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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – George Bucquet, Glassblower


Pond Bowl

There are quite a few ‘do not touch’ signs in the gallery, and most of the time people are pretty good about exercising restraint. George’s Pond Bowl is the exception – allot of fingerprints on a piece that has a Please Do Not sign nearby – but – it is SO inviting. All that cool, clear watery glass with the koi and leaves just beneath the surface; who can blame them for trying to satisfy their curiosity?

Pond detail

Whether it is the pond bowl or the luminous font bowl, George’s work is much admired and respected in the gallery. Technically, the work is beautifully crafted with polished surfaces and crisp details. Aesthetically, the work is calm and inclusive – the weight and solidity of the work combined with the imagery and delicate coloring is extremely approachable. Nothing shy about it either, since the pond is nearly two feet across.

George has been a friend of the school for many years and has had work in our gallery as far as our records and memory can go back. His craftsmanship, work ethic, professionalism, and sense of humor make us happy that he is still producing beautiful work for us to show in the gallery.

Oval Fish Bowl

About George

I enjoy and appreciate many aspects of hot glass, but it’s the aesthetics of cast glass that has held my attention for the last 26 years. I love the whole process of designing work and overcoming the technical challenges that seem to come with each piece. In the end, it’s simple beauty that moves me most, and I feel successful and grateful when it moves others.

George Bucquet began casting hot glass at Penland School in 1984. During his seven years spent at Penland, he became a Resident Artist. After completing his studies and residency, George moved to Arcata, CA, where he has continued to develop new and innovative techniques for creating his cast glass. George’s work is found in galleries around the world and in the private collections of Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Irvin Borowsky, Noel and Janene Hilliard, and the estate of Jerry Garcia. His work can also be found in the permanent collection of the U.S. Embassy, Ottawa, Canada; the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Lausanne, Switzerland; the Asheville Museum of Art, NC; the National Liberty Museum, Philadelphia, PA; and the White House.

Hemi Luminary Font

From an article in World Art Glass Quarterly Magazine:

George Bucquet makes what he wants, and if you like it too, well, that makes his job even easier. And Bucquet’s “job,” as he sees it, is not centered on selling as many pieces of his art as possible. Rather, as Bucquet states, “I try to stay focused on the work that is in front of me, or better yet, the work that is in me. Of course I care very much if people are buying the work. However, it is important to keep in mind that selling the work is not the end, but the means.”

Fortunately, Bucquet has had ample financial success and collectors’ acclaim to keep his studio running. His cast glass pieces have found homes with the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates. He doesn’t care much for throwing around those names, however, and is quick to point out that “they’re just people and nobody’s more important than anyone else who buys the work.” Rather than dwelling on commercial success, which he says has come by the “Grace of God,” Bucquet’s priorities are on glass for the sake of the glass itself.

Bucquet’s artistic journey began in Carmel, California, when he visited a prominent glass gallery and felt for the first time the excitement of blowing and creating artistic glass. From there he went to the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle and then finally to Penland School in North Carolina, where he spent one year as a student and four years as a resident artist.

About the Work

Working together with precision timing, George and his assistants pour hot glass, thick and translucent as honey, into a handmade sand mold, and then carefully press it into shape. A mold is individually created for each casting and the colored molten glass, formulated from scratch, is melted to 2350 degrees F in a custom built furnace. After several days of cooling in an annealing oven, each bowl is hand detailed with copper, silver and gold leaf.

George in the studio


Penland Gallery’s web page

George’s website

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The Weight of Black

Shift by Jerilyn Virden
Jerilyn Virden - "Shift" - handbuilt earthenware, hollow construction, terra sigillata

The color black carries all sorts of suggestions and meaning, not the least of which is weight. In fact, it has been shown that when people see two identical objects–one black and one white–they tend to think that the black object is heavier. Artists and graphic designers also know that black suggests areas of weight in their visual compositions. This is the basic idea being explored in a new exhibition at the Penland Gallery titled The Weight of Black. This mixed-media show includes pieces in clay, glass, jewelry, paper, photography, printmaking, and textiles made by artists who have chosen to use the color black as an important thematic or compositional element. The show runs through July 18. You can see more work from the show here.

Untitled by Jerry Spagnoli
Jerry Spagnoli - Untitled from "American Dreaming" - pigment print

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Instructor Chunghie Lee at RISD

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).

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Keiko Ishii, glassblower

keiko ishii
Keiko Ishii

Keiko Ishii is a first time Penland student who came all the way from Japan to take Scott Benefield’s glass Concentration. She learned of Penland and Scott from other American glassworkers who have to taught at Tama Art University in Tokyo, where she takes classes. In particular, Karen Willenbrink-Johnson and Jasen Johnson both recommended that she attend Penland specifically because of the two month Concentrations sessions. In addition, she hoped that the American style of glassworking would breathe new life into her work and that the diversity of students would be beneficial as well.

Keiko first started working with glass six years ago after she recovered from a serious car accident. Her recovery and rehabilitation was a six year process during which she knew that she wanted to switch her artistic medium and career from graphic design to glass, but had to wait until her body was ready for the physical demands of the glass studio.

After Keiko completes the spring glass concentration she hopes to visit the Corning Museum of Glass and take a workshop there as well. She also plans to take some time to travel around the United States before returning to her glass studies at the Tama Art University in Tokyo.
–Karen Mahardy

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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – Sarah Loertscher, Jeweler


Gold Scratch Ring


Spare, precise, and exacting – and yet – complicated. There is a visual economy in Sarah’s jewelry, removing all the extraneous fluff and fuss and paring it down to the line or form that is most important to her. But so often that “simplicity” is the result of endless hours of skilled craftsmanship and labor-intensive technique. To quote Sarah about the ring pictured – “18k yellow gold bimetal is lovingly, obsessively, painstakingly scratched with an x-acto blade until it’s surface glitters like a disco ball “. While the end results would satisfy an ardent minimalist – the technical path getting there is impressive.

Structure Earrings


Sarah was a Core student at Penland in 2005-2006, spending the majority of her time in the metals studios with a foray into the print studio now and then. In printmaking she applied her metals skills to intaglio prints with the same exactitude and meticulous results she achieved in her jewelry. She left Penland on a serious trajectory upward and full of redheaded determination. Her resume since 2005 outlines how well that has played out – teaching cred and name-dropping gallery shows, a strong wholesale business and a lot of experience.

We have been showing Sarah’s work in the gallery since 2006 and look forward to each box of her jewelry – new ideas and elegant forms.

About Sarah

My name is Sarah Loertscher, and I’m a studio jeweler in Seattle, Washington. I’m a transplant from North Carolina, where I spent two years washing dishes and making art as a Core Student at Penland School of Crafts. Originally, I hail from Indiana, the land of agriculture, Indy cars, and sweeping sky. I earned my BFA from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where I started working with metal.  I’ve been making jewelry for eight years.

Parallelogram Necklace


From an interview with Sarah:

Where did you get started, and how long have you been working in steel?

Officially, I got started at Ball State University in Indiana- I had to take all these survey courses as an undecided art major, and six weeks into my metals class I declared metals as my major. Working in that shop was the first time I can remember vividly losing time; sinking so far into a project that hours would drift by unnoticed. I remember the feeling that I had found a partner- like – THIS THING was what I was going to spend my life exploring. The only other time I felt that was when I met my (now) fiancé.

Crystal Pattern Ring


About the Work

My work is based in fabrication and typically I work in sterling silver and 18k yellow gold.  I am interested in crystalline structure and how simple shapes can grow into large, chaotic, complicated masses of their own.  Usually when I am making a piece of jewelry, I am either trying to build up a line or a shape into a more dynamic design, or I am distilling shapes down into their structural supports.  The facets on rocks and crystals are also visually interesting to me, and creating my own faceted objects.

Kite Earrings


My current work is fabricated by scoring and soldering sterling silver into a variety of polygons, and assembling these polygons into crystalline structures.  The end result is light, linear jewelry that echoes the structural aspects of both minute crystalline growth patterns and large-scale architectural design.

Inspiration comes to me in the form of illustrated field guilds, diagrams of any sort, frost, columnar basalt, and the subtle landscape of my Indiana homeland.  My favorite materials are sterling silver and mild steel.

Penland Gallery’s web page

Sarah’s website