenbaum. “Every episode gives us a special look at the person behind the work, their ideas, and the inspiration that helps them achieve excellence in this field.”

The most recent episode of Make/Time features furniture designer Vivian Beer. Before winning season two of Ellen’s Design Challenge on HGTV, Vivian spent three years at Penland as a resident artist. On the podcast, she discusses blending traditional making with new technology, as well as her desire to make great design more economically accessible.


Vivian Beer portrait

Vivian Beer talks with host Stuart Kestenbaum on the fourth episode of “Make/Time.”


Previous episodes of the podcast have featured Tom Joyce, a sculptor and MacArthur Fellow known for his work architectural work and large public sculptures in forged steel; Sonya Clark, head of the Craft and Material Studies Program at Virginia Commonwealth University, whose work in textiles often addresses issues of race in America; and Tim McCreight, a jeweler, writer, and publisher who has begun an innovative program with West African jewelers.

Make/Time is a project of and is part of “The Craft School Experience” initiative that promotes the value of immersive, residential craft schools across the country. Each episode is available on the Penland website or by searching “maketime” on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Episodes are approximately 20 minutes long.



About is a consortium of five U.S. craft schools promoting the craft school experience on a national scale. Through their efforts, they explore the values, communities and opportunities that join them as a movement of immersive, residential schools teaching a variety of craft disciplines. Members of include: Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Peters Valley School of Craft, and Pilchuck Glass School.


About Stuart Kestenbaum
Stuart Kestenbaum was the director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, ME from 1988 – 2015. He is the author of four books of poems, most recently
Only Now and The View From Here, as well as brief essays on craft, community, and the creative process. Kestenbaum is an honorary fellow of the American Craft Council and is currently the Poet Laureate of the State of Maine. He has taught at Penland and was the school’s 2015 Andrew Glasgow Resident Writer.






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Books, Relics, Curiosities

Daniel Essig sculpture

Daniel Essig, “N’Kisi Bricolage Sturgeon,” 13 x 59 x 14 inches


Daniel Essig makes book-based sculpture. To be more precise, he makes fantastical, elaborate, majestic book-based sculpture like nothing you’ve seen before.

Books are at the heart of each piece, but it’s as if their contents have left the confines of paper sheets and gained form outside the covers. Fish, birds, bridges, and buildings take shape in wood, and books may be tucked into a beak or studded like fins on the back of a sturgeon. Each book is expertly bound using the centuries-old Ethiopian Coptic binding technique, but many contain only blank pages. Text itself may appear instead as pattern transferred to a wooden figure, individual characters of lead printer’s type, or sheets of pages recycled from 19th-century Bibles. Together with paint, handmade paper, mica, rusted nails, thread, fabric, fossils, and other found objects, Daniel brings it all together into three-dimensional storybooks that are part fantasy, part history, and fully engrossing.


Daniel Essig portrait and book piece

Daniel Essig and his piece “Sacred Geometry,” 10 x 14 x 2 inches


Daniel describes the small room in his house where he stores his lifetime’s collection of inspiration—rocks, bones, seedpods, shells, and more—as a German Wunderkammern, a “cabinet of curiosities.” And for eight weeks this fall, a portion of that Wunderkammern will make its home in the Penland wood studio for Daniel’s concentration Books, Relics, Curiosities. The workshop, like Daniel’s own pieces, will combine elements of bookbinding and woodworking. Sculptors, woodworkers, book artists, and total beginners are all welcome—the only prerequisite is curiosity.

Books, Relics, Curiosities will run September 25-November 18, 2016. Registration is open now, and a few work-study scholarships are still available. Call the Penland registrar at 828-765-2359 ext. 1306 for more information.


two book sculptures by Daniel Essig

Left: “Needle Nose,” 33 x 13 x 8 inches; right: “Fisheye,” 12.5 x 12 x 4.5 inches

Books, Relics, Curiosities

Daniel Essig—This workshop will use wood to explore and honor elements of the book. After learning the basics of woodshop safety and tool use, we’ll investigate the infinite possibilties of book-based sculpture. Techniques will include carving, turning, burning, sanding, altering, distressing, painting, and bookbinding. Students will be encouraged to collaborate and to explore alternative materials. They can expect to complete a series of book sculptures. We’ll have daily demonstrations as well as discussions of historic and contemporary book forms. Everyone is welcome: book artists, woodworkers, curious beginners, etc. All levels. Code F00W

Studio artist; teaching: Anderson Ranch (CO), Arrowmont (TN), University of Georgia Cortona Italy Program, Penland; collections: Renwick Gallery (DC), Mint Museum (NC); representation: Vamp and Tramp Booksellers (GA); publications: The Penland Book of Handmade Books, Masters: Book Arts (both Lark Books).






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Photo of the Week: Hot Shop Action

Penland Hot Shop

Students Patty Yockey and Char Walker know their way around a hot glass studio. This week they are taking a workshop taught by Chuck Lopez that’s focused on cane work.


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Off the Clock: Penland Studio Coordinator Show

art image

Clockwise from top left: Jay Fox, Ellie Richards, Amanda Thatch, Susan Feagin, Betsy DeWitt, Ian Henderson, Daniel T. Beck, Nick Fruin


The job of a Penland studio coordinator is a many-faceted one. Our eight coordinators order materials and keep studios clean and equipment running smoothly. They manage budgets and large inventories of supplies. They work with our programming office to plan upcoming workshops, and instructors to provide for specific classes, and individual students to solve problems on the fly. It’s a demanding and unpredictable job, which makes it all the more impressive that these eight individuals are also working artists in their own right. We are thrilled and proud that they have come together to put on a group show of their work at the Asheville Area Arts Council. Appropriately, the exhibition is called Off the Clock.

As curator and Penland friend Elaine Bleakney writes:

OFF THE CLOCK features eight artists, all full-time studio coordinators at Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC. The work on view here was made in the off-hours by friends and colleagues who see each other daily and exchange interests, affection, knowledge, and regard for each other.

This is not a group show in the traditional sense. These artists are not strangers, and the works are not estranged from each other, despite their singular presences. Rather, looking from artist to artist, the viewer might pick up a magical sense that the works were made on the same set of evenings, in studios closeby. One of these artists might have looked up from her work and gazed out the cool, green window. She might have seen one of the other artists riding by on a bike, and waved.


Penland studio coordinators

Penland’s studio coordinators: Jay Fox, Susan Feagin, Nick Fruin, Ian Henderson, Ellie Richards, Amanda Thatch, Betsy DeWitt, Daniel T. Beck


Off the Clock will be on view at the Refinery Creator Space at 207 Coxe Ave in Asheville through September 16, 2016. It features the work of Daniel T. Beck (iron/sculpture), Betsy DeWitt (photography), Susan Feagin (ceramics), Jay Fox (print), Nick Fruin (glass), Ian Henderson (metals), Ellie Richards (wood/sculpture), and Amanda Thatch (drawing/textiles).

There will be a reception for the show on Friday, September 2 from 5 PM to 8 PM, and the artists will present a public talk on Saturday, September 3 from 4 PM to 6 PM. More information about both events is available on the exhibition’s Facebook event page.

Visit the Asheville Area Arts Council website to learn more about Off the Clock.


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