Craft Today:
Penland School of Crafts

Glass Blower at Penland School of Crafts
Glass-making at Penland School of Crafts

Penland School of Crafts is an education center dedicated to helping people live creative lives. Located in Mitchell County, North Carolina, Penland offers one-, two-, and eight-week adult workshops in books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking and letterpress, textiles, and wood. The school also sponsors artist residencies, a community education program, and a craft gallery representing artists affiliated with the school. Each year approximately 1,200 people come to Penland for instruction and another 14,000 pass through as visitors.

Penland welcomes 14,000 visitors per year
Penland welcomes 14,000 visitors per year

Penland School of Crafts has no standing faculty; its instructors include full-time studio artists as well as teachers from colleges and universities. Students live at Penland and take only one class at a time allowing them to learn by total immersion — the ideas and information gained in a two-week session might take a year to absorb and process. The school has also become the focal point for a lively community of craft artists, thanks in part to a residency program that has encouraged many artists to settle in the area. The student experience is greatly enhanced by the presence of so many nearby studios.

Students come from all walks of life. They range from 19 to 90 years of age and from absolute beginners to professional craftspeople. Some see Penland as a productive retreat, some as a source of inspiration for their personal creative lives, and others as a place to exchange vital information about material, technique, and process. What brings them all together is a love of materials and making, and the often transformative experience of working with intensity and focus in a supportive community atmosphere.

Penland School of Crafts gallery shows work of artists affiliated with the school
Penland School of Crafts gallery shows work of artists affiliated with the school

Penland School began out of a strong belief in a few simple values. Penland’s founder, Lucy Morgan, summarized these as “the joy of creative occupation and a certain togetherness — working with one another in creating the good and the beautiful.” Since 1929, these principles have guided an institution that has had a pervasive influence on American craft and has touched the lives of thousands of individuals.

For further information about the Penland School of Crafts, visit

- Submitted by Penland School of Crafts, 2008