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3 Years of Material Exploration: Core Fellow Lars Shimabukuro

Lars Shimabukuro is leaving Penland after three wonderful years as a Penland Core Fellow 🥹. Anyone who has had the pleasure of sharing space with them can tell you how capable, curious, and intentional they are in everything they do.

At Penland, Lars spent time in nearly every studio, learning techniques to work in paper, wood, clay, and textiles, just to name a few. Here are  images of some of the stunning work that Lars created at Penland.

“Tradewinds” installation at the Praxis Fiber Workshop Gallery in Cleveland, OH


This piece, titled “Fish Trap,” combines ceramic and lashed reed.


Working in paper



Chair caning (the chair is old; the rainbow caning is new).



And so much beautiful weaving


This year, Lars will teach weaving at both John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina and Arrowmont in Tennessee! Learning from Lars is sure to be a wonderful experience and we encourage you to sign up. You can also follow them on social media and check out their website for more of their thoughtful work.

LARS IS TEACHING the following weaving workshops:

A Survey in Blocks
John C Campbell Folk School, May 14-20, all levels
This workshop will cover twill blocks, doubleweave blocks, and more


Imagery with Theo Moorman
Arrowmont, October 15-20, all levels
Learn a unique inlay technique that allows you to draw on the loom.
(Theo Moorman is the name of inlay technique, which was developed by a weaver named Theo Moorman.)


Read more about the other 2020-2022 Penland Core Fellows: Sarina Angell, Molly Bernstein, Maria Fernanda Nuñez, and Tony Santoyo.

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The Stunning Work of Molly Bernstein

Photo by Myles S Pettengill

It’s been wonderful having Molly Bernstein with us for the past three years as a Penland Core Fellow. She’s leaving Penland and heading to Philadelphia. We hope you will follow her on social media, collect her work, and please let her know if you are inspired by her unique vision.

Good luck, Molly! Come visit soon!

Here are a few of the wonderful pieces that Molly created at Penland:


One of Molly’s mugs, artfully displayed in the Penland Core Fellows Gallery in the Coffee Shop


So many whimsical mugs!


“A Map of the World” from the 2021 Core Show; photo courtesy Loam Marketing


Detail from “A Map of the World”; photo courtesy Loam Marketing




Blue chair installation on the Penland knoll


Installation at Laurel Cottage




Read more about the other 2020-2022 Penland Core Fellows: Sarina AngellMaria Fernanda Nuñez, Tony Santoyo and Lars Shimabukuro.


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Fabricating a Travel-Friendly Paper Beater

Outgoing Penland Core Fellow Maria Fernanda Nuñez is leaving Penland this week with a sweet beater she made herself! (A beater is a cool machine that breaks down fiber into pulp that can be pressed into paper sheets or cast into sculpture.) Mo works in all sorts of media and is particularly interested in sculpture. Here at Penland, she fell in love with paper casting, using the process to create a number of beautiful pieces, both freestanding and wall mounted.

Cast paper artwork by Maria Fernanda Nuñez in the recent core fellow show, “Stonefruit” at Gallery North

Beaters are pretty expensive, starting at $5,000 for a basic model and $10,000 for the Reina beaters that can be found in the Penland paper studio.

Knowing that she wanted to continue to explore paper casting after leaving Penland, Mo set out to make her own, making sure it could break down into smaller pieces to facilitate transport to her next destination, which is Philadelphia.

Most of the work was undertaken last fall when Mo was a student in Thomas Campbell‘s iron concentration. Taking measurements from the hydro beater in the Penland paper studio and researching what she could find online, Mo designed her beater in Fusion 360 design software, starting with the drum component that propels fiber around the basin and adjusting other measurements from there.

Talking the project through with fall iron concentration instructor Thomas Campbell

The beater includes a basin on legs and a lift mechanism that moves the drum up and down, controlling how much space is between the bed plate and drum and therefore how fine the pulp is.

Working on the beater in the iron studio

During this year’s winter residency, Mo painted the beater components with automotive paint in the wood studio (which has a spray booth) and assembled the pieces in the iron studio.

Painting the components with automotive paint in the Penland wood studio

The beater is a work in progress as Mo works out the kinks with all of the electrical and moveable components. She spent about $2,000 on materials and her project was supported by a grant from Toe River Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Autumn Brown, Penland’s iron studio coordinator, said, “This beater is no beater!”

Mo has taken numerous iron workshops at Penland, including concentrations with Elizabeth Brim and Thomas Campbell.

We are extremely impressed and are excited to follow Mo in her journey. You can check out more of her work and sign up for her newsletter at and follow her on Instagram at @flotsam0jetsam.

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Saying “See You Soon” to the 2020-2022 Core Fellows

(Left to right) Maria Fernanda Nuñez (Mo), Molly Bernstein, Tony Santoyo, Sarina Angell, and Lars Shimabukuro

HEY, PENLAND COMMUNITY! This week we are saying goodbye to some of our favorite people. As they leave Penland for their next opportunities, we invite you to support these vibrant artists in their journey! Be sure to follow them on social media, sign up for their newsletters, buy their work, take their workshops, and let them know how wonderful they are.

Maria Fernanda Nuñez (Mo), Molly Bernstein, Tony Santoyo, Sarina Angell, and Lars Shimabukuro, we are going to miss you so much!

It has been an honor and a privilege to work and learn alongside them for three wonderful years. Arriving just ahead of the pandemic, this core fellow cohort’s experience was marked by unprecedented challenges, as well as an extra year here at Penland.

We would like to take this opportunity to share some words from Courtney Dodd, Penland’s Program Manager, spoken at the annual core show, when the Penland Core Fellows showcase their work in Gallery North:

“THANK YOU for all your hard work, leadership, spontaneity, and light. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know each of you, thank you for sharing yourselves with us. You will be dearly missed, but we are all excited to see what’s next. Please know you are always welcome here.”

Maria Fernanda Nuñez (Mo)
“Golden. Baked bread and beaten pulp. A writer, thoughtful and evolving, growing tall, endlessly prolific, like a field of corn. A maker of all things, embellished and braided. It’s always a pleasure to be at your table.”

Tony Santoyo
“Movement, fluidity, a mark marker. You are a balance of the water’s waves and its deepest seas. Twizzlers, coke, and prickly pear. An inner warrior and a dancer, bending and moving with the beat.” 

Molly Bernstein
“Thrown, glazed, and carved with a new love for flux. A bouquet of adventure and excitement and a fellow lover of the practical, all the while painting the world light blue. It’s a pleasure to be near your spontaneous and steady atmosphere.”

Sarina Angell
“Stitched with thoughtful hands and gathered with intention, always with a touch of red. Calm and quiet while a force with a needle and thread. Your loudest words will be heard through your work and I look forward to listening.”

Lars Shimabukuro
“Water and wind, home carried with you always. You are a weaver of genuine peace. Quiet and complex, with a nature akin to clouds. Weaving words with tenderness and meaning. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, we are better for it.”


Top row, left to right: Lily Wilkins, Lars Shimabukuro, Maria Fernanda Nuñez (Mo)
Bottom row, left to right: Celia Shaheen, Lisa Nguyen, Tony Santoyo, Sarina Angell, Molly Bernstein

TWO-YEAR WORK-STUDY FELLOWSHIP is for early career artists looking to expand technical skills and material fluency while working to support the day-to-day operations of the school. Core fellows fully engage with Penland by taking several workshops each year in familiar or new media and performing integral jobs for the school.


This month, we will welcome 5 new core fellows who will join the cohort that arrived in 2022. We are excited to see them learn and grow.

2022-2023 CORE FELLOWS

Lisa Nguyen
Celia Shaheen
Lily Wilkins

2023-2024 CORE FELLOWS

Kimberly Jo
Brandon Lopez
Nicholas McDonald
Grace Anne Odom
Amal Tamari

Ice Cream Truck Day!

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Penland Concentrations, “Like Nothing Else in Craft”

David Harper Clemons is teaching this spring in the metals studio. Seen here teaching an iron concentration in 2019.

Like nothing else in craft, Penland’s spring and fall “concentration” workshops offer time, instructors with deep knowledge, and community.

“The great value of the concentration is immersive, daily practice,” says Penland’s creative director, Leslie Noell. “Part of what makes craft processes what they are is an extended amount of time practicing the skills. When you do something over and over, you build body memory and muscle memory.”

She was discussing Penland’s long sessions, known as concentrations, that take place in the spring and fall and last for six or eight weeks. These sessions were first offered at Penland in 1970 under the leadership of the school’s second director, Bill Brown. The concentration quickly became a signature Penland program combining the intensity of the one- or two-week workshop with a duration closer to that of a college semester.

“Our shorter classes are great because you get to see something demonstrated and then immediately try it out and practice it for a few days, says Leslie. But imagine extending that practice for weeks. Instead of making 12 mugs, you can throw 200. This gives you time to make lot of mistakes and take a lot of risks.”

Studio assistant Rachel Mauser at show and tell with books created during fall concentration 2022

Instructors with deep knowledge
Leslie says the ideal instructor for these sessions is someone who has a deep well of information and techniques to share and also the ability to work with students one-on-one, meeting each person where they are. An instructor with both of these qualities is able to help students take full advantage of the long duration.

“These workshops usually start with demos, skill building, short assignments, and collaborative projects,” she explains. As time goes on, it becomes more like a guided, independent study, with the instructor helping each student to set and meet their goals. As the class transitions, instructors are encouraged to make their own work as well as teach, providing insight into how they produce their own work, plan their day, and balance studio work with other obligations.”

Fall concentration 2022 instructor Mary Zicafoose instructs a student in the art of ikat in the Penland textiles studio

The other important feature of the concentration is the way these sessions build community. The number of workshops and students is smaller than in the summer, and people have more time to get to know each other, to visit other studios, and to understand each other’s work. “The community really coalesces during that time,” Leslie says.

Fun on the Penland clay porch during 2022 spring concentration

Who can benefit?
So who are these long sessions for? As in any Penland session, which cater to “all levels,” you might find everyone from total beginners to folks who make a living from their studio. Said Leslie Noell.

“For beginning students,” Leslie says, “the concentration is a singular opportunity to learn the fundamentals and make a noticeable improvement. For someone already comfortable with a material, it might be a chance to apply that foundation to a different material, to expand particular skills, or maybe more importantly a chance to match skills with interest and develop their creative voice. Experienced students will often test a new direction or develop a whole new body of work.”

Whatever your interest or motivation, something all concentrations have in common is that they take place against the backdrop of a changing season in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The fall concentration is accompanied by an amazing display of autumn leaves that changes daily; students in the spring watch the green leaves emerge along with wildflowers and Penland’s many small gardens. Add that to the combination of time, inspiring instruction, and a community of fellow travelers, and your Penland concentration might just be a transformative experience.

Fall concentration 2022 metals instructor Hiroko Yamada assists student Danielle in creating some beautiful mokume-gane, with help from the power hammer in the iron studio.

Spring Concentration 2023 is coming right up!

Spring concentration 2022 instructor Christina Boy with her class in the wood studio

We asked Leslie what we can look forward to for the 2023 spring concentration (March 5-April 28). “This is a stellar lineup of instructors,” she told us. “They have been some of our best instructors in the past. In general, it’s rare to get someone at the top of their game to spend eight weeks out of their own studio, so we plan these workshops as much as two or three years out. We are really lucky to have this group coming together.”

Here are a few words from creative director Leslie Noell about each of the spring workshops. Registration is still open, and each of these workshops has at least one open space, so it’s not too late to plan for spring at Penland.

Books: Alex McClay, Form, Content, Book
“Alex has precision knowledge of book arts but is equally as interested in what she wants to say and what the content of the work is. Students will be challenged both technically and conceptually to bring ideas into that format.”

Clay: Justin Rothshank, Decals, Soda Firing, and Pottery
“Justin is a wonderful instructor and loves teaching concentration. He loves getting deep into the process with his students.”


Glass: Kit Paulson, Borosilicate Fieldnotes: The Explorer’s Notebook
“Kit has been a resident artist, has taught many times, and has always wanted to teach an eight-week class, where she could help students progress not only through skill practice but also thinking about where they get their inspiration and how they can bring that into their work.”


Iron: Stephen Yusko, “Forged and Finished”
“Steve has taught at Penland many times. We are lucky to get him for this session, as he stays busy running his own studio. He brings a lot of design thought into working in the iron studio. This concentration is ideal for metalsmiths, sculptors, and blacksmiths.”


Metals: David Harper Clemons, “Narrative Jewelry: Well-Worn Tales”
“David Clemons has taught many concentrations. He has an incredible depth of knowledge. He can answer almost any question and can work in almost any material. He is especially interested in narrative and wearable pieces.”

Textiles: Celia Pym, “Visible Mending: Damage and Repair”
“Celia Pym is coming to us from the UK. Her work surrounds the process and also the concept of mending. We have been trying to get her here for the past few years, but the pandemic delayed us. We are particularly excited to have her for this amount of time. Especially for US students, this is the opportunity to study with Celia.”


Wood: Yuri Kobayashi, “Design with Curvature”
“Yuri does things in wood that no one else does. She is just an exceptional craftsperson, educator, and designer. She’s a triple threat.”


Full class descriptions for Penland’s 2023 spring concentration workshops can be found HERE.

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Sending Daniel T. Beck Off in Style

We will miss you, Daniel Beck!

“Daniel T. Beck, with his inimitable (or, I guess highly imitable) style, has been a part of Penland’s heart and soul for over 13 years. His gifts as an artist, coworker, collaborator, and community builder have made him dear to everyone who calls this place home as well as many who pass through. Our lives have been richer for Daniel’s presence, and Penland has been made more capable and kind. We’re excited for new opportunities coming his way. But we sure will miss you, my friend!”

-Ian Henderson, Penland director of operations

Daniel is headed to NYC to work as the Production Manager for Tom Sachs Studio!

Daniel has left an indelible mark on this school, first as a core fellow, then as iron studio coordinator for 10 years, and most recently as studio operations manager. He’s an accomplished iron and metalsmith, and many visitors will remember his impressive, circular sculpture that lives outside the Penland Gallery.

“I’m really struggling to put into words how much the individuals here have made my life a rich and rewarding daily experience,” he said.” A piece of my heart will always live here; I wish I could thank each and every person I’ve had the pleasure of working and living with at Penland.”

Daniel and Stacey Lane


Good luck, Daniel! Come and visit us soon!

Want to imitate Daniel’s imitable style? Here’s how:

  • black shoes with one pink lace
  • white socks
  • black Dickies or other work pant
  • black button-down work shirt
  • pink hoodie or pink bandana
  • black jacket
  • mustache
  • black- or red-framed glasses
  • black hat
  • heart of gold

Happy Daniel Beck Day!

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Welcome, New Core Fellows!


We’re excited to announce and welcome our five newest Penland Core Fellows—Kimberly Jo, Brandon Lopez, Nicholas McDonald, Grace Anne Odom, and Amal Tamari. They will join returning fellows Lisa Nguyen, Celia Shaheen, and Lily Wilkins. For one or two years, they will share a house, take classes, expand their practices, and help run the school. We are so excited to welcome them to our community. Meet the new core!

Kimberly Jo is a cross-disciplinary artist working primarily in printmaking, ceramics, and textiles. They received a BFA in printmaking and enjoyed a post-baccalaureate position in ceramics at the Hartford Art School. In addition to pursuing arts education, Kimberly has worked on small-scale farms across northwestern Connecticut. Their dual passions are at the heart of their practice, which draws parallels between different materials and honors the ways in which they diverge.


Brandon Lopez is a Mexican-American artist creating functional and sculptural work with glass. He first began working with glass at Penland in 2013. He then attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia where he received a BFA in glass. Brandon has assisted for individual artists as well as for workshops at Penland, Ox-Bow, and Pilchuck. His work combines traditional glassblowing techniques with the aesthetics of objects made by ancient civilizations to create sculpture and design objects. Brandon is currently living in Asheville, focusing on his studio practice and assisting area artists.



Nicholas McDonald received their BA in political science and art from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. Nicholas’s practice focuses on the power of process and the exploration of their complex identity as a black person, “with one foot in inescapable history and the other in the drive of [their] contemporary environment.” At Penland, they plan to continue to investigate ties between blackness, culture, and craft.

Grace Anne Odom is a metalsmith and photographer in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she works as a bench jeweler and maintains a studio practice. Before focusing on craft, she served her community through social work and earned a BA in psychology at Hendrix College. With the goal of making craft more accessible in her community, she is eager to strengthen and diversify her skills as a core fellow.


Amal Tamari is a recent graduate from Earlham College where she received a BA in studio arts with a focus on ceramics. Since completing her degree, she has been studying at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a post-baccalaureate student. Amal apprenticed for ceramicists Kelsie Rudolph and Sunshine Cobb in Helena, Montana. Amal is excited to explore different mediums that will help to develop her artistic voice.

Selection Panel

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to apply. Penland received 130+ applications to the core fellowship this year. The selection process was thoughtfully overseen by the following panel, in conjunction with Penland staff.

(Left to right): Ben Blount, studio artist, Mellanee Goodman, grant program manager at Center for Craft, Critz Campbell, professor at Mississippi State University, Althea Murphy-Price, professor at University of Tennessee