Boxes are in full swing in the studio as several commissioned enclosures have just been sent to their new owners. The studio becomes a mess with so many box projects going at once. Materials are strewn about, scraps are spread everywhere, and my tools are somewhere under all of the debris. The bustle makes me think back to the most recent box making workshop I taught last October. I had the privilege to teach Box Making for Book Artists at Penland School of Craft, an experience that everyone assured me would be more than memorable. They were right, of course.
I was able to bring a side-kick (Brien Beidler) who would help with various aspects of the class. It was so nice to have a talented partner in crime for the full week ahead! We arrived on a Saturday and were able to start setting up the studio right away. Once that business was taken care of, we availed ourselves to wandering the beautiful campus and its great studios.
It wasn’t long before I was able to meet everyone in the class and it was clear that they were lovely. There is nothing better than a great group of people with a common interest. Especially when that common interest is going bananas over box making.
With a one week course, and an ambitious instructor (ahem), time is a limited resource. In order to not feel completely rushed, we had to use each hour wisely. So we began right away by making goals for the week and creating some lovely decorative materials to accompany the handmade paper we had on hand for the projects.
Students had the choice to create either the box sampler model I had prepared or break out on their own and come up with a unique project. No matter each student’s chosen road, the resulting ideas were a great mix of design and interpretation.
I challenged the students to follow ambitious structures that probably made everyone apprehensive at the start. By the middle of the week, I doubt I was even necessary! Everyone picked up the concepts so quickly that they were able to problem solve through their individual project. It was magical to be a part of.
What resulted was beyond words. I was giddy to see the number of compartments and modifications in every piece. Attention to detail and design was beautiful from the beginner to the experienced box makers.
We had the opportunity to show off our week’s achievements with the other one week courses that ran alongside our own. It is special to share the things that you put so much time and care into.
I think it is safe to say that we were all sad for the week to come to an end. The beautiful surroundings, amazing staff, and easy to love students were definitely enough to make me want to extend my stay. But despite not wanting to leave that amazing place, I was invigorated and full of ideas I couldn’t wait to take home.