Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week 26: Mountain Gate

The Road to Heaven's Above at Penland School
   It's week 26 of the year and we are now starting the last half of 2014. The solstice was last week, and now the days... though long and (mostly) sunny here in North Carolina, are starting to shorten a little every day. In a way, we are coming down the other side of the mountain that is the year 2014. This week's book-of-the-week is also about a mountain... a particular mountain... the mountaintop that is the home of Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina. The book is titled, Mountain Gate because Penland really is a gate.

 The cover, leaf imprints on paper...
   The book is constructed as a cased-in tunnel book with a green leather cover and a handmade paper title-plate natural-dyed with leaf prints.

the poem on the doors of the tunnel book
Inside, the case is lined with a 1960's era topographical map of the neighboring area of Mitchell County. The gatefold panels, which open to the tunnel book, are lined with more leaf-print paper which has been printed with a journal entry about a moment in time at the Penland School of Crafts... 15 years ago, on June 28, 1999. 

I’ve been at Penland for 3½ days now.
It’s Wednesday.
I hear the hammering of the metal smiths
Making their silver and pewter
Chalices, vessels, and masks.
I hear the beating of drums of
Caribbean music coming
From the clay studio behind me.
I see the weathered brown and 
Grey clapboard of the quaint log cabin 
known as the Dye Shed.
It’s nine-pane windows blink back at me,
Silently waiting to be included
In the bustling activity that is Penland.

As a cat contentedly watches a household
While curled in the sun.
The grassy pasture before me touches the 
Base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Bright green
Becomes olive green...
Becomes forest green...
Becomes dark pewter green...
Becomes pewter...
As the furthest mountain becomes
I feel the warmth of the sun
And the gentle breeze of a
Perfect day.

Journal entry of Kathy Steinsberger, June 28, 1999

the strata of the mountain...
Opening the gate-fold panels... one sees the silhouette of the rooftops of some of Penland's busy artist's studios. The clay studio with it's big kiln shed is the front panel. Behind that is the metals studio.. and then the historic Lilly Loom textile studio rises up three stories in the back row. 

the view, on a Sunday morning, June 29, 2014..
   On the back cover of the book is the book's colophon, a brief background of the book, Mountain Gate. The journal entry poem was written on June 28, 1999, during this artist's first (ever) visit to Penland School of Crafts... to take a class in pottery. The tunnel book was created as a demonstration during this same artist's class teaching a book arts class at Penland School of Crafts, fifteen years later...Week 26 of 2014. 

Then and now...
Below is a view of the path to the Penland Book Arts Studio. For this artist, it took some time to get there.
Northlight Building in 2014
And yet, like all the doors to Penland's studios, the Books and Paper Studio door is definitely a gate. To visit or learn more about Penland School of Crafts, go to

Come in!

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