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Photo(s) of the Week: SC at Penland

South Carolina State and Claflin students flameworking with resident artist Kit Paulson

We were excited to host a group of students and faculty from South Carolina State University and Claflin University for a couple of days last week. The visit included studio and gallery tours, demos, discussions, and this great little workshop run by Penland glass resident Kit Paulson, who set up a dozen torches, prepped materials, and led the group through some introductory flameworking projects.

Thanks also to visiting artists Sharif Bey, Michael Dixon, and Ilasahai Prouty for being part of the event, and to Jeannine Marchand and David Clemons for opening their studios to the group.

Students flameworking glass at Penland

Penland resident artist Kit Paulson with student flameworking glass


Students and faculty from South Carolina State and Claflin plus guest artists at Penland

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#WeMakePenland Tomorrow, October 2!

#WeMakePenland – And we need you!

Penland’s 3rd annual Giving Day is tomorrow, October 2. It’s a 24-hour challenge to generate support for Penland’s studios, scholarships, staff, and more. If we can reach 325 donors by the end of the day, we’ll unlock a special $5,000 gift. That’s why we need your help!

Please join us tomorrow to make this day a success:

  • Give what you can – Even $5 makes a difference! Head directly to our Giving Day website to make your gift and watch this year’s video by our own clay studio coordinator Susan Feagin.
  • Share your story – Post your Penland photos and memories to social media with #WeMakePenland. The more voices, the better!
  • Tell your friends and family – Ask them to join you in supporting this special place.

Together, #WeMakePenland the strong, vibrant, and creative community that it is. Thank you for being such a vital part of it.

See you online on October 2!

P.S. If you’d rather give early, you can make your gift now and have it count toward our Giving Day goal.

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Auction Weekend 2019

This August 9 and 10 we celebrated Penland’s 34th Annual Benefit Auction with great art, great views, great fun—and so many of you! Auction weekend is an important time for the Penland community to come together and support our creative programming. And whether that support is through bidding, contributing to our Fund-A-Need cause, donating art, or volunteering time, it all adds up to make a big difference. Thank you, all of you, for turning this weekend into such a success.

Here are a few numbers to paint a picture of the 2019 Penland Benefit Auction:

  • 434 auction guests on Friday and 458 guests on Saturday
  • More than 175 volunteers who helped with everything from washing dishes to arranging flowers to serving drinks
  • 216 pieces of original artwork in glass, clay, metals, and more donated by Penland artists
  • 3 featured artists: glassblower Nick Fruin, metalsmith Lola Brooks, and ceramic sculptor Kensuke Yamada
  • 1 Outstanding Artist Educator: the inimitable Bob Ebendorf!
  • 7 metalsmiths, all students of Bob Ebendorf’s, who created original cynosures to adorn every table under the tent
  • Over 500 mugs handmade by Nicki Strouss for Saturday morning’s Coffee at the Barns
  • 26 generous event sponsors
  • 16 Penland residents artists and core fellows who opened their studios to share their work
  • $472,980 raised for Penland!

And, because a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a short summary of the weekend’s events in photos. A more complete album of auction images can be found on our Facebook page.

The first sign of auction weekend: a big white tent springs up over the volleyball court.


Another sign: this incredible crew of volunteers on all corners of campus! There’s a lot to be done, and we couldn’t do it without these folks.


Kicking the weekend off: a Penland Gallery reception and artist talk with Hoss Haley, whose exhibition of large-scale steel sculpture is on view through September 15.


Honoring a legend: a gathering to recognize metalsmith, mentor, and friend Bob Ebendorf as Penland’s 2019 Outstanding Artist Educator.


Getting into the swing of it: silent auction and snacks and cocktails and photo booth fun up at Penland’s new Northlight building!


Under the tent: dinner and live bidding begin!


To end the evening: coffee, dessert, a preview of Saturday’s artwork, and a live jazz band!


Back for day two: Coffee in handmade mugs and a chance to visit the studios of Penland’s seven resident artists.


Moving on to more art: an open house hosted by Penland’s core fellows featuring work from their Penland workshops.


And now for the big event: 40 original pieces up for bidding under the tent!


That’s a wrap: big thanks to everyone who joined us this year and made our 34th auction such a special one! See you next year under the tent on August 7 and 8.

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Photo(s) of the Week: Collaborative Forging (and fire)

These are the participants in our Sixth Session iron workshop. Led by instructors Claudio Bottero and Massimiliano Bottero, they spent two weeks working together to create this sculpture, which was designed by Claudio. This picture was taken just after they installed it in between the glass studio and the Northlight building.


Here’s a view of the installation.


Claudio’s concept was that the piece could be filled with wood, lit on fire, and become a torch — functional sculpture!


This is what that looked like.


Bottero Instagram is here.

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An Auction for Our Friend Katie

A group of Penland staff members have set up an ONLINE ART AUCTION to raise money for the family of our late friend and colleague, Katie Chasteen. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to learn about Katie’s life as an artist, administrator, mother, and important member of this community. 


This spring, Penland staff member Katie Chasteen died suddenly and unexpectedly from heart failure. Katie was a key member of Penland’s development team and a generous colleague and friend. She was also a lover of cats, an inquisitive and creative photographer, a wife to Zac, and a new mother to 8-month-old Mars. 

Among other things, Katie had primary responsibility for managing Penland’s donor relations database, which may sound dry but is a critical part of a good fundraising operation. It’s one of those things that’s nearly invisible when done well but can cause all sorts of  trouble if it’s not done well. Katie, who often wore a T-shirt that said “Nerdy by Nature,” did it quite well.

“Katie was a joy to work with,” said Joan Glynn, Penland’s director of development and communications. “I loved the way her brain worked; she was a puzzle solver. She not only wanted to know how to do something, she wanted to know why. Perhaps that was the artist in her—believing that the process was just as important as the outcome. She was always looking for ways to make things better, more efficient, and easier.” 

“Katie’s spirit was filled with contagious kindness and generosity,” said Rachel Smith, assistant to the director. “She possessed the rare talent of being a steadying force in stressful situations. Her calm demeanor eased those who were quick to worry. She took pride in her work and raised the bar for those who worked with her.”

Before she came to work at Penland, Katie worked for ten years at Piedmont Craftsmen Guild and Gallery in Winston-Salem, where she began as a gallery associate and eventually became operations director. She was also a visual artist. She received a BFA in photography from the Lesley University College of Art & Design (Boston) in 2008, and she continued to make work even as she developed a career in arts administration. Her photographs (show below) are carefully constructed still-lifes, sometimes including parts of her body and almost always incorporating natural materials, which she said were a constant source of inspiration. 



Katie’s husband, Zac, is also an artist. He and Katie were part of a close-knit group of art school friends who have stayed involved in each other’s lives during the decade since they were in school together. After Katie and Zac moved to Mitchell County for Katie’s job, he worked part time at the Toe River Arts Council in Spruce Pine and the Homeplace Brewery in Burnsville. And together they brought Mars Chasteen Trainor into the world. They shared parenting around their job schedules, which made Mars a frequent presence at Penland’s Horner Hall where he was quickly adopted by everyone as office baby. 

“It was a gift to watch Katie become a mother,” said Rachel Smith. “Mars, who Katie lovingly referred to as ‘little man,’ quickly became the light of her life. She was not an overly sentimental person, but she gushed over Mars.” 

“Katie was only with us for a short time, but so much happened in her life during that period,” said Joan Glynn. “She formed deep relationships with co-workers and friends she had met through Penland; we lived with her through a high-risk pregnancy and an early delivery. We were all so happy when Mars came into the world happy and healthy – and just a little small.”

“Katie was a great Mom, and I loved that she was so generous in sharing Mars,” she continued. “I liked to take him into my office for an afternoon game of peek-a-boo. One day he started laughing so hard when we were playing—an unfettered baby belly laugh. I turned around to see Katie peeking in the door with a huge smile on her face. She didn’t want to come in, she just wanted to enjoy her son and a friend having a moment together.” 

It has been a challenge for the development staff to push through a busy Penland summer without the help of this dedicated and gifted member of the team. Several people have taken on extra responsibility and two former employees have been able to spend part of their summer helping out. We are working now to fill Katie’s position, but there will be no filling her place in our hearts. 

Zac, Mars, and Katie


Zac and Mars have moved back to Winston-Salem. Needless to say, it’s been a tough time for them—financially as well as emotionally. Wanting to offer as much support as possible, a group of Penland staff have worked together to create an online art auction to benefit Katie’s little family. The auction includes 32 pieces donated by staff, community members, trustees, and friends, and will also accept direct donations. It will run through July 28. Bidding requires a simple sign-up procedure. We encourage you to participate in this auction—or make a donation—in the spirit of generosity and community that is so central to Penland.

Access the auction here.

Here is a small sample of the work in the auction. Thanks for your participation!

Courtney Dodd & Nick Fruin
Ellie Richards
Jenny Wolfe
Shane Fero
Seth Gould
Morgan Hill

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Handmade Parade & Fireworks!

Last week, we celebrated Independence Day the best way we know how: with all of you! We kicked off the evening with the traditional Handmade Parade, followed by ice cream for all, picnicking on the lawn, and an impressive fireworks display at dark. A more extensive album of photographs is available to view here; below, we share a few of our favorite shots that encapsulate what we love most about this annual celebration.

It’s all the people here, from students and staff to neighbors and visitors from afar, who make this event feel so full of life. Thank you to everyone who joined us for bringing your energy and helping us celebrate!

Bring your red, white, and blue—and your orange, green, brown, pink, and purple, too! This parade is in full color.

A highlight this year was the entry focused on pollution and single-use plastics, including these remarkable plastic bag outfits and a giant sea turtle float. Thank you for reminding us that celebration and action go hand in hand.

This wonderful beast was born from some cardboard boxes, a couple sticks, bright paint, and a lot of creative vision. It’s always a treat to see the ideas that are brought to life for the parade.

The session 3 weaving class stuck close together to walk this giant choreographed loom all the way up Conley Ridge Road.

Here’s (part of) our facilities and ground crew, aka the folks who orchestrate the entire fireworks display. They each go through a multi-day certification training, as well as spend days before the event designing the show, getting everything set up, and readying the 20,000 bottle rockets you see here!

At the end of the day, it’s not just about the parade or the incredible fireworks. It’s about you all being here together, with us, celebrating the creativity and energy that make this place so special. Bring your ideas, your passions, your friends, and join us on the lawn next year!


Thanks to Mercedes Jelinek for taking and sharing the final two images in this post.

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Natural Dyes at the Penland Gallery

installation view of "Further Evidence" at the Penland Gallery

For most of human history, the colors used in art, craft, and materials of all sorts were derived from plants, minerals, and insects. Since the industrial revolution, however, synthetic dyes and colors tailored for specific materials have been the norm. In recent years, the craft world has seen a renewed interest in natural dyes, and they are now the subject of a new exhibition at the Penland Gallery titled Further Evidence: The Art of Natural Dyes. This riot of color will be on display through July 14, with an opening reception from 4:30-6:30 PM on Saturday, June 15.

Curator Catharine Ellis explains that the recent interest in natural dyes has been inspired by the local food movement, by an interest in personal and environmental safety, and by an increased scientific and technical understanding of dye processes and materials. Ellis is a weaver and textile designer based in Waynesville, NC and is the co-author, with textile engineer Joy Boutrup, of a recent book titled The Art and Science of Natural Dyes. The Penland Gallery exhibition brings this book to life with innovative, colorful work in cloth, tapestry, and paper.

Many of the pieces incorporate various approaches to shaped-resist dying or shibori, techniques that can create patterns after the cloth has been woven or patterns that are embedded in the individual threads before they are put on the loom. Two pieces in the show include words that are part of the woven design. Other works have designs and imagery created through tapestry weaving, stenciling, stitching, or piece work.

Artwork by Ana Lisa Hedstrom
Indigo-dyed paper by Ana Lisa Hedstrom

A series of remarkable wall pieces by noted shibori artist Ana Lisa Hedstrom were made by folding paper, dying it in indigo, and then unfolding and flattening to reveal geometric patterns in blue. An installation by ink maker Tim McLaughlin display materials and tools used for ink production along with glass vials of ink and journal pages written in extraordinary script with a fountain pen. The whole exhibition is a testament to the commitment this group of artists has to understanding and creating art with the colors of nature.

Running concurrently with this exhibition is a smaller Focus Gallery show of functional pottery by former Penland resident artist Shoko Teruyama, whose work is ornately shaped and patterned in vivid colors. The Visitors Center Gallery has an ongoing display of objects that illuminate the history of Penland School, and the Lucy Morgan Gallery presents a selection of work by dozens of Penland-affiliated artists. On display outside the Penland Gallery are large steel sculptures by Daniel T. Beck and Hoss Haley. There is also an interactive, outdoor installation by Jeff Goodman titled The Kindness for Imaginary Things.

The Penland Gallery and Visitors Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM-5:00 PM and Sunday, Noon-5:00 PM; it is closed on Mondays. For more information visit

Two works from "Further Evidence"
Left: dyed and quilted piece by Kim Eichler-Messmer. Right: dyed and woven piece by Amanda Thatch.