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Thumbs Up on the Spring Book Class

After Kathryn Van Aernum was here a couple weeks ago for a one-week book workshop she sent us some her pictures, so we asked her for a little report to go with them. You can see all of her pictures from the class on her website.

The book class (minus two) with their books
The book class (minus two) with their books

Have you ever looked at the Penland workshop catalog unable to decide on a class because they all sound so fabulous? After all, isn’t a taking a workshop similar to drinking a magic potion that will deliver super artistic abilities, enabling you to reach new heights as never before? Which is the “right” one? If you’re like me you might sometimes suffer from that delusion. So, when I finally had the funds to go and found myself staring at the catalog trying to make a decision, I realized there is no “wrong” choice here – just pick something and GO!

I don’t think I could have made a better choice. The week-long spring book arts workshop with Julie Leonard delivered in spades. In one short week we learned five distinct historical sewing structures, along with variations and countless options for cover choices – especially with a soft-bound, single needle link stitch (a phrase that was not part of my vocabulary prior to the workshop). The class as a whole made around 70+ books! It was so interesting to see how one book form would express itself so differently when sifted through the personality of each artist there.

Student Kelly McCafferty with instructor Julie Leonard
Student Kelly McCafferty with instructor Julie Leonard

Not only was Julie a knowledgeable, giving and fun instructor, the group dynamic worked and played so well together. Although our collective experience in book arts ranged the full gamut of beginner to advanced, each person had other artistic experience in other areas and this lent itself to a wonderful atmosphere of mutual sharing and assistance.

“It’s Tuesday so it must be Pesto Grilled Cheese”
Delivering on the whole Penland experience was the food! I’ve never been to a retreat center where the quality and creativity of the kitchen matched the experience in the studio. Penland obliterates the myth of the “starving artist” as it feeds your soul, craft and belly, not to forget the visual feast of the rural mountain setting.

So if you still can’t decide what class to take – Just pick SOMETHING! There is nothing like the satisfaction of completely immersing yourself in something you love, giving it everything you can, away from the distractions of your “real” life. Honestly, you’ll feel like you can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

-Kathryn Van Aernum