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Elizabeth Brim’s Steel Inflation Demo




Blacksmith and Penland’s close neighbor Elizabeth Brim (a.k.a. Miss Betty) is known, among other things, for a series of steel pillows like the one shown above. The initial forming of these pieces is done by welding two sheets of steel together around the edges, getting them red hot, and then inflating the form using compressed air.



Elizabeth is frequently asked to demonstrate the technique for Penland iron classes. This summer, Dan Bailey’s class in photo and video attended one of these demos armed with still cameras, video cameras, and sound equipment and recorded the whole thing. Then Dan and his students Charlotte Humphrey and Wes Stitt lovingly crafted the footage into an intriguing five-minute video. Want to see steel blow up like a balloon? Take a look.


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Photo of the Week: A few quiet days…

Bamboo House at Penland School
Maintenance tech Allen Brooks blowing leaves out of the ice guards and gutters at Bamboo House.


At Penland, we love summer. All the studios are filled with classes. Every couple of weeks we greet a new group of fascinating, creative people. And amazing things are made every day.

But then summer comes to an end and we have a few weeks of welcome quiet. The studios or more-or-less empty (save for a staff or community person here and there, firing a kiln or working on a project in the wood shop). The dining hall is empty. Our studio coordinators and facilities crew lean into important tasks that have been waiting for the moment when they won’t be in anyone’s way. With no students on campus, gallery traffic ticks down a bit. The registration, financial, front office, and development staff keep humming along as usual, but at a slightly lower frequency.

Then, before we have a chance to forget what we’re actually doing here, we’re welcoming students and instructors, beautiful objects begin to stack up on studio shelves, instructors carefully demonstrate and explain, people are surprised by how much they are learning, the air gets crisper, the leaves begin to turn, and it’s fall at Penland again.


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Late night core fellows

Roaming through the studios after 10 PM late in the summer, it wasn’t hard to find Penland’s core fellows at work.

Sarah Brown at Penland School

Sarah Brown was finishing up a pewter “girly flask.”


Will Lentz

Will Lentz was lining a box with red paper in the book studio.


Mike Krupiarz at Penland

Mike Krupiarz was making a blue goblet.


Audrey Bell at Penland School

And Audrey Bell was doing some delicate woodcarving (she’s not whistling; she carefully blowing away the chips).

If you are thinking about applying for the core fellowship, the application deadline is October 15.

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Winter Residency Application Deadline: Sept. 15

Just a quick reminder…

Winter Residencies in Letterpress and Printmaking for
Artists and Writers

(You don’t already have to be a printer.)

Application deadline: September 15.


Are you an artist or writer fascinated by the possibilities of ink on paper
(in multiples, maybe)?

If so, you might enjoy spending a couple of weeks this coming January in Penland’s letterpress or print studio working with support and guidance from an experienced printer.

Here are the details:
These residencies offer self-directed time to pursue a proposed project in our excellent studios. Artists with any level of printing experience are eligible to apply. A lead printer in each studio will be available throughout the residency to offer technical and conceptual assistance as needed.

Through this program, Penland hopes to foster new connections and cross-pollination between writers, printmakers, letterpress printers, and all artists drawn to the versatility of print media. Past residents have created unique works and editions including (but not limited to) broadsides, prints, small publications, and artist books.

We are looking for artists who can working independently and are able to conceptualize a project that fits the time and equipment offered. Ten residents, including one writer, will be selected for each session-five residents for the letterpress studio and five for the printmaking studio. There are two sessions in our 2014 residency: Session 1, January 6-17 and Session 2, January 20-31.
The cost to each resident is $500. Penland will provide studio and housing; artists cover their travel expenses and supply their own materials and food. Meals are not provided, but housing includes access to a shared kitchen.

We have a new online registration process. Click here for more information, bios for the lead printers, and details about the application process. Applications are due by September 15.



Speaking of deadlines, there are several more on the horizon:

The Penland Core Fellowship, a two-year work-study program; the application deadline is October 15.
Our Resident Artist Program, which provides three years of low-cost studio and housing; the application deadline is November 15.
Spring work-study scholarships; the application deadline is November 29.


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Fall into Books and Letterpress

From Print to Page with Margot Ecke
September 22 – November 15, 2013

Spaces are still available in this eight-week books and lettepress workshop.
There are also a few work-study scholarships available.

Margot Ecke
Margot Ecke


Creating an artist book can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
This workshop will teach you to create sophisticated, finely-considered artist’s books from beginning to end. The workshop will start with brainstorming exercises and move on to technical explorations on the Vandercook press, linocut techniques, polymer plates, case binding construction, book design, leather application, and material choice. Each student in the class will create an edition of books.

“Technical assignments in this class are meant to be fun while building each student’s arsenal of binding and letterpress techniques,” explains Margot. “Our first assignment will be to create a handmade box with a letterpress label. Over the course of ten days, students will create a variety of nonadhesive and adhesive bindings. By the end of this bookbinding ‘bootcamp’ everyone will have a box full of models that will serve as a reference for future artist book projects.”


Books by Margot Ecke
Box of Books by Margot Ecke


The class will then move on to a study of typography and handset type including the history of type and the nitty gritty of line and letter spacing. This section will include a series of small assignments that will help students to learn the mechanics of fine printing while honing their design sensibilities.

“As we work through technical information, students will also develop their book ideas,” says Margot. “We will look at wonderful examples of artist books. We will handle these books, discuss typography and page layout, and begin to understand how thoughtful construction and well-conceived ideas come together to make a beautiful edition.


After Your Death by Margot Ecke
After Your Death (detail) by Margot Ecke


“For their editioned book, most students will choose to create a series of pages that have image and text on each spread. Some students may work with someone else’s text, others may choose to use their own, while others may focus primarily on imagery. Students are encourage to begin collection inspirations to bring with them to Penland.”


Count Me If You Can by Eileen Wallace
Count Me If You Can (detail) by Eileen Wallace


The class will include a visit from University of Georgia professor of book arts and printmaking Eileen Wallace, who creates beautiful and sophisticated books and images. She will discuss her process and meet with students about their work.

Students of all levels are welcome, although good hand skills and some experience with books or letterpress will be helpful.

To enroll in this class, call the registrar at 828-765-2359, ext 15 or visit the fall classes page on our website.

Margot Ecke is the owner of Smokey Road Press. She received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BFA from Cornell University. She received a Professional Printing Certificate from the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico and completed her training by earning her diploma in bookbinding at the North Bennett Street School in Boston.


Smokey Road Press birth announcement
Designed and printed by Margot Ecke


She was the Victor Hammer Fellow in the Book Arts at Wells College in Aurora, New York, where she interned at the Press and Letterfoundry of Michael and Winifred Bixler. She has taught workshops at the Penland School of Crafts, the Atlanta Printmakers Studio, the North Bennet Street School, and the Ink Shop. She was an Assistant Professor of Book Arts and Printmaking at the University of Georgia from 2006-2009. Her work is exhibited both nationally and internationally.


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Photo of the Week: Garden Fork


A Penland student refining the shape of the tines of a garden fork during Jeffry Funk’s seventh-session workshop titled Forging Agrarian Tools. We all enjoyed the fact that several students in the class made garden tools from discarded NASCAR axles–the word is they are a bit hard to work, but they make good tools.