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The song of the open road

penland road

This may not look like much to you, but to us, it’s a beautiful sight. This section of the Penland road, which lies between the school and the post office (not to mention the homes of many staff members), has been closed for months. It was falling off the hill and the only solution was to move the road. This involved a number of large machines, a bunch of workers, and a lot of dynamite. Yesterday, they opened it to traffic (it will be paved after it’s good and packed) and our detouring days have come to an end.

Nobody is happier than Bill Ford, who drives to the post office twice a to pick up and drop off the school’s mail.

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The end and the beginning of Homosote

After a long history, the Homosote building, which is located in the heart of the Penland campus and has recently served as housing for studio assistants, has been scheduled for demolition in February. Despite occasionally being the subject of student and staff jokes, Homosote has served the school well and is a part of many fond memories for the hundreds of students who’ve made it their home during their time at Penland. The recent construction of sleeping cabins and the new housing building has increased our quality of housing and is offsetting the 10 bedrooms that made up Homosote. The site where Homosote currently sits will be allowed to return to a natural setting that will help buffer the gravel parking area behind the building.

"Haunted Homosote," Halloween 2011, Homosote's gleefully ghoulish last hurrah

In order to reduce the amount of demolition debris, the school will invite the local community to reclaim building materials from the site in the weeks before it comes down.

A 1930s photograph of a student at work in the original Homosote building

Penland archivist Michelle Francis says,

“For those who might not know, Homosote was built as an outdoor metal studio in 1938. It was really just one big partially screened room. Construction took three days at a cost of $75. The Metal Shop, as it was known back then, was enclosed and added onto in the 1960s.  It was at that time that it became known as Homosote, after the building material used to convert the structure into housing for students.”

Michelle would love to have your Homosote stories for the archives. If you’d like to share one, call her at 828.765.8060 or email


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2012 Kenan Fellowships Lecture

Kenan Fellowships Lecture invitation

Penland School of Crafts and The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts cordially invite you to attend a lecture celebrating the William R. Kenan Jr. Fellowships at Penland.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 6:00pm

Featuring Leslie Walker Noell, artist and Penland Core Fellowship Program Coordinator

In the Visual Arts Department, Fourth Floor Workplace Building, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

For information and directions, call the Kenan Institute at 336.770.1432.

Leslie Walker Noell is an interdisciplinary studio artist and designer. Her background includes a design degree from NC State University, two years of study as a Core Fellowship Student at Penland School of Crafts, and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts. In 2001, Leslie was a resident artist at Caversham Press in Kazulu Natal, South Africa. In 2006, she was a resident artist at the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Banner, Wyoming. Leslie’s work has been shown throughout the country in a number of exhibitions, including the Holter Museum of Art, Asheville Art Museum, and Mobile Museum of Art. She lives and works in Asheville, NC.

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Fire on the Mountain: Blacksmithing Demonstration Workshop with Nol Putnam

As part of the 2012 Fire on the Mountain Blacksmithing Festival, Penland School of Crafts and Spruce Pine Main Street present a master demonstration workshop with Nol Putnam, Friday, April 27, 2012, from 9:30am – 4:00pm in the Penland iron studio. There’s $50 fee and advance registration is required; space is limited.

Blacksmith Nol Putnam
Nol Putnam (photo: Megan S. Smith)

“I imagine there will be leaves and vines, perhaps something with pipe, assorted peculiar movements with iron, and illustrating questions from the floor. In between there will be philosophy, stories, anecdotes, encouragement and laughs. It should be a great time, a convivial group dance around the anvil. We will also discuss how to handle big work in a one-man shop; drawing; surviving large commissions; design elements; and whatever else may come up.” – Nol Putnam

Nol Putnam opened his first forge in 1973. He taught himself the craft with the help of books, stubbornness and a mentor. Starting in the early 1980s he undertook large architectural commissions – gates, balconies, curved handrails. While he still does a few commissions, his work since 2001 has largely been sculptural, ranging in size from the palm of the hand to architectural scale.

Click here for more information and a downloadable registration form (PDF).

If you would like to ask questions about the workshop, please call Stacey Lane at 828.765.8060 or e-mail

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Studio Style (via The Wall Street Journal): Urban Equestrian

Laura Taft Paulsen: Urban Equestrian
Kurt Wilberding/The Wall Street Journal

From Tuesday’s Heard on the Runway, a style blog of The Wall Street Journal:

‘As a New York-based fund-raiser for Penland School of Crafts, Laura Taft Paulsen knows a thing or two about craftsmanship…. “Fashion is wearable art,” she says.’

Click here for a complete outfit breakdown in the original post.

Thanks for the shout-out, Laura! Looking good!