Penland Farewell (Already!)


The class is over and I’m lingering in the suddenly, sadly empty studio for a wee while to write.  Penland never fails to amaze me.  I consider it to be the grandmother of these lovely rich places (each with the considerable misnomer of ‘craft school’ attached) where I have been and continue to be privileged to work.  This class was absolutely stellar and each person, I am more than happy to internally realize, got something very different but equally valuable from it, whether or not that something was expected by me or the participant. I cannot ask for anything better than that; I’m honored, and that is exactly what keeps me doing this.


Heather, who agreed to be my incomparable assistant again, did make wings.

Here are the lovely women of the group, as drawn by Emily.  Excuse the smudges; I failed to see the flashing light of my alarm clock this morning and overslept mightily (three HOURS!) so I didn’t have time to do the usual morning group goodbye, nor final documentation of everyone’s amazingly varied work at the all-campus show and tell, nor to ask if it was OK for people to be fully identified on the blog.  The smudges are where I’ve clumsily removed last names and the beginnings of the personal messages each person wrote. These two pages are definitely going on my upstairs studio wall when I get home.


Our session raised $13,000 for scholarships at last night’s auction; I was truly pleased that this book was one of the highest-ticket items (second only to an absolutely gorgeous ceramic piece).  Two smaller auction pieces brought my personal total to a nice tidy amount, and will provide opportunities for more people to benefit from this fantastic place.  Now the entire campus is getting ready for this year’s BIG auction this coming weekend, and I’m happy to have also contributed to that.


A Book of August

In addition to just the wonderful experience of being here on the mountain working hard and learning and laughing and being surrounded by a village of people doing the same in wood, clay, print, weaving, glass, neon, photography and iron, we also had an unusual treat, thanks to bad weather on the fourth of July: we got the fireworks show on August 3rd! That was sweet and exciting and oddly intimate: maybe a hundred of us as opposed to Chicago’s thousands.

Penland has also sprouted its own species of ear-fungi; I do plan to get that project’s web page up soon, hopefully even before I get home. But here’s a preview: this tree had so many ‘eyes’ that it definitely needed an ear to complement them. With a little luck, the project will continue as I travel on to my next destinations; some recent events have made me even more committed  than I already was.


This afternoon and tonight are a rest for my ears; in the morning, after breakfast, I’m off down (way down) a twisty spectacular mountain road, climbing out of the Blue Ridge and then right back up to Black Mountain, and a long-anticipated visit with my dear old friend Mary.  Wireless might be a rare commodity for the next several days, but I’ll catch up as I head north to another wonderful place: the Morgan. Right now the mountain breeze beckons, backed by the delicious smell of baking bread wafting up from the Pines. It’s time to say my own quiet goodbye to Penland, to the land itself.

3 thoughts on “Penland Farewell (Already!)

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