Studio Musings

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Liquid Metal

Molten metal is what I imagine lava to look like. And it doesn't lie still in the molds, but bubbles and boils before it cools.

Iron Pour

Despite questionable weather, the Iron Pour happened almost as scheduled this morning and was an absolute blast to watch. LeAnn moved it a bit earlier, to slide it in between rainstorms.

The class had spent the last week or two making molds, and breaking of 1400 pounds of cast iron radiators that they picked up at the scrap yard in preparation for the pour. Andrea, one of my roommates, is in the class so its felt like I've seen a little more of the prep work than I might have otherwise.

I love that orange glow! I took lots of video, and uploaded three - my first experiments with uploading video to the web. This first video shows the sequence of one pour. They tapped the furnace repeatedly over the space of about 2 hours. The bucket (I think they called it a fiber ladle) could hold 120 lbs of metal at a time. Before pouring the metal into the molds, they added a flux to the bucket to pull out impurities.

Metal Studio

Thursday was spent in the metals studio (meaning jewelry & other small stuff, as opposed to the iron studio with the forges). They have really cool tools in the metals studio! I think my favorite is like a guillotine for metal. I didn't actually measure it, but I'm sure you could cut sheet metal at least 2 feet wide with it. I was cutting little tiny pieces about 2 inches on a side - felt like overkill but boy was it slick!

I also like the metal roller. I'd spent a fair bit of time rehabilitating sheet copper and brass from the scrap bin, but some of the metal had been dished previously and my hammering could only get it close to flat. I put that puppy through the metal roller and it came out smooth as silk. (The metal roller is the slender grey pillar-like object in the background of the above pic)

So I got lots of experience using the torch to annealing metal, hammering it to flatten and shape it, and using the metal cutter. I also sanded lots of edges. And did a little etching sample using ferric chloride (we used asphaltum and finger nail polish as resists). But my current favorite technique is painting on the metal with gesso or Golden's pastel ground, then coloring the metal with colored pencils. Once its buffed, the surface takes on a high gloss. I only did one sample of each and want to do more experimentation. In my limited experiments, the pastel ground seems to produce darker, richer results, but doesn't have the high sheen of the gesso.

We won't be in the metals studio much next week - Bobby Hansson will be teaching a one-week session, "Tin Can Art". Robert Dancik, the instructor for the upstairs metals class "Material Matters", has invited us to work in their workroom next week, but I expect I'll be pretty busy elsewhere as we'll be starting to learn lampworking.

Later in April, we'll be trading classes and working with Robert directly for several days, while his class works with David.

Friday, March 28, 2008

S'mores at the Wood Kiln

One of the clay classes is firing the wood kiln. They spent about two days loading, then started the firing yesterday. At dinner there were rumors of s'mores at the wood kiln, so of course I had to investigate. And I can hereby report that the rumors were indeed correct. They even had little wooden skewers for roasting the marshmallows (which you could then throw away in the fire box).

The kiln was at 500 degrees when I stopped by, which is apparently mostly past the point where pots explode due to moisture content, but the kiln will get up to 2400 degrees before all is said and done. For the first 500 degrees, they increased the temperature 50 degrees per hour, but as of 7pm last night they were going to increase the rate to 100 degrees per hour. I don't know if they've changed the rate since then. But I know the firing will be continuing for a while yet. And the cooling will take even longer.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Early Work - Covered Form

Going back in time a bit, I thought I'd post a couple photos of my class work.

We were all asked to bring a variety of found objects. I brought shells from our recent trip to Hawaii, and driftwood and sea glass from Seattle. David gave us each a little tin to turn into something special.

Mine was just the right size for some of the shell bits I'd collected at the beach, and I decided to cover it with seemingly random stitching in sand colors as a sea treasure. I worked with three closely related bead choices that were all yellowy-sandy colored with different finishes. And three thread colors - turquoise, tan and white, which really helped make the piece.

When I walk down a beach, it is physically impossible for me not to do at least a little beach combing. Its an addiction I've had since I was a child. And I think this is the nicest display I've ever made for my shell collections. Looking at it brings back the childhood sense of wonder that first drew me to horde sea shells.

One of the samples we've all worked on is a covered form, so here's mine. Inspired by our recent trip to Hawaii, I made a "sand-encrusted" shell collage from a tiny decorative tin.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wood Studio

Monday evening, the wood studio hosted an open house, with a free-form project. Located at the uphill end of a short road, the wood studio is backed by the woods from which the current class is harvesting their materials.

When you arrived you were directed to a large pile of twigs and smaller branches and told to choose whatever appealed to you. I found a thin, forked branch with wonderful, knobby curves. Chris then handed me something that looked suspiciously like a garlic grater and a triangular scraper tool and told me to remove all the bark from my chosen branch. The bark was rather pretty, so it was a little hard to start. But as the clean, pale branch skeleton began to emerge from its skin, I decided I didn't miss the bark all that much.

I ended up clipping my branch into three pieces. Then I wasn't sure what to do with them. I ended up making what I called my "thicket". But I headed back to the bead studio, and sure enough a beaded tube I'd made earlier in the day as a sample for seaweed fit perfectly over one of the branches. So I think it may well become an armature for a seascape. Except I want to leave some of the bare branches visible, like bleached coral.

I don't really like the base, its rather tippy, and log-like, so I'm thinking about alternatives, including working with Alyssa down in clay to make something. In the meantime, it works well enough.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt

The Penland Easter Egg Hunt is Very popular with the local community! The campus population quadrupled at the very least, with staff and their families, the families of students who live nearby, and lots and lots of locals. The buffet was very nice - and the dessert table was fantastic! I managed to snag a slice of some of the best chocolate cake - very moist and rich, with the best chocolate fudge frosting. Yum!

Heading into the dining hall you passed the egg display, which spanned a good 10-15 feet in length. While we had produced quite a lot here at Penland, their ranks swelled considerably with additions from the general community.

Before the hunt began, we were all asked to only keep one artist egg. If we found additional artist eggs we were encouraged to keep the one we liked best and hide the other for someone else to find.

I actually found 2 ceramic and 2 felt eggs. I decided to keep one of the ceramic eggs and left the others where I'd found them. Then Lauren, the woman who taught the Ukrainian Egg class found me. She gave me one of her lovely pysanky in a wooden box. I was floored and honored! A little later, I gave my ceramic egg to Angelica, another Penland student who hadn't found any of the special eggs. Even though I didn't "find" the pysanky, I definitely had my quotient of artist eggs. So I had the fun of the hunt.

After the hunt, it was fun simply to watch everyone admiring their newly aquired eggs. Adam, the coordinator for the metals studio, had raised a two part brass egg which was just gorgeous. One of the core students found it, I'm going to see if I can get a picture of that one.

After the crowds faded, I wandered over to the coffee shop with my sketchbook and spent some time looking through books on making jewelry from metal and found objects, and back through my various sketches and inspirations. I finally have some ideas of ways to mix metal work with my bead work. I'm going to talk to Robert, the instructor for the metals class, tomorrow about the best way to approach things, now that I have a starting point!

Really Bad Egg

No, the Easter Egg hunt hasn't happened quite yet. On Friday I took a mini-workshop on Ukrainian eggs, or Pysanky. The traditional designs are absolutely gorgeous. It's a form of batik where you're using an odd little tool called a kistka to draw on the eggs with melted beeswax.

You start with a white egg, and draw any lines that you might want to remain white, then place the egg in the lightest color dye bath (usually yellow). You then dry the egg back off, draw any lines or shapes you want to stay yellow & place the egg in the next dye bath and so on and so forth until you've drawn all the lines and added all the colors you wanted.

On traditional eggs, the lines are fine and straight and clean. My lines were ragged and very ethnic, like mud cloth ethnic. I made two. When you're done with all the wax and dyeing, your egg looks really ugly - covered in lumpy grey wax. You then use another candle to help melt the wax and rub it off, then finish up with a little mineral spirits.

We worked with real eggs, and the instructor offered to varnish the eggs, and blow them using nifty little gizmo so we wouldn't have to worry about rotten eggs later. Unfortunately, my egg cracked in this process - that's the scuff mark towards the bottom. I don't know how, but she managed to put it back together. So there's my one experience with pysanky! I'm horrid at it, but it was a lot of fun!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Social Calendar

The last few nights my social calendar has been surprisingly full. At dinner Thursday there was a notice that Fox Hunt, an old-timey, bluegrass band would be playing in NorthLight after the slides. This time the slides were by LeeAnn Mitchell, the iron instructor & her visiting artist husband (whose name I don't remember). He's here to help build the molds for the iron pour next weekend.

And after slides, Fox Hunt did indeed pull out their instruments & proceed to play. It had to be one of the oddest music settings I've ever been in - NorthLight is simply a big white box of a room. Slides are projected on a white wall. The only interior features are the doors and rows of folding chairs stacked against the wall. But the acoustics are surprisingly good, and the music was fantastic. Foot tapping, hand clapping music. Turns out they're friends of one of the new core students, and they were traveling from one gig to another, so they stopped over here for a day and agreed to play. They played for two hours straight. And I think I danced nearly that long. Too much fun! They stopped playing about 10:30 & I wandered off towards a shower and bed. Turns out that they simply migrated to the Iron studio and continued playing there until almost 2:00am. Good thing I didn't know about that at the time!

Friday was the gallery opening for the new show featuring works by the Summer instructors (with a small room for Spring concentration instructors). I don't think I've ever seen such a diverse, eclectic show. It definitely highlights the wide range of classes Penland offers!

After the opening, I ended up hanging out on the porch of the Craft house, shooting the breeze with some other students from the clay & wood studios. Careen brought wine, and Keith provided cups, and we all sat in rocking chairs (this is North Carolina after all!) and told stories and hung out. Then we wandered over to the kilns, where they were doing a waste oil firing. It does not smell like french fries. I wonder how it'll turn out.

And last night the Glass Studio hosted a swinging party, with mojitos, and a barbeque (for those who hadn't had enough at dinner) and great dance music - a crazy blend of anything and everything. I worked in our studio until about 9:30, then headed over for a little while. I don't think I've ever been quite this social in my entire life.

People are moving a little slow this morning - there were about 10 of us at "mini-breakfast". I mainly went because I'm a little leary of the potluck brunch that's supposed to be happening a little later this morning. But I'm looking foward to the Easter Egg hunt. Hope I find at least one egg! :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Just Take One...

That's my new plan for managing my food consumption while I"m here. Normally, when you're eating at a dining hall the worry is whether the food is edible. Here, the worry is that it's so good, its hard not to eat it ALL. And "all" would be about three times more food than I normally eat in a day.

Their menus pull from a wide range of cuisines - African, Mediterranean, Mexican, Thai - and each is produced with considerable flair. The other day they were serving falafels for lunch and I made the mistake of taking 3; they were small. After the falafel was a lovely couscous dish with pine nuts and currants, hummus with pita chips lightly dusted with cinnamon, the best red pepper, walnut spread I've ever tried (I want the recipe!), marinated chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives and then their full regular salad bar, which typically has 20-30 additional choices for add-ons. Thank goodness they didn't have dessert.

Most days they'll list the menu on a small white board as you head into the kitchen. Here's the menu from lunch yesterday. The vegetarians and vegans seem to be equally pleased with the dining hall - they'll often have a separate dish waiting for them in the kitchen as well as what is out on the buffet, simply because there's no more room on the buffet table.

And this morning they had freshly made donuts! Yummm!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Die Forging

This morning at breakfast there was a cryptic message on the board "8pm, Extreme Easter Eggs demo - wear safety glasses" or some such. I noticed it and continued on with my day. Later, I heard something about Easter Eggs out of beer cans in the metal studio. Hmm.

So a bit before 8pm I tromped up to the iron studio to check out the demo. The first half of the demo indeed involved beer/soda cans. They had used a 12 ton press to crush beer cans (Dan and Sam would love it is all I could think), then drilled through the cans and threaded them onto a metal rod, and welded washers in place on either side to hold them firmly in place so they couldn't spin or wiggle on the rod. One egg apparently takes 6-7 cans. At this point, the crushed cans formed a round disk about an inch and a half tall, and the rough width of a soda can. They then used a power hammer and an egg-shaped insert die to shape the cans. This is apparently called die punching, and could be done cold because aluminum is a very soft metal. He kept turning the aluminum on the rod as the hammer pounded, in order to complete the egg shape. Tomorrow they'll trim the eggs from the rods, and they'll be ready for the Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday.

But the coolest demo was yet to come - die forging. With die forging, you're heating metal up to forge welding temperature. The metal is heated to a bright yellow, just before it starts to burn and then they rush it over to the power hammer before it can cool too much. They used a little more force with the power hammer, but otherwise it was very similar to the aluminum cans. The metal is so hot, it was actually hard to photograph it because it was almost too bright and caused the surroundings to be underexposed.

They'd spent some time this afternoon prepping samples for the die forging. An interesting sample was composed of 22 pieces of quarter inch stock welded to a half inch core to form a cylinder about 3 inches long. The biggest challenge with this piece was getting it to heat evenly, so they turned it and turned it in the forge, and it seemed to take much longer to heat than the solid piece he had demonstrated with just prior. But when they rushed the heated metal to the power hammer, it took maybe a half dozen strokes before it was an egg shaped object. I took video of two of the forge weldings. The first, with a solid piece of metal, took about a minute and a half to reach egg state. With the quarter rod sample, I took 16 seconds of video and it was complete.

I wished that Joe, and Dan, and even Tristram could have seen the demo; it was way cool. I remember Joe complaining about trying to learn forge welding from a book because it was so difficult to correlate the colors described in a book to the colors actually seen as the metal heats in the forge. I can say that I saw the bright yellow as they drew it from the forge. By the time the forge welding was complete, it had faded to orange. And a little later, it glowed cherry red.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why make art?

That question keeps rearing it's head in various guises.

Last week, David urged us to ask ourselves the question "why beads?" Why am I choosing to work with this particular medium, and why is this medium the one I should be using for this particular piece? As he puts it, if it can be made with equal success in another medium, then perhaps that's the medium you should use; it will almost certainly be faster. Beading is a slow, often meticulous, but surprisingly zen-like, almost meditative process and in truth, the pace is one of the things I truly like about working with beads, even when I get a bit frustrated (like now) because my mind is racing a hundred times faster than my hands can produce. I also love the play of color, and the almost pointillistic style of image/object making. I love their juxtapositions of transparancy and opacity, the way they play with light, and even their weight which is so different from that of fabric or paper, my other media.

Mary McBride, one of our guest instructors, started out as a printmaker, but segued to metals about 15 years ago. A major turning point in her art career was a question posed to her by her advisor - "Are you an object maker or an image maker?" Her immediate response was image maker; she was a printmaker after all, but it slowly sank in that what she really tried to create were objects. And thus began the slide that led to her current work.

And of course, that question has been rattling around in my brain ever since. Most of my training has been in or for object production, even the design course I took. And I love making objects: wearable arts, book arts, jewelry. But I also love image production: painting with my sewing machine, with acrylics, with watercolors, maybe even with beads. But it's a very interesting question to think about.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are slides nights, and this evening John de Wit, a visiting artist for the glass class was one of the presenters. As he zoomed through his work, I found I wanted a point of reference, so I asked about his sources of inspiration. For a moment there was complete silence and I wondered if I'd asked a taboo question, as I occasionally feel like an imposter in this artist colony. Just as I was really starting to sweat, he responded with a fascinating bit of personal history, areas of interest, and imagination. But what caught my attention was almost his first sentence "I am an object maker who makes abstract forms".

So I've added that question to the more general question of why do I want to make art. That's a question that I'm always asking, and to date only have partial answers. What I know is that I'm compelled to make art. If one type of media is taken from me, I will find another to experiment with. It is a form of play, of expression, of communication. I create what makes me smile, or laugh, or sometimes what makes me cry. A writing book I checked out of the library reminded budding writers that by focusing on the particular, you can tap into the universal. I think that can be true for all art. But right now, I think I'll be happy with simply making myself smile.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Felting Easter Eggs

So Penland does a really big Easter party for the community every year. They have an Easter egg hunt and a potluck brunch. And all of the classes are supposed to contribute some eggs.

Not wanting to spend hours (and hours and hours) making beaded eggs, we decided to felt some instead. But the studio didn't have any felt, so we ordered some. We ordered a pound each of 5 colors. Boy do we have a lot of felt!

And we're starting to think like Tom Sawyer. We've already convinced one visitor that they wanted to make a felted egg. And several others have expressed interest. We'll see how many we can manage to make (with and without help) before Friday. :) We might even decorate some with a smattering of beads. Who knows.

Penland Grounds

Chatting with Joe this weekend, I realized I haven't talked about the grounds here. Penland is nestled in a U shaped valley, tucked into the edges of the woods. Its a bit hilly, and some of the studios are a bit of a hike. The wood studio is at the top of the road, and they get some exercise just going to their studio. The textile studio, on the other hand, is right across from my dorm, so I can just about roll out of bed and into the studio. Easy peasy.

There's a single main road that runs through the valley, just below campus and separating campus from the llama field across the road. This is a picture of the campus from a little ways down the road taken Thursday on the way back from the Bringle's studio open house. The white building to the right is the Lily Loom building, where our studio is located. The red roof just to the left is the clay studios. The field in the foreground is home to two llamas.

This evening I ended up having to cut across llama hill. I was out for a ramble with a few others when we realized we were almost late for the sheet exchange - the one hour time slot on Sunday evenings when you trade your sheets for clean ones. So we booked it back to campus and the most direct route was through the llama field. I can now tell you that llama hill is taller than it looks! And I didn't even get a close up look at the llamas. They were off hanging out somewhere else.

Spring is a little behind Seattle. Crocuses and other small bulbs are just starting to bloom, though I saw a couple of daffodils as well today. The biggest surprise are the native rhodies. They're as large as any I've ever seen in the North West - some are at least 12 feet tall. I hope they bloom while I'm here!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Finishing out the first Week

Another full day in the studio, and as I straightened my workspace for the weekend I realized that 5 days is the longest workshop I've ever taken. But this time, Friday came and I'm not packing up to go home. Instead, I feel like I'm just really settling in and hitting my stride. Techniques which required significant focus and thought at first are now comfortable, and my mind is going in about a hundred different directions.

This weekend I plan to play in the studio, visit some of the other studios, hang out, sketch, sleep, eat way too much good food - I need to write about the dining hall sometime, and generally enjoy the environment. A band that'll be playing in nearby Burnsville tomorrow night came through the dining hall this evening advertising their gig. I may have to try and hitch a ride with some other students.

Tonight the bead class is heading to David's house for a get together/house warming. We're meeting at the bead studio in about 15 minutes (its walking distance, but really dark and a bit rainy tonight so we're carpooling).


Whomever invented the snooze alarm should be strung up by their heels! Or at least subjected to a million repetitions of the same. It should be outlawed by the Geneva Conventions!

I didn't get to bed until after 11pm last night, and had trouble falling asleep because my head was too full of stuff. So 6:30 seemed a little early for the alarm to start going off. But when the 3 minute snooze alarms started sounding that was a bit much. Somehow, she managed to keep sleeping (or at least laying in bed) while I was forced out by the sixth consecutive alarm.

So now I'm hanging out over at the studio, feeling a bit hung over despite complete sobriety the night before (unless you count drunk on art). My sorta plan is to sneak back into bed once my roommates leave. (I know the other roommate has an alarm set for 7:30. I don't want to hear any more alarms this morning!)

Truthfully, I've got great roommates - I just don't like their alarms! I don't use them at home unless I've got a 4am plane to catch, and they really cut through my sleep cycles. They are much more effective on me than they seem to be for my roomies.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


One of the fun side benefits of being here is the artist references you pick up along the way. Some of the names I already knew, (though I might have trouble remembering it at first) like bead artist Mary Ellsworth. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any of her work on the internet.

And some are completely new to me, like biologist Ernst Haeckel. A contemporary of Darwin, Haeckel appears to have been quite the character, but he was recommended because of his rather fanciful drawings of undersea life. Rendered with the precision and attention to detail of botanical plates, the details are at times fantastic visions of life under the sea. I've managed to find a number of his plates online, and have downloaded them to my computer so that I can refer to them later, as I don't really trust the internet connection here - it's a bit iffy.

I've also been directed to take a look at the work of Louise Bourgeois. I was visiting the wood studio and looking through Chris's portfolio and mentioned that one of her dysfunctional chairs reminded me of an elegant spider. She asked if I was familiar with Louise's work - she does gigantic bronze spiders among other things. I wasn't, so I had to look her up in wikipedia.

I don't know Chris's last name, I'll need to ask her and see if she has a website I can link to as well.

Oh, and this evening I went to a slide show by Naomi Dalglish and Michael Hunt, co-conspiritors in Bandana pottery and the instructors for "Wild Clay, Precise Fire", one of two clay classes this session. It was a great presentation about their background, their studio, and their work. Michael traveled to Nepal and Korea to study traditional pottery techniques, and makes these ginormous clay pots called Onggi, which are traditionally used in Korea to store food such as kimchi. They focus on working with local clays, and their class is all about learning to use local clays to their best advantage, both in its natural form and in clay mixes. At least that's my take after the slide show, and a visit to the class studio.

And a couple of times now, David has read to us in class, once an essay he wrote and then from a picture book by Frank Babb, called "Art Can't Hurt You". We spend a lot of time stitching between demos, and these were both interesting additions, food for thought, interesting and entertaining.

Comments on my Blog!

I've got comments on my blog and they're not spam! That is sooo cool! I'm pretty sure I even got a comment from an old friend from Columbia, MO if I'm guessing right as to who bonzai is. Hi Jim! If I guessed wrong, Hi anyways! :)

The comments definitely made me smile.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Signs of the Times

Going back a little in time, David started us out on Monday with a very simple art installation. Our assignment was to take buckets with beads and spread them around campus around paths and other places where we could watch how others interacted with them and they could "return to nature". It was extremely difficult to actually start pouring beads on the ground Intentionally! I'm much more likely to see something cool and want to pick it up.

But once we started, it was a lot of fun (and I think all of us except maybe David did indeed pocket a few beads along the way). I started out by "feeding" a ceramic bird along this really cool wall, then drew designs at several crossroads. Several other students sprinkled beads along pathways, where the look like brightly colored confetti. And one placed a substantial pile of beads in the middle of the main path to the dining hall. By breakfast the next morning, someone had added a little wooden design to the now flattened pile. And by lunchtime, the circle had been surrounded by little standing stones. It's now starting to dissipate, as people continue to pick through it for the special beads. It's been a lot of fun to watch more and more people of both genders exclaiming over the dropped beads and collecting their favorites.

Back in the studio we have been working on a variety of samples. I'd never worked in right angle weave, which is David's preferred stitch, so I've been playing with it in its different aspects, working to understand all it can do. We spent the first day simply covering other beads. Of the three beaded beads in this picture, the front and back right one were class projects. The green square in the background was a real pain because it required precise counting to make all of the corners and edges come out right. I am NOT good at precise counting while doing art. I simply cannot seem to hold numbers in my head while I am in my artist mode. The oval bead at the front was much easier for me, even though others considered it more difficult because it included decreases.

This afternoon we were playing with fringe samples and Guthrie created a little sample that really reminded me of a fish. So I took what she had done and played with it some more and decided to see just how "fish-like" I could make it. Here's the result.

My new friend is about 2 inches long, to give a sense of scale. I finished him up about 9pm and decided to call it quits for the evening.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Studio with a View

David Chatt's display
We've got the greatest view in the entire school, in the textile studio. We're in the Lily Loom House, and older building with incredible character.

Our studio is on the second floor, and the back wall is a row of windows with a beautiful view of the valley and the mountains beyond. Not surprisingly, it has incredible natural light! It also has an old, well-worn wood floor the color of warm honey, great work tables, and most of one wall is a stone chimney. This is a cool room to work in! With just five students, we each have a lot of space!

So far the pattern has been breakfast at 8:15, then head to the studio and start doing a little work. Class "officially" starts at 10am, which is when the work study students get back if they worked breakfast. But David is usually there is you have questions or need a quick demo. We work until 12:30, then amble over to the dining hall for lunch. Then back to the studio.

Our workspace
After dinner, is a little more flexible, but by 8pm, it seems that we're all back in the studio working for a few more hours. These pictures were actually taken on the first day, before we really got started. The first shows the samples David brought, and some of his beads.

The dorm

In order to save a little cash for important things (like more beads) I opted to stay in a dorm. Mine's called "Building 54" it sounds very official, like it should be in a military installation. Instead its a very cute building with a red tin roof.

My dorm room itself is huge. On either side of the front entrance (with the red porch roof) there is a single room set up for up to 4 students. The front and back walls each have two twin beds with a bookcase headboard in between. The bed has a trundle drawer underneath it, and a small chest of drawers next to it. That's our personal space. Then we have the dance floor in the middle - its at least the size of our bedroom at home! Between the two rooms is a sort of shared hallway that's the bathroom, with 2 showers, 2 toilets and 3 sinks. I've got two roomates and the other side has 2, so there's five of us on this floor all told.

Monday, March 10, 2008

First Day

Its the end of my first day at Penland, and it's looking like its going to be a great 8 weeks. My new blog's name is a concatenation of the full name of the class I'm taking "Subversive Beadwork and Free Toy Surprise", with artist David Chatt.

The class was described in the catalog as "an unprecedented combination of beadwork, metalwork, flameworking, and bacon". It looks like we will indeed have some of each of the first three, with David bringing in a number of guest instructors for special topics, and some time in both the glass and metal studios here on campus. The bacon is apparently one of David's favorite offerings from the Penland kitchen. We had make your own BLT sandwiches today at lunch, just to prove David's point, I think. It was really good!

Class started leisurely this morning - there are 5 students in the class, and two are workstudy and had kitchen duty this morning. That was fine with me because I was moving a bit slowly due to the time change of 4 hours, between the time zones and daylight savings time! I had some time to finish organizing my space and to look at some of David's great samples before we got into things.

Our first official act of the morning as a class was to each find places around campus to scatter, place or draw with beads. They had to be outdoors, where they could "return to nature". But the real goal was to foster good will and have fun watching how other people reacted to the "found" beads. It was quite fun distributing the beads, and even more fun watching people's excitement at their discoveries.

Then we started into more direct work with some demos of right angle weave, and beading beads. I took a number of pictures throughout the day so that I could send them to Joe and post some here, but I made the mistake of downloading them on the Mac side of my machine, and deleting them from the camera. Unfortunately they are quite large, and photoshop is on the Windows side of my machine so I don't have a way to reduce them enough to post them. And I"m too tired right now to figure out a solution. But I do have pics!