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.
The Penland How-to Manual
Consider it an experiment.
Even the wind that moves
the weeds and bees invites
ecstasy. Listen to the process.
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.
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.
The weather is warm, the mountain views are dense with green, and the food is great—but the biggest joy of summer at Penland is welcoming students and instructors to our studios. We’ve really missed getting to foster the creative discoveries and connections that happen regularly in our workshops this summer. Even so, finding new ways to stay inspired and connected with you all has been a highlight of 2020.
We are reaching out to each of our summer 2020 instructors with an invitation to share a bit of their recent creative endeavors with the Penland community. Our hope is that these windows into their studios and explorations will spark something exciting in you, too. Enjoy, stay safe, and keep making! #PenlandEverywhere
Session 2 Metals—Fabrication for Sculptural Jewelry
With shelter-in-place orders in effect in North Carolina, April and May were somewhat challenging months because my jewelry studio is not in my home. I was only able to bring some of my equipment home to continue working. After a bit of discombobulation, I started focusing on work I could make in a reduced capacity studio. I’ve been revisiting old pieces, exploring new ideas and new materials, and (finally!) fixing up my website, things that I don’t normally get to do when I’m busy preparing for craft shows. The sterling silver and paint pieces in the first image are from about 8 or 9 years ago—work I’d forgotten about until recently. The second image contains elements made from brass tube with gold vermeil and some test pieces in enamel. I miss the camaraderie and excitement of craft shows and classrooms, and I find myself thinking a lot about what the future holds for artists and makers, but I also think that the challenges of these bizarre times can be seen as opportunities to consider new ways forward.
It’s been surprisingly hard to concentrate over the last few months. What might have seemed like an ideal opportunity to get work done was in fact a haze of anxiety, attempts at online teaching and dealing with the sadness and turmoil of the students whose last two months of the semester had been torn away from them, heavy-duty parenting and attempting to homeschool my 8-year-old daughter, and latterly, facing up to what has always been here: the pandemic of racism and white supremacy. Having said that, I found working in my shop, when I could get there, to be therapeutic and calming. A chance to be out of myself. I don’t mean to suggest that craft is not connected to the world in all its wonderfulness and awfulness, but that sometimes, its role for an individual can be to allow focus on material and physical being.
1. A wall hung cabinet nearing completion, just a couple of doors to go on. Inspired by the paintings of Nathalie Du Pasquier. Exploring 2 and 3 dimensional conventions of representation, and part of an intermittent ongoing series. Title: Interrupted. The painting is Formagramma by Nathalie Du Pasquier.
2. A small sketch model of a chair. I’m thinking about two coopered shells, one for the back and one side, the other for the seat and the other side.
3. Poignantly, some boxes I had started to prepare for my class at Penland, partially made. I was going to bring them along to various stages of completion when the pandemic restrictions hit and cancelled classes. The finished box is titled Fool’s Gold.
When I was doing my master’s degree at the Corcoran School in DC around 2012, I constantly heard about Penland in the studios and in the hallways, a new word that became stronger as the summer approached. As a Latin American student at that time and today as a Brooklyn-based immigrant artist, my practice has constantly been focused on the search for new learning and experimentation processes through printmaking, a medium that appears not just as a technique but rather an aesthetic; a conceptual medium to study history, memory and trauma through a variety of representation strategies. When I was invited to teach at Penland, I couldn’t believe I was going to try those studios with my own hands to teach, and share some Book Arts concepts, and surrounded by that extensive nature!
During quarantine, far from the shared studios I work in in the city, I was more connected to printmaking than I have ever been before. With the aim of making visible the injustices produced by the pandemic and especially in the most vulnerable sectors of the population, I started to use printmaking as a critical tool to think about the social and political order and its effects throughout the crisis. These relations resonate with printmaking processes as metaphors of resistance between oil and water, the action of carving a surface of wood, and drawing in an etching plate. With the lack of a professional studio/equipment, I explored alternative techniques and materials using what was “in place”: I used a bottle of vodka instead of alcohol, a window instead of a plate, and kitchen food and stuff as solvents.”
Session 2 Glass—Form, Color & Professional Practice
In the past few months we have been working together in our home studio in Seattle. Being in the shop has helped us maintain a positive outlook while allowing us to escape through the creative process; focusing on a bright and cheerful color pallet has been healing. In light of our course cancellation at Penland this summer, we plan to meet with our class virtually this month to get to know each other, talk shop and share the beauty of Penland with them!
Before the lockdown, I was working on the possibility of inserting willow branches in my creations. I was dedicating myself to the realization of some prototypes. Glass and willow jewels, an initial idea, a hint of something that could be interesting and poetic. There was barely time to take some photos and then the project stopped, but not in my mind.
Photo credits: Chiara Nicolosi e Francesca Nicolosi, @pretaphoto
Ben sent us a touching, thought-provoking story about a recent print project he completed and distributed in his community. It was such a lovely example of the power of craft and the written word that we made a whole blog post about it! Read the whole thing here.
Daniel wrote to us about his 20-year history with Penland and his co-intructor Stephen Yusko and the traveling school he started to bring blacksmithing to rural areas of his native Venezuela. His story is craft at its most powerful, and we decided to feature it in its own blog post. Please read about Daniel and LaCaravanaEscuela here.
As part of our #PenlandEverywhere series, session 2 instructor Ben Blount sent us the following words and images on June 16. Ben was scheduled to teach “The Collaborative Printer,” a letterpress workshop focused on the community-building potential of letterpress printing. And, as much as we would have loved to have Ben and his expertise in our studio this summer, this story of print-based community building is the next best thing. Thank you, Ben, for sharing the power of craft and the written word!
The first things I started to print after the stay in place order were in response to being separated from people in a way that I’d never been before. The longer that we were isolated, the more I thought about ways to make a connection with people. I realized that the people that I passed on the street or in the grocery store aisles were no longer just strangers—they were people I relied on to keep their distance, wear their masks, and wash their hands. We were in community together and they were, in fact, my neighbors.
I printed 250 copies of this poster and passed them out to the neighbors in the block surrounding my studio and the neighbors on the street where I live—4 blocks up, on each side of the street. I included a note with each print introducing myself and the project. The note ended with “At times like these, it’s more apparent that we’re all intrinsically connected, and this print is an acknowledgment of that connection. Consider it a token of my regard, a faith in our perseverance, and a welcome to the neighborhood. Stay safe, and I’ll see you outside.”
Many of my neighbors placed the poster on their windows and doors. But what’s really been interesting to me is how in a matter of weeks, as our attention has turned from COVID to police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement, perhaps the print has another reading. As we approach the 21st day of protests in our streets, we have seen people across the spectrum in support of their Black friends, coworkers, neighbors, and fellow citizens. There is a lot of work to do to live up to our ideals. Enough work for every neighbor. I’m happy to be a part of a print community that has raised their voice during this time of change.
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.
Concentrations are Penland’s signature eight-week sessions. They’re a singular experience—almost as long as a college semester, with the intensity of a total-immersion workshop. Whether you’re new to the material or a regular in the studio, they’re an opportunity to focus, experiment, connect, and make enormous strides in your work.
Experienced instructor Jack Mauch will lead students through an in-depth exploration of surface decoration techniques and the wooden structures beneath. Students will start small, applying processes like veneering, marquetry, parquetry, and wood and metal inlay to handmade frames and boxes. From there, they’ll quickly move on to building wall cabinets and small tables that incorporate their surface patterning. Students of all levels, from those who have never before touched a chisel to seasoned woodworkers, will end the course by designing and building a furniture or sculpture project that expands their skills and visual vocabularies in wood. As Jack explains, “We’ll value process and discovery over product, keep a steady but contemplative pace, and mine the veins of our aesthetic curiosity—especially when that takes us deep below the surface.” Expect to challenge yourself, learn a whole lot, and meet folks doing the same. All levels.
Students in this intensive workshop will move between Penland’s paper and printmaking studios to explore the endless possibilities for combining handmade paper and monoprinting. The class will begin in the paper studio, where instructor Georgia Deal will introduce fibers and processes from both Eastern and Western papermaking traditions. Students will experiment with stenciling, inclusions, embedments, pigmenting, pulp transfers, and more to create expressive sheets tailored to their individual visions. Over in the printmaking studio, they will use these sheets as substrates for printing, using a wide range of monoprint and monotype processes to create imagery. The back-and-forth of working in both media will expand your visual vocabulary and encourage you to own every aspect of the process, from paper to print! All levels.
Focus on Fabrication with Andrew Hayes and guest instructor Mike Rossi
September 22 – November 15, 2019
Penland instructor and former resident artist Andrew Hayes will guide students as they transform stock steel into a wide variety of functional and sculptural objects of their own design. Students will get their ideas flowing and solidify their skills as they cut, form, weld, and finish their way through a series of short projects. Then they’ll move on to more independent work, focusing the whole time on concept, design, and execution. “The goal of this workshop is for you to find your aesthetic in steel,” says Andrew. Skills including measuring; layout; cutting with torches, saws, cutoff wheels, and shears; gas, MIG, and TIG welding; finishing; grinding; sanding; filing; patina; paint; and presentation will help you get there. All levels.
This is printmaker Jun Lee with one copy of the fantastic six-color chicken print she created during winter residency. Jun and fellow printmaker Steven Muñoz assisted each other as they each worked through the high-wire process of making large, multi-color reduction woodcuts. This process involves printing a series of different colors from the same woodblock. The carving is altered between each layer so there’s no going back.
This is Steven and Jun running one of Steven’s prints through the press for the last layer. Jun wrote: “Steven is the director at the Lee Arts Center where I’m the printmaking artist in residence. We’ve been colleagues, friends, and supporters of each other. We are both super stubborn but somehow we work pretty well as a team. Of course, there were some obstacles but we worked them out with laughs after making silly jokes, plus Penland Coffee House cold brew.”
Here’s Steven lifting the print after printing the black layer, which was the last of the four.
Steven and Jun with their blocks at the end of the month (photo by Penland staff member Cami Leisk). Steven wrote: “As I reflect, readjust and return back into my life after being at Penland winter residency for a month, I am heartened to know that I have made new, lasting friendships and strengthened existing ones. Penland School of Craft is that kind of place; one where you can work on your artistic endeavors and ideas but also one where you can connect over lunch or late dinners or during studio visits and find synergies amongst other artists working in different media and collaborate and develop and nurture each other in ways you can’t elsewhere and beyond.”
This is Chelsea LaBate (a.k.a. Ten Cent Poetry) printing a series of short poems on a Vandercook printing press in the Fall Concentration taught by Beth Schaible (a.k.a. Quill and Arrow). Chelsea is a singer, songwriter, poet, and traveler, but she says, “letterpress is my new love.”
This is is the workshop’s studio assistant Celia Jailer (a.k.a. Afterschool Detective) making a pressure print onto a vellum press sheet. Pressure printing is an image-making technique in which a textured, flexible sheet is placed between the press sheet and the drum and then passed over a smooth, inked surface in the bed of the press. The image is transferred to the press sheet because it gets inked more heavily where there is pressure created by the textured sheet. It’s one of the many ways to work with these presses that Beth is covering in the workshop.