Posted on

Coming Right Up: Glass

two students at the torch in the Penland flame studio

For those who are new to it, glass is one of the most mysterious and mesmerizing materials we work with at Penland. It’s always thrilling to introduce students to our glass studios and help them transform glass from something rigid and fragile into a material that’s flexible and open to a world of possibilities. And the good news is that the learning just keeps going—there’s always something new to pick up and explore, even for experienced glass artists!

This spring, students in our studios will have the opportunity to approach glass from two different vantages. In the hot shop, glass is fluid and fast, a full-body team effort. Next door in the flame studio, glass is layered, additive, zoomed in. Whichever angle you take, and whether it’s for one week or eight, a Penland glass workshop is a chance to dive in head first and push yourself with new ideas and techniques alongside a studio full of like-minded peers.

Registration for both of the following workshops is open now for students of all levels, including beginners. Sign up today!

two glass sculptures by Ben Elliott
Ben Elliott, “Bandwagon” (left) and “Stitch” (right), both flameworked glass with mixed-media

Ebb & Flow with Ben Elliott
One week – March 22-28, 2020
Join glass artist and instructor Ben Elliott in the flame studio for a week of building stories with borosilicate glass. Students will spend time at the torch learning and refining techniques like creating solid and hollow forms, applying color, using blow molds, and assembling pieces. Together with a class emphasis on narrative and imagery, these techniques will become the building blocks for creating pieces that speak with your own artistic voice. Come see just how much inspiration a single week can spark!

glass sculpture and wine glasses by Dan Mirer
Dan Mirer, “Bubble Orb” (left) and “Burgundies” right, blown glass

Intentions & Inventions with Dan Mirer
Eight weeks – March 8 – May 1, 2020
Go deep with thoughtful design during eight weeks of intensive glass work in the hot shop. Instructor Dan Mirer will use his expertise to guide students in creating considered, refined objects. The workshop will encourage a curious, problem-solving mindset as students blow glass and create a variety of molds to bring their designs to life. Students will also be encouraged to bring cold working, kiln forming, and flame working into their processes. Both beginners and experienced glass artists will discover challenges and possibilities that stretch their work in new directions.

We still have one partial scholarship available for Dan’s workshop!

Posted on

Summer 2020 Workshops!

catalog cover showing a woman working at the anvil in the iron studio

We’re thrilled to announce our complete lineup of summer 2020 workshops! We’ve got 104 different offerings for you to choose from, each one an opportunity to learn from experienced makers and explore new materials and dream up new ideas and connect with other folks doing the same. Browse them all by studio, by session, or in our online catalog PDF (paper catalogs are at the printer at this very moment!).

Want a little taste of what you might find?

Books & Paper: large-scale sheet forming, cast paper sculpture, cut paper and pop-up books
Clay: ceramic tile, animated ceramic sculptures, building with paperclay, kurinuki
Drawing & Painting: abstract painting, observational oil painting, sketchbooks
Glass: glass painting, borosilicate sculpture, mold making, hot glass sculpting
Iron: metal furniture, forged utensils and vessels, sculptural steel
Metals: electroforming, Japanese engraving, sand casting, gold fusing
Photo: view cameras, poetic photographs, cameraless photography, hand coloring prints
Print & Letterpress: mokuhanga, screenprinting, typography on the press, lithography
Textiles: block printing with natural dyes, sculptural basketry, boro and indigo, intermediate weaving
Wood: curved forms in wood, timber framing, cork, sculptural spoon carving

…and dozens and dozens of other things, too.

Registration will open for all summer workshops on January 13 at noon Eastern time on a first-come, first-served basis. Scholarships are available for all summer workshops! Scholarship applications open January 1 and are due by February 17. Starting this year, scholarships have a reduced application fee of $10.

Posted on

Eight (Transformative) Weeks

Two women blowing glass in the Penland School of Craft hot shop

In a recent conversation with a student, she talked about her first time at Penland. “I was in a workshop in upper textiles. It was my introduction to screenprinting, and I was blown away,” she said. “Every time I walked up the stairs to the studio, I passed a poster that said ‘Penland changes lives.’ And every time I saw it, I smiled to myself like ‘Yeah, sure does.'”

It’s something we hear quite a lot, in fact: a workshop at Penland is a transformative experience that opens up new questions, new connections, and new paths.

A woman working at the anvil in the Penland School of Craft iron studio

Why not see for yourself? This March 8 – May 1, 2020 we’ll be offering seven different 8-week concentrations, each one an immersive dive into materials and techniques and ideas.

Clay: Parts Unknown with Jenny Mendes
Glass: Intentions & Inventions with Dan Mirer
Iron: Attention to Detail with Andy Dohner
Metals: Wunderkammer with Suzanne Pugh
Photo: Processing Process with Mercedes Jelinek
Letterpress: Print/Process/Production with Jamie Karolich
Textiles: Inside Out: Garment as Identity with Erika Diamond

Registration is open now, and scholarships are available for all spring concentrations. Scholarship applications must be submitted by November 28, 2019.

Posted on

Behind Fall Photos

Eight weeks of Penland fall concentrations have come and gone. We’ve shared lots of studio photos and show-and-tell photos and photos of the goofy moments in between. But there’s a lot that’s constantly happening during concentrations that is harder to pin down—the messy, beautiful, confusing, triumphant work of learning and connecting and growing.

As we’ve heard again and again from students, time at Penland is not just about a handmade mug; it’s about the transformational power of learning to make a mug with your hands. Below, we illustrate some of the less tangible aspects of creative immersion with a photo from each of our recent concentrations.

Focus
Clay student Brian Chen adds surface decoration to a run of tumblers using a masking technique he learned from instructor Tom Jaszczak. Freedom from distractions is one thing that leads to such leaps in student work in just eight weeks.

adding surface decoration to a run of bisqued pots

Teamwork
Studio assistant Eric Meeker uses a drop or two of water to break his piece from the punty while core fellow Joshua Fredock stands ready to grab it. The nature of glassblowing is a team effort, but students in all studios benefit from the feedback, energy, and expertise of their peers.

working with a partner to remove a glass disc from the punty

Process
Textiles student Emily Parkinson builds up pattern on a length of printed yardage through the careful spacing and layering of screens. The sketches, calculations, and in-betweens aren’t always readily apparent in a finished piece, but that step-by-step process is integral to the outcome.

pulling a screen in the textiles studio

Repetition
Henry Rogers heats a length of steel in the iron studio. Over the course of eight weeks, students move between the forge and the anvil and back again hundreds of times. Each heat builds intuition and muscle memory, and every swing of the hammer builds accuracy and control and confidence. It’s the hours of practice that transform a beginner into an experienced maker.

heating at the forge in the iron studio

Inspiration
Hannah Roman works on a painting in her Color & Abstraction workshop surrounded by sketches, previous work, and a giant collaborative still life for reference. Ideas can crop up in the most unexpected places, be it something a fellow student is trying, a process in another studio, the landscape of the Penland campus outside, or maybe just the shadow your water bottle casts across your desk.

concentrating on a painting at the easel

Growth
First-time woodworker Ann Ritter glues tenons into the aprons of her table with instructor Wyatt Severs. Even students who have never touched wood or metal or clay can become proficient over eight weeks of immersive studio time, and this growth sometimes opens up entire new futures and dreams.

working together to glue up tenon joints in the wood studio

Attention
Core fellow Stormie Burns pulls a run of prints on the Vandercook press. Like a lot of making, it’s a repetitive process that benefits from quiet attention and an ability to be present in the moment. There’s a joy that comes from being immersed in the details.

pulling prints on the vandercook press

And a few things not pictured above:
The Penland friendships each student will carry with them. The newfound confidence and sense of belonging. The deeper appreciation for hands and material and time. The ideas that started here as mere sparks and are now burning brightly across the web of our community.

To all our fall concentration students and instructors, thank you for reminding us about the importance and beauty of what we do here. And to all those who would like to be students, we hope you will be! Registration is currently open for Spring 2019 concentrations and 1-week workshops.

 

Posted on

Just an Average Morning in Hot Glass

Raven adding the final leaves to the bat sculpture

The Penland glass studio has seen decades of impressive work coming off its benches, but we’re pretty sure it had never seen a sculpture quite like the one instructor Raven Skyriver demoed this Wednesday. The piece, described by Raven as “bat on a branch munching mango,” was a breathtaking example of what glass is capable of in highly skilled hands.

Raven adds a rib to the second bat wingThe sculpture came together piece by piece over the course of the morning. Raven crafted each element separately—the leaves on the tree, the mango, the bat’s body, the two wings—and each of those pieces were built up from even smaller ones. To make the wings, for example, Raven added a small blob of hot glass onto a curved and colored spine, stretched and flattened it into the thin membrane of the wings, and then added a darker rib with a carefully controlled piece of cane. He repeated this process across the spine of the wing—membrane, rib, membrane, rib—until he had created a ruffling and expressive thing that had all the veining and texture you might find on a real bat.

Raven adds color to the branch by sprinkling it with powdered frit

The final piece of the sculpture was the branch itself. It started out much like a large blown vase or bowl might, a big egg of glass with a bubble inside. But over the course of the next few heats, it quickly morphed into something else entirely. Raven first added color with a generous sprinkling of frit, then rolled it over a textured plate to create the ridges of the bark, and then wrestled it into an elongated and twisting thing that might have blown down from any tree in a winter storm.

Raven uses his weight to elongate and shape the branch

The real excitement began next as Raven started assembling the many separate pieces together. Or, more specifically, Raven and his team started assembling them, as this stage required many hands—someone at the bench to rotate the piece, someone to keep it hot with the torch, someone to retrieve each leaf and wing from the garage, someone else to operate the doors of the glory hole. It was a sophisticated choreography of movement and timing and communication which remained, somehow, untouched by the mounting tension in the assembled crowd of onlookers.

Raven secures the first wing to the body of the bat

The bat’s body came first, followed by one wing and then another and then the mango with its little bite mark, which seemed almost miraculously to line up right at the level of the bat’s mouth. It was clear as Raven worked that he had an image in his mind, but it was loose enough that he was also composing as he went—a leaf here, a leaf there, an extra little twist to this branch, and a leaf or two left in the garage at the end.

The piece nears completion with the help of Raven's students and studio assistants

The final crescendo came after hours of focused work when the piece was ready to come off the pipe. While all of us watched without breathing, Raven and his assistants Emily Lamb and Jack Gramann heated the base of the sculpture, flipped the entire thing vertically, and cut it off the pipe into Emily’s waiting (and well insulated) hands. She carried the whole beautiful piece over to the annealer, gently set it inside, and closed the lid before the room erupted with applause.

Raven, Jack, and Emily prepare to cut the bat sculpture off the pipe.

Posted on

Now on View in the Penland Gallery

Tom Shields, “Mediation,” cast iron, 60 x 18 x 39 inches (photo courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center)

The year’s first exhibition at the Penland Gallery is a collection of work by artists who, in the words of gallery director Kathryn Gremley, “have erased dividing lines or untethered themselves from material and creative constraints.” Titled I dwell in Possibility after a poem by Emily Dickinson, the exhibition includes work in ceramic, glass, metal, painting, photography, printmaking, and wood with considerable mixing of media. The fifteen artists represented will be teaching workshops at Penland in 2018. The show runs through May 13.

Ruther Miller, “The Evocation and Capture of Aphrodite,” hand-embroidered wool on fabric, 36 x 30 inches

Walking into the exhibition, visitors will be greeted by a three-foot tall, precisely rendered image of a young woman—leaves and geometric shapes float by her in the foreground. The piece can easily be mistaken for a painting, but closer inspection reveals that it is made entirely from embroidery thread. The artist, Ruth Miller, spends about a year stitching one of these pieces.

Photographer Dan Estabrook is represented by a series of tintypes, which are images created on a metal plate. Although tintypes have traditionally been treated simply as a type of photograph, this artist has chosen to also approach them as metal objects. Using a jeweler’s saw, he carefully cuts up different tintypes and recombines them to create metal collages.

A cast-iron teapot by Frankie Flood, who is a faculty member at Appalachian State University, has a surface texture that looks like the inner surface of tree bark, while the surface of a wooden platter by Matthew Hebert has been carved into a 3D image of a manhole cover. And an animated video by Noah Saterstrom is accompanied by several of the paintings he used to create it. These are just some of the wonders and possibilities presented in this exhibition.

Also on view in the Focus Gallery is an exhibition titled GATHER | Eat, Drink, Enjoy, which showcases elegant, functional glassware by Courtney Dodd and Nickolaus Fruin. Together, the artists have formed “Shaker + Salt,” a line of exquisitely-executed plates, bowls, cups, and more that are meant to be shared, enjoyed, and laughed over at the table. The exhibition highlights these pieces as they might be used at a dinner party, complete with a fully set table and cocktail recipes to go with each set of glasses. Admire the entire arrangement, and then lean in close to catch the special details that set each piece apart.

Place setting from “GATHER” by Shaker + Salt

Posted on

Molding James

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

This is Penland resident artist Dean Allison beginning the process of creating a mold from the head and shoulders of 10-year-old James Haley. The mold will be used in the creation of one of Dean’s mesmerizing cast-glass portraits. James’s mother, Penland program director Leslie Noell, was close at hand to coach him through the 45-minute process. James got to pick the soundtrack, so Hamilton was playing throughout.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

The first step was to coat James’s hair with cold cream. Then Dean began to carefully cover his face with a silicone rubber that starts to set up in about about 10 minutes. He used his fingers to make sure all the details of James’s face would be well molded. He also took care to maintain breathing holes for James’s nose.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

With his whole head and shoulders covered, James began to acquire a Halloween-enviable, Creature from the Black Lagoon look. At this point it was important for him to sit very still as the material began to set up. “Pretend you are thinking about the hardest math problem you’ve ever had to do,” Dean instructed.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

The next step was to create a two-part plaster shell that will be used to keep the flexible mold rigid later when filling it with hot wax. Dean and his assistant Sarah Beth Post formed the shell using the same kind of cloth/plaster strips that are used to make a cast for a broken bone.

Once both halves of the shell were complete, they were left briefly to harden and then were carefully removed.

Here’s the front half of the shell coming off.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

Dean carefully slit the mold up the back while Sarah Beth separated the rubber from the shirt.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

And with Mom’s assistance, the mold was removed as gently as possible.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

There it goes.

Penland resident artist Dean Allison making a mold of James Haley's head

And James emerged intact!

“I was thinking about bagels the whole time,” he said to Leslie, “so now we need to go get a bagel.”

Hmm…well played.

This process is just Dean’s first step. Here’s the rubber mold back inside the plaster cast (upside down on the chair). The next step is to fill it with hot wax to make a wax positive.

Here is the wax model of James. Dean will clean this up quite a bit and do some additional sculpting—particularly on the hair.

He will use this wax model to create a new mold made of reinforced plaster, which will retain all the detail that’s in the wax. Finally he will melt out the wax and fill the plaster mold with molten glass to create the glass sculpture. After the glass cools Dean will put in hours of polishing and cold work to refine the piece before it will be ready for mounting.

Before joining the Penland residency, Dean Allison was Penland’s glass studio coordinator. He has a Masters of Art in Visual Art from Australian National University. His work has been exhibited recently at the National Portrait Gallery in DC, SOFA Chicago, and Blue Spiral I in Asheville, NC. You can see many examples of his portraiture on his website.