Iron Workshops at Penland
Penland offers 1-, 2-, and 8-week workshops taught by visiting instructors in our well-equipped studios. Class topics include traditional blacksmithing, forging and forming steel and iron, metal sculpture, working with found metal, finishing techniques, and more. Workshops are open to serious students of all levels unless specified in course description; beginners welcome.
NOTE: Many aspects of Penland workshops will be altered for 2021 because of the pandemic, but we’re moving ahead with optimism and care. Before you apply, please read our COVID-19 Safety Guidelines document so you will know what to expect and what will be expected of you. And know that, if conditions force us to cancel workshops, you’ll get a full refund on your payment.
Iron – Special Session
May 9-15, 2021
James D.W. Cooper
Fry or Sauté
A frying pan, frypan, or skillet is a flat bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and browning foods. Typically 8 to 12 inches in diameter, it has a long handle and low sloping sides. A pan of similar dimensions but with more vertical sides is a sauté pan. In our week at Penland we will explore both forms, making a forged iron skillet and a copper sauté pan. In doing so we will learn basic sinking and raising techniques, the design and forging of handles, how to properly use a file, riveting, tinning of copper, and seasoning of iron cookware. Please come with an appetite for work, new ideas and good food. All levels.
Studio artist; former conservator at the Metals Museum (TN); teaching: Appalachian Center for Craft (TN), Penland; collections: City Center Park, Greensboro (NC), Birmingham Botanical Gardens (AL), Emory University Children’s Hospital (GA), Metal Museum, Penland School.
Iron Summer Session 1
May 23 – June 3, 2021
In this workshop we’ll condense design ideas into focused sample/study pieces. Students will explore, draw, model, and experiment to produce iron sketches. These sketches will then be edited to establish a clear idea for each student’s final study piece. As we work through this process, we’ll cover a broad range of forging, fabricating, and finishing techniques. And we’ll spend some time each day discussing the work of other artists to inspire ideas. All levels.
Owner of Kyte Metalwerks (MI), focusing on architectural commissions and public art; demonstrator at many blacksmith conferences; collections: Inglis Estate (MI), Washington National Cathedral (DC).
Iron Summer Session 2
June 6-17, 2021
Solid State: Introduction to Pattern Welding
In this workshop students will become familiar with forge welding as they develop patterned billets and use them to design and create Damascus objects. We’ll begin with basic Damascus patterning and forge-welding. Then we’ll move through advanced forge welding and on to complex patterning and finishing techniques. The workshop will focus on patterning fundamentals and cover a variety of styles, including twisting, laddering, bias forging, multi-bar composites, and mosaics. All levels.
Studio artist; American Bladesmith Society Mastersmith; teaching: Peters Valley (NJ), Touchstone (PA), New England School of Metalwork (ME), Penland; awards: B.R. Hughes Award; residencies: Metal Museum (TN), Penland Resident Artist Program; exhibitions: Penland Gallery, Metal Museum, North American Mokume Artist Exhibition (Japan).
Iron Summer Session 3
June 20 – July 1, 2021
This workshop will be an introduction to kinetic sculpture made of metal. We’ll go over the basic principles of mechanical movement and use simple components to create sculptures that move. While the workshop will cover metalworking basics, including fabrication and welding, our focus will be the exploration of movement as a tool to enhance the expression of ideas through sculpture. All levels.
Studio technician and occasional instructor at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth; exhibitions: “Six Years Smitten” (NM, NC, CA), “I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Peace Now!” (NC, MA), “Rhode Island I.M.A.G.I.N.E.s,” “Making Moves” at Monique Rancourt Artisan Gallery/Metalwerx (MA).
Iron Summer Session 4
July 4-15, 2021
Vivian Beer & Hannah Vaughan
Design on Fire
This workshop will focus on using design concepts and craft methodologies to develop each student’s creative voice in metal furniture. We’ll cover drafting and modeling at scale and numerous metal fabrication techniques, including pattern making, welding, hollow construction, jig making, forging, hand-hammer control, use of the hydraulic press and slip roller, and a varied use of abrasives for finishing and surface development. The workshop will also include slide presentations, group critiques, quick ideation exercises, constant use of the sketchbook, and discussions of proportion, ergonomics, style, history, and material experimentation. Whether your goals are sculptural, functional, technical, or conceptual, the iron shop will be your creative laboratory. All levels.
Vivian: studio artist, furniture designer; teaching: Haystack (ME), Penland; USArtists fellowship; residencies: Museum of Glass (WA), Air and Space Museum (DC), Penland Resident Artist Program; collections: Smithsonian American Art Museum (DC), Museum of Arts and Design (NYC), Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Brooklyn Museum, cities of Portland (MA), Cambridge (MA), and Arlington (VA). Hannah: furniture, product, architectural designer; designed headquarters of BOLT (San Francisco); products in museum gift shops including Henry Ford Museum (MI); furniture designs in galleries in Chicago and Boston.
Iron Summer Session 5
July 18 – August 2, 2021
Substitutability: Cast Iron Art Objects
This workshop will explore the use of the substitution method of casting to produce iron sculpture and to spur conversations about how meaning changes as objects are realized in different materials. We’ll work with found objects to make positive and negative sand molds. We’ll cast both of these in iron, resulting in iron objects and iron “chill molds.” A second iron pour will allow students to make multiple castings from the iron molds. Students will also make plaster molds from the original objects, and both the plaster and iron molds can be used to cast other materials such as paper, plaster, concrete, slip, metal, foam, plastic, etc. Pouring iron twice will help students thoroughly understand the processes of melting, operating a cupola, and working with molten iron. Making multiples and working with various materials will illuminate the conceptual potential of casting. All levels.
Studio artist, professor at Rochester Institute of Technology; other teaching: University of Georgia Cortona Italy Program, University of Nebraska, Bowling Green State University (KY), the Crucible (CA); residencies: San Bao Ceramic Arts Institute (China), Keen Foundry (TX), Sloss Metal Arts (AL); exhibitions: San Bao Gallery (China), International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art (PA), Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Nebraska Museum of Art.
Iron Summer Session 6
August 8-19, 2021
Sculptural Forms in Steel
This workshop will explore the fundamentals of blacksmithing in the context of sculptural forms. Starting at the anvil, we’ll go over hand skills and basic operations and cover using a sledgehammer with a partner to increase stock size and improve accuracy. Then we’ll take what we have learned about moving material and translate it to the power hammer, demonstrating its safe and effective use, including top tools and swage dies for making repetitive parts. These techniques will be used to drive the creation of abstract forms and the exploration of material and process. From there, we’ll assemble our work using traditional connections and modern fabrication, letting the feel and narrative of the work determine the best processes. This workshop will be perfect for beginning/intermediate students who want to build their skills or for experienced blacksmiths ready to push their understanding and expression. All levels.
Professor at Austin Community College (TX); other teaching: Center of Metal Arts (PA), New England School of Metalwork (ME), Penland; demonstrations: ABANA, CBA, AABA, Metal Museum (TN); exhibitions: Dimension Gallery (TX), Appalachian Center for Craft (TN).
Iron Summer Session 7
August 22-28, 2021
Functional Forms: Designing Tools and Utensils
Students in this workshop will learn the foundational skills of blacksmithing and explore their application to the design of culinary utensils and small-scale agrarian tools. Through a series of assigned projects, students will create a small collection of implements and practice forging techniques such as hammer control, tapering, shouldering, punching, drifting, spreading, and forming steel. Other demonstrations will include cold connections, filing, steel patination, forged surface textures, and more. While the focus will be on traditional hand-forging techniques, we’ll also use a variety of tools and equipment available in the Penland iron studio. All levels: beginners are encouraged, and there will be some advanced material for more experienced students.
Studio artist; teaching: Haystack (ME), artWORKS Visiting Artist at University of Arkansas at Little Rock; residencies: Penland Core Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Vermont Folklife Center Traditional Arts Apprenticeship; exhibitions: Penland Gallery, Blue Spiral 1 (NC), Columbia Center for the Arts (OR).