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Creation to Celebration: 6 Cs of Winter Residency

Every winter, we begin the new year with a month of short, intense residencies at Penland. Winter Residency is a time when we invite artists to arrive with their own ideas and projects and bring them to life in our studios. There is no instruction and we don’t give assignments—we just ask that each resident dive in, explore, and connect with the energy and creativity of this community. It’s the best start to the year we could hope for.

Below, we highlight a few photographs and themes from this year’s residency. Find out more (and learn how to apply to join us next year!) on the Winter Residency page.


Mary Raivel at the bench in Penland metals

Winter residency is a time to create. It’s a time to actually work on those ideas that just won’t keep quite and see what’s really there when you give them a chance. Here, metals resident Mary Raivel is continuing a series of pieces that incorporate old lenses and watch crystals. She says, “I would never have managed to devote the necessary time to this new work on age and ageism using new (to me) materials, were it not for my time here.”


Potter Ronen Yamin trimming a vessel

No meal schedules, no work-study schedules, no class projects, no daily slide talks. There is less structure to Penland’s Winter Residencies than there is to our workshop sessions, which means you can work how and when it works for you. It’s amazing how much our residents accomplish in just a couple weeks of deep concentration! Here, potter Ronen Yamin focuses while trimming a series of vessels.


Katie St. Clair working on a collection of paintings

With half as many people but just as much space, winters at Penland provide a quieter, more expansive atmosphere than the all-in exuberance of our summer workshops. Here, painting and drawing resident Katie St. Clair spreads out during the first two weeks of residency to put the finishing touches on a collection of paintings for an upcoming exhibition. Winter residency is the perfect time to take a step back from individual pieces and think about your work as a whole.


a collection of spoons made by Penland winter residents

Mostly, it’s personal challenges that our winter residents set for themselves, but there are always a few fun group challenges, too. The annual Table in a Day competition is one we’ve written about repeatedly on the Penland blog (2020, 2018, 2017). This year, residents introduced a new one: Spoon Before Noon. Above are just some of the results from the morning in a variety of materials and even more styles!


Sasha Baskin screenprinting

When you get 80+ artists together in an open studio environment, there’s bound to be a lot of discussion, sharing, and building on each other’s ideas. Often, these interactions lead to new collaborations, such as this one between textiles residents Sasha Baskin and Alyssa Salomon. Together, they used Alyssa’s screenprinting knowledge to turn Sasha’s lace designs into prints on fabric.


view of the final winter residency show and tell

To end it all, we ask everyone to participate in one of our oldest, most cherished traditions: Show and Tell. It’s a time to explore what everyone else has been up to while you’ve been head down in the studio, to catch up with old friends and say hi to new ones, and mostly to marvel at the sheer creative force that is the Penland community. Winter residents, you amaze us! Thank you for giving this month your all and sharing it so generously with us.

Want to see even more? Head to our Winter Residency Facebook album.

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Everything Must Go

Core fellows from left to right: Devyn Vasquez, Katherine Toler, Joshua James Fredock, Stormie Burns, Sarah Rose Lejeune, Kento Saisho, L Gnadinger, Corey Pemberton, Elliot Earl Keeley
Programs director Leslie Noell addresses each core fellow at the opening reception.
A view of the show during viewing hours in Northlight
"Everything Must Go" viewed from the back of the gallery
Students, family, friends, and community members enjoying the show during the opening reception
Viewing hours run through November 14!
Stormie Burns and Sarah Rose Lejeune, “Just Some Baskets,” porcelain, glaze, luster, cotton, linen
Stormie Burns, "Triangle Bowl and Dash Cup," cast glass
Joshua James Fredock, “Bubble Cage,” steel, glass
Joshua James Fredock, “Vessel and Vase,” raised copper, hot glass
L Gnadinger, “Smaller Dangers 2,” layered abaca and cotton, graphite, wax, found danger
L Gnadinger, “Memorial 2,” cast bronze, housings
Elliot Earl Keeley, “Not in Use,” steel, wood, plastic, mixed media
Elliot Earl Keeley, “Divisions 2,” mixed media on paper
Sarah Rose Lejeune, “Worry Dolls,” cast bronze, copper
Sarah Rose Lejeune, “Loads,” handwoven cotton, silk, stainless steel
Corey Pemberton, “Untitled,” acrylic, inkjet print, sumi ink, panel
Corey Pemberton, “I have nothing to wear,” acrylic, bamboo parquetry, inkjet print on panel
Kento Saisho, “Still life,” ambrotype
Kento Saisho, “Untitled,” forged and fabricated steel, graphite
Katherine Toler and Devyn Vasquez, “Dog Party” (detail), plywood, found objects
Katherine Toler, “window seat,” monoprint, chine collé
Devyn Vasquez, “Checkered Brush,” birdseye maple, horse hair; “Bubble Brush,” ash, goat hair
Devyn Vasquez, “Passing Through,” airbrush on paper

Every year, the annual Core Fellowship Exhibition is a highlight of fall concentrations and an exciting opportunity to peek into the worlds of our core fellows as they explore new materials, ideas, and techniques across studios. This year’s, titled Everything Must Go, was certainly no exception. It featured the work of 2018-2019 core fellows Stormie Burns, Joshua James Fredock, L Gnadinger, Elliot Earl Keeley, Sarah Rose Lejeune, Corey Pemberton, Kento Saisho, Katherine Toler, and Devyn Vasquez. They curated and installed the show themselves in the Gallery North space of the new Northlight complex. The work ranged from delicate pâte de verre vessels to airbrushed paintings, with a strong unifying thread of experimentation and craftsmanship. 

Congratulations on a beautiful installation, core fellows!

Everything Must Go will be on display through November 14, 2018. Viewing hours are Wednesdays noon – 3:00 PM, Saturdays noon – 3:00 PM, and Sundays: 1:00 – 4:00 PM.

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Penland Core at the HOW Space in Boone

yellow steel sculpture, ceramic tumblers
Two pieces that will be on view at the HOW Space. Left: Thomas Campbell, Right: Luke Gnadinger

The HOW Space at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC is a gallery and education space that seeks to advance creativity, collaboration, and community. It’s used for workshops, talks, social events, and, this week, for an exhibition of work by Penland’s core fellows.

Core: Contemporary Selections from the Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts will open April 5 and run through April 12, 2018. The exhibition will feature Penland’s current and recent core fellows: Stormie Burns, Thomas Campbell, Luke Gnadinger, Rachel Kedinger, Elliot Earl Keeley, Kyle Kulchar, Sarah Rose Lejeune, Alexandra McClay, Corey Pemberton, Kento Saisho, Katherine Toler, and Devyn Vasquez. The work will range from clay and metal to paper and print, with the common thread being the creative exploration and inquiry that are at the heart of both Penland and the HOW Space.

Please join us at HOW this Friday, April 6 from 6:00-9:00 PM for a reception to celebrate Core and the work of these Penland artists. The HOW Space is located at 182 Howard Street in Boone, NC. More information here.

printed paper and thread sculpture, metal sculpture
Left: Alex McClay, Right: Sarah Rose Lejeune

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Table in a Day!

Penland’s Table in a Day participants with their (mostly) finished creations.


The process of designing and making an object can be a slow and laborious one. Good craft takes time. But once a year in the Penland wood studio, time is in very short supply. For the annual Table in a Day Challenge, now in its third year, wood studio residents have only one day to craft a table from start to finish. Pre-planning and sketching are allowed, but all the cutting and construction must happen between 9 AM and 9 PM.

This year, ten seasoned furniture designers rose to the challenge. Armed with donuts, pump-up tunes, and designs (or not), they quickly spread out around the studio and got to work cutting, planing, jointing, and gluing. Meanwhile, up in Baltimore, Penland session 7 instructor Sarah Marriage was taking part remotely, hard at work on her own speed-table.


man shaping a wooden table leg
Core fellow Kyle Kulchar shapes a leg for his table (the black one in the center, above).


With this much focus and intensity, pieces take shape quickly. By early afternoon, tabletops had been glued up, legs had been shaped, and the energy was palpable. A few hours later, the parts were starting to come together into three-dimensional forms that looked an awful lot like furniture. By 8:45 PM, the artists were in a final flurry of activity brushing paint, wiping finish, and laying the final boards into place. Somehow by 9 PM (or just a few minutes after), a collection of furniture stood where there had only been open floor at the beginning of the day.


two women woodworking
Left: Studio coordinator Ellie Richards adding color to her design. Right: Winter residency studio assistant Christina Boy finishing her table as it nears 9 o’clock.


As impressive as the participants’ speed and skill was the variety in the pieces they made. The tables ranged in scale from chihuahua-sized to large enough to seat six for dinner. Some highlighted the grain and natural color of the wood, while others employed bright paint and striking textures. Angela St. Vrain, a winter resident, used a piece of blown and slumped glass she’d made as a tabletop; studio coordinator Ellie Richards covered a whole face of her table with quotes she collected from protest posters at the Women’s Marches over the weekend. The legs on winter resident Zoe Alexa’s table were solidly joined at various non-right angles, and core fellow Elmar Fujita mixed and matched a pair of turned legs with two straight, square ones.


woman building a table
Core fellow Elmar Fujita attaching the legs to her Table in a Day creation.


All told, it was a day full up with some of the best the studio can bring: camaraderie, creativity, costumes, big skill, and lots of energy. Just don’t ask them to do it again tomorrow.

See more photos from Table in a Day in the slideshow below. (If you are reading this post as an email, we recommend viewing it on the blog.)


Intrepid woodworkers about to start at 8:59 AM.
Game faces
Four hours in and going strong!
Ellie inscribing quotes onto one face of her table.
Morgan putting together the pieces (in costume, of course).
Zoe had to work during the middle of the day, but she still made a mini table!
Bob at the table saw
Angela creating the glass and wood top for her table
Resident artist Annie Evelyn chose to make a 12-hour valet stand, which is sort of like a little table combined with a chair and a coat rack.
Yes, Elmar is rocking a wig.
Ellie with the finished word panel for the side of her table.
A 12-hour time limit doesn't mean you can skimp on sanding!
Paint paint paint
Finishing up in the final minutes.
The finished tables!
Not bad for 12 hours, eh?











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Photo of the Week: Evidence of Sledding

This time one week ago, a storm was rolling in. By midday Saturday, it had dumped over six inches of fresh snow, leaving the knoll and the Penland campus blanketed in white. Winter residents wasted no time enjoying the sudden appearance of winter, and some even took advantage of our mountainous location for some just-out-the-studio-door sledding. These compacted sledding trails on the knoll were one of the last things to go as the snow melted away, like sweet memories that linger after the thrill of the runs themselves.



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Resident Artist Applications Due January 15

View of The Barns at Penland
The Barns studios and apartments—home of the Penland resident artists.


Penland is excited to be accepting four new artists into our Resident Artist Program for 2017. Residents are full-time artists who spend three years living and working as part of the Penland community. The residency is an opportunity for them to test ideas and processes, develop their studio practice, and explore new directions in a supportive and creatively-charged setting.

We will be selecting residents in all media except glass (our dedicated glass studio is currently occupied). The application deadline is January 15, 2017, and residencies will begin September 15, 2017. Learn more.


mixed-media photo by Mercedes Jelinek, cast glass by Dean Allison, metal/book sculpture by Andrew Hayes
Work by current Penland resident artists Mercedes Jelinek (photography), Dean Allison (cast glass), and Andrew Hayes (metal/book sculpture).


Though our residents span a wide range of media and interests, many of them appreciate their time at Penland for similar reasons. Hear what a few recent residents have said in reflecting on their three years here:


“The Penland residency is about a gift of time. A special growth can take place when you have time to focus life around the studio. For me, the ideas are flowing with confidence and some of them are strong. My perspective on how I want to live life is maturing.”
—Matt Kelleher, resident 2005-2008

“I have been producing more work and larger work than I ever have, getting back into teaching, participating in national and international shows, and really pushing myself to produce and deliver as much as I possibly can. As a result, my work is growing in many different directions all at once and although it feels hard to keep up, I feel this intensity is key to my growth and success.
—Rachel Meginnes, resident 2012-2015

“The open, supportive atmosphere at Penland has encouraged me to move in innovative directions and enabled my daily life with my family to intertwine naturally with my studio life.”
—Robin Johnston, resident 2011-2014

“Three years is a long time, the perfect amount of time to find myself as an artist.”
—Micah Evans, resident 2012-2015

“The Penland residency was a life-changing experience. I went from making a few pieces a year to being a full-time artist. I loved being immersed in a communal studio atmosphere, and I am happy to have become part of the Penland community at large.”
—Anne Lemanski, resident 2004-2007


Visit the Resident Artist page to learn more or apply to the program.