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Photo of the Week: Bandsaw Boxes!

Penland staff posing with their in-progress bandsaw boxes

Pictured in this photo are a couple metalsmiths, a photographer, a few teachers, a glassblower, some folks who can maneuver a tractor, two people who sure know their way around an Excel spreadsheet, at least four potters, moms and dads, a rock climber, a painter, a tiny-house builder, vegetable gardeners, travelers—in short, a selection of Penland’s adventurous, talented, dedicated staff!

Today, instead of being out in the maintenance building or the local schools or the main office, these folks spent the day in the wood studio with coordinator Ellie Richards (she’s the one in the middle with the yellow drill!). Ellie taught a one-day workshop on making bandsaw boxes. It’s a fairly simple, endlessly adaptable process that involves sawing a solid block of wood into pieces, removing the central piece, gluing it all back up into a box, refining the shape, and decorating with whatever colors and textures and fancy bits your heart desires.

Knowing this group, the end results will be quirky, beautiful, and full of personality.

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From Designing to Dining: Two Months of Metal

Metalsmith David Clemons working at the forge in the Penland iron studio
David Clemons at work in the Penland iron studio, where he will teach this March 10-May 3.

We eat every day, but how often do we dine? Dining makes an event of eating, transforming it into something more special than a sandwich at your desk or a granola bar on the go. It’s sitting down with intention, taking the time to savor food and company. It’s transferring your leftovers from their cardboard carton to a ceramic plate, clearing the mail off the table, folding a napkin. It’s combining elements to encourage a certain atmosphere and behavior.

Dining, then, is akin to much of the craft that happens at Penland: a celebration of focus, potential, and process.

Why not combine the two, dining and craft? This spring, metalsmith David Clemons and his students will do just that in the Penland iron studio March 10 – May 3. During the eight-week concentration Personal Dining Ware, David will introduce students to a wide range of forging and fabrication techniques to bring ideas for the table to life. From spoons and spatulas hammered at the anvil to drinking vessels and candleholders, they’ll use dining implements as a starting point to create thoughtfully designed and artfully crafted objects in metal.

David got a head start this winter during the two weeks he spent as a resident in the iron studio playing around with steel serving vessels and more. Below are a few photos of one piece he made, which started as a sketch and then took form as forged elements that he welded together into the most exquisite sectioned tray.

Students in David’s class will take a similar approach, using a specific food or presentation or style as inspiration to create objects both functional and beautiful. Along the way, they can expect to give their metalworking skills a major boost.

Work-study scholarships still available!

Process shots of David Clemons’s serving tray, plus the finished tray at right. (Images: David Clemons)

Personal Dining Ware

David Clemons, March 10 – May 3, 2019
Indulgence, sustenance, diplomacy, celebration, and even revenge are a few of the many motivations for the act of dining as reflected in our lives and in pop culture. In this workshop, we’ll engage in the design, fabrication, and forging of objects that facilitate and provide ambiance for dining. We’ll cover forging, cutting, welding, forming, pressing, etching, patination, tinning, cold connections, and other techniques. Formats will include flatware, serving vessels, and candle holders. Some metalworking experience will be helpful, but this workshop is open to all levels. Code S00I

Studio artist; former head of metals at University of Arkansas at Little Rock; other teaching: Memphis College of Art, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Maine College of Art; Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship; collections: National Ornamental Metal Museum (Memphis), Yale University (CT), Arkansas Art Center.

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A Closer Look at the Book

Cathy Adelman working on a series of leather binding samples in the Penland books studio earlier this month.

The book is an unassuming object. So ubiquitous that one—if not hundreds—can be found in just about any home, business, or school across the country. Checkbooks, magazines, instruction manuals, notebooks, thrift store paperbacks, coffee table books, planners—they’re so universal that it’s easy to overlook their basic nature as books. But, more than watering down the specialness of the book format, this ubiquity points to the incredibly adaptable, relatable, accessible, protean nature of the book. What it might not make clear is how seductive a book can be. Books hold potential; books connect community; books share wisdom and keep secrets.

Cathy Adelman, like many Penland book artists we know, came at bookbinding obliquely. In the late 1990s, when the Penland workshop that had originally sparked her interest was full, she enrolled in a books workshop as a second choice. The bookbinding process surprised and intrigued her. She returned for a second books workshop, and then a third, quickly falling for the care, the personalization, and the elegance of the process. Cathy went on to earn a degree from the American Academy of Bookbinding and to study and show her work in Switzerland, Estonia, France, the UK, Italy, Greece, and across the United States.

This spring, Cathy will return to Penland’s books studio as an instructor for the workshop Flexible Leather Binding. She and her students will spend a week answering the question “Why make a book?” through process, material, and presence. Whether seasoned bookbinders or absolute beginners, all students can expect to end the week with a selection of handmade, flexibly bound leather books, new insights into the binding process, and inspiration for future projects.

Join us in the studio March 24-30 and learn to make a physical home for your ideas, dreams, questions, memories, and inspirations—in other words, learn to make a book. Like Cathy, you might just get hooked.


Two books bound by Cathy Adelman. Left: “‘The Raven,’ by Edgar Allen Poe,” reliure articuléis style binding, 9.75 x 6.75 x 0.5 inches. Right: “Lonely the seabird lies at her rest,” flexible leather design binding, 11.5 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches.


Flexible Leather Binding

Cathy Adelman, March 24-30, 2019
This workshop will explore variations on a flexible leather binding. We’ll start with text block preparation and choice of materials. From buffalo, goat or boxcalf, and suede, we’ll design and execute an elegant binding. We’ll cover endpapers, sewing, adhesive selection, leather paring, and decoration, and finish with a cloth- or paper-covered clamshell box, custom sized for your binding. All techniques will be thoroughly covered for the beginner with many advanced techniques demonstrated for the more experienced. All levels. Code S01B

Studio artist; teaching: Guild of Book Workers, Penland; exhibitions: Bodleian Libraries (UK), Bibliotheca Wittockiana (Belgium), Gutenberg Museum (Switzerland), University of Canberra (Australia).

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Print Collaboration

two women examining prints that have just come off a Vandercook press

Penland instructor and former resident Eileen Wallace and Penland programs director Leslie Noell spent the second week of winter residencies hard at work in the letterpress studio. The two were continuing a collaborative series of prints that explore transparency, composition, and the graphic potential of wood type. There was a lot of play involved, too.

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A Note from the Director

2019 summer catalog cover
Front cover for the summer 2019 Penland workshop catalog

If you are familiar with Penland, you probably noticed that the graphics on the catalog covers have a new look. For this we thank graphic designer and current Penland resident artist Ele Annand; we asked her to shake things up a bit. You may also have noticed a small, but important, alteration to the name of our school.

In 1969, Penland’s second director, Bill Brown, changed the name of the Penland School of Handicrafts to Penland School of Crafts. He did this to more accurately reflect the vision he had for Penland and to position the school as an institution at the forefront of the emerging studio craft movement. This fall we made a smaller change for similar reasons when we became Penland School of Craft.

The word craft suggests process, skill, commitment, and, as the poet Robert Kelly said, perfected attention. In other words, it describes some of the basic values this school promotes in the world. It suggests an ideal rather than something specific. It points to skilled making that is not tied to particular materials and is inclusive of creative processes outside of those traditionally labeled as craft. It accurately reflects the mission and vision of Penland today.

Please enjoy perusing our exciting workshop offerings for the summer of 2019. I hope to see you at Penland School of Craft next summer!

—Mia Hall, director

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Penland University

group photo standing in front of Hannah's paintings
Rachel Meginnes with Earlham College/Penland students Thomas Hill, Hannah Roman, and Johanna Marie at their final exhibition.

What would it look like if the Penland experience were a full college semester? For the three students who were part of the first-ever Earlham College Penland Program this fall, it looked like two different Penland workshops and countless hours in the studios, plus a giant stack of readings, a deep look at the history of craft in this area, and an opportunity to focus on the professional and entrepreneurial skills of being an artist—all under the guidance and mentorship of Rachel Meginnes, former Penland resident artist and director of the Earlham/Penland program.

Thomas Hill, Johanna Marie Monson Geerts, and Hannah Roman joined us from Earlham College just in time for the start of Penland’s 7th summer session. They kicked off their semester with one-week workshops in brushmaking, daguerreotype photography, and weaving, getting a feel for the studios and the pace of life at Penland.

Next, during the three weeks between Penland’s summer and fall sessions, the students embarked on an ambitious course called Craft in Context taught by Rachel Meginnes and Penland archivist Carey Hedlund. Through over 700 pages of reading, local field trips to places like Cherokee, NC, and a road trip up the East Coast to take in sites such as the National Museum of the American Indian, the students gained an appreciation for the history of craft in Appalachia.

Left: Thomas Hill working on a teapot form. Right: Johanna Marie cutting a linoleum block for the press.

Back on campus in mid-September, they started in on eight weeks of Penland concentrations. Thomas studied pottery and surface decoration with Maggie and Tom Jasczcak, Johanna learned letterpress and bookbinding techniques with Beth Schaible, and Hannah immersed herself in shape and color in Tonya D. Lee’s abstract painting workshop.

The final three weeks of the semester were reserved for a course taught by Rachel called Art & Entrepreneurship. It focused on essentials like writing artist statements, building a website, learning photo editing skills, designing business cards, and crafting slide presentations. (Speaking of websites, take a look at their shiny new ones—,, and!)

Hannah at work in the painting studio.

On December 13, Thomas, Johanna, and Hannah got the opportunity to show off all their hard work over the past sixteen weeks with the opening reception for their exhibition On the Road to Heavens Above. They curated and installed the show themselves in the new Gallery North space at Northlight and invited the entire Penland community to come. From Hannah’s bold and surprising color compositions to Johanna’s delicate words printed on her photographs to Thomas’s layered ceramic surfaces, it was a beautiful presentation of an extraordinary artistic effort.

“I couldn’t even have imagined how much growing and discovering I would do here,” Hannah remarked at the close of her Penland semester. For her part, Rachel said, “I could not be more proud of the students’ hard work and dedication to their work and studies.” We couldn’t agree more—congrats Thomas, Johanna, and Hannah! We can’t wait to see where your ideas take you.

Two views of the exhibition “On the Road to Heavens Above” featuring pottery by Thomas Hill, letterpress prints and photographs by Johanna Marie, and paintings by Hannah Roman.

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Early Decision Scholarships

work-study students at Penland during their shift in the dish room

Penland is pleased to offer a new scholarship option for summer 2019—early decision! These partial scholarships with a work requirement are similar to our general work-study scholarships from previous years, with a few important updates:

  1. If you apply for an early decision scholarship, your application will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. You will be notified about whether or not you got into your workshop within three business days of the completion of your application (including two of your references completing a short reference form).
  2. We are holding two spaces in each workshop for early decision scholarship applicants, so your chances of getting into your first-choice workshop are improved if you apply early.
  3. Instead of the standard $50 processing fee, you pay only a $10 processing fee with your application.
  4. All early decision scholarship applicants will be assigned jobs in the dining hall (washing dishes, preparing food, etc.) that will total roughly 20 hours of work per week.

So who are these scholarships for, anyway?
We are offering this new option for eager students who would like to know the outcome of their scholarship applications sooner, want a better chance of getting into their first-choice workshop, and are willing to commit to a dining hall work assignment. Trying to squeeze a month-long internship, a family reunion, a Penland workshop, and a research trip into one summer? Get your dates locked down with early decision. Have your heart absolutely set on that session 3 iron workshop? Apply ASAP with early decision.

And what’s in it for Penland?
Every session, we need an energetic and diligent crew of work-study students in The Pines to make meal times run smoothly. We’re hoping that, by offering some incentives with our early decision option, we can fill those spots in The Pines and make a whole bunch of you happy, too!

How do I apply early decision?
All scholarship applications, including early-decision applications, must be submitted online through Slideroom. Scholarship applications will open January 1 and must be complete and submitted by 11:59 PM EST on February 18. Applications for early decision partial scholarships do not require images, but they do require two references to fill out and submit a short form via email. These applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis once complete, so submitting your application as soon as possible is to your advantage.

What if I need a full scholarship or can’t work in the dining hall?
In addition to the partial scholarships with work requirements that are eligible for early decision, Penland also awards full scholarships with work requirements, full scholarships with no work requirement, and studio assistantships. Spaces are held in each of our workshops for recipients of these scholarships. See complete information about our full range of summer 2019 scholarship options here.

View all of our summer 2019 workshop offerings!