Catharine Ellis

2017 Penland Benefit Auction Centerpiece Artist


I first came to Penland as a concentration student in 1976. During that class, and subsequent times at Penland, I truly found my way and came to believe in myself as a textile artist. Nearly every day since, I have worked in the studio: creating, weaving and dyeing…for more than forty years.

I became closely acquainted with the Craft House during that first spring at Penland. I immediately recognized the important “spirit” of the Craft House and have always felt a special relationship with the building. It is a place that has witnessed dreams coming true, and I find it very fitting to be weaving textiles now to honor and support that building and all that it represents.

Since that long-ago class, I have returned to Penland many times as both a student and an instructor. In recent years I have been privileged to co-teach classes with Joy Boutrup, a textile engineer and chemist from Denmark, who I first met at Penland. Joy and I have developed a unique relationship and a deep friendship over the years. Joy brings science into the studio as a complement to my skills as a practitioner. It has changed the way I approach my own work, and we have brought our collective vision to many groups of students. Our classes have been fertile ground for experimenting, observing, making fine textiles, and building relationships. Currently Joy Boutrup and I are in the process of co-authoring a book on the science and the art of natural dyes.

My connection to Penland has provided me a wonderful gift: the opportunity to build a life in craft, to grow and mature that life, and to develop lifelong relationships.