Time for me to do the blogular equivalent of, “hey, wanna look at my vacation pictures?” Except this is an art vacation so maybe that excuses it, just a little? Hope you enjoy!

Arriving at Penland. As a fantasy lover, was instantly reminded of this:

Rivendell, from the Lord of the Rings.

The view from Penland’s side of the mountain.

The studio assistant cabins.

This boardwalk ran the length of our sleeping cabins. At the end was a community bath house. Loved the modern aesthetic of these places! Also, since Penland has an iron studio on campus, many of the cabins’ metal fixtures were forged iron, even down to the toilet paper roll holders!

I was at Penland for a glass mosaic class, but couldn’t resist checking out the clay studio.

They have two studios, an upper and a lower. Both have porches with work areas overlooking the field and mountains.

One side of Penland’s massive kiln yard.

The glass studio- my home for the next two weeks. At night, after our work in the studio was done, sometimes my class would transform that table you see out front into a super classy wine bar and hangout spot.

Speaking of my class, here they are! We had a really fun two weeks together- everyone seemed to make a lot of progress in mosaics, no matter what their starting point. My favorite part was the level of enthusiasm for the medium shared by everyone in the class. One of the students who lived nearby to Penland was nice enough to have us to his house for lunch- that’s where we are here.

These guys were everywhere on campus.

To begin the workshop, Cindy had us working on a mosaic in the traditional Roman style. Here is my attempt at that, in progress.

Later, we branched out to challenge ourselves with a project of our own design. Here I’m partway through my very first abstract mosaic.You can see one of my mugs hanging out behind it!

On Saturday, halfway through the 2 week session, we took a trip to Asheville, NC, to visit this place, where we stocked up on stained glass scrap and vitreous glass tile.

This is only a small fraction of the selection!

When we got back from Asheville that evening, Penland threw a summer solstice masquerade dance party for all of the students. That’s me in the fox mask with my friend Abby from the glassblowing class. This picture’s a little blurry but I find it really charming so I included it! The party was a perfect way for everyone to cut loose and enjoy time with new friends after a week of hard work in our studios.

And speaking of glassblowing, I spent a lot of time over in their studio watching them work. The flow of their process and teamwork was super impressive. Blowing glass can be done alone but for this workshop the students all worked in teams of two. The glassblowers were also a very cool group of people and I spent a lot of time just hanging out with them. Here Kenny, the glass instructor, is demonstrating how to pull cane, which is a pencil sized piece of glass rod that contains colors or patterns. Glassblowers use it as a decorating element. You can see a small pile of it on the table in the bottom of the photo.

In the end, the cane got so long that it stretched the entire length of the studio and several feet out the door! The long cane gets cut up into the pencil sized smaller pieces soon after it’s pulled.

As the workshop drew to a close, we finished all or of mosaics by setting, grouting, and painting the borders. Here’s my finished Night Rabbit!

Every session at Penland they have an auction of donated student work that helps raise money for the studio assistant and work study program. Being there as a studio assistant myself, I felt it was appropriate for me to donate this. It ended up earning $150 for Penland! Woo hoo!

Here’s my finished abstract, Tulip Fields. It’s hanging up in my kitchen at home.

A lot of people at Penland did artist trades while there. I had spent the whole week salivating over the gorgeous work coming out of the glassblowing studio, so I was thrilled when one of the glassblowers proposed a trade. I traded this:

And was rewarded with this lovely champagne flute:

Which I promptly enjoyed at wine bar.

On the last day, our class had a show and tell with all of the work we had made. This was only one of three tables worth!

So we all parted ways a few mosaics, a great experience, and several friends richer. I’m so grateful to both Cindy and Penland for having me as an assistant! Hope you enjoyed the photo diary. Stay tuned for updates out of Arrowmont!