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Table in a Day!

Penland’s Table in a Day participants with their (mostly) finished creations.

 

The process of designing and making an object can be a slow and laborious one. Good craft takes time. But once a year in the Penland wood studio, time is in very short supply. For the annual Table in a Day Challenge, now in its third year, wood studio residents have only one day to craft a table from start to finish. Pre-planning and sketching are allowed, but all the cutting and construction must happen between 9 AM and 9 PM.

This year, ten seasoned furniture designers rose to the challenge. Armed with donuts, pump-up tunes, and designs (or not), they quickly spread out around the studio and got to work cutting, planing, jointing, and gluing. Meanwhile, up in Baltimore, Penland session 7 instructor Sarah Marriage was taking part remotely, hard at work on her own speed-table.

 

man shaping a wooden table leg
Core fellow Kyle Kulchar shapes a leg for his table (the black one in the center, above).

 

With this much focus and intensity, pieces take shape quickly. By early afternoon, tabletops had been glued up, legs had been shaped, and the energy was palpable. A few hours later, the parts were starting to come together into three-dimensional forms that looked an awful lot like furniture. By 8:45 PM, the artists were in a final flurry of activity brushing paint, wiping finish, and laying the final boards into place. Somehow by 9 PM (or just a few minutes after), a collection of furniture stood where there had only been open floor at the beginning of the day.

 

two women woodworking
Left: Studio coordinator Ellie Richards adding color to her design. Right: Winter residency studio assistant Christina Boy finishing her table as it nears 9 o’clock.

 

As impressive as the participants’ speed and skill was the variety in the pieces they made. The tables ranged in scale from chihuahua-sized to large enough to seat six for dinner. Some highlighted the grain and natural color of the wood, while others employed bright paint and striking textures. Angela St. Vrain, a winter resident, used a piece of blown and slumped glass she’d made as a tabletop; studio coordinator Ellie Richards covered a whole face of her table with quotes she collected from protest posters at the Women’s Marches over the weekend. The legs on winter resident Zoe Alexa’s table were solidly joined at various non-right angles, and core fellow Elmar Fujita mixed and matched a pair of turned legs with two straight, square ones.

 

woman building a table
Core fellow Elmar Fujita attaching the legs to her Table in a Day creation.

 

All told, it was a day full up with some of the best the studio can bring: camaraderie, creativity, costumes, big skill, and lots of energy. Just don’t ask them to do it again tomorrow.

See more photos from Table in a Day in the slideshow below. (If you are reading this post as an email, we recommend viewing it on the blog.)

 

Intrepid woodworkers about to start at 8:59 AM.
Game faces
Four hours in and going strong!
Ellie inscribing quotes onto one face of her table.
Morgan putting together the pieces (in costume, of course).
Zoe had to work during the middle of the day, but she still made a mini table!
Bob at the table saw
Angela creating the glass and wood top for her table
Resident artist Annie Evelyn chose to make a 12-hour valet stand, which is sort of like a little table combined with a chair and a coat rack.
Yes, Elmar is rocking a wig.
Ellie with the finished word panel for the side of her table.
A 12-hour time limit doesn't mean you can skimp on sanding!
Paint paint paint
Finishing up in the final minutes.
The finished tables!
Not bad for 12 hours, eh?

 

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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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Resident Artist Applications Due January 15

View of The Barns at Penland
The Barns studios and apartments—home of the Penland resident artists.

 

Penland is excited to be accepting four new artists into our Resident Artist Program for 2017. Residents are full-time artists who spend three years living and working as part of the Penland community. The residency is an opportunity for them to test ideas and processes, develop their studio practice, and explore new directions in a supportive and creatively-charged setting.

We will be selecting residents in all media except glass (our dedicated glass studio is currently occupied). The application deadline is January 15, 2017, and residencies will begin September 15, 2017. Learn more.

 

mixed-media photo by Mercedes Jelinek, cast glass by Dean Allison, metal/book sculpture by Andrew Hayes
Work by current Penland resident artists Mercedes Jelinek (photography), Dean Allison (cast glass), and Andrew Hayes (metal/book sculpture).

 

Though our residents span a wide range of media and interests, many of them appreciate their time at Penland for similar reasons. Hear what a few recent residents have said in reflecting on their three years here:

 

“The Penland residency is about a gift of time. A special growth can take place when you have time to focus life around the studio. For me, the ideas are flowing with confidence and some of them are strong. My perspective on how I want to live life is maturing.”
—Matt Kelleher, resident 2005-2008

“I have been producing more work and larger work than I ever have, getting back into teaching, participating in national and international shows, and really pushing myself to produce and deliver as much as I possibly can. As a result, my work is growing in many different directions all at once and although it feels hard to keep up, I feel this intensity is key to my growth and success.
—Rachel Meginnes, resident 2012-2015

“The open, supportive atmosphere at Penland has encouraged me to move in innovative directions and enabled my daily life with my family to intertwine naturally with my studio life.”
—Robin Johnston, resident 2011-2014

“Three years is a long time, the perfect amount of time to find myself as an artist.”
—Micah Evans, resident 2012-2015

“The Penland residency was a life-changing experience. I went from making a few pieces a year to being a full-time artist. I loved being immersed in a communal studio atmosphere, and I am happy to have become part of the Penland community at large.”
—Anne Lemanski, resident 2004-2007

 

Visit the Resident Artist page to learn more or apply to the program.

 

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Penland’s Core Fellowship (Apply by October 15)

core 2016 portrait over auction weekend
Penland’s talented bunch of core fellows: Daniel Garver, Eleanor Anderson, Thomas Campbell, Elmar Fujita, Rachel Kediger, Bryan Parnham, Alex McClay, Morgan Hill, and Kyle Kulchar (with a quilt by Daniel Garver!)

 

If you’ve been to Penland in the past four decades, you’ve probably met a Penland core fellow. At any given moment, they might be learning new techniques in workshops, helping cook in the kitchen, checking students into meals at the Pines, making work in their own studios, or spending time at their communal house on campus. Core fellows are emerging artists at the very nexus of the Penland community, and the two years they spend living, working, and learning here can be as intense as they are rewarding. Here’s how former core fellows from across the years have reflected on their time in the program:

 

“During those two years, I met remarkable people and learned tons… There was a steady stream of extraordinary artists passing through the school, teaching, giving demonstrations, and making presentations on their work. There was an informality that made learning an integral part of our daily existence there. It was a life-changing experience.”
—Alida Fish, core fellow 1971-1973

 

“Being a core student was such an important link in my career that it’s hard to imagine how I would have gotten from point A to point B otherwise.”
—Critz Campbell, core fellow 1994-1996

 

“I took advantage of the collective wealth of knowledge that is Penland at any given time—all the instructors and staff and students. Coming out of that program, I had a completely altered understanding of material and process—both what I can do personally and what is possible.”
—Jack Mauch, core fellow 2011-2013

 

“You pick your friends, but this group is just handed to you. You’re thrown together by chance, and then these people become your closest friends for a lifetime.”
—Daniel Essig, core fellow 1992-1994

 

“At Penland, I learned the many ways there are to be an artist: you can be a studio artist, you can teach, you can help other artists. The program exceeded every expectation. Being a core fellow changed my life: the experience gave me the how-to knowledge to make things and the confidence to know that I was good at it.”
—Amy Jacobs, core fellow 2004-2006

 

Penland will be accepting four new students into the Core Fellowship Program for 2017. Applications are due October 15, 2016. For more information, visit the Core Fellowship page.

 

The reflections above are excerpts of interviews from Inspired: Life in Penland’s Resident Artist and Core Fellowship Programs. This new book includes a history of the core program and interviews with sixteen former core fellows. To purchase a copy of Inspired, call the Penland Supply Store at 828-765-2359 ext. 1321.

 

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Penland, Winter, You

woman working with a CNC Dremel tool
Winter resident Marilyn Martinez in the Penland metals studio with her kit-built CNC Dremel tool, which she used to make dies for the hydraulic press.

 

For six weeks last winter, Penland opened its studios for our first ever Winter Residency Program. We welcomed potters and glass blowers, weavers and wood workers, painters and photographers and writers and more. Some came from nearby, while others traveled internationally. But all came with the goal of spending some focused time in our studios to make, experiment, and connect with others who were doing the same.

This year, we are pleased to be hosting the second annual Winter Residency from January 3 to February 13. We hope that, like last year, the program will provide artists with a unique opportunity to take advantage of Penland’s well-equipped studios and creative community to bring new ideas and projects to life. If you sound like one of those artists, then please visit our winter residency page for more information.

Applications for 2016 Winter Residency spots are due October 1, 2014.

 

man and a large wooden bowl
Wyatt Sievers brought this enormous bowl with him to finish turning in the wood studio during his winter residency at Penland.

 

“Winter at Penland provided state-of-the-art facilities and the serenity of its mountain setting to focus on my work in a manner I have not been afforded in many years. It allowed me to refresh my creative spirit and create an entirely new body of work. Since the winter months are particularly quiet, an intimate bond can be found with fellow artists who share the time. It is a unique time for intense focus in outstanding studios with a select number of highly-skilled makers.”

Critz Campbell
Former Penland Winter Resident

Apply to be a 2016 winter resident.

 

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Emilia Ferraro—My Stay at Penland

Emilia Ferraro
Andrew Glasgow Resident Writer, 2013

The problem with trying to “describe” Penland is that Penland is not only a “place,” a school, a community of likeminded creative people. It is also, or mainly (for me) an experience; a sensuous experience in its widest sense, that touched the very core of my being and as such it is extremely difficult to share with others. How to convey in words the change of energies that I immediately sensed as the taxi that was taking me to Penland from Asheville turned left from the main road into the winding narrow road up to the school? The visual lushness of the vegetation, its myriad shades of colours and smells—just a timid hint of the bombarding to which my senses would soon be subjected to at the school.

How to describe the buzz and creative tension that define the very air in this small hidden corner of the Appalachian mountain range? The mist and humidity of the summer mornings only added to the sensuous quality of the place. Penland is a “place” in the traditional sense of the word as a setting with a specific geographical location, beautiful buildings in the vernacular regional style –the heritage of a long tradition of solid skills and local knowledge. But it is also a way of being that goes beyond time and space, where I was offered the luxury of taking leave from a busy academic life, mostly guided by the capitalist ethics of production that has also infiltrated “the business of knowledge.” Everything was provided for me: a wooden and stone house that defies the boundaries between “inside” and “outside”—a shelter from “nature” and a platform onto it. The food: abundant, varied, and tasty provided a concrete and tangible sign of the defining character that Penland has for me: its nourishing quality. Penland takes care of the body in a variety of ways—of which excellent food and yoga exercise are only an example. Penland nourishes souls by providing that indefinable “something” that feeds our human-ness.

Penland opened the doors of workshops and the experience and expertise attached to them. It welcomed me—an academic, not particularly “arty” (I thought)—into a community of creative and original minds. By treating me as a peer, and making me feel I had something interesting and meaningful to give, Penland gave me the confidence to experiment, dare, and push the boundaries of my own creativity and imagination. It transformed my sense of who I feel I am. It gave me space, freedom, and a safe human and physical environment to “be” in any way I felt I wanted to. It did so without asking anything in return.

When I asked what expectations Penland had about my stay, the answer I got was: “Just that you immerse yourself fully into the Penland experience.” I cannot think of a more generous and wise invitation. I could only do this by participating actively in the everyday “practice” of life at Penland. Practice opened the way to experience, and experience opened the door onto my Self. So, if I had to summarise what Penland has done for me, I would say it has allowed me to get in touch with my inner and true Being. Anyone that has had such an encounter at least once in his or her life knows that there is no going back.