Posted on

A Great Big Bowl

Wyatt Severs

Wyatt Severs, woodworker and studio assistant in Mark Gardner‘s wood sculpture concentration, spent his spring turning an enormous bowl on the largest lathe in Penland’s woodshop. It wasn’t the only thing Wyatt worked on, but it was certainly the biggest.

Wyatt Severs

He began with a raw, newly-fallen log, turning between centers, using an angle grinder with a woodcutting bit strapped to the toolrest, to remove the bark and make the wood uniformly round.

Wyatt Severs

Wyatt’s “grinder roughing” technique is a bit unorthodox, so he went slowly at first, turning the mass of the log by hand to keep it all under control.

Wyatt Severs

Then he engaged the motor drive and used more traditional turning tools to create the basic shape.

Wyatt Severs

At this scale, even simple steps like cutting off the foot, so that the “bottom” of the bowl shape is flat and smooth enough to attach a faceplate, presented logistical challenges.

Wyatt Severs

The faceplate attachment makes it possible to begin shaping the inside of the bowl, engaging the wood with the tool from one end. For safety’s sake, Wyatt left the second center attached at this end, providing  support, for as long as possible.

Wyatt Severs

And that was a while, indeed. There was a lot of material inside the log to remove.

Wyatt Severs

The wood had dried out more than expected, making the going slow inside the bowl. To speed up the process, Wyatt brought back the grinder attachment for a while, which enabled him to remove more material more quickly.

Wyatt Severs

When the inside was hollowed and shaped, Wyatt returned his attention to the outside  surface of the bowl, giving it its final shape…

Wyatt Severs

…and then finished out the inside, too.

Wyatt Severs

Here’s Wyatt with his great big bowl at Show-and-Tell. He tells us it’s still not quite finished, and promises to send a picture when he’s got the surface perfected. We’ll post it for you here, naturally. Thanks for sharing, Wyatt!


Posted on 1 Comment

“Threads” begins Craft in America’s 4th Season

Craft in America

Craft in America, the Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary series dedicated to exploring America’s rich craft history will premiere its fourth season with Threads on PBS Friday, May 11, at 9pm (check your local listings). The first episode of Season Four, Threads, explores work by Terese Agnew, Faith Ringgold, and Penland instructors Randall Darwall and Consuelo Jiminez Underwood – nationally acclaimed fiber artists who go beyond pure technique with their story-quilts, fiber collages, and woven textiles.

Fiber Artists
(L to R) Therese Agnew, Consuelo Jiminez Underwood, Randall Darwall, and Faith Ringgold.

Throughout history, people have sought ways to craft a domestic environment that is warm, comforting, and redolent with meaning and memories. Through interviews with nationally acclaimed artists working at the forefront of their media, artists devoting their lives and pushing boundaries of technique in the pursuit of their art, Threads looks at ways in which the needle arts have evolved from the “functional” to the “meaningful.”

For more information, visit

Posted on

Focus on: Stephanie Metz

Stephanie Metz

The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center’s Focus Gallery has opened Aviculae, its second exhibit of the season. A suite of felted-wool sculptures and drawings by artist Stephanie Metz, this exhibition is on view from  Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 27.

Avicular #9
"Avicular #9," felted wool

“The wool drawings and sculptures in the ‘Aviculae’ exhibit are an investigation into capturing the likeness of birds while calling attention to their complicated place in the human psyche. (‘avicular’ is Latin for ‘birdlike’). Birds are a loaded subject: people layer them with meaning, portent, and human-like characteristics; breed them into seemingly impossible forms; use them as living decorations; and depend on them to gauge the health of the environment. Birds tend to provoke strong and irrational responses: doves are revered and pigeons are reviled, yet they are the same species; crows are credited with cleverness and tool use and yet considered sinister for those same qualities. I’m drawn to the contradictions embodied in birds, and I am aesthetically attracted to them for the same reason: they are elegant in the large view, but also delightfully grotesque in the details– those feet!”

Bird Leg Gesture
"Bird Leg Gesture," wool felted through paper

“In the same way, the material I use, wool, brings up dueling responses: it’s soft and warm and full of domestic references, but it is hair, which also triggers the ‘gross-out’ response. Depending on its use, wool is noble or humble, arty or crafty, sophisticated or simple. I am a ‘gray’ person: I have a hard time seeing all black or white on any issue, so it seems fitting that I also embrace a complicated material to reflect on the complicated world.”

Avicular #12
"Avicular #12," felted wool

“To sculpt with wool I use a technique called needle felting. Taken from industrial origins and a subsequent craft tradition, needle felting refers to using specialized sharp, barbed needles to mat individual fibers into a united solid mass, held together by the microscopically scaly surfaces of the wool. In a process similar to hand building in clay, I repeatedly plunge hand-held felting needles into a mass of loose, fluffy wool to create nearly solid forms. To create my wool drawings I force wool fibers through paper so that the dark-colored hair acts as a mark or a line, yet has a three-dimensional character.” – Stephanie Metz

Damask Crow
"Damask Crow (detail)," wool felted through paper

Click here to visit Stephanie Metz’s website, where you can see more of her work.

Click here to visit the Penland Gallery website.

Penland’s Focus Gallery is a space primarily dedicated to single-artist exhibitions. Focusing on individual artists over the course of the year, it will present a larger selection of their work to gallery visitors and patrons.

Click here for more information about Focus Gallery artists.