There’s a nice feature on Penland, written by Glen R. Brown, in the new issue of Ornament Magazine. It begins like this:
“The final mile of the drive to Penland School of Crafts feels appropriately transitional. The curving ascent through a forest of North Carolina pines and hardwoods serves symbolically as a buffer between the outside world and the eclectic mix of cabin-like dwellings, rustic lodge-style buildings and modern glass-fronted constructions that compose the campus. Nestled picturesquely among the trees at the head of a gently sloping meadow, the school recalls memories of summer camp, but, since its founding in 1928, it has been highly effective in the role of a working retreat—a place, something like Thoreau’s Walden, that is removed just far enough from the complications and diversions of everyday life to allow for focus on priorities. Although those who come to study at Penland generally spend only two weeks (far less than Thoreau’s two-year sojourn in the woods), what they learn during that intense period of total immersion can form the basis for a lifetime of exploration.”
Chunghie Lee is teaching a workshop second session (June 13-25) on a traditional Korean textile/paper technique called “pojagi.” Here’s a nice video of Chunghie that was made at the Rhode Island School of Design (the class still has some spaces).
After eight weeks of hard work and constant learning the 2010 Concentration student’s stories might best be told though their hands. Fellow-student Elliot Todd and I spent a little time during the last week of spring getting folks to show us their hands. Below is a photo essay of Elliot’s pictures of the hands of a student in each Concentration class, and also some hardworking dishwashing hands from the work-study program. Enjoy!
When instructor Tom Spleth did his slide night at the beginning of his eight-week class in making ceramics from plaster molds, he projected slides of his work on the wall, then poured plaster on a large piece of masonite, cued some lovely music, and demonstrated his method for making a sculptural form from drying plaster. Staff member Mark Boyd was on hand with a camera and made this beautiful 5-minute video titled Fluid Form.
A technical note on what Tom is doing: The plaster form he makes in the video would be the first step in the creation of a hollow, porcelain sculpture or vase. After the plaster form dries, Tom refines it with scrapers and other tools, then he makes a multipart plaster mold from the form. The next step is to pour clay slip into the mold, let it sit for a bit and then pour it out again, leaving layer of slip clinging to the inside of the mold. The mold is then opened and the clay form inside can be glazed and fired. –Robin Dreyer
Sadly, this is not a fabulous UFO sighting. It’s a picture made by student Edwina Bringle during a session of night photography that was part of a photo class I taught at Penland last week. What you are seeing is an exposure of about 30 seconds made while visiting teacher Jeff Goodman was running up the hill making circles with a bright flashlight. Although most folks are used to thinking of cameras as stopping time, this is an example of how you can use a camera to record time (which, really, is what they always do, it’s just that we usually use them to record very, very short amounts of time). Both the floating lights and the circles on the ground were made by the whirling flashlight. Cool, huh?
The class was about black and white film photography, which is how Edwina made her picture, but for our night session we also made some digital images so we could get an idea what was happening in the cameras. This is one of the digitals of our studio assistant Rebecca Moyer making stars in the grass with a green laser. We love making pictures in the dark. –Robin Dreyer
After Kathryn Van Aernum was here a couple weeks ago for a one-week book workshop she sent us some her pictures, so we asked her for a little report to go with them. You can see all of her pictures from the class on her website.
Have you ever looked at the Penland workshop catalog unable to decide on a class because they all sound so fabulous? After all, isn’t a taking a workshop similar to drinking a magic potion that will deliver super artistic abilities, enabling you to reach new heights as never before? Which is the “right” one? If you’re like me you might sometimes suffer from that delusion. So, when I finally had the funds to go and found myself staring at the catalog trying to make a decision, I realized there is no “wrong” choice here – just pick something and GO!
I don’t think I could have made a better choice. The week-long spring book arts workshop with Julie Leonard delivered in spades. In one short week we learned five distinct historical sewing structures, along with variations and countless options for cover choices – especially with a soft-bound, single needle link stitch (a phrase that was not part of my vocabulary prior to the workshop). The class as a whole made around 70+ books! It was so interesting to see how one book form would express itself so differently when sifted through the personality of each artist there.
Not only was Julie a knowledgeable, giving and fun instructor, the group dynamic worked and played so well together. Although our collective experience in book arts ranged the full gamut of beginner to advanced, each person had other artistic experience in other areas and this lent itself to a wonderful atmosphere of mutual sharing and assistance.
“It’s Tuesday so it must be Pesto Grilled Cheese”
Delivering on the whole Penland experience was the food! I’ve never been to a retreat center where the quality and creativity of the kitchen matched the experience in the studio. Penland obliterates the myth of the “starving artist” as it feeds your soul, craft and belly, not to forget the visual feast of the rural mountain setting.
So if you still can’t decide what class to take – Just pick SOMETHING! There is nothing like the satisfaction of completely immersing yourself in something you love, giving it everything you can, away from the distractions of your “real” life. Honestly, you’ll feel like you can leap tall buildings in a single bound.