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Pick & mix: Heather Mae Erickson in the Penland Gallery

Now open until October 26 in the Penland Gallery is a new Focus exhibition: Heather Mae Erickson: Pick Mix / All Sorts Collection 2014. “Pick mix” plays into the language and experience of the candy shop where customers have an array of confectionary colors, shapes, surfaces, and possibilities at their finger tips.


White/Yellow Cupcake Cup, slip cast porcelain with underglazes, mason stains, and glaze, 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 in.



The candy names that I remember are inspiration enough
to conjure interesting forms and surfaces: Spogs, Strawberry Pencils,
Gobstoppers, Black Jacks, Sour Dummies, Flying Saucers, Fried Eggs,
Jazzles. Just as in the bins and bags at the candy store, I am mixing the
multiple types of objects and allowing users to create
their own sets and compositions. Ultimately the user gets to decide if a
dot is as interesting as a pin stripe or a heart or a bunny or a star.

To touch upon process, the use of multiple types of clays, firing methods, and surface decoration application lend to more variety of candy-coated objects. I use hand-cut or die-cut paper resists on greenware, sponging on greenware and bisqueware, stickers for the outlines of shapes on bisqueware, and different widths of vinyl tapes on greenware.I am pleased when one thinks something looks perfect at a distance but when viewed up close they see variation in a dot or a pattern. Underglazes and mason stains in glazes and casting slip give most of the color in the patterned or solid color work.–Heather Mae Erickson



All works included in Heather Mae Erickson: Pick Mix / All Sorts Collection 2014 are available for purchase online at the Penland Gallery.


Blue Dot L Dish, slip cast porcelain with underglazes, mason stains, and glaze, 1 x 5 x 7 in.
Blue Dot L Dish, slip cast porcelain with underglazes, mason stains, and glaze, 1 x 5 x 7 in.


Erickson1-WPHeather Mae Erickson is an artist, craftsperson, and designer. She is currently Assistant Professor of Ceramics and Studio Art at Western Carolina University in Cullowee, North Carolina. Heather has held residencies from the Archie Bray Foundation and The Clay Studio (PA), and in 2004 received a Fulbright fellowship to conduct independent research at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. She has earned numerous awards, including first place for the Horizon Award presented by the Museum of Art and Design in New York and honorable mentions at the Korea Biennale International 2007 & 2009 Exhibitions.


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Video: Sarah, Penland Core Fellow

Penland core fellow Sarah Rachel Brown is featured in Wes Stitt’s second video portrait from our summer workshops. Sarah gives a glimpse into the life of a core fellow at Penland–in and out of the studio.

Which reminds us: we’ll be accepting four new core fellows in 2015. The deadline for applications is October 15, 2014. Please read more about the core program here, including instructions for how to apply.

It’s a deadline-heavy season here at Penland, with several new opportunities: a call for applications for new resident artists, a glass furnace building apprenticeship, and our new winter studio residencies, not to mention our fall and spring classes. You can keep up to date on all our deadlines by checking our homepage.


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Back to (Craft) School

September 21 marks back-to-school here at Penland when our eight-week concentrations in clay, glass, iron, metals, painting (mixed media), printmaking, and textiles start. Some spaces are available. (Please check on our standby rate policies if you live nearby, too.)

Our first round of fall one-week classes will begin on October 5, and recently we checked in with the three instructors about what they’ve been doing in the studio lately.


Ben Dory, Composition ii, steel, 23.5k gold foil, 24k gold leaf,cubic zirconia, rubies, 4 x 4 x 1/2 inches

Ben Dory
Surface Adornment on Steel
In the Metals studio

bendory“The Met’s website has been an amazing resource for looking at historical items that represent one of the techniques we will be covering in the class: damascene (metal overlay). The photos on the site are incredible. Users can  zoom way in on many of the pieces ] to take in the details. An Italian pair of gauntlets from the late 1500’s show characteristic chisel marks that prepare the surface for damascene if you zoom in by clicking on the picture. There are many, many more examples to explore by searching for ‘damascene.’

With the addition of of chasing and stone setting skills, I’m incredibly excited to see what my students comes up with. Also, I will bring laser-cut blanks from a jewelry line I’m working on from which each student can make their own brooch. The blanks come in a few shapes and are designed to mount on a stainless back that I will bring as well.”

Surface Adornment on Steel
Using steel as a base, we will explore how to transform the surface of this rigid material with texture, thin layers of precious metals, and gemstones. The result will be compositions based on creating vivid contrast with a darkened steel background. We’ll cover everything from small tool-making to finishing—equipping students to create finished pieces of jewelry and small sculpture with chasing, overlay, and various methods of stonesetting.. All levels. Code F01MB

Register for this workshop here



Amy Lemaire
Other Possible Outcomes: Reexamining Glass Beads
In the Flameworking studio



Amy Lemaire, Kosmos, hollow, flameworked soda-lime glass, 2014. Floating mount by Brigid Mountmaking.


“I am currently working on a series called Kosmos, which will be shown at SOFA Chicago in November. I will bring some of these to class for a sneak preview, and will be putting some finishing touches on pieces for the collection.”



“Preparing samples for Penland in my studio: lots of textures and color.”


“Collaborating with other artists is a great way to come up with new ideas and have some fun in the studio. In this picture, I am collaborating with Marcela Silva, who is holding the drill. We decided to make wound beads using more power.” At Urban Glass, Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Milo Harper.


Other Possible Outcomes: Reexamining Glass Beads
In this workshop we’ll reexamine glass beads as portable sculpture that is both personal and public, and we’ll consider the body as a site for wearable sculpture. We’ll cover traditional and experimental approaches to flameworking as well as cold-working and jewelry fabrication. Workshop information will include material preparation, sculptural and textured beads, surface treatment, jewelry design, and assembly strategies. Beginning and advanced makers will be encouraged to explore new ways of working. All levels. Code F01GB

Register for this workshop here



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Beth Schaible
Nontraditional Longstitch Binding
In the Books studio

“I’m very much looking forward to teaching. Folding paper and designing patterns and sewing books.

At right, a detail of a photograph by Shara Crosby taken for Mountain XPress, which featured Beth’s Asheville venture, 7 Ton Letterpress Collective, in an article last May.

Below: a view of recent books made by Beth Schaible. View more of Beth’s process and inspirations for Quill and Arrow Press on her Instagram account.





Nontraditional Longstitch Binding
In this workshop students will create an array of functional longstitch books, starting with basic stitching and moving quickly to nontraditional patterns. Students will learn to plan and sew their own longstitch patterns and designs using cloth, leather, and paper covered boards as cover materials, creating beautifully exposed spines. Some binding experience will be helpful, but this class is for all levels. Code F01B

Register for this workshop here


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Video: Maleeha, Penland Student



This July, our friend and former core fellow Wes Stitt returned to Penland to create a few short videos for us. We gave him this task: go into the studios, find an interesting and willing subject, and ask the person to narrate her or his own experience of being in a Penland workshop. Wes created four visual stories, all gems, and we’re proud to premiere the first one today, featuring Penland student Maleeha El Sadr.

We’re also happy to debut the Penland Story Project, a place where readers can explore Penland through the voices of our students, instructors, visitors, and friends. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what Penland is like from the perspective of another, or if you’ve ever tried to explain the Penland experience to someone who hasn’t been here, the Penland Story Project is fine place to start.



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Photo of the Week: This Is a Wonderful Thing

core reunion at Penland

We’re having a great week at Penland. It’s our first-ever core retreat (and reunion) — an open-studio week for current and former core fellows. You can look for a few blog posts from the week and we’ve turned our Instagram feed over to former core fellow Rachel Garceau. Check the Instagram hashtag #penlandcoreretreat.

Interested in becoming a Penland core fellow? Learn more about this two-year program in craft here. We have four fellowships available beginning in 2015, and applications are due next month: October 15, 2014.


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Dinner Plans



This August Elisa Di Feo taught Dinner Plans, a clay workshop where students created functional porcelain tableware with culinary expression in mind. The workshop culminated with a dinner at Spruce Pine’s Knife and Fork restaurant, where chef Nate Allen cooked and served a meal that the students had considered, designed, and constructed dinnerware to hold. The evening was documented by Dot Griffith, a student in Alida Fish and Jeannie Pearce’s photography workshop, and Dot shared the photographs above with us.

About the workshop, Elisa wrote:

Our class was so interesting because it allowed each individual to consider the meal designed by Nate, make dishes based on the techniques I presented (simple molds, simple surfaces), and then eat off the dishes. With the direct parameters of The Dinner in mind, it was easy to communicate personal ideas about pottery and eating with each other, while exploring and discovering some new possibilities. The best quote came from my student Irene while in the midst of glazing some pots. She said that she wanted them to be like “super nothing.” This idea of “super nothing,” I think, comes out of suggestions to keep it simple and considered in terms of surface designs and shapes.

Participants in the class included Robert Bell, Stormie Burns, Irene De Watteville, Benjamin Friedman, Betsy Gray, Ted Gross, Maggie Johns, Adria Katz, Marsha Kitowski, studio assistant Rob Kolhouse, Will Lentz, Ann Lynch, Jodie Masterman, Claire McCarty, Elizabeth Mueller-Roemer, Nina Otterness, Laura Schofield, and Sophie Southgate.