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Focus on: Sarah Loertscher

The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is pleased to present its fourth Focus exhibition of the season, a suite of jewelry and prints by Seattle-based artist and former Penland core fellow Sarah Loertscher. This show is on view in the Focus Gallery from Friday, July 6th through Sunday, July 29th.

Sarah Loertscher, flanked by her assistants.

Sarah Loertscher’s work is strongly influenced by minerals and crystalline structures. She has always been fascinated by minerals and how they are identified. One of the ways that minerals are identified is with the use of a “streak plate,” which is an unglazed porcelain square. A mineral is rubbed against these plates and the roughness of the porcelain causes a streak of color to be left behind.  Whatever color the mineral “streaks” helps identify the mineral itself.

In this exhibit Sarah combines her interests in identifying minerals and jewelry. She creates her own rendition of the streak plate using silverpoint- a technique of drawing with silver wire. The prints are then paired with a piece of jewelry.

Jewelry in process…

“I grew up in Indiana, amidst open fields of corn and sweeping skies. As children, my brother and I spent copious amounts of time outside exploring our surroundings, and I would spend hours inching up our gravel driveway, meticulously looking for glittery “fool’s gold” that was sparsely scattered through the stones. This fascination with both intense process (our driveway was huge! and I had a system to leave no stone unturned) and sparkling facets would reemerge later in my both my jewelry and two-dimensional work.


From 1999-2003 I studied metalsmithing at Ball State University with Patricia Nelson, and in 2003 I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in metalsmithing. After graduation, I apprenticed under a retail bench jeweler, and then applied for & received a Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. The Core Fellowship, a two-year work-study program, introduced me to printmaking and drawing, which continues to exert a strong influence on my graphic, often line-based work. In 2006 I moved to Seattle, where I am currently teaching and working out of my studio in West Seattle.


My work reflects both the landscape I grew up in and my interest in the underlying structure of natural objects. Growing up in Indiana, with its expansive skies and industrial structures, nurtured my appreciation for clean, minimal forms. The Midwest’s vast fields and skies served as a visual canvas to power lines, granaries, and silos- structures wrought from pure function. These immense objects impressed upon me the feeling that structure itself is beauty, and the bare bones of a form are the often the beautiful parts.

My work is an exploration of these structural forms – building up a single line or shape into a dense mass, or distilling forms into their skeletal supports. All of my work revolves around crystalline growth: I am fascinated with the way that something made purely of hard edges and angles can grow as organically as a flower. I mimic crystalline formations in my jewelry, constructing simple wire forms into hard-edged, slightly chaotic structures.”

A finished necklace.

Click here to visit Sarah Loertscher’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.

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2012 Penland School of Crafts Ornament of the Year

Margaret Cogswell's "Beloved Idiots"

This is the fourth in our series of annual Penland School of Crafts ornaments. We hope that each of these ornaments will capture and share the spirit of creativity that lives within the school’s community of artists and friends. So far we have had two ceramic ornaments and one glass. This year we are proud to offer a little something from the book arts world.

Penland School of Crafts 2011 Ornament
Created by Margaret Couch Cogswell

Margaret Cogswell is a mixed-media artist who lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She received her BA from Rhodes College, and continued her education at the Rhode Island School of Design, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and Penland School of Crafts, where she was a resident artist from 2008 to 2011. Margaret’s work has been featured in several publications, and she is currently writing a book about book arts for Lark Books, expected to be available in 2013.

You can click here to visit Margaret’s website for more information and images of her work.

Margaret Cogswell's "Beloved Idiots"

“Book” is the structural form by which I tell stories. I define “book” broadly and the stories are often written in images rather than words. Using simple materials and techniques such as stitching, paper mache, paint, found objects, and cold connections, I create stories that are both intimate and public. I often employ humor and a child- like sensibility as a way to initially engage my “reader” with more sensitive or sophisticated content beneath the surface. Without sacrificing craftsmanship, the hand of the maker is always apparent in my work. This conveys my interest and appreciation of the rough, unpolished moments in our existence.

I made a crown a few years ago about village idiots. The text on the crown reads “Village idiots walk the streets in their own world. They have the freedom we long for. We turn the other cheek, open our hearts and judgment is suspended for a moment.” I often think of myself as a village idiot: a bit odd, a square peg trying to fit into a round hole world. I’m strange, but lovable – a beloved idiot.”

Margaret Cogswell's "Beloved Idiots"

Beloved Idiots
2-5/8” high by 2-1/4” wide x 1/4” deep

This little ornament book is a limited edition made exclusively for Penland School of Crafts, containing original pencil and gouache drawings on Rives BFK paper.  It is bound using a drum leaf binding.

$50 each, plus tax when applicable, includes gift box
 as pictured.
Shipping is via USPS, $5.35 for one or two book ornaments (shipping cost adjusted for more than two).

To order:
Please call the gallery at 828-765-6211 or email
We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover.
You may also purchase a book ornament in person at the Penland Gallery.