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Handmade Parade and Fireworks 2023

Each year in July, Penland hosts its “Handmade Parade and Fireworks,” inviting the community to participate and to enjoy the show. The day included snacks and beverages from the Ledger Fire Department, a jovial crowd, a whimsical parade, butterfly-winged kids running around everywhere, and a spectacular fireworks display by the Penland facilities and grounds team. We just love this joyful expression of making lives meaningful through making. 

Here’s a slideshow of all the fun!

This year’s parade included the following entries:

Penland facilities and grounds – Bottle Rocket Truck
Pants class – Pants Party!
Penland staff – Tree of Heavenly Raiment
Portrait class – All Hands on Deck
Team Captain
Local families – Circus!
Tom – Bubble Mess
Cody Geci – Pug Bike
Two Potters – Potheads!
The Hive – Butterflies and Moths
Local family – Lettuce Bee truck
Fire and Rescue – ATV7
Fire and Rescue – Ledger Fire Department
Susie Pendley’s family – Golf Cart!

And here’s the awards! (All the trophies were handmade, of course.)

Most Razzle Dazzle – Bottle Rocket Truck (trophy made by the drawing and painting class)
Scrappiest – Pants Party! (trophy made by the pants class)
Most Studio Spirit – All Hands on Deck (S’mores bucket by Penland)
Best Choreography – Circus! (Leg platter by Penland)
Craftiest – Potheads! (trophy by the metals classes)
Fly High – The Hive Butterflies and Moths (trophy by Reagan in the Books class)

A very special thanks to Stacey Lane, Penland’s manager of community collaboration, for working to make the parade a fantastic success!


The spectacular fireworks are produced by Penland’s facilities and grounds team, with many hours of training and hard work, as well as frequent checks of the forecast (Sunny this year!). We think they did a spectacular job!

Couldn’t make it? We captured the entire display for you HERE! Special thanks to grounds manager Casara Logan for her stellar leadership and to the facilities and grounds crew for pulling off this exciting display to our joy and delight.

Thank you to everyone who made this day so very special. We look forward to next year!


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Care Packages (with zine!)

amanda simons and lindsay jones with zine
Lindsay PB Jones and Amanda N. Simons with zine

Penland staff recently had a nice collaboration with Youth OutRight—an Asheville-based organization that supports LGBTQIA+ youth ages 11-20. The group has been having weekly video hangouts throughout the pandemic, and Penland studio operations manager Amanda N. Simons, and facilities maintenance technician Lindsay PB Jones attended one of these meetings to get to know the group a bit and find out if there were activities they were interested in that Penland could support. 

The result was packages containing colored pencils, watercolor paints, art paper, Sculpey, embroidery and cross-stitch kits, pamphlet-making kits, and mug cake ingredients. Warren Wilson College donated tea grown on their campus for inclusion. And, best of all, a zine  created by Amanda and Lindsay. The zine included tips for watercolor painting and sewing, ideas for self-care activities, and, of course, cool illustrations. 

Penland provided the materials, Penland housekeepers Derek Freeman and Susie Pendley did the assembly, and Youth OutRight delivered the packages to twenty folks in their group. A good time was had by all. 


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At-Home Making

Penland community open house
Needless to say, we decided not to do this in 2021.

We normally kick off spring at Penland with an open house that brings 500-600 visitors to campus for hands-on activities in our studios. We couldn’t do that this year, but we hated to let the spring go by without offering some creative fun to the community. 

So we arranged for five local makers to demonstrate activities that can be done at home with easily available materials, and we turned those demonstrations into step-by-step videos. We posted these during the month of March, and they will be available indefinitely, not just for our local community, but for anyone with an internet connection. All of these activities are suitable for children–with varying degrees of supervision needed.

You can find them all at or click on any of the links below. 

Rickie Barnett and Lynn Hobaica with masks

Papier mâché masks with Rickie Barnett and Lynne Hobaica.


Ellie Richards with kite

Make a kite from sticks, string, and a plastic bag with Ellie Richards.


Meg Peterson with paste paper

Paste-paper painting with Meg Peterson.


Sarita Westrup with pattern stamps

Repeat pattern stamping, a.k.a. simplified block printing, with Sarita Westrup.


Alena Applerose in the Penland kitchen

And two bonus kitchen episodes: Penland Coffee House gingerade and gluten-free peanut butter cookies with Alena Applerose.