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Adam’s Studio


Adam Whitney in his Penland School studio

Metalsmith Adam Whitney’s resident artist studio is a small building just behind the old dairy barn that houses five other resident studios. You can tell when he’s working by the ever-present sound of a hammer tapping on a metal sheet. “I think they put me back here so I wouldn’t drive everyone else crazy,” he laughed. 

Although Adam joined the resident artist program last fall, he is no stranger to Penland. He has taught in the metals studio several times, he’s participated in every winter residency, and he was the school’s metals studio coordinator from 2007 to 2011. 

He has experience in many kinds of metalsmithing, but his true love is raising: the craft of making hollow, three-dimensional forms from sheets of metal. His current projects are inspired by drinking vessels and the space program. He has made a series of cups that resemble a spacesuit helmet, and he is methodically developing a complex form based on the rhyton of the ancient Mediterranean. This is a horn-shaped vessel with a drinking hole at the bottom. The hole was often part of an animal head or torso fitted onto the end of the horn. Adam remembers seeing these forms in museums when he was first getting interested in metal work. “They were the metal shapes I was in awe of,” he said. 

 

Adam Whitney's raised metal forms
Adam’s current work. On the left are two prototype rhyton horns. On the top shelf are his series of space helmet cups. Below them are a clay model and several copper tests of the space suit form that will fit onto the end of the horn.

Adam’s rhyton will end with the torso of a spacesuit. While he is currently working on prototypes of the vessel and the suit in copper, the final piece will be silver. Raising the intricate form of the spacesuit is an admirable technical challenge, but that’s not the only thing that drew Adam to this image. 

“I think the spacesuit is a phenomenal piece of technology,” he said. “It’s actually a vehicle. It’s the tiniest possible vehicle for a person, and it’s used in the harshest environment. 

“Nobody really knows why the drinking horn with an animal on it exists, but it probably had to do with some kind of embodiment of the animal’s power through drinking. I wanted to put something on mine that would represent the culture I’m in now. For me, space exploration is the most fascinating thing that has happened in a long time. It’s a new frontier where we have just barely scratched the surface, and the space suit encapsulates that and puts it in human form.”

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: From Bag of Clay to Handled Tray

This Saturday, we’re thrilled to welcome Courtney Martin back to the Penland clay studio for our third Penland Everywhere live Q&A!

These live events are part of our very first online programs and go hand-in-hand with prerecorded video demonstrations featuring a handful of expert instructors sharing their techniques, tips, and tricks. If Courtney’s Q&A is anything like our first two with Cristina Córdova and David H. Clemons, it will be an hour packed with useful insights, detailed information, and a bit of that Penland camaraderie we’ve all been missing. Sign up now to join the conversation—the Q&A starts at 1 PM ET tomorrow, February 20.

Courtney’s demo takes participants through her steps for creating a handbuilt tray form, complete with her signature cut handles and decorative carving details. Here’s a look at the process in three screenshots taken directly from her hour-long lesson.

15:04—Join the two ends of the coil that will form the walls of the tray.

Potter Courtney Martin in the early stages of making a tray in the Penland clay studio

 

41:32—Mark out the handle openings on the refined tray form.

Courtney Martin marking her tray form with a needle tool

 

59:03—Give the foot of the tray some personality with decorative carving!

Courtney Martin uses a loop tool to carve a geometric pattern into the underside of her clay tray

 

Participants in Courtney’s demo will have 30 days of access to watch, rewatch, and try out her techniques. Register now to give it a try!

For a deeper dive into handbuilding with clay, sign up to join Courtney’s immersive online workshop March 11-13.

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Photo of the Week: Process in Pewter

We launched the videos for our second online demonstration this week! Participants have been following along as expert metalsmith David Clemons forms, welds, solders, and finishes an elegant pewter salt shaker. And this Saturday, 2/13, they’ll get to join David for a live Q&A to learn more about his process and get answers to their metalsmithing questions.

Register for David’s demo to take part!

Here’s a small window into the transformation a flat sheet of metal undergoes in David’s hands. Each of the following images is a screenshot taken directly from his prerecorded demonstration.

1. Transferring the vessel template to sheet metal

metalsmith David Clemons introducing pewter in his online demonstration

 

2. Joining the edges of the pewter into a tapered cylinder

Instructor David Clemons joining two edges of a pewter vessel

 

3. Soldering the base of the salt shaker to the body of the vessel

David Clemons soldering the base to a vessel in the Penland metals studio

 

4. Showing off the finished piece—shiny and ready for a place at the table!

David Clemons with his completed pewter salt shaker at the end of his online demo

 

David will also be teaching an immersive online workshop on making lidded pewter vessels February 24-27. Register now, or explore all Penland’s upcoming workshops online and in person.

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Photo of the Week: From a Slab to a Head

Tomorrow, we’re marking a milestone in our new online programming initiative—our first live event! Renowned ceramic sculptor and instructor Cristina Córdova will hold a live Q&A session over Zoom for participants in her online demo, A Simplified Way to Make a Hollow Head. Cristina’s demo is a remarkable distillation of years of her own learning and discovery in the studio, and we’re thrilled to offer participants a direct window into her practice.

Here’s a quick look at Cristina’s transformative abilities with clay in three images. Each of these shots is a frame taken directly from Cristina’s hour-long demo.

3 minutes in—forming a flat slab into a hollow cylinder for the beginnings of the head

Cristina forming a clay slab into the beginnings of a head

 

20 minutes in—using proportions as guides to establish the facial features

Cristina refining the features of her sculpted head

 

55 minutes in—experimenting with gesture before attaching the head to the neck

Cristina playing with gesture with her nearly completed head and neck

 

Intrigued? Register to take part in the demo! But hurry, you’ll need to sign up before 1 PM tomorrow, January 23 to join the Q&A.

For more about Cristina’s process and the way teaching and making blend in her practice, watch this short video visit with her!

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Staff Lunch: Kitchen Research

Penland kitchen staff preparing to-go lunches

This is Penland kitchen mavens Chad Mohr and Day Dotson filling to-go boxes with tasty lunches of burgers, fries, coleslaw, and fixings (vegetarian option available!). For several months, the kitchen staff has been making take-out lunch or supper available to the rest of the staff once or twice a week.

This is been a welcome development for everyone getting the meals, but what’s really going on is that the folks in the kitchen are working out methods for putting together a lot of take-out meals efficiently, which is what they will have to do when we welcome students back to campus. It’s going to be all take-out, all the time for a while.

This is just one of the ways our staff has been planning and preparing to bring back our workshop program–safely!

 

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Photo(s) of the Week: Penland How-to Manual

TBT poetry, printmaking, papermaking!

In 2016, we had a great workshop led by printmaker Susan Webster and poet Stuart Kestenbaum. Susan taught a variety of printmaking techniques and Stuart led daily writing exercises. Meanwhile, in the paper studio Mary Hark and her students were busy making beautiful sheets of paper. Several times during the session, Stuart had people give him a series of words, which he then used in a poem.

All of this came together in Penland How-to Manual, which presents a poem Stuart wrote incorporating words supplied by his students, their printed images, and paper made in Mary’s workshop, all put together as a boxed accordion book that Mary designed. The book was sold in the scholarship auction, but the poem and this set of photographs remain.

animated image of all the pages of a poetry book

The Penland How-to Manual

Consider it an experiment.
Even the wind that moves

the weeds and bees invites
ecstasy.  Listen to the process.

Failure refreshes.
Hug the inner fool and get

to work, not in isolation
but in community, where

at night you can invite memory
to carve an empty plate,

make paper out of air, make
a family from nothing.

Look through the isinglass
of this day see how clear life can be:

In the field fireflies alight, moon rises,
llamas ears listen and twitch.

Stuart Kestenbaum
© 2016

Words offered: hug, listen, highlight, carve, refresh, invite, isolated, process, experiment, play, make, excite, ecstasy, community, bees, plate, air, family, isinglass, llama, weeds, wind, memory, paper, fool, nothing

Words and images from Dan Bouthot, Roberta Durham, Kayleigh Efird, Shan Ellentuck, Nelida Flatow, Elizabeth Guinn, Sandy Hartmannsgruber, Frank Lortscher, Laura Martin, Mia Mueller, Jro Robinson, Mary Smyer, Susan Webster

Handmade paper by Beverly Ayscue, Yoen Hee Cheong, Melissa Cowper-Smith, Sarah Evenson, Jasmin McFayden, Rosemary Peduzzi, Alyssa Sacora, Tony Santoyo, Sophie Smyer, Autumn Thomas, Holland Williams. Book design by Mary Hark.

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Forging Support

NOTE: If you are seeing this by e-mail, you may be getting it for the second time. We had a website glitch yesterday and the original post was lost, so we had to post it again and these things get sent out automatically.

Here’s one more #PenlandEverywhere entry from session 2 instructor Stephen Yusko. Stephen wrote to us to present a special project in support of the work of his co-instructor, Daniel Souto. The two met at Penland over twenty years ago—an incredible example of the deep connections forged in our studios! Stephen and Daniel are hoping to work together again in the Penland iron studio in the near future. We are hoping for that, too.

Stephen Yusko in the Penland iron studio
Stephen Yusko (blue shirt) and Daniel Souto (orange shirt) with students in the Penland iron studio in 2013.

Daniel Souto and I were scheduled to co-teach Session 2 in the Penland iron studio in June, but, of course, our workshop was cancelled along with all the others. So, instead of working with my friend, I used that time to do something to raise funds to support his amazing project, LaCaravanaEscuela. I made four pairs of Volcano Candleholders and two pairs of Volcano Oil Lamps, which I am selling to support the project. They are $375 per pair, with 100% of the funds going toward the purchase of essential tools—mainly anvils and vises, which are nearly impossible to find in Venezuela.The tools will be used in Souto Studio to train the instructors who go into the mountain communities to teach blacksmithing to farmers so they can make their own farm implements and horseshoes, which are in short supply. LaCaravanaEscuela also donates tools to these communities so they can continue their journey of making and learning.

volcano candleholders and oil lamps by stephen yusko
Volcano Candleholders and Volcano Oil Lamps by Stephen Yusko

For information about LaCaravanaEscuela, see Daniel’s story on this blog, or watch this three-minute video. If you want to see a little more about me, you can view this video from the series, Artists in Place, by Luke Frazier. Daniel is in the video as well.

If you’d like to support LaCaravanaEscuela through a purchase of candleholders or lamps, contact me at stephenyusko@gmail.com.