"This isn't real".
But it was!! I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship to attend Amber Cowan's flame working class. This meant full tuition, board and meals all covered. All I had to do was pay for the flight. It was mindblowingly generous. Without this generosity I would not have been able to attend.
The thing I really liked about Penland was that it was a whole bunch of different mediums thrown in together. So not just glass. As an Aussie glass traveller it is nice to branch out of your own medium. There was also people of all ages there. I made friends with a cute lil blue haired teen and a rockin lady named Joy in her 70's! Penland is in North Carolina kinda atop the mountains. I have never seen weather change so quickly. One minute it will be hot with the sun beating down the next the clouds will roll in, cracks of thunder and a torrential rain shower, then back to steamy sun. Nuts.
So I wanted to go because I was desperate to take a class with Amber Cowan. This chick is the business. She is balls to the wall awesome. She pretty much invented her way of working, figuring out how to flamework recycled glass and turn it into these gorgeous creations. And now she is willing to share all her secrets with you! I just found that phenomenal and to me it spoke of what a true artist is. She figured out how to manipulate the glass in a new way and instead of keeping it all to herself she wants to share it with you. She is so passionate about glass as a material and this shows in everything she does.
So for a glassblower I had a pretty steep learning curve. Everything I had learnt so far I had to pretty much not do! No flashing! No reheats! Madness! We worked hard. I was on that torch from 9am till 11pm. (I was usually done by 10:30, that was my peak so I pretty much just spun on my chair waiting for Arlie to finish...)
I went because i wanted to figure out how to lamp work furnace glass to incorporate into my hot shop made pieces. I think I made a good starting point. One of the other dudes teaching the goblet class, Granite Calimpong, teamed up with me to make a colab piece which we entilltled "turnip da beet".
Pretty funny right. So I then thought, how about if you blow me a bottle and I flamework the stopper. This way I could use boro and make it super detailed. I still haven't figured out all the joins properly but I still think it turned out pretty sweet. (It also helps that Granite is a fucking gun.)
I met some awesome people too. One of those is Arlie Towbridge. Man I had some fun with this chick. She is a super talented babe and I learnt so much from her. Her, me and Amber got on like a house on fire and a couple a nights we got to tear it up. I want both of them to come visit me! (Are you reading this you two??)
We got to hang out for a day in Ashville which was rad (when my hangover finally cleared, man it was a close call...) where we got to go "thrift" shopping and visit some studios. Gave me some mega inspiration for what I want in a studio.
I also got to have some great conversations with Lisa and Boyd, two phenomenal glassblowers from seattle. I guess really it's just nice to step outside of your comfort zone. Switch off your brain to the everyday and submerge yourself in your craft. Such a special gift. I feel especially blessed as I was awarded a full scholarship to attend. Penland is a total gift and I can't speak highly enough of it. Everyone should apply! I was the only Aussie there that session which was a strange feeling too.
And OWLS!! I got to meet owls!! They brought them in for the life drawing class. Man did I leg it down there!! They were so amazing, they don't even look real, they look like puppets.
I feel incredibly lucky to have gone to Penland and I hope again to go back someday. I also feel excited as I just purchased my very own torch!! YEEEEEEWWW!!