NEWS-JOURNAL/CORY SPIERS Natalie Davis, right, a volunteer art instructor from Asheville, helps Serenity Sobolefski, center, decorate a clay vase before placing it in the kiln at this past Saturday’s Penland Community Open House as Serenity’s father, Henry, left, puts the finishing touches on the paint job on his clay creation.

Hundreds attend Penland Community Open House

PENLAND – Several hundred people braved the chilly weather this past Saturday and made their way up to Penland School of Crafts for the school’s annual Community Open House.

The free event offered an afternoon of hands-on art activities, giving visitors a taste of what Penland has to offer.

Visitors made creations in the clay studio, created photo and iron images, made small trinkets out of glass and more.

Activities were in full swing just after 1 p.m. and ran until about 5 p.m. After making crafts in the workshops, visitors packed the school store where they purchased art supplies and gift items.

The Mitchell High School Marching Band Boosters sold hotdog lunches to visitors as a fundraiser and those who opted out of a hotdog enjoyed refreshments at the Penland coffee house.

Penland Communications Manager Robin Dreyer said the event, which is made possible by more than 100 volunteers and donations by Dr. Taylor Townsend, DDS, is a big commitment, but one that ultimately pays off.

“We wanted to have a way for people who live in the area to be able to come up here and really get a look at the campus, the studios and get the flavor of what goes on here,” Dreyer said. “We decided we needed this moment every year where we invite everybody up here.”

Classes start Sunday at Penland. Dreyer said the open house can raise interest for class registration.

“We feel like letting them try things like glassblowing or woodworking is helpful,” he said. “We really give people an idea of what it’s like to work with these materials and be in the studio.”

Dreyer said Penland started the annual event about 20 years ago. The school usually hosts around 600-700 people at the open house each year.

“We definitely get a lot from area counties,” Dreyer said. “But some of them come from farther away than that. It does bring people in region-wide.”

Michael and Rebecca Taylor came from McDowell County to attend the open house for the first time.

“We’re liking it a lot,” Michael Taylor said. “It’s really interesting to able to try all these things we normally probably wouldn’t be able to try.”

The studio coordinators planned their individual public workshops and bought the materials.

“They really make things run,” Dreyer said about the staff.

Dreyer added the goal of the open house isn’t all about getting people to register for classes. Letting people see what really happens at Penland is the more important thing, he said.

“We want people who live around here to know what we’re doing and feel like this is a place they have some understanding of,” Dreyer said. “It’s important to us to know that people in this community have been to visit Penland and they have some idea of what we’re offering and why people come here and want to do these workshops.”

The MItchell News

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