Empty Bowls at the Penland Coffee House


The bowls were stacking up last week in anticipation of the Empty Bowls event at the Penland Coffee House.


Students in the clay concentration with Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin are hosting an Empty Bowls event this week at the Penland Coffee House. Visitors can make a $20 donation to fight hunger, enjoy a simple lunch-time meal of soup prepared by the Penland kitchen, and take home a unique bowl made by a student in the class. The Empty Bowls meal will be available at the Penland Coffee House Monday, November 2 – Friday, November 6 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

The Empty Bowls Project was started twenty-five years ago by Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom, who live nearby in Yancey County. The success of the project spread rapidly, and today communities around the globe join the Empty Bowls Project by offering a simple soup meal served in donated handmade bowls as a reminder of all of the empty bowls in the world. The money raised from each event goes to a hunger-fighting organization chosen by the hosts. The Penland project’s proceeds will go to Mitchell County Shepherd’s Staff, a non-profit organization providing food and heating assistance to Mitchell county residents in need.

With all the rain we’re getting today, it’s a perfect day for some soup!


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Photo of the Week: Soft Ground

Printmaker Phil Sanders teaching at Penland

Instructor Phil Sanders explaining the wonders of soft-ground etching, a technique that allows you to put a sheet of paper over a prepared copper plate and then draw with the lightest touch of a pencil or even with your finger. These marks are recorded by the coating on the plate and can then be etched and printed. It’s kind of magical.


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Penland at SOFA Expo 2015

visitors looking at art on display

Come visit Penland at this year’s SOFA Expo in Chicago November 5-8! The event is an annual art fair that celebrates sculpture and functional art, complete with gallery exhibits, lectures, and special displays.


Penland staff will be part of two SOFA educational lectures:

The Penland School of Crafts Gallery & Visitors Center 2016 Expansion
Friday, November 5, 9:00am
Penland gallery director Kathryn Gremley and Penland executive director Jean McLaughlin will give a talk about the new Penland Gallery & Visitors Center. The discussion will feature artists Stoney Lamar and Kate Vogel and will cover the new programming possible in the gallery’s expanded space.

Art Quilts: A Contemporary Conversation
Friday, November 5, 10:30am
Penland’s Jean McLaughlin will be part of a panel discussion on trends in contemporary quilt making put on by the friends of Fiber Art International.


In addition to these lectures, we will have Penland friends staffing a Penland table to tell you about upcoming workshops and events on campus. We will also be represented alongside Arrowmont, Haystack, Pilchuck, and Peters Valley at a table for the Craft School Experience. Stop by to say hi!


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Core Show Slideshow

Left to right: Tyler Stoll, Meghan Martin, Joshua Kovarik, Elmar Fujita, Daniel Garver, Jamie Karolich, Bryan Parnham, Emily Rogstad, Morgan Hill

Left to right: Tyler Stoll, Meghan Martin, Joshua Kovarik, Elmar Fujita, Daniel Garver, Jamie Karolich, Bryan Parnham, Emily Rogstad, Morgan Hill


The annual October Core Show is a much-anticipated highlight of fall at Penland, and this year was no exception. Our nine core fellows came together to put on a stunning show of pieces from their workshops across the Penland studios. Titled Personal Effects, the show featured furniture, prints, photographs, weaving, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, and much more. It was a great opportunity to see the cumulative talent of this group of young artists, and also to show our appreciation for these people who do so much at the very heart of the Penland community.

View lots more images in the Personal Effects slideshow.



Guests admiring work at the opening reception. The table in the front is by Elmar Fujita.


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Penland’s Favorite Waffles

making waffles at a round table

Lucy Morgan prepares waffles at a table in the Pines, 1957 (unidentified photographer).


Lucy Calista Morgan, Penland’s founder, had a penchant for craft, international outreach, and waffles. In 1957 a group of international students stayed at Penland over the holiday season. They studied in the studios, enriched the season with dance and music performances from their own cultures, sang Christmas carols, and had snow ball fights. They were also introduced to the waffle.

Laurel Radley, Lucy Morgan’s great niece, shared some of Lucy’s favorite recipes with the archives. As she wrote, “Aunt Lucy loved waffles and had about a half-dozen recipes. I’m happy to have her waffle-iron and her recipes.” She also notes that the following recipe wasn’t credited to a source and explains, “Aunt Lucy of course had no occasion to cook really until she retired [from Penland]… I wonder if it wasn’t Henry. Who better to ask than the one who cultivated her favorite food tastes during her adult years?”

Henry Neal was Penland’s chef for over 20 years (c.1933-1955). Each summer he traveled by train from Chapel Hill, where he cooked for one of the University of North Carolina fraternities, to Marion, NC where Lucy would pick him up and drive him up to school.


a man baking

Henry Neal preparing a meal in the old Pines kitchen, 1949. Fadyk collection, Penland Archives.


So next time you fire up your waffle iron, try this recipe out with a nod to Lucy Morgan and Henry Neal!


Waffles for 6

1 ¾ cups white flour
¼ cup corn meal
½ tsp. soda
Pinch salt
4 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs, whites beaten stiff
¾ cup oil
1 cup buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients, then add all other ingredients but the egg whites and combine thoroughly. Fold batter into stiff egg whites and spoon into hot, oiled waffle-iron. Cook until steam rises and appears crisp and brown.


Carey Hedlund, Penland Archivist



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Drum Leaf Books with Rory Sparks, November 1-7, 2015

Rory working with a student

Rory working with a student during a workshop in the old Penland books studio in 2011.


Rory Sparks first learned bookbinding in college, right at the end of her senior year. “[I] realized that I had spent four years studying something that wasn’t my passion; that actually, bookbinding was my passion,” she recalls. “I think it comes from really enjoying craft and precision…It just really spoke to me.” From there, Rory studied in England and sought out traditional binders that she could learn from. Instead of getting a Masters degree, she decided to piece together her own education by traveling and studying with a variety of artists and binders and printers. “I’ve learned from so many different people. I kind of take what’s important to me from each one and build my own philosophy around what I do and how I do it.”

letterpress printed book by Rory Sparks

Rory Sparks, Drum Leaf Binding, letterpress printed paper, 7 x 5-1/2”

Twenty-something years later, Rory’s early passion for books has transformed into a deep well of knowledge, creativity, and enthusiasm for her field. She has spent time at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and as a resident artist at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. She binds high-end books for collections and museums. She teaches courses and workshops to share her knowledge with students. And she founded Em-Space, a collective book and letterpress studio in Portland, Oregon that builds creative community and provides artists with access to tools like presses, foil stampers, and more.

Given her extensive background and excitement for teaching, we love having Rory here in the Penland studios. In 2013, she joined us as the master printer/bookbinder at the helm of our winter residency in print and letterpress. She came back in the spring of 2014 to lead a concentration that blurred the lines between letterpress and animation. And this November she’ll return to teach bookbinding, her original love. The class will focus on the versatile but exacting drum leaf binding structure, which makes a perfect canvas for the sort of imagery-heavy books that Rory gravitates towards in her own pieces. If you, too, want a new structure to show off your two-dimensional work, or you enjoy craft and precision, or you’d like to absorb knowledge from an expert binderthis week with Rory could be just the ticket. Register here for her drum leaf books class.


Drum Leaf Books

Rory Sparks
November 1-7, 2015

Explore the versatility of the drum leaf binding, an ideal format for 2D artists because it provides a page with unbroken imagery and no gutters. Each spread can be a print, painting, or photograph. This structure provides a simple, intuitive way of laying out a book, and it’s perfect for small editions. We’ll include several cover variations and many versions of stiff-leaf bindings and board books. Windows and wells will provide a wealth of opportunities for incorporating artwork and flat objects into these books. Come prepared to invent and push the boundaries of your book forms. All levels. Code F03B

Rory Sparks is a studio artist, edition binder, and printmaker. Her teaching includes the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Pacific Northwest College of Art (Portland), and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. She founded Em Space Book Arts Center (OR) and has been in exhibitions at the Tacoma Art Museum (WA) and the Portland Art Museum (OR).

Register here for Drum Leaf Books



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“A Zeal for the Creative Process”

portrait of Robert Bush


Robert Bush came to Penland this summer as a session four student in Jana Harper’s class “The What & the Why: Books as Idea Generators.” The class was part of a one-month sabbatical from his job as president of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a first-time Penland student, Robert arrived on campus with “a zeal for the creative process” but without much experience in the visual arts.

Writing about his experience later for the ASC blog, Robert reflected:

“I could recount the 12 hour days, ‘one word’ prompts each afternoon that required a book be made for a 10 a.m. group show and critique the next morning, the mistakes I made….let’s just say I now understand ‘make it work’ and I held my own. I totally stepped away from my job and the world (no TV, barely internet) for two weeks, immersed myself in an unfamiliar setting doing unfamiliar things. It was nothing I expected and everything I had hoped for.”

He finished his essay with a list of the giftsboth personal and professionalthat his time at Penland had given him. They’re a valuable reminder of the enriching role art can play in our lives and the importance of “being present and engaged in community.”

See the list and read Robert’s full post here on the ASC blog.


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