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Community Open House 2018

Every year, the Penland Community Open House falls on a Saturday afternoon in March, one week before our spring workshops begin. With the help of over a hundred expert volunteers, we run activities in each studio that highlight the different mediums we teach at Penland, from ceramics and letterpress to hot glass and wood. All afternoon, visitors come through to watch and learn and—especially—to get their hands dirty and make something themselves. It’s the perfect way to wake up our studios after the sleepy weeks of February and to celebrate the craft and community that have been at Penland’s heart since the very beginning.

This year, we welcomed roughly 700 visitors to the Community Open House—young, old, experienced, and complete beginners alike. Some activities were returning favorites, like learning to throw a clay pot on the wheel, forging a steel hook with hammer and anvil, casting a small object in pewter, decorating a sheet of paste paper, and blowing a glass cup. But there’s always something new, too, even for those who come back to enjoy the open house year after year.

In the photo activity, for example, visitors got to decorate their very own cyanotype tote bags to take home. The process started in a “dim room” where UV light had been blocked from the windows with a red film. There, visitors laid out patterns on their coated bags from cut paper stencils—geometric shapes, their initials, mountainscapes, and more. Once complete, the patterns were held in place by sheets of clear plastic and exposed in the sun for twelve minutes. The coated areas that saw sunlight turned a deep, rich blue, while the areas under the black paper remained white.

Also new this year was a raku activity on the kiln pad of the clay studio. Visitors got to choose a bisqued pot, glaze it, and then watch as our expert volunteers loaded it into the kiln, heated it up to a glowing orange, and then quickly transferred it to a smoking barrel of wood chips and sawdust. The whole process took under an hour, and a certain aura of magic seemed to cling to the pots as they emerged with shiny coats of bright red and jewel green. Not a bad souvenir to take home with you!

We couldn’t make all this fun happen without the dedication and hard work of our wonderful volunteers. We also owe a big thank you to Dr. Taylor Townsend, DDS of Spruce Pine, who generously supports the Community Open House each year. And finally, thanks to all our visitors for joining us—we love sharing Penland with you!

See more of this year’s activities in the slideshow below.

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: Community Open House 2017

learning to cast with pewter

Hands-on craft activities, a legion of wonderful volunteers, hundreds of eager visitors, and some beautiful spring weather all came together this past Saturday to make the 2017 Penland Community Open House a rousing success. Visitors tried their hands at perennial favorites like glassblowing and wheel throwing, as well as new additions like origami, sewn tote bags, and a letterpress scavenger hunt. We look forward to the open house every year as a way to welcome spring and bring together community members of all ages and skill levels. Thanks to all who participated for making it such a fun day!

In the photograph above, metals studio coordinator Ian Henderson guides two young visitors through the process of casting a spoon out of pewter. It took mere minutes to transform the hot, pourable metal into a spoon to take home and enjoy.

 

two people get their portrait taken

Meanwhile, in the photo activity, Penland resident artist Mercedes Jelinek was busy taking hundreds of portraits of open house attendees. Everyone who sat for a portrait was able to take home their own black-and-white print.

 

learning to make a glass bead

Visitors to the flameworking studio got to work up close with torches and glass. Here, one attendee learns how to melt the colored glass and shape it around a metal rod to make a unique bead.

To see dozens more photos from the day’s activities, take a look at our complete album of Community Open House 2017 pictures. We hope they inspire you to join us for Community Day 2018!

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: Community Open House 2016

The following blog post is a photo slideshow. We recommend viewing it in an Internet browser.

Learning to blow glass is one of the most popular open house activities.
This blob of hot glass became a juice glass after a few minutes' work.
In the letterpress studio, visitors printed masks on the Vandercook press.
Cutting out eye holes in a freshly-printed mask
If you see one of these creatures around, it's probably been to the letterpress studio!
In the clay studio, visitors learned to throw on the pottery wheel.
All sorts of fun clay creatures being made at the handbuilding tables.
Getting clay pointers from one of our great volunteers
Making a clay mask while wearing a letterpress mask
In the iron studio, everyone got to try their hand at forging a J hook.
These two are adding a decorative twist to finish off the hook.
Visitors to the Ridgeway building decorated paste papers.
Sometimes, fingers are the best brushes!
Hands-on fun!
Who wouldn't want to join in on some whistle mania?
Visitors to the wood studio made their own train whistles.
The whistle process involved some precise sawing and drilling.
These two young visitors made a whistle—and it works!
In the flameworking studio, visitors made glass beads.
Here's a mother-daughter flameworking duo.
Each bead is formed by melting colored glass onto a metal rod.
The photo studio was all about crazy portraits.
This visitor is getting her photo taken as a tiger.
Edwina poses with her gold-sequined portrait.
Resident artist Jaydan Moore demonstrated his printmaking process to visitors.
In the metals studio, visitors learned pewter casting.
After the pewter is melted, it's poured into this two-part mold.
Unmolding the pewter revealed a tiny hammer and anvil!
Visitors to textiles learned to weave at the looms.
Everyone went home with a rag-rug coaster they wove themselves.
Visitors to the school store got to embellish Penland postcards
Thanks to the 700+ people who came out to visit us for the Community Open House!
And a big thanks to all our volunteers and staff!

 

This year’s Penland Community Open House was another big success! Over 700 people from the Penland community came up to try their hand at a new craft. Artists young and old alike were busy forging in the iron studio, flameworking beads in the glass shop, making colorful portraits in the photo studio, creating wooden whistles, and lots more. We’re grateful to all volunteers for helping us to share this fun day with our community, and to all the visitors who join us with such enthusiasm.

 

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Community Open House

Our studios will be ready for action on Saturday, March 1, when we host our annual community open house. Everyone is welcome to take part in free activities in clay, iron, glass, metals, photography, printmaking and letterpress, textiles, and wood. There will be a special paste painting activity, as well as postcard-making in the school store. The Penland coffee house will be serving up special fare, and we’ll have information about our summer workshops and Kids Camp, too.

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More information about this year’s open house can be found here.