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Clay Goes Big

Nick Schwartz torching the top of a coil-built pot

The spring clay concentration has been busy preparing pieces for their first firing, and they haven’t been holding back on the scale or the drama. Here, instructor Nick Schwartz uses a torch to stiffen the most recent layer of clay on a sizeable pot he’s building. Below, two more large pots look on. They were collaborations between Nick and local potter Courtney Martin, whose signature geometric resist patterns you can see painted on both pieces.

And here, a fun and gratuitous flame close-up, just because:

closeup of a torch and wet clay pot

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: Community Open House 2017

learning to cast with pewter

Hands-on craft activities, a legion of wonderful volunteers, hundreds of eager visitors, and some beautiful spring weather all came together this past Saturday to make the 2017 Penland Community Open House a rousing success. Visitors tried their hands at perennial favorites like glassblowing and wheel throwing, as well as new additions like origami, sewn tote bags, and a letterpress scavenger hunt. We look forward to the open house every year as a way to welcome spring and bring together community members of all ages and skill levels. Thanks to all who participated for making it such a fun day!

In the photograph above, metals studio coordinator Ian Henderson guides two young visitors through the process of casting a spoon out of pewter. It took mere minutes to transform the hot, pourable metal into a spoon to take home and enjoy.

 

two people get their portrait taken

Meanwhile, in the photo activity, Penland resident artist Mercedes Jelinek was busy taking hundreds of portraits of open house attendees. Everyone who sat for a portrait was able to take home their own black-and-white print.

 

learning to make a glass bead

Visitors to the flameworking studio got to work up close with torches and glass. Here, one attendee learns how to melt the colored glass and shape it around a metal rod to make a unique bead.

To see dozens more photos from the day’s activities, take a look at our complete album of Community Open House 2017 pictures. We hope they inspire you to join us for Community Day 2018!

 

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Mugs & Their Makers

Potters pose with over 200 mugs ready to be fired

Potters Jacob Herrmann and Heather McLelland of Devon Court Pottery pose earlier this week with about a third of the roughly 600 mugs they are making for the 2017 Penland Benefit Auction. Each mug had to be thrown, handled, stamped, initialed, bisque fired, glazed, and wadded before it made it to this table. Then they all got loaded into the kiln on the left for a salt-soda firing that will leave them washed in hues of orange, cream, rust, and more.

To make one of their mugs yours, join us at this summer’s auction for Coffee at the Barns on the morning of Saturday, August 12!

 

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Photo of the Week: Here There Be Monsters

Adam Whitney is spending the month of January at Penland as a winter residency studio assistant in upper metals. His big project for that time is to make a pair of stirrup cups, the “parting cups” traditionally used to present mounted riders with wine or spirits before they left on a journey. Because stirrup cups were used on horseback instead of around a table, they didn’t need the flat base standard to almost all drinking vessels, and many were shaped like the heads of hounds, foxes, and other animals. Adam is crafting his in the shapes of mythical beasts.

The cups are inspired by fanciful renderings of sea monsters and other creatures on old maps and books. Adam started by making a model in copper, complete with curved teeth, horns, and a scaly chin. Next, he began the methodical work of transforming solid lumps of silver into cups, first by shaping and hollowing them with a hammer and then by adding details with finer tools like punches. The process is no small undertaking, but the results so far are a monstrous success.

 

 

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Photo of the Week: Evidence of Sledding

This time one week ago, a storm was rolling in. By midday Saturday, it had dumped over six inches of fresh snow, leaving the knoll and the Penland campus blanketed in white. Winter residents wasted no time enjoying the sudden appearance of winter, and some even took advantage of our mountainous location for some just-out-the-studio-door sledding. These compacted sledding trails on the knoll were one of the last things to go as the snow melted away, like sweet memories that linger after the thrill of the runs themselves.

 

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Photo of the Week: Getting Ready

preparing kiln posts

Clay studio coordinator Susan Feagin getting the kiln furniture ready for six weeks of clay studio residents starting in January. This is just one of the many, many tasks that goes on behind the scenes between the end of fall concentrations and the beginning of winter residencies at Penland.

 

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Photo of the Week: The Final Northlight Auction

Penland scholarship auction

Last night we celebrated the end of fall concentrations in the traditional way—by coming together with friends and community members for an end-of-session scholarship auction. Last night’s was a rousing one, thanks to the incredible work donated by Penland’s students, instructors, residents, staff, and more and the generous bidding of the audience members. At the end of it all, we had raised an astonishing $24,000+ towards Penland’s scholarship funds!

To make the evening even more special was the fact that last night’s auction was the final one to take place in this space. Starting in December, demolitions will begin on the Northlight building, including Gorelick Social Hall and the photo and paper studios. In their place we will build a new Northlight complex that will include social gathering spaces and upgraded studios.

Thank you to everyone who donated, bid, volunteered, and attended to make this final auction a fitting sendoff for our well-loved Northlight. We look forward to welcoming you all into the new building soon for many more years of good art, good friends, and good fun.

 

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