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Glass Smorgasbord with Amy Rueffert

Glass artist Amy Rueffert will be at Penland for the first time this spring to teach an eight-week workshop. We corresponded briefly about food, glass, and the movies.


Amy Rueffert, Apple (Patchwork Variety), blown and fused glass, decals, found glass
Amy Rueffert, Apple (Patchwork Variety), blown and fused glass, decals, found glass

Thinking about the food metaphor for your workshop, do you feel like there’s a connection between culinary presentation and the presentation of Victorian curios that attracts you as an artist?

Yes! I love the food metaphor because it pertains to this class in so many ways. I think the most relevant connection is through the idea of the smorgasbord, and that moment when you realize there are all these beautifully presented options for you to choose from. You can fill your plate with a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and go back for more of your favorites. That’s what we’ll be doing in this workshop, filling our plates with different techniques to make sculptural glass.

I’m really looking forward to students digging deep within their inspirations and connecting to their sources through research, class dialogue and exploring the material. Teaching is a great source of inspiration for me, so I’m looking forward to spending eight weeks getting to know everyone and making great things along the way.


Amy Rueffert at work (courtesy of the artist)
Amy Rueffert at work (photo courtesy of the artist)


Amy Rueffert – Glass Smorgasbord
March 9-May 2, 2014
Hungry? This workshop will be a smorgasbord of traditional and alternative glass techniques beginning with blowing, cutting, grinding, gluing, smashing, building, and fusing. Through experimentation, exploration, and teamwork mixed with practice, patience, and hard work, we’ll find personal connections to the visual and physical properties of glass as we realize our ideas. The balance of skill and concept will be a theme throughout, with demonstration and discussions of my process and those of visiting artists. In the words of Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” Let’s eat! All levels, but some hot glass experience will be helpful.

To find out more and register for this workshop click here.
Spring scholarship deadline is November 29.
Please note: applications need to be at Penland by this date to be considered for scholarship. Overnight service may not deliver to Penland’s campus on time, please plan accordingly.


Just curious: is Auntie Mame one of your favorite movies?

I’ve loved the movie Auntie Mame since I was a little girl! I can remember flipping through the channels on a Saturday afternoon and seeing bits and pieces of this movie over and over again and being so intrigued by the aesthetics of the film, and of course, Rosalind Russell. It took me a while to figure out the name of the movie, and finally I did, and it’s been a favorite ever since.

I’m still searching for a specific Barbra Streisand movie that had a similar effect. The scene I can remember goes like this: Barbra is in a city apartment, sitting in a bed. She’s dressed in floral printed pajamas that match the bed sheets that match the fabric-upholstered headboard. It is like she’s lost in a field of floral fabric and it’s amazing. Any ideas?



Amy Rueffert has taught at The Studio at Corning, Pilchuck, The Glass Lab at MIT, Haystack, and San Jose State University. Her work is included in collections of the Corning Museum, Tacoma Museum of Glass and Glasmuseet Ebeltoft. She currently lectures in the School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.



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Don’t Burn Up: Interview with Iron Instructor Jay Burnham-Kidwell

What’s your philosophy of teaching?
Unprintable but I’ll tell you. I didn’t plan any of this. I joined the military, got out of the war and couldn’t get a job. I went to college on the G.I. Bill. I kind of think that I was born to be a teacher; I can’t explain it more than that.

I’ve always liked teachers. Particularly in art and craft, everybody’s going to be a teacher because we’re dinosaurs–it’s not all in the books, it’s not all written down, and you won’t see every lecture. So we need to share knowledge. The internet is full of information but not necessarily knowledge. So I got into teaching–I’ve been teaching now since 1973.




How long have you been teaching at Penland?

I’ve taught three concentrations, two summer classes, three guest artist [visits], and I did an instructor retreat. I would have done the first instructor retreat but I was in intensive care so I couldn’t come. Which pissed me off–I really wanted to go (give me a bunch of Demerol!) I’d like to do another sixty-seven years; I’ve had a great time.

Each group I teach tends to be a little different. They tend to bond together. The tighter they are the better it runs. Building what we call in the military “unit effing integrity:” if they’re good enough to die with they’re good enough to eat, drink and sleep with. Well here, take out the ‘dying’ part: if they’re good enough to make art with then it should become a community. You can be as individual as you want at Penland and people will respect your privacy. But you work better when you’re together. I learn more from them too.

This group is very hard working–all of them, in all the areas. I tend to trek around and see what they’re up to. And this is grueling: they’re trying to pack about a year’s work into two months.


Which reminds me. I saw a note on the chalkboard in the iron studio: DON’T BURN UP.

Yeah, or out! [My students] have been ’embellishing,’ let us say, up there. I encourage them to do that. My favorite one up there is ‘The more you complain the longer God makes you live.’ Favorite Jewish proverb. I love that one. No drama, no sniveling, no whining. And talk to me when you’ve got a problem, if you can.


Does that feel critical to your experience as a teacher here, knowing people more personally?

I think so, as much as you can know someone in a couple of months. But it’s intense. It’s not for the weak of spirit, heart, mind, body.


Fair enough.

The energy is here is infectious. I’m running on a twenty-two year old’s energy and the minute I drive down the hill it’s all just going to go away. That’s the not so salutary effect of adrenaline wearing off when you leave Neverland.

This a a singular place. I really wish that the rest of the world ran like this. The greatest thing about Penland besides the food, the art, the people, the place is that nobody cares up here; it all comes down to what Dr. King says: ‘it’s the content of your character.’ Everything else is just like wearing a different shirt–nobody gives a rat’s ass. And I really like that.–Elaine Bleakney




Jay Burnham-Kidwell currently teaches the concentration  Smokin’ Hot Iron at Penland. He is professor emeritus from Mohave Community College in Arizona. His work is held in collections at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Tennessee, the University of Georgia, and West Dean College in the United Kingdom.




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Personal Cartography: Weaving with Robin Johnston

Robin Johnston, 143 Walnuts, handwoven cotton, 2013
Robin Johnston, 143 Walnuts, handwoven cotton, 2013

“Above all else show the data,” wrote Edward Tufte, the trailblazing philosopher of quantitative information and how humans present it. Weaver Robin Johnston takes Tufte to heart in her practice. One of Johnston’s recent woven works, above, involves hand-dyeing yarn by wrapping it around individual walnuts. If you look closely at the image above, you’ll see walnuts meticulously placed below the finished work.

Considering her taste for slow, mysterious processes, it might be no surprise that Johnston’s favorite music to listen to in the studio is “sort of melancholy Americana: slow, sad music. Gillian Welch, M. Ward, Iron & Wine, Billie Holiday.”

Johnston will teach an eight-week weaving workshop for all levels in spring 2014 with an exploration of processes in mind, inviting her students to come to the studio with their own ideas about personal patterns and the documentation of these patterns as sources for art making.




Robin Johnston, Full Worm Moon, handwoven and embroidered cotton
Robin Johnston, Full Worm Moon, handwoven and embroidered cotton

Robin Johnston – Personal Cartography
March 9-May 2, 2014
In the textiles studio

This workshop will use weaving to delve into students’ individual interpretations of mapmaking. We’ll explore basic weaving and dyeing techniques that lend themselves to charting, plotting, and coding information—including pattern weaves, inlay, tapestry, painted warps, and ikat dyeing. Through daily sketchbook exercises we’ll envision woven surfaces that emphasize color, pattern, image, and texture to create maps of all kinds. Whether we are describing geographic or conceptual spaces, we’ll apply personal cartography to the art of weaving. All levels. 




For more information about this workshop and registration information please click here.
Spring scholarship deadline is November 29.




Photograph of Robin Johnston by gwendolyn yoppolo

Robin Johnston is currently a resident artist at Penland School of Crafts. Her work deals with measuring time, capturing moments as they pass, and the sense of loss that accompanies their passing. Information such as light, temperature and heart rate is collected and tracked during the making, creating real-time maps of her physical experience weaving.  The levels of translation involved in the charting and integration of various data into the woven structure add to the slowness of the process, illustrating a personal reaction to fast-paced society.  Since moving to the mountains of North Carolina, Robin has been researching colonial weave drafts commonly used in the early days of Lucy Morgan’s Penland Weavers.  She is combining these traditional woven patterns with data, such as sleep patterns and moon cycles, gathered from her daily life.



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A Glass Maker Escapes to Clay






“As a glass maker I’ve found myself drawn to ceramics more and more. Both mediums have a fluidity that in order to really harness, you have to hone in on the moment. You can’t just let go of molten glass or a spinning potter’s wheel whenever you desire. Sometimes you have to though; sometimes my glass starts cracking and fighting against me and I have to set it down.


This happened to me a few times during my recent study at Penland. When it did, I’d go visit Upper Clay. Then I felt rejuvenated.”




“The clay studio is a safe haven compared to the flameworking studio. There’s a gorgeous light coming in from the windows. The colors of clay and glazes are subdued and easy on the eye. More often than not, a chill tune is playing while wheels hum in the background. It’s the perfect place to see my medium from another maker’s point of view.”


Arlie Trowbridge, glass artist and owner of Urban Revisions, who took a one-week workshop in wearable glass with Rachel Rader in the flameworking studio last week.


Find out more about our hot glass and flameworking workshops.

Find out more about our upcoming workshops in clay.




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Photo of the week: Busy Hands




Students in Rachel Meginnes’s textile workshop picked up some crochet moves during a demonstration this week. The hands on the left belong to Elizabeth Meyer of Madison, Georgia, a return student to Penland. When we quizzed her about when she was last here, she furrowed her brow, and then suddenly removed her wedding band to look at the date on the inside. Turns out the year of her marriage was also the year she did a concentration with Julia Leonard in bookmaking. As she turned her ring, Meyer remembered zipping back and forth between workshop and wedding planning, workshop and wedding planning, and smiled.


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Core Show + Resident Artists Show = Big Penland Weekend

Resident artist Tom Shields working in the barn studio, 2013. Photograph by Robin Dreyer
Resident artist Tom Shields working in the barn studios. Photograph by Robin Dreyer.


It’s going to be one busy Penland weekend with two show openings. On Friday, October 11, Penland resident artists will be at the Asheville Area Arts Council Gallery at 346 Depot Street from 6:00-9:00 pm to celebrate the opening of The Barns Studios 2013. Curated by Kathryn Gremley, director of the Penland Gallery, the show opens on October 10 and runs through November 1. The resident artists include David Eichelberger (clay), Micah Evans (glass), Dustin Farnsworth (sculpture), Robin Johnston (textiles), Rachel Meginnes (textiles) and Tom Shields (sculpture).


Meanwhile, Penland’s core fellows Audrey Bell, Zee Boudreaux, Sarah Brown, Angela Eastman, Liz Koerner, Mike Krupiarz, Will Lentz, Rachel Mauser and Molly Spadone (pictured below) will present their work as part of Core Show 2013, Eighteen Hands. The opening reception is on Saturday, October 12, 8:00-11:00 pm in the Northlight Building at Penland. The show will run October 12-15.


Penland Core Fellows, 2013. Back row (L-R): Will Lentz, Angela Eastman, Audrey Bell, Molly Spadone. Front row: Liz Koerner, Sarah Brown, Rachel Mauser, Zee Boudreaux, Mike Krupiarz.
Penland Core Fellows, 2013. Back row (L-R): Will Lentz, Angela Eastman, Audrey Bell, Molly Spadone. Front row: Liz Koerner, Sarah Brown, Rachel Mauser, Zee Boudreaux, Mike Krupiarz.

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The Mystery Within the Subject: Monotype with Phil Garrett

  Phil Garrett, Thistle II Hunting Island2003, Monotype, Chine Colle,  30 x 22" on paper
Phil Garrett, Thistle II Hunting Island, 2003. Monotype, chine collé, 30 x 22″ on paper

“My work is informed by nature, a kind of mythical nature. The power of storms, the spiritual quality of the elements, the beauty, grace and ferocity of animals–something greater than myself, something I can’t comprehend. Painting and making monotypes is my search for the mystery within the subject, within myself.”


In 1998, Phil Garrett acquired a large Intaglio press and founded King Snake Press in Greenville, South Carolina. The press “grew out of Garrett’s love for the monotype process, and is dedicated to encouraging other artists to experiment with the painterly print.”










Memento /Jones Gap Monotype Chine Colle' Phil Garrett, Memento /Jones Gap Monotype Chine Colle' 2007 12 in by 10 in Image Size 21 by 17 in Paper Size
Phil Garrett, Memento /Jones Gap, 2007.
Monotype, chine collé, 21 x 17″ on paper

Phil Garrett – Intuition, Ink, Paper: Monotype
October 20-26, 2013
in the printmaking studio:

This workshop will explore the dynamic medium of monotype printmaking. This user-friendly, spontaneous method allows images to be developed and printed in a short time. Because the plate retains a thin layer of ink after being printed, it lends itself to varying the image and working sequentially. After a discussion of ink, plates, presses, and paper, the class will begin with simple, reductive methods of inking on single plates and then progress to multi-plate color prints incorporating chine collé. The workshop will include demonstrations, presentations, and critiques. All levels.

Phil Garrett completed his undergraduate work at the University of South Carolina and the Honolulu Academy, studying with the late Gabor Peterdi. He received his BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1974 and lived and worked in the Bay Area until 1979, when he returned to South Carolina where he presently resides. He founded King Snake Press in 1998 for the production and promotion of monotypes. His works on paper and paintings included in public collections of the South Carolina State Museum, the State of Hawaii, and Greenville County Museum, as well as in corporate and private collections in the USA, Europe and Japan. Garrett is represented by Hodges Taylor Gallery in Charlotte, NC and If Art in Columbia, SC.


To find out more and register for this workshop, click here.



Phil Garrett at Penland