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July 4 Parade Slideshow

OK, anyone who was here will tell you that this parade actually took place on July 3, but wouldn’t it look kind of dumb to put July 3 Parade in a headline? Or maybe that’s just silly enough that it would get more attention than July 4 Parade, but we were, after all, celebrating July 4 (a day early for reasons that were not entirely clear) so this was, conceptually at least, a July 4 parade even if it didn’t take place on July 4 (the whole problem can sort of be avoided by calling it an Independence Day parade, but it also did not take place on Independence Day).

glass-class dragon
The glass class made this fiery dragon.

In any case, it was lots of fun with the usual homemade shenanigans (you might think the Little Rascals are in charge of this place). Click the picture to see a 3-minute slide show of the parade (with music!).

Please note: If you are using a device that does not like Flash (iPhone, iPod, iPad) then this won’t work, but you should  be able to watch it on YouTube, which doesn’t look quite as good, but should work. (We didn’t embed a YouTube player here, because then everyone would just click on that, and the other version really does look better–especially in full screen. Tradeoffs, you know.)

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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – Marc Maiorana, Metal Worker


Cassilhaus Railing

It is not difficult to recognize work created by Marc Maiorana. There are certain identifying characteristics found in the work, whether it is functional or sculptural, recent work or from early in his career.

To work with material in such a spartan and ascetic fashion requires a bit of courage. Rather than the addition of some trademark technique or design element – it is the absence of such things in Marc’s work that is your first clue. Surfaces are clean, clean, clean, with barely a hint that a heavy tool or a loud formidable machine played any part in forming the steel. The courage is that of exposure – if you are going to form a 3/8″ rod into a perfect circle as it peels away from another perfect circle – you open yourself up to a certain vulnerability of perfect-ness, don’t you?

Marc also negotiates the area where function and design intersect very well. His line of steel work for the home, Iron Design Company (even the name is pretty direct and to the point), are not extraneous products – they are items we actually use, and often need in our homes. Here again are Marc’s well-considered details – the tension hold on the candle and the nearly hidden hanging devices for the coat rack and book sconce. The surfaces are pristine but also manage to retain a warmth or softness – the edges are just touched to remove a physical and visual sharpness, the patina is just barely imperfect – enough to remind you that Marc was part of the process – made by human hands.

Book Sconce

One might describe Marc’s work as having restraint. During his time here at Penland it would seem that that discipline is part of his work ethic as well – along with grace and a high standard of craftsmanship that is found in his work.

He has designed railings for Penland School as well as for private homes, has shown his large sculptural work in gallery and museum shows, and his functional work (with partner Robyn Raines) has gotten quite a bit of notice in the press and on the internet design sites. The Penland Gallery is fortunate to have a number of pieces from Marc’s Iron Design Company line, and will have one of his larger sculptural works later this summer when he is teaching.

Circle Wall Panel

About Marc

Marc first learned blacksmithing from his father and later earned a BFA in metals from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He was a resident artist at Penland School of Crafts from 2002-2005 and has taught at numerous institutions including Marywood University (PA), Peters Valley Craft Center (NJ), Penland School of Crafts (NC), and Haystack School of Crafts (ME).

Marc has exhibited widely including the Architectural Digest Home Design Show (NY), the National Ornamental Metal Museum (TN), the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts, and the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design (NC). He has been published in four Schiffer books on contemporary metalwork, and featured in Icon magazine, Gourmet magazine, Dwell’s on-line magazine, and the New York Times.

Marc maintains a studio for his Iron Design Company and Marc Maiorana Studio in Cedar Bluff, VA, in a converted gas station.


About the Work

Iron Design Company was established to promote modern designs in hand formed iron objects by metalworker Marc Maiorana. Additionally, IDC supports an apprenticeship with the local high school, giving students a unique opportunity to work with their hands.

Iron Design Company shapes steel into inviting and unique articles. Contrary to belief, modern day usage of iron is more accurately steel. Familiar terms such as “wrought” and “forged” describe how iron itself and iron goods were made and continue to be common descriptions of formed steel products. In many ways, our studio is similar to the ages-old iron workshop, yet with a number of modern technical conveniences. We use heat, hammer, and hydraulics to form steel stock; and pencil, clay, and wire to draft and model designs.

Coat Rack

The majority of the items we create are formed in steel, the world’s most recycled material. The steel Iron Design Company uses originates in steel mills producing structural type steels with 80-90% recycled content. Interestingly, steel goods will always contain recycled steel. Our specialty is giving grace to a bold, stubborn building material and kind of defying the structural stereotype that steel is often associated with.

Penland Gallery’s web page 

Marc’s website

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Earl and Jacqueline Bell and the Penland Clay Studio

Earl and Jacqueline Bell drove back to their home in Detroit a couple of weeks ago after a two week class in the Penland clay studio. They were anticipating an entire drive of debriefing: a thorough review of stories, new skills, and experiences. Just before they left, Earl and Jacqueline joined me on a sunny morning outside of The Pines to chat about their experiences at Penland. As students were preparing to display their work at Northlight, the Bells were packing their car to travel home. They share a relaxed and gracious character. Jacqueline’s even voice carried the conversation; Earl rhythmically interjected with engaging stories and insights.

This was the fifth ceramics class the Bells have taken together. Print & Clay Buffet, taught by Kathy King and Paul Wandless, included a vast range of processes and techniques combining imagery and ceramics. Sgraffito, transfer, appliqué, stamping, screening, and printmaking were some of the processes covered. The quality of work produced under Kathy and Paul’s instruction was incredible; the final collection of class work was an attractive mix of vibrant colors, heightened contrast, and layers upon layers of imagery. The Bells were thrilled to take home the class’s collaborative urn, which they bought at the closing scholarship auction.

The first time Jacqueline came to Penland, she was self-conscious about her lack of an art background, though she was always an appreciator and dabbled in paint. Penland’s community is supportive and inspiring, and her intimidation quickly disappeared. “It’s amazing, the amount of creativity you’re surrounded by,” she said. “The ideas you get from both students and instructors…. They’re very knowledgeable, so you’re getting information on both ends.” Jacqueline finds peace in decorating, and Earl loves to throw on the wheel. Jacqueline took her time this session, creating a few samples for each process. She considers them a three-dimensional sketchbook to carry home to Michigan.

Jacqueline is a retired school principal and was introduced to clay during her school’s open studios directed by a visiting ceramist. Earl began taking classes at the Flint Institute of Art over ten years ago. When they met at Jacqueline’s school, a relationship began to grow along with their interest in ceramics, and they married in 2004. They have been able to witness many changes at Penland since their first class together in 2000. Jacqueline reminisced about stepping out from the car and tripping on the rocky terrain. “The paths were treacherous!” In addition to smoother routes and pathways, they have seen new buildings, studios, and an increase in technology and design used within the clay studio.

The Bells are returning to Detroit to coordinate an event with Empty Bowls, an international project to fight hunger and raise awareness. Guests are served soup in a handmade bowl in exchange for a donation, which is passed to a hunger-fighting charity. (The Empty Bowls project was founded by John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn, who live near Penland).The pottery stays with the contributor, a reminder of the empty bowls throughout the world and our personal ability to help. Mr. and Mrs. Bell will make the bowls and the community– including artists from the Detroit Institute of Art as well as the homeless and less fortunate–will decorate them,. Because Jacqueline and Earl do not sell their work, this opportunity provides a strong purpose and motivation to create.

The Bells intend to continue taking classes at Penland, and Earl would also like to try his hand at a photography class. Penland has become a home and haven for them, a place to revisit and find rejuvenation. Jacqueline leaned in and grinned, “A clay retreat. I tell people I’m coming to a clay retreat.”  –photo and story by Emily Breyer