Thursday, September 9, 2010


I just recently spent a week at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.  It was an absolutely magical week!  I took a week-long workshop in Precious Metal Clay called Holding Dear and Breaking Free: Dynamic Hollow Forms in PMC with Donna Penoyer, an extremely talented PMC artist.

Haystack is built on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea.  I needed only to look out the window I sat beside to have beautiful views.  I am really bad about taking pictures, but there are plenty on Haystack's website and I encourage you to visit it as well as Donna Penoyer's site.

The atmosphere at Haystack is one that promotes creativity.  There's a special energy running through the place.  With many workshops running concurrently, there are students exploring many art disciplines.  During this particular session there were workshops in clay sculpture, glass, blacksmithing, writing, book making and basket weaving.  I felt immediately comfortable there, arriving in time for dinner and orientation on Sunday evening.  

The food is phenomenal and all meals are provided so that all you have to do is think about creating.  Our studio started right off after the orientation with introductions.  There was a good mix of experienced PMC artists (extremely talented artists) and newbies.  All of the people in the PMC workshop were artists in some discipline and several were silversmiths.    

We were encouraged right from the beginning to push our creativity and technical skills and to try new things.  As I have said before here, I have never really considered myself an artist, never having had formal artistic or design training, but through some discussions, Donna helped inspire me to think differently about what I was working on and to make it more than just a piece of clay, but something with meaning.  We focused on containers, hollowforms and hidden objects, but were not by any means limited to those.  

During the week, I was able to get to know many of the others taking the workshop.  Due to the closeness of our workbenches, there were some I got to know a bit better than others, but everyone I met was wonderful.  Donna is an outstanding teacher, giving plenty of demonstrations and instruction, but also allowing us time to explore on our own.  She was always available to answer questions I had, technical or otherwise.  Donna has worked with PMC just a bit longer than I have and I am so impressed by her work, which is very intricate and detailed.  Her specialty is PMC whistles and we had a chance to make a small one. 

It was so wonderful just to be able to create without worrying about interruptions or whether or not I would be able to sell a piece.  To create for the sake of creating is a luxury I haven't had very often.  The array of tools Donna had available for us to use, as well as the metalsmithing tools in the studio allowed me stretch a bit.  The creative atmosphere of the people in my group made it a magical time for me.  My life is rooted firmly in the reality of a stay-at-home mother and all that entails, so being able to put all of that aside to focus on something as enjoyable to me was a gift.

My only regret is that I did not stay there.  I registered as a day student and commuted an hour each way every day.  I think I missed out on a lot that way as I didn't get to socialize with the others in my group as much as I would have liked.  There were nightly lectures by the teachers, but I only stayed that late one night.  Apparently there were also several late nights in the studio, the stories of which I would listen to with envy the next day.  I regret not being able to get to know some of the people better.  To be with others who love working with PMC as much as I do was another gift, one that I don't often experience.

I hope to be able to take more workshops at Haystack and I also hope I will be able to take another class with Donna Penoyer.  She definitely has a talent for teaching and for working with PMC.  I told her I wanted to be her when I grow up and I truly mean that.  I admire her work and what a wonderful, happy, encouraging person she is.  (Thank you, Donna, for inspiring me!)

The ring at the beginning of this blog post was made at Haystack, with my own texture sheet (we learned several techniques for making your own textures) and the piece below is entitled Look What I Have and was inspired by one of our discussions about hidden objects and containers.  Other pieces I made at Haystack can be seen here.


  1. Beautiful work Lisa! Sounds like an awesome experience!

  2. oh!!! the hand with the hinges is so cool too lisa!!!! I am glad you had a good time, and you found inspiration withing yourself...

    xoxox Jes

  3. Lisa-You are just touching the tip of the iceberg of your creativity...I love the concept of the butterfly in the the hands. It is just magical and is a powerful memory of most childhoods. Creative people who can evoke emotion in the hearts of others are the true artists. I wish I had gone with you!

  4. I love your work, I just found you on etsy your imagination and creativity is endless. I have a little pmc not much but I also have gotten the bronze clay but haven't used it yet, I will keep up with you and you proceed through it in designs always nice to visit a fellow artist. nancy


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