Hundreds attend Penland Community Open House

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Guests get hands-on in the paste painting station Saturday, Feb. 29, at the annual Penland School of Craft Community Open House. The paste painting was one of several stations where guests got hands-on with art and witnessed live demonstrations during the event. The annual event brings several hundred people each year up the mountain to Penland. (Cory Spiers/MNJ)




PENLAND – Several hundred guests braved a chilly, blustery day to get hands-on with art Saturday, Feb. 29, during the annual Penland School of Craft Community Open House. 

The free event opens the doors of Penland’s studios to the public. It allows guests to enjoy free, hands-on studio experiences and live demonstrations in a variety of mediums, including clay, iron, glass photo, textiles, wood and more.

More than 100 artist volunteers from the community collaborate each year with Penland staff to assist visitors with studio activities and help make the event a reality.

Penland School Director Mia Hall said the event is unique and wouldn’t be possible without community support and volunteers. 

“People come to Penland from all across the country for our workshops,” she said. “The community itself makes the event possible because we couldn’t do it without the dozens of volunteers who spend the afternoon helping in the studios.”

Activities kicked off at 1 p.m. and continued until just after 5 p.m. Visitors bundled up and enjoyed live demonstrations from volunteer artists and enjoyed making their creations in the various studios under the supervision of volunteers.

The school store was open all day, allowing guests to buy art supplies and gifts, and the Mitchell High School Marching Band Boosters sold hotdog lunches to visitors as a fundraiser. At the same time, the Penland Coffee House was also open to serve warm beverages and refreshments. 

The Penland Community Open House started more than 20 years ago and brings about 600-700 people to the campus each year, said Penland Communications Manager Robin Dreyer. 

Dreyer said the event is useful for generating interest for class registrations but, more importantly, for showing the public what happens at Penland. 

Dreyer added the hard work of the staff and volunteers as well as donations from Ledger Hardware and Dr. Taylor Townsend, DDS help makes the event possible.

Studio coordinators plan their public workshops and purchase the necessary materials. 

“Visitors are welcome at the Penland Gallery and the Coffee House anytime, and we have weekly campus tours, but we generally limit visitor access to our teaching studios because we need to protect the learning environment,” Dreyer said. “So, it’s fun to have an event where people can use these great facilities for a few hours, make some interesting objects to keep and wander around our beautiful campus.”