This summer I would like to take myself on a two week retreat of
sorts as well as take some metals classes. I’ve heard of Haystack,
Arrowmont, Penland, and a few other Craft Centers. (The only place
I’ve been to is Peter’s Valley.) If any of you have either taken
classes or taught classes during any summer workshops I would love to
hear some feedback. Is there a place or program that anyone highly
reccomends? I have no idea what these places are like, location wise?
accomodations? instructors? clean? friendly? artsy? snoby?..Anyone’s
experience would be greatly appreciated.
This summer I would like to take myself on a two week retreat of
Dawn-- I’ve just come back from 7 days at the Revere Academy in San
Francisco. I took two sequential workshops from Marne Ryan (5 days
of torch texturing and fusing sterling, two days of fusing gold to
sterling). It was intense, exciting, and fabulous, though I am now
struggling to get my Smith acetylene/air torch to do what was
relatively easy for me with their Meco natural gas/oxygen rigs. The
class was very professional, the classroom excellently equipped, a
real eye-opener for me. My education has been in community art
centers and on my own. The other students and the staff were
friendly and collegial, not snobby. It is in down town SF, which was
fun when I had time to wander, which was not much. There are an
incredible number of crazies and homeless everywhere, but I mostly
felt safe. The restaurants are numerous and good, though a bit
pricy. There is pretty cheap housing available, and the folks at the
Academy are very helpful, as is their web site. Bottom line, I would
love to go back for more, when I can afford it. Tuition and
materials really add up. Check out their web site. If You want to
know anything else, email me! --Noel
I’ve heard cool things about Metalwerx in Woburn, MA, but I haven’t
personally been there. I’m looking forward to hearing what others
might say in response to your post, and maybe I’ll plan something for
Hi Dawn: It was several years ago that I attended Penland during the
summer, so I don’t know whether my observations still hold. I was
there on three different occasions. I found the people in the
jewelry classes, especially, very warm, pleasant and related. Like
Orchid, there was mostly cooperation, and very little, if any
competition. The classes were taught by Master Craftsmen,
relatively well equipped and were all really wonderful. The food,
and the general setting and ambiance were excellent. I can’t sat the
same for the accommodations–they were rather primitive, and not all
in good condition–it is possible that they have improved since I
was there. Since everything else was so pleasant, we (my husband
and I took different classes) made do with the rather shabby
conditions. (clean but shabby). They are located in a beautiful
spot in the mountains of North Carolina–not easy to get to unless
you live nearby, but I know they do have airport pickups etc. It was
a great experience, and if we could find two different classes,
given at the same time, that we would like to take, we definitely
would go back.
Another place we’ve been to is Touchstone in southwestern
Pennsylvania. Again this was some years ago. Very pleasant place,
probably not quite as well equipped as Penland and much smaller.
Mostly small cabins with central facilities for showers etc. Clean
and pleasant and very pretty setting. People were unpretentious,
friendly. I certainly would go back there again. Their website is
Hope this helps Sincerely Sandra
I run silversmithing workshops in Ireland. It is difficult to
reccomend the classes which I run. Maybe you could look at the web
site and see the comments from past students. There could be some
ex-students out there who see this and could reccomend the classes.
The Old Schoolhouse,
Co. Wicklow, IRELAND
Dawn, A summer or so ago, my wife and I did the Wildacres NC week
course and truley loved it! Up in the mountains, away from
EVERYTHING. Beautiful place and facilities & food. Took a course
from John Cosgrove on fold forming through Fla Society of Goldsmiths.
Alan Revere and Jean Stark among others were instructing also. Try
www.FSG4u.com for info Thomas Blair Island Gold Works
I’ve attended classes at Arrowmont for many years and also consider
it something like a retreat. They have varied accommodations on their
campus. You can stay in the barn in double rooms or five or six
person arrangements, priced accordingly. Baths down the hall. There
is also a unit that is more like a motel without TV and with shared
baths but the important thing is that it is air conditioned.
Arrowmont is located in Gattlingburg, Tenn. The climate is humid! It
is also a part of Smoky Mountains so there is a great deal of uphill
walking. Gattlingburg is a tourist attraction but the school is its
own separate thing. The instructors are excellent and seem to teach
at other centers you mentioned. The studio facilities are good.
I taught at Penland many years ago and it is a wonderful place to be
in the summer. In addition, Christina Y. Smith is teaching a class
there this summer. She is a really fun teacher and does beautiful
work. You can see some of her work by going to the address below:
http://home.att.net/~taboostudio/c_smith.htm. Go to
http://www.penland.org to see the school’s web site and class
Check out amfed.org/eastern/wildacres for on classes,
fees, accomodations, etc. at the Eastern Federation of Mineralogical
and Lapidary Societies Wildacres Workshops held May 23-29 and Sept.
9-15 . I am teaching Precious Metal Clay at both sessions plus
mineral identification in May and solderless chain making in the
Hi Dawn- I have had great summer workshop experiences at the
Mendocino Art Center in Mendocino, California. They are reasonable
for a five day workshop ( around $250) and the setting is gorgeous,
right on the headlands of the Pacific Ocean. The jewelry studio is
smallish but they limit the class size and I have always felt that I
have gotton my moneys worth and more. In fact I am signed up for a
five day workshop with Marilyn De Silva this June.It is a great way
to meet other jewelers as well as the others artists that are taking
workshops there at the same time. Good luck!- Gail
Touchstone has changed considerably in the last two years. They now
have an incredible new blacksmithing studio that is fully equipped,
with lots of natural light and breezes. There are always plenty of
classes for beginners, if you feel the urge to really pound some
The jewelry studio has just undergone a major remodeling, including
the addition of a “hammering room” surrounded by windows, and new,
professional benches, torches, and equipment in the jewelry room.
The view from the studio is beautiful and inspiring: you look out
into a woods filled with ferns and flowers, along the banks of a
trout stream. There are some very interesting classes offered this
year. Enrollment is kept small, so you get a lot of personal
attention, but this also means that classes fill quickly.
The cabins are primitive, surrounded by woods, and the bathrooms are
located in a central building. Early spring or late fall can be a
little wet and cold, but this is a really wonderful time to visit.
“Falling Water,” Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, is located
nearby, and you can also spend a day running the whitewater rapids
on the Yougegheny (probably not spelled correctly, but everyone
calls it “The Yock”) river. They have just completed a large Admin
building, with a great room lounge area with a huge stone fireplace,
library, gallery, gift shop, etc.
I really enjoy teaching here. Classes run for a week during the
summer, and weekends in the spring and fall. Check out the web site.
I can also highly recommend the workshops and classes offered at
Revere Academy in San Francisco, and New Approach School in Virginia
Beach. Both of these schools offer top notch professional workshops.
The studios are very well equipped, and the instructors are
professional metalsmiths who make their living doing what they
I have also heard great things about Metalwerks and Kate Wolf’s
school in Portland Maine, but I personally have not taught at either
Hope this helps, Doug Zaruba
Dear Dawn…I noticed that in response to your inquiry about summer
workshop you received an email from Brian Clarke in Rathdrum,
Ireland. My two weeks with Brian Clarke in the summer of 1996, were
the best gift I have ever given my career and a real turning point.
If you find the airfares in summer a bit steep, Brian offers
workshops in the off season as well. There is no ‘off season’ in
his wonderful studio and home. Feel free to contact me with any
additional questions. Margery Cooper Pennsylvania Society
Many thanks for your mention on Orchid. We are all well and working
Alan is a freelance illustrator and living in Dublin and Robert is
doing a world tour and is living in Freemantle in Australia at the
moment having spent some months in South Africa.
The workshops are looking good but maybe a little affected by the
foot and mouth and September 11th.