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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).