Inspirational weekend: Penland School of Crafts

I loved seeing the old type in the print and letterpress studio
For Christmas last year, we decided to give each other "experience gifts".  Knowing how much I love crafts, and being a mixed media artist, my sister Melanie gave me a 'behind the scenes' tour of the Penland School of Crafts, in Penland, NC.  Stan and I traveled to the western mountains of North Carolina on Saturday, and received that, and so much more.  Our guide was Robin Dreyer, the Communications Director, who also photographs the school's facilities, staff and projects for their brochures, website and blog.  We began our visit at the Penland Gallery, admiring the work of instructors past and present. 

The wild and wondrous fence outside the ironworking workshop
During our tour of the beautiful, 420-acre campus (no, we didn't walk the whole thing, though my feet felt like it later that night), we saw the studio and workshop areas for wood, books and paper, ironwork, photography, textiles, clay, glass, printmaking and metals.  And, because classes were going on, we were able to see and speak to the students and instructors in many of the areas.  We watched students blowing glass and saw some pieces in progress (including orbs blown into old blue jeans!); teachers and students designing wooden lamps with rice paper and strips of LED lights; a workshop full of dried and drying plant material which will be used in handmade paper (you know I loved seeing this!); a student inking a gelatin plate she'd made earlier in the week (and you know I told her about the Gelli Arts Printing Plate!); students in the forging area using giant machines and tools making lots of noise; a wild and wondrous fence outside the iron workshop; a jewelry designer, a student in the metals studio working 'out of her comfort zone' in small-scale sculpture;  the work of an instructor in digital photography, with multi-layered organic images; first-time weaving students who'd produced remarkably beautiful scarves; students in the textile studios creating overdyed fabrics; a collaborative mosaic wall done by two separate clay classes some years ago, and lovely student-created letterpress prints combined with their original poetry.  Our tour lasted two and a half hours, and at the end of it, we felt inspired, invigorated, and fortunate to have been given such a wonderful look at this magically creative place.  I was so entranced that I didn't stop to take very many pictures, and these two don't do it justice, but here they are. 

For more information about the Penland School of Crafts, visit their website, or blog

Our weekend continued, as we explored downtown Asheville and Biltmore Village, but that's the topic for my next post....stay tuned.


Jeanne Rhea said…
What a wonderful present! Your sister must really love you.
Penny A said…
How FABulous! I have long dreamt of foing to Penland -- your post has renewed that desire. That femce bega to be seen in person ;) Thanks for sharing the magic!