Working in Three Dimensions

Alex Stasko in the Penland clay studio

Student Alex Stasko working on a clay self-portrait in a first-session workshop taught by Pattie Chalmers. (Photo by Robin Dreyer)


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Photo of the Week: Life Drawing’s a Hoot!


Steve Johnson’s first-session Drawing Inspiration from the Figure class got a visit from five owls this week, courtesy of our friends at the Blue-Ridge Wildlife Institute. The feathery fowl posed for portraits in pencil – like the one being drawn above by Marie Fornaro, Penland’s Development Operations Manager, then charmed a crowd of crafters gathered on the porch of the new Drawing and Painting studio to meet them.



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“It’s a Boot Life” with Lisa Sorrell

Bespoke cowboy boot maker Lisa Sorrell, who taught Working with Leather in the textiles studio last month, has made a video (#59 in her ongoing series “It’s a Boot Life“) about her Penland experience:



In this 10-minute webisode, Lisa shows off work by her Penland students, takes a glassblowing lesson with hotshop instructor Nancy Callan, and teaches you how to trim a leather insole. Enjoy!

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The Antipodean Session

caran florance broadside

Caran Florance, Night Sonnet, letterpress-printed broadside, text by Sarah Holland-Batt


This is an updated version of an earlier blog post. We still have spaces in a number of classes for this exciting session, so we thought we’d make a little more noise.


This June, Penland will turn Australian for two weeks when seventeen artists and educators from Australian National University’s School of Art in Canberra take over our fifteen studios–all during the same summer session, June 7-19, 2015. ANU’s teaching philosophy dovetails beautifully with Penland’s, and we couldn’t be more excited about this experiement. It is not too late to take a Penland workshop this summer and it is not too late to be part of this excellent session.


Richard Whiteley, head of the glass at Australian National University, and Ashley Jameson Eriksmoen, ANU’s head of furniture, developed the all-Aussie session with Penland programs director Leslie Noell. Both schools share an innovative, practice-centered philosophy, and the session presents an unprecedented chance for makers to study with ANU faculty in the U.S.


Students who attend the session will work with Australian artist-educators at the height of their craft. These artists include Richard Whiteley, gold- and silversmith Simon Cottrell, textile and installation artist Jemima Parker, book and multimedia artist Nicci Haynes, and the artists listed in the teaching studios below.

“There is always an easy, open conversation between studios at Penland, and I hear from students and instructors all the time that this creative exchange across media is one of the things that, in addition to the daily focused classroom experience, makes their time at Penland even more rich, said Leslie Noell.

“Now imagine what this conversation will be like with seventeen vibrant instructors who have all known and worked together for years. (Not to mention the accents!) I expect the entire campus to crackle,” Noell said.


Ashley Eriksmoen, who ​previously ​taught at Penland​ ​and will teach woodworking during the 2015 session, sees a progressive synergy between ANU’s ​hands-on ​approach to​ teaching​ craft in the academy and Penland’s intensive workshop context.

“[ANU’s] ​undergraduate and graduate programs​ are centered on thinking through a material,” said Eriksmoen. “Our workshop discipline​​s​ involve art, craft, and design–and​ are closely aligned with those at Penland. We offer a high-caliber program Down Under. At Penland, we’ll offer it to students who wouldn’t otherwise make the antipodal journey.”

Here are a few of the Australia-based artist/educators who will be teaching during the session:

Wave 1 Gilbert Riedelbauch




Gilbert Riedelbauch, who will teach a workshop, for artists working in any medium, on the relationship between two-dimensional and three-dimensional design. Gilbert is the head of foundation studies and the coordinator of the design degree at ANU. See more of his work here.


AA IMG_8464-8459-8462


Simon Cottrell’s jewellery and objects have been extensively published and exhibited worldwide since 1996. He is currently a researcher and professor in the Gold and Silversmithing Workshop, School of Art, at ANU. Metalsmith magazine published an 8-page feature article on his work and practice, which can be read here.











Nadege Desgenetez creates glass work that reflects memory, identity and belonging. “My work,” she says, “draws from an array of autobiographical considerations to explore the sculptural language of glass.” Her Penland workshop will focus on the dialogue between form and color. Learn more about Nadege here.






work by Suzie Bleach and Andrew Townsend





Suzie Bleach and Andrew Townsend are collaborating artists who create award-winning, large-scale animal representations from steel. They will lead their Penland students through the whole process of designing and creating a steel, animal sculpture.






Caran Florance, whose work is shown at the top of this post, publishes her work under the name of Ampersand Duck. She will lead a workshop titled Bespoke Poetry: Press Poetics that will explore the ways in which letterpress printers can use handset type and creative layout to enhance the experience of poetry.


All-Aussie Penland Session 2: June 7-19, 2015

Click here for full course information.

Click on the names below for websites of the artists.


Books: Nicci Haynes (waiting list)

Printmaking: John Pratt (space available)

Letterpress: Caren Florance (space available)

Upper Clay studio: Greg Daly (waiting list)

Lower Clay studio: Michael Keighery (space available)

Painting: Ruth Waller (space available)

Glass: Nadege Desgenetez (space available)

Glass casting: Richard Whiteley (waiting list)

Upper metals studio: Simon Cottrell (space available)

Lower metals studio (3-D design): Gilbert Riedelbauch (space available)

Iron: Suzie Bleach & Andy Townsend (space availalbe)

Photography: Matt Higgins & Denise Ferris (waiting list)

Upper textiles studio: Jemima Parker (waiting list)

Lower textiles studio: Valerie Kirk (space available)

Wood: Ashley Eriksmoen (space available)


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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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Photo(s) of the Week: Upholstered Furniture

working in the Penland wood studio

Core fellows Meghan Martin and Elmar Fujita during the last few days of Annie Evelyn‘s workshop on upholstered furniture.


upholstered furniture at Penland

Here are their finished chairs at show-and-tell.


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