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Photo of the Week: CNC Lesson

jack mauch demonstrating the use of the CNC router in the Penland wood studioHere’s Jack Mauch going over the basics of the the CNC router with print and letterpress coordinator Adam Leestma and metals coordinator Nadia Massoud. This 5-by-5-foot ShopBot router was recently purchased with support from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. It is located in the wood studio, but our hope is it will be used by students working in other studios as well.

Jack is a former core fellow, a designer, and a woodworker who is helping Penland to integrate digital fabrication tools into our studios. He is currently collaborating with glass coordinator Nick Fruin to make wooden glassblowing molds using the router. We’ll share more on that in a future blog post!

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THANK YOU: This year’s auction in 7 numbers and 12 images

Now that the confetti has settled, we’re excited to revisit this summer’s 35th Annual Penland Benefit Auction. It was certainly one to remember—we swapped out tents and live bidding for online auctions and livestreams—but the heart and friends and community at the center of it all remained rock solid. And we’re happy to report that it was quite a success, too!

Thanks to you and the many, many artists, volunteers, supporters, and attendees who contributed to this year’s festivities, we raised a whopping $378,518 to support Penland’s creative programming. Here are a few more facts for all you quantitative-leaning number lovers:

  • 177 pieces up for bidding
  • 186 donating artists
  • 363 registrations
  • $193466 raised in art sales
  • $103,235 raised towards our $100,000 Fund-A-Need goal
  • $296,587 in net proceeds!

But we’re artists at heart, you know? And a picture is worth a thousands words, so we thought we’d summarize the fun with a few highlights from our livestream as well. Thanks to all who tuned in and made it such a memorable celebration!

1. A Penland Production—Party clothes on, masks up, and we’re ready to go! (Also please note the “Lost and Found” box painted in The Pines fireplace as part of the set)

2. First piece—We kicked off the bidding with Lauren, a lidded stoneware jar by Dan Finnegan. Look at that expressive eye!

3. Playing with scale—As a fun nod to featured artist Annie Evelyn’s practice of constructing models of her furniture ideas, we auctioned off Annie’s Golden Windsor Flower Chair in miniature.

4. Let’s hear it for our hosts!—Auction co-hosts Jesse Miller and SaraBeth Post led the bidding and kept the energy high all afternoon. Here they are trying out James D.W. Cooper’s Two Wheel Bench.

5. Fund-A-Need—Penland student, studio assistant, former staff member, and neighbor Shae Bishop introduced the fund to support pandemic-related updates to the Penland campus and studios—and quickly helping us surpass our $100,000 goal!

6. A peek into a blacksmith’s studio—During this short video about featured artist Dan Neville, we got a window into his process and the inspirations behind his piece Footing Box.

7. How’s the weather?—The rainbow auction umbrellas made a quick appearance, despite the watertight ceiling at Northlight.

8. “Everyday Jewelry”—After a short video about featured artist Tara Locklear, we got to see a close-up view of her stunning Graduated Golden Teardrop Collet—made from recycled skateboard decks!

9. The final few pieces—We couldn’t resist this shot of Katherine Gray’s blown glass candelabra against the backdrop of Eleanor Anderson’s colorful weaving. These two pieces were followed up by bidding on the final item, an elegant brass and silver container by Adam Whitney and Seth Gould.

10. Clappers and confetti—We pulled out all the celebratory stops at the end of the bidding, including the Penland clappers from last summer’s live auction under the tent!

11. Just kidding, there’s more—We decided to pop a few bottles of champagne to mark the occasion, too! (If you watched the livestream, you may remember this was not quite as easy as we’d anticipated…)

12. That’s all, folks—A big THANK YOU wave to everyone out there watching and supporting and cheering Penland on from afar. You all are the heartbeat that keeps this place alive, and for that we are ever grateful!

And finally, though he was not part of the livestream itself, we can’t finish this post without recognizing longtime auction volunteer and photographer extraordinaire, David Ramsey. In addition to photographing all the work for the catalog, he took on this year’s new challenge of creating 115 short videos to show the 3D pieces in the round.

Want to see more or relive the auction fun? The entire livestream is still available to watch right here.

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The Pines Crew, Out of the Kitchen

Keith Moir of Penland’s kitchen team standing with the collection of vibrant painted signs he created for our neighbors at The Historic Orchard at Altapass.

What does a team of cooks and bakers do all summer with no one to cook and bake for? At Penland, at least, they get creative!

Our incredible Pines crew may not have been making breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for students and instructors, but they stayed busy nonetheless. A few lent their energy and talents to other areas of campus—Alena Applerose, our baker, moved down to Horner Hall to help with preparations for this summer’s online benefit auction, while Bill Jackson, Kirk Banner, and Chad Mohr have been helping out with campus landscaping, painting projects, and other maintenance tasks alongside our facilities crew. They also cooked up a much-needed staff pizza day at the end of August.

For others, their daily Penland jobs have sometimes taken them farther afield. Keith Moir, who you may know from his gorgeous chalk drawings on the menu board in The Pines, was able to use his artistic talents on a project for The Historic Orchard at Altapass, a nearby nonprofit up on the Blue Ridge Parkway dedicated to preserving local culture, traditions, and the land that supports them. Keith designed and painted a series of stand-up props that have been installed around the orchard’s trails to delight visitors, offer them opportunities for interaction, and remind them of the orchard’s mission to protect and educate. Thanks to Keith, you can now explore the orchard and take a photo as a monarch butterfly, an apple, a banjo player, a honeybee, or even the engine from the historic Clinchfield Railroad!

Day Dotson poses amidst a sea of meals ready to go out to local families.

Meanwhile, Day Dotson and John T. Renick III (yep, that’s Big John!) spent the month of July working with our local Mitchell County School Nutrition Program preparing and packaging meals for the Summer Food Service Program. Each day, they helped make about 550 meals that got delivered across the county to local students and families in need. “I’m so glad to be a part of this process supporting our community and making new relations,” Day said of the opportunity. “Also, weird tidbit: I got to eat a watermelon flavored golden raisin today. WOW!”

In past summers, we’ve been grateful for the hard work and heart of our kitchen team every time we sit down to a meal at The Pines. And this summer, it has been a real honor to get to offer their talents to give back to our community. Thanks to the whole crew, and especially to Keith and Day and Big John, for bringing so much grace and enthusiasm and care to Penland and Mitchell County this summer!

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Hi There, How Can I Help You?

Sallie Fero and Natalie Monaghan at the Penland supply store
Sallie Fero and former staff member Natalie Monaghan in the Penland supply store.

This strangest of Penland summers included a milestone that has not been mentioned publicly, so we’re going to fix that now. Sallie Fero retired on June 30 after more than twenty years of working at Penland. Although she briefly worked as office secretary and later as services coordinator, almost anyone who has been here since the mid-1990s will remember Sallie as a friendly face in Penland’s supply store, always ready to help.

“My first summer in the store was a rollercoaster ride of learning about the supplies and each studio’s unique processes,” Sallie remembers. “Helping students and instructors find what they needed was very rewarding. To see the culmination of the students’ creations at Show and Tell was the icing on the cake. I almost felt like I had a hand in the ‘baking.’”

When long-time store manager Kat Conley retired in 2010, Sallie took over as manager and held that position until she retired in June. Anyone who spends a session at Penland visits the store at least once or twice, which means that Sallie has met countless members of the wider Penland community — probably more than any of the rest of us.

In addition to serving students, the store is open to the public, and many artists who live nearby depend on being able to access the thousands of tools, supplies, and other items packed into the store’s tight and tidy space. It’s the school’s UPS hub, handling a constant flow of parcels, and it’s where you get your Penland T-shirts, caps, hoodies, water bottles, and aprons — which means the store literally helps Penland get its name out into the world.

Skeleton in funny costumes
Lloyd, the school store skeleton, in a few of his many outfits.

Along with all the tasks in her job description, Sallie was also determined to keep the store interesting for repeat customers. She was always looking for new items to stock and was constantly reworking the displays. Sallie especially loved to mark holidays and the seasons with special decorations and new outfits for Lloyd, the store skeleton.

She was an enthusiastic participant in Penland’s annual Community Open House — each year she found a new art project that could be done on a table in the back of the store. And we must never forget that in the fall of 2011, when Penland was finally about to tear down Homosote, a building that had long since outlived its utility, Sallie was the instigator of a plan to use it one last time — as a haunted house. She played the part of a corpse. It was a memorable scare show, and nobody had to clean up when it was over!

Sallie Fero in Halloween costume
Sallie doing her part at the Homosote Haunted House.

Reflecting on all this, Sallie said, “I spent over twenty years working in the Craft House, and I love her like an eccentric, great aunt. As I look back, I realize what I will miss most are the people — the students, instructors, core fellows, resident artists, and staff I have interacted with all these years. Because, really, that is what Penland is all about.”

The house that Sallie shares with her husband, glass artist Shane Fero, is practically on campus, and she’s a committed dog walker, so, while we do want to thank her for her many years of service to the school, we’re not saying goodbye. We’ll be seeing her on the road.