We’re in the final week of clay winter residencies, which means a flurry of glazing and firing and a lot of full tables. A quick visit to the upper clay studio yesterday revealed two very different approaches to surface decoration. Above, core fellow Eleanor Anderson goes big with color and pattern and waxes and underglaze. Below, winter resident Irvin Carsten keeps his cleanly angled forms a bit more muted.
If you’ll be around campus this Friday, February 16, stop by the clay studio at 5 PM for the final show and tell of ceramic work—this year’s residents have been prodigious!
Will Maguire, from Elderslie, Australia, and Sven Bauer, from Womrath, Germany, spent the last two weeks of January in the Penland iron shop as part of this year’s winter residency. They met a decade ago when they worked for a time in the same blacksmith’s shop in England. After returning to their respective countries and being out of touch for a few years, they reconnected through their mutual friend Rick Smith, who is a Penland instructor and a former resident artist. Rick had told both of them about Penland, and they decided to use the winter residency as a chance to work together again.
“We work in small shops by ourselves, and this was a good chance to do some work around other people,” Will said. Their plan was to make collaborative work, but the projects they set up for themselves didn’t really gel. The attempt did result, however, in great conversations and useful critiques. And everyone who passed through the studio could attest to the fact that they each made some beautiful work.
Asked why they wanted to have this reunion at Penland, Sven answered, “I don’t know of any place in Europe where we could do this—to be able to do an artist residency of a few weeks in a shop with this kind of equipment. This does not exist for blacksmithing. There are programs like this for musicians, writers, and painters, but not for what we do. It’s also been great to visit the other shops, see what everyone else is doing, and talk to people working on other mediums with a similar intent.”
They expect to meet up at Penland again, and we hope they will.
Summer at Penland boasts the Annual Benefit Auction and the Fourth of July parade. The spring season gets the Community Open House and the Easter egg hunt. In the fall, there’s the annual Halloween party and the final scholarship auction of the year. But it may be winter that hosts my favorite Penland event of all—Table in a Day in the wood studio.
Like these other Penland traditions, Table in a Day distills so much of what’s vital to life at Penland: fine craft, camaraderie, a bit of hustle, and a lot of fun. Participants have the twelve hours from 9 AM to 9 PM to construct a table of their own design, from milling the wood to joining and finishing the pieces. Now in its fourth year, it’s a frenzy that never fails to result in beautiful work and good laughs.
By this year’s 9 PM finish line, when pizza magically appeared on the studio tables and residents from all over campus came to marvel at the results, artists in the wood studio had transformed rough boards and ideas into a stunning variety of actual tables. Some were colorful and adorned with patterns, while others boasted elegant curves and thoughtful joinery. Wood studio coordinator Ellie Richards incorporated flooring from the old Northlight building into her three-part design, while core fellow Corey Pemberton used the strength of plywood to his advantage in a series of thin splines that support a circular top (both pictured above).
And, this year, the Penland community proved that you don’t have to be a wood resident to join the fun. Other entries included a 3D-printed miniature table in hot pink plastic (complete with pink plant accessory!), a table-shaped box made of book board, a clay dish decorated with an image of an intricate hall table, and screenprint embellished with drawing to make a pool table. There was even a remote Table in a Day entry from fall concentration instructor Christina Boy from her wood studio in Virginia!