Penland Art Gallery

Penland School of Crafts In North Carolina Is A Hidden Gem You Need To Know About

The mission of Lets Get Original is to engage, connect, educate, and build community between Interior Designers and Artist Makers.

My main focus of Lets Get Original is to feature artist makers and their work, but several times a year I travel to very special schools and areas where artist makers live and work, and it is my pleasure to share those places with you.

Today I feature one of my favorite places in the world,  Penland School of Crafts, located in Penland, North Carolina. Penland is a national center for craft education nestled over 400 acres and in 51 buildings in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Each year approximately 1200 people come to Penland for instruction and another 14,000 pass through as visitors.

Penland campus
Penland campus

Penland School was founded in 1929 by Lucy Morgan as an outgrowth of a craft based economic development project she started several years earlier.

Lucy Morgan would be proud if she could see how Penland has evolved into a learning mecca that impacts so many lives while contributing significantly to the world of fine crafts by training, inspiring instructors and students to break boundaries of materials and applications,  taking the crafts to a level that she may never have dreamed.


Penland auction
Auction Tent set up on Penland campus

Penland recently held their 29th Penland School of Crafts Benefit Auction. It was a blast.

What do YOU prefer, art or fine craft? Trick question. Fine craft IS art.


Julie Woodman Kenny Pieper collaboration for Penland Auction 2014
Julia Woodman Kenny Pieper collaboration for Penland Auction 2014                               photo by David Ramsey   Charlotte, NC

This astoundingly beautiful collaborative work was crafted by Julia Woodson, silversmith, and Kenny Pieper, glass blower.

To see this work of art up close was breathtaking. Julia and Kenny were both in attendance at the auction, making the auction even more fun.


Penland auction friends
Part of the fun at the Penland auction is reuniting with friends

Meeting old friends and making new friends are just part of the fun.

Did you know that you do not have to be an artist to take a class at Penland? You could be in a class with a working artist, a retired CEO, a banker on vacation, or perhaps a chef seeking a life beyond the restaurant.

You will be amazed how the instructors challenge and pull you in to offer a broad experience to the small group and make you feel immediately comfortable that you are not an accomplished artist.  Warning, you may be headed in that direction after your experience.


Glass studio

Penland’s educational philosophy is based on these core ideas: Total-immersion workshop education is a uniquely effective way of learning.

Penland encourages instructors, students, and staff to freely share their knowledge and experience.


penland-studios-1   Close interaction with others promote the exchange of information and ideas between individuals and disciplines.   penland-studios-3   Craft is kept vital by preserving its traditions and constantly expanding its boundaries.

Iron studio
Iron studio

Penland has no standing faculty. The instructors include full-time studio artists who are highly recognized in their fields, some are even legends.

One thing you should know about artist makers, they are private people and the masters do not care to be called legends. I wanted to include names here, but if I did, I could feel the disapproval nod all the way across the country!


The Barns studios and apartments--home of the Penland resident artists.
The Barns home to Penland resident artists

There is so much more to Penland that I need to share with you, but not all at once. More to come later this Fall, I promise.

One more thing you need to know about, is the Penland Gallery. The Gallery at Penland is worth a road trip.


Penland Gallery
Penland Gallery
gallery at Penland School of Crafts
Penland Gallery

If you call ahead, Penland will be able to arrange a tour of the campus and studios. Please do call ahead for a tour.  Penland is a working campus, and while visitors are welcome, you must be respectful of the artists’ work and concentration.


Penland Gallery
Penland Gallery

Check out Penland for more information about all programs. Thanks to Robin Dreyer and Kathryn Gremley for the images of Penland.

Remember, if you share or use the images shown here, please give proper credit. It’s the right thing to do!