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Photo(s) of the Week: From Bag of Clay to Handled Tray

This Saturday, we’re thrilled to welcome Courtney Martin back to the Penland clay studio for our third Penland Everywhere live Q&A!

These live events are part of our very first online programs and go hand-in-hand with prerecorded video demonstrations featuring a handful of expert instructors sharing their techniques, tips, and tricks. If Courtney’s Q&A is anything like our first two with Cristina Córdova and David H. Clemons, it will be an hour packed with useful insights, detailed information, and a bit of that Penland camaraderie we’ve all been missing. Sign up now to join the conversation—the Q&A starts at 1 PM ET tomorrow, February 20.

Courtney’s demo takes participants through her steps for creating a handbuilt tray form, complete with her signature cut handles and decorative carving details. Here’s a look at the process in three screenshots taken directly from her hour-long lesson.

15:04—Join the two ends of the coil that will form the walls of the tray.

Potter Courtney Martin in the early stages of making a tray in the Penland clay studio

 

41:32—Mark out the handle openings on the refined tray form.

Courtney Martin marking her tray form with a needle tool

 

59:03—Give the foot of the tray some personality with decorative carving!

Courtney Martin uses a loop tool to carve a geometric pattern into the underside of her clay tray

 

Participants in Courtney’s demo will have 30 days of access to watch, rewatch, and try out her techniques. Register now to give it a try!

For a deeper dive into handbuilding with clay, sign up to join Courtney’s immersive online workshop March 11-13.

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Photo of the Week: Process in Pewter

We launched the videos for our second online demonstration this week! Participants have been following along as expert metalsmith David Clemons forms, welds, solders, and finishes an elegant pewter salt shaker. And this Saturday, 2/13, they’ll get to join David for a live Q&A to learn more about his process and get answers to their metalsmithing questions.

Register for David’s demo to take part!

Here’s a small window into the transformation a flat sheet of metal undergoes in David’s hands. Each of the following images is a screenshot taken directly from his prerecorded demonstration.

1. Transferring the vessel template to sheet metal

metalsmith David Clemons introducing pewter in his online demonstration

 

2. Joining the edges of the pewter into a tapered cylinder

Instructor David Clemons joining two edges of a pewter vessel

 

3. Soldering the base of the salt shaker to the body of the vessel

David Clemons soldering the base to a vessel in the Penland metals studio

 

4. Showing off the finished piece—shiny and ready for a place at the table!

David Clemons with his completed pewter salt shaker at the end of his online demo

 

David will also be teaching an immersive online workshop on making lidded pewter vessels February 24-27. Register now, or explore all Penland’s upcoming workshops online and in person.

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Photo of the Week: From a Slab to a Head

Tomorrow, we’re marking a milestone in our new online programming initiative—our first live event! Renowned ceramic sculptor and instructor Cristina Córdova will hold a live Q&A session over Zoom for participants in her online demo, A Simplified Way to Make a Hollow Head. Cristina’s demo is a remarkable distillation of years of her own learning and discovery in the studio, and we’re thrilled to offer participants a direct window into her practice.

Here’s a quick look at Cristina’s transformative abilities with clay in three images. Each of these shots is a frame taken directly from Cristina’s hour-long demo.

3 minutes in—forming a flat slab into a hollow cylinder for the beginnings of the head

Cristina forming a clay slab into the beginnings of a head

 

20 minutes in—using proportions as guides to establish the facial features

Cristina refining the features of her sculpted head

 

55 minutes in—experimenting with gesture before attaching the head to the neck

Cristina playing with gesture with her nearly completed head and neck

 

Intrigued? Register to take part in the demo! But hurry, you’ll need to sign up before 1 PM tomorrow, January 23 to join the Q&A.

For more about Cristina’s process and the way teaching and making blend in her practice, watch this short video visit with her!

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Penland Everywhere: Online Programming Coming this Winter

We’ve been holding this one in for a long time, and we’re thrilled to finally be able to announce: Penland is going online!

We are planning a series of online programming for you, including online demonstrations with Q&A sessions and immersive online workshops. Our goal is to give students who have never been to Penland an opportunity to experience our unique approach to teaching and learning in community and to give past students a chance to reconnect with the familiar rhythms and spaces of time at Penland. You’ll be able to enjoy the same studios, same expert instruction, and same generous and engaged peers—now in a new format that makes the Penland experience more accessible than ever!

We are not developing these online programs as stand-ins for our on-campus workshops. Rather, they are a way to seize this moment and bring the skill, creativity, inspiration, energy, and focus of a Penland session right to you. Wherever you are in the world, and wherever you are in your artistic journey, we hope you’ll join us to go a little deeper with Penland Everywhere.

Our first demonstrations and workshops will be available in January. Subscribe to Penland newsletters and follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get the details as we release them.

 

This project is funded in part by a grant from South Arts with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 

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Birds-Eye View

Floor plan of the Penland wood studio
Coordinator Aspen Golann’s floor plan of the Penland wood studio.

As Penland begins to make plans for workshops in 2021, we are thinking about many things in a new way. Among the questions we have to answer are basic ones like how many people can we safely accommodate in each studio?

This particular question is not simple, as each studio layout is different and so are the activities that happen in them. Solving this involves, among other things, cartography. To figure out how many people can safely work together in a given space using particular equipment, it helps to start with a carefully-drawn map of the space, the furniture, and the equipment.

Floor plan of the Penland print and letterpress studios
Coordinator Adam Leestma’s floor plan of the letterpress and print studios.

So, Amanda Simons, Penland’s studio operations manager, gave our studio coordinators a crash course in Adobe Illustrator, a widely-used graphic design program. The coordinators then carefully measured their studios and their contents and constructed these beautiful floor plans that can be manipulated to try different layouts. Each circle represents a person with a safe space around them. By arranging and rearranging the elements in these birds-eye diagrams, the coordinators can arrive at a COVID-conscious number for how many people can work safely in each space.

floor tape marking each student's work space in the Penland drawing and painting studio
Tape lines in the drawing and painting studio marking each student’s work area.

Meanwhile, other people on staff are rethinking our housing and developing plans for serving food. And the studios are retooling to facilitate socially distanced teaching—including installing video equipment so students can follow detailed demonstrations on a screen instead of huddling together.

We like to say that, along with teaching craft skills, Penland teaches creative problem-solving, and this pandemic is challenging us to practice it ourselves, in every part of our operation.

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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.

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Photo(s) of the Week: Penland How-to Manual

TBT poetry, printmaking, papermaking!

In 2016, we had a great workshop led by printmaker Susan Webster and poet Stuart Kestenbaum. Susan taught a variety of printmaking techniques and Stuart led daily writing exercises. Meanwhile, in the paper studio Mary Hark and her students were busy making beautiful sheets of paper. Several times during the session, Stuart had people give him a series of words, which he then used in a poem.

All of this came together in Penland How-to Manual, which presents a poem Stuart wrote incorporating words supplied by his students, their printed images, and paper made in Mary’s workshop, all put together as a boxed accordion book that Mary designed. The book was sold in the scholarship auction, but the poem and this set of photographs remain.

animated image of all the pages of a poetry book

The Penland How-to Manual

Consider it an experiment.
Even the wind that moves

the weeds and bees invites
ecstasy.  Listen to the process.

Failure refreshes.
Hug the inner fool and get

to work, not in isolation
but in community, where

at night you can invite memory
to carve an empty plate,

make paper out of air, make
a family from nothing.

Look through the isinglass
of this day see how clear life can be:

In the field fireflies alight, moon rises,
llamas ears listen and twitch.

Stuart Kestenbaum
© 2016

Words offered: hug, listen, highlight, carve, refresh, invite, isolated, process, experiment, play, make, excite, ecstasy, community, bees, plate, air, family, isinglass, llama, weeds, wind, memory, paper, fool, nothing

Words and images from Dan Bouthot, Roberta Durham, Kayleigh Efird, Shan Ellentuck, Nelida Flatow, Elizabeth Guinn, Sandy Hartmannsgruber, Frank Lortscher, Laura Martin, Mia Mueller, Jro Robinson, Mary Smyer, Susan Webster

Handmade paper by Beverly Ayscue, Yoen Hee Cheong, Melissa Cowper-Smith, Sarah Evenson, Jasmin McFayden, Rosemary Peduzzi, Alyssa Sacora, Tony Santoyo, Sophie Smyer, Autumn Thomas, Holland Williams. Book design by Mary Hark.