I think it was in 1992 that I had my first exposure to a summer camp for artists, and I totally dug it! I was living in NYC and had just started working at Dieu Donné Papermill. A friend told me about the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.
I received a Work Study scholarship (I modeled for the drawing class in exchange for a tuition reduction) and signed up for a two-week course called Sculptural Papermaking. I hitched a ride with a woman who was driving down from NYC, tossed my bike in the back of her pick-up, and embarked on one of those “time of your life” experiences.
I’m the type of person who eats, sleeps and works regular hours for the most part. But at Penland, I was on fire! I stayed up into the wee hours and was up again early in the morning. I undertook a big project (which required a collaboration in the wood studio), attended instructor lectures every night, rode my bike down and back up that mountain a couple of times, and soaked up the creative energy that was in the air.
The next time I went to Penland, I received a full scholarship as a Studio Assistant, and I’ve taught there three times as well. Most of these craft schools (Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts to name two other places I’ve taught) have many levels of assistance ranging from partial to full scholarships (and of course you can also pay full tuition).
Typically these schools offer one or two week workshops all summer long in disciplines ranging from woodworking, ceramics and metals to glassblowing, weaving to printmaking. Many of these facilities also offer programs year-round, including opportunities to rent and use their studios as an individual or a group. This is a GREAT solution for a student who gets hooked on papermaking and needs a studio!
The Paper & Book Intensive is another type of summer camp for book and paper artists that takes place annually (usually in May).
I hadn’t taught a longer workshop since we moved to Colorado two years ago, but earlier this month I spent a week at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. And I felt the energy. There is something magical about spending time away from your normal life, meeting new people (all of whom are creative), having your meals prepared and focusing on making. I find it is just as rewarding as an instructor. And it is a wonderful way to network on many levels.
The places I’ve mentioned in this post are venues where you can take a week-long (or longer) class in papermaking. This is still a growing field (some might call it a dying one) and I think there is potential for new classes. I encourage those of you who teach to propose a workshop and those of you who take classes to ask for one! Together we can make hand papermaking a bigger dot on the map!
I’m starting my own an annual paper retreat in my studio in Red Cliff, Colorado. Next week, I’ll welcome participants from Colorado, New York, and Michigan for the first annual event.
And speaking of maps, I’ve created a pinterest board featuring places to take paper classes. Please let me know if I’ve missed any – I’d love to add them to the list!