North Carolina Newspapers

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Fall 1993
The first Penland glass studio, built in 1965, was housed
in a 20-foot by 10-foot building made of homosote
panels and was equipped for S400. Yet, wrote Bill
Brown some twenty years later, “From that modest
studio, with a furnace, a glory hole, and three top
loading annealers, many of the world’s finest glassblow
ing students and teachers were born.”
It can certainly be said that those 200 square feet were
something of an incubator for the American studio glass
movement. And it was at Penland that the idea for the
Glass Art Society (GAS) was hatched and the first
meeting was held in 1971. Now the story of a new
Penland glass facility and the 25th anniversary of the
founding of GAS are coming together in a blow-out
celebration of North Carolina glass in May, 1995.
Penland will break ground in March of 1994 for a new
4,500-square-foot studio to house the glass program,
which will be completed in time for the anniversary
meeting of GAS to be held in Asheville and Penland
from May 11-14,1995. The Asheville Art Museum will
mount an invitational exhibit of southeastern glass, and
galleries throughout the city will have special glass
exhibits. Approximately 500 people from all over the
world are expected to attend and will be on hand to
inaugurate the new studio.
Then, in September of 1995, North Carolina glass will
be the subject of a survey exhibit at the Glasmuseum in
Ebeltoft, Denmark, giving international recognition to
the amazing collection of glass artists who have settled
within a 100-mile radius of that original glass studio.
The present glass studio was built in 1977 with consid
erably more space and a much larger budget and allowed
for an expansion of Penland’s glass program. In the past
decade, both the building and the equipment have been
modified and improved to reflect changes in technology
and an expansion of student interest in coldworking and
casting. However, it is no longer possible to accomplish
what is needed to maintain the strength and viability of
the program with the existing studio.
Mark Peiser, the first glass resident, works in the present studio
The Board of Trustees made the decision at their meeting
on October 22 to move ahead with the new facility. The
needed funds will be raised through a focused campaign.
Board members Rob Levin, Harvey Littleton and Richard
Ritter together with Billy Bernstein and Mark Peiser have
been working with Ken Botnick on the development of
plans for the building with considerable input from other
glass artists in the area. Fred Birkhill, Shane Fero, and Paul
Stankard have all contributed to the planning process for the
lampworking studio.
It will be an open structure, architecturally consistent with
Northlight, and designed to enhance the opportunities for
collaboration between lampworking and glassblowing. A
large blowing area with three benches should eliminate the
need for student blowing slots in the middle of the night.
There will be an area dedicated to casting, slumping, fusing,
and pate de verre and substantive improvements in a cold
working area. Also planned is a clean, quiet classroom/
work area.
Major considerations both in the design and in the
choice of a site are air circulation, safety, control offumes
and noise. The location is behind and above the current
glass studio. The present glass studio adjoins the forge
and, once vacated, will allow for expansion of the
programs in iron and sculpture.
The increase of Penland’s glass studio from 200 square
feet in 1965 to 4,500 square feet in 1995 is a metaphor
for the evolution of studio glass in the same time period
as artists, many of whom picked up a pipe for the first
time in the homosote hut, have pushed the boundaries
of art and technology.
Class story continued on page 3

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