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Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival

If you’re in or around Spruce Pine, NC, this weekend, you should come by the 2011 Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival. This annual event is always fun and informative; there are things happening Friday and Saturday in beautiful downtown Spruce Pine, and an artist’s lecture up here at Penland on Saturday night:

Friday, April 29th
5:00 to 7:00pm – Blacksmith Art Exhibit Reception at the Toe River Arts Council on Upper Street in Spruce Pine (free and open to the public)

Saturday, April 30th
10:00am to 4:00pm – Festival on Lower Street in Spruce Pine – vendors, exhibitors, demonstrations, hands-on activities (free and open to the public)

Demonstrator Schedule:
10:00am – Lucas House
11:30am – Tom Latane
1:00pm – Lynda Metcalfe
2:30pm – Tom Latane

8:15pm – Lecture by artist blacksmith Tom Latane in Northlight Building at Penland School of Crafts (free and open to the public)
Tom will illustrate ways in which smiths (and artists in general) can take something learned in a class or demonstration and use it in other circumstances or develop the technique further.  In this way we inspire each other to keep progressing.

Fire on the Mountain is sponsored by Spruce Pine Main Street, in cooperation with Penland School of Crafts and the Toe River Arts Council. For more information, you can visit

Highly recommended, folks!

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Announcing four new Resident Artists!

Since 1963, Penland has proudly hosted a resident artist program, with the dual intent of offering a stimulating, supportive environment for artists at transitional points in their careers and enriching the life of the school and the community by bringing artists here to live and work on the mountain. There are seven resident artists at Penland; they are full-time, self-supporting studio artists, in residence for three years.  We’re pleased to announce the selection and imminent arrival of an exciting new group of four:

David Eichelberger works in clay, combining sculptural form with function. He has lived in the Penland area before and says that he considers it his home. David was a resident at the Energy XChange in Burnsville, NC from 2004-2007. In 2010, he received his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. David has been a student and studio assistant at Penland several times in the past.

Robin Johnston is a textile artist who brings a strong sense of the weaving tradition to her investigations of contemporary issues in art, culture, and science. For the past two years, she has been an affiliate artist at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California, and has taught weaving at California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, and the University of California-Davis. She  teaches weaving at CCA and UC-Davis, and for  the past two years has  been an affiliate artist at Headlands  Center for the Arts.
Robin’s website:

Tom Shields, from Asheville, NC, is a wood sculptor and fine furniture maker. His  work recycles evocative objects, most often chairs, with evident respect for their histories, creating new lives for them as both intriguing sculptures and functional, if complicated, pieces of furniture. Tom recently earned his MFA from the University of  MA-Dartmouth. He has been a student at Penland several times, most recently as Daniel Essig’s studio assistant this past summer. Tom’s website:

Gwendolyn Yoppolo makes functional ceramic pots inspired by her interest in the interaction of form with the  human body. She is currently an artist-in-residence at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, CO, has taught at Carroll College in Helena, MT, and Juniata college in Huntingdon, PA, and has worked as a kiln technician at Alfred University in Alfred, NY, and Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. Gwendolyn has attended Penland several times as a studio assistant.
Gwendolyn’s website:

We can’t wait to see what they’ll do.

For more information about the resident artists program at Penland School of Crafts, click here to visit our website.

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Radical Jewelry Makeover on USA Projects

Ethical Metalsmiths Susie Ganch and Christina Miller have a fundraising campaign on the United States Artists Projects site to support their next Radical Jewelry Makeover, set for October in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Susie is a former Penland resident artist, and she and Christina have taught the Radical Jewelry Makeover workshop here before, in summer 2009 – it was fantastic! The premise is simple: the Makeover class teaches and encourages jewelers to source their gold, gemstones, and other precious materials from pre-existing jewelery, recycling damaged and out-of-fashion pieces into radical new creations and avoiding the use of newly-mined materials, which are frequently extracted from the earth by expensive, environmentally degrading, and politically unsavory means. And it produces some pretty cool jewelry, too.

From their project proposal:

“Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM) is an international community jewelry mining and recycling project that draws attention to the creativity and skills of local jewelry designers, reveals the stories behind our personal collections and encourages re-consideration of our habits of consumption….. Today, materials used in jewelry production are sourced from some of the poorest countries in the world, from sacred lands and disputed territories, and at a great cost to the environment. In New Mexico, RJM will raise awareness of these material sourcing issues while teaching solution driven design strategies. It will bring together volunteer “miners,” people who dig out and donate their old jewelry, with volunteer jewelers and students, working together as refiners and designers to collaborate on an exhibition of re-made jewelry”

As with all USA Projects, to receive any funding, they must meet their goal by a self-chosen deadline – May 1st in this case. If you’d like to read Susie and Christina’s full proposal, watch their video, and consider supporting the project, click here to visit their USA Projects page.

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Many Paths: A Legacy of Karen Karnes

Karen Karnes and Michelle Francis

This is the great ceramic artist Karen Karnes talking to Penland archivist Michelle Francis at the opening of the Penland Gallery exhibition Many Paths: A Legacy of Karen Karnes. This show features six of Karen’s pieces along with work from thirteen other potters who have close ties to Karen. It’s wonderful show of contemporary pottery.

Karen Karnes is one of the most important figures in twentieth-century American ceramics. She was a resident potter at the famously influential Black Mountain College, where she came in contact with some of the great figures in Modernism. She carried this influence into her ceramics, which in turn affected the work of countless other ceramists. Although she taught infrequently, she did teach at Penland in 1967, and it was at Penland that she first experienced salt-glazing–a technique which was an essential part of her work for many years.

Penland Karen Karnes Exhbition

Here’s the opening night crowd applauding Karen (who is seated in front of the flowers). Her close friends and fellow potters Mark Shapiro and Paulus Berensohn are at the far left and right of this picture. The Penland exhibition is presented in conjunction with a touring retrospective of Karen’s work, titled A Chosen Path, which is on view at the Asheville Art Museum through June 26. A book about Karen’s work, also titled A Chosen Path, was edited by Mark Shapiro and has been published by University of North Carolina Press. And she is the subject of a new film by Lucy Massie Phenix, called Don’t Know, We’ll See, which is available on DVD.

Karen Karnes catalog

The Penland show runs through May 8, and we have published an online catalog with pictures of all the work in the show, an introduction from gallery director Kathryn Gremley, and an essay about Karen’s life and work by Mark Shapiro.