Friday, September 28, 2012

TRAC Glass Show .

Tomorrow Sat . is the last day to view this amazing show .........

Crimson Laurel Opening Oct 3, 2012

Don't miss the opening of some wonderful shows at the Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville NC.  It is at 6:00 p.m.

Susan Feagin, Matt Jenny Mendes and Shoko Teruyama:

Susan Feagin "cup"

Jenny Mendes

Shoko Teruyama

You know you’re a potter if….

This is an one article in a PDF (available for download) with a large collection of my other articles that I sell for $9.95 on my website;

1. You are doing the laundry and emptying out your jean pockets and they are filled with clay dust.

2. You are on the way to a weekend craft show, after just unloading your still hot kiln, packing the pots in newspaper and loading them into the back of your 1990 Ford Ranger. You are going 75 miles an hour down the highway trying to make it on time and you notice flames coming from the back of the truck.

3. You consider making ceramic earrings because the jeweler next you in the last show had a line that spilled over into your booth where you sold 3 cups.

4. You consider making your next show the local flea market so you can save the jury fee.

5. If you cry during the Ghost throwing scene.

6. You think that taking Sundays off is a decadent guilty pleasure.

7. You come home after a weekend show with $1,000 and think you are rich.( Before you realize that you had a $500 jury fee, $67.00 in sales tax, $50 in gas to get there, $150 for the motel, $50 for food, and had to donate something for the auction.)

8. You take a job as an adjunct instructor and actually believe that they are going to try to get you on full-time.
9. You consider taking a part-time job at McDonald’s so you can have a steady source of food.

10. You consider copyrighting your “new” cup design and actually believe you will make money.

11. You think using an electric wheel is selling out.

12. You open your kiln a bit early, because you can’t wait to see the work and your leather gloves start smoking and then catch on fire.

13. You check clayart on your cell phone, the first thing in the morning and then 5 more times that day.

14. If you have all the Ceramics Monthly’s from 1954, all in the labeled boxes, and in order.

15. If, while considering buying an Ipod, you think, I would only have to sell 7 more cups…

16. If you think that wedging is morally superior to a deairing pugmill.

17. If, after 30 years of being a potter, (living the dream) working 6 days a week, 12 -16 hours a day, no health insurance, no paid vacations, and no savings account, you suddenly realize you will have to live on social security. Unfortunately, you haven’t put anything in to it!

18. If you hurt your shoulder and realize you can’t afford surgery not only because you have no insurance but because you can’t afford to take 6 weeks off with no income in order to recover.

19. You spend your one day off a week, addressing show announcements, updating your mailing list and taking photos of your work so you can meet the deadline for the next show.

20. You eat peanut butter sandwiches more than 5 days a week.

21. You sleep in the bed of your truck at shows to save money.

22. You get excited about NCECA’s vendors area.

23. You are actually choosing a lecture entitled “Cones and the Dynamics of Heatwork”.

24. Your Youtube history has more than 100 pottery videos.

25. Your tool box is so full it won’t close.

26. You own 4 pin tools and think that is ok.

27. You get excited about natural sponges.

28. You think wedging is a substitute for a health club.

29. If someone asks you to be in a recipe exchange in mid-November and you send a glaze recipe while everyone else sends in turkey recipes.

30. If you think that buying store bought clay or glaze is selling out.

31. If Bernard Leach’s Potter’s Book is number 1 on your reading list.

32. If you think that the cheese ball at an opening could be “dinner”.

33. If it occurs to you while drinking a beer with your friends that you could recycle your beer bottle in a glaze.
34. If after doing your taxes, you consider getting a real minimum wage job .

35. If while listening to a story on NPR about the cause of homelessness and poverty, you realize that they are talking about you.

36. If you have used the word “eutectic” in a sentence.

37. You need to choose between buying clay and buying gas.

38. You have been to more than 20 potlucks in a year.

39. You ask your mom to buy some of your pots this month.

40. You are afraid of cristobalite.

41. You take a day off from potting to throw bowls for Empty Bowls.

42. You have 5 old broken down kilns in your backyard up on cinderblocks, and you insist you are going to make them into soda kilns someday. (not to mention 4 old cars on cinderblocks, and a washer on the porch.)

43. You look at your pants in the morning and consider wearing them again since they will get dirty in 5 minutes anyway.

44. You think the phrase “nice ash” is funny.

45. You have 20 five gallons buckets filled with slip that you have to recycle.

46. You open a bag of old clay and think that rotten egg smell means it is good.

47. You consider peeing in your clay to make it more plastic.

48. You consider making a glaze from your recently deceased pet.

49. You look on-line for human ash glaze recipes.

50. You compile a list of 50 ways "You know you’re a potter if…"

Copyright , John Britt

Fox Snake or Copper Head

I am trying to figure out what kind of snake this is.  We saw it on the Skyline Drive in Virginia.

It is definitely a baby.

I have been informed by Hal Heatwole, Professor of Herpetology at NCSU :
 It looks like a black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoleta) in the juvenile color pattern.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Penland Apology Letter

It has finally arrived - The Penland School of Crafts Apology Letter!!

Penland School of Crafts

Helping People Live Creative Lives

I am writing to you, as a former employee, because we want to address an error we made in keeping payroll records in the period of 2000-2007, and we think you may have been affected by this error. We would like to talk to you about these payroll issues, to apologize, and if you have some resulting concerns about your pay during this period, to try to make it right.

You may be surprised to be receiving this letter from Penland, or you have heard about this 
situation from recent postings on Penland's website and other social media. Here is the background.

Prior to 2007, Penland's payroll was managed in a way that unintentionally resulted in some 
hourly employees not always being properly compensated when they worked overtime. At that time, as you may recall, Penland paid employees every two weeks, and hours were recorded as a single number for the pay period. While hourly employees were paid time-and-a-half if they recorded  more than 80 hours in a two-week time period, they should have been paid time-and-half for the extra hours if they worked more than 40 hours in a single workweek. In some instances this means that overtime was not properly paid.Penland's handling of overtime was not intentionally incorrect. The staff members administering the process believed it to be legal, and this is apparently a mistake that has been commonly made by other non-profits and small businesses.

The problem was brought to light in 2007, and it was fixed going forward; and, following the 
recommendation of the school's lawyer specializing in labor law, a group of then-current employees were compensated for back wages for the previous two years. Also following our lawyer's advice, we did not attempt to contact former employees who had worked during that time, or earlier, but we paid one former employee who contacted us about back pay. The mistake in Penland's payroll process was not denied or hidden-it was corrected, but in what we now believe was a too-limited fashion.

We are writing to you now because we have come to conclude that the choice not to go beyond the 
recommendations of our legal counsel did not reflect Penland's values and aspirations. Although the
mistake in the timekeeping system was not intentional, we regret this mistake and we regret that it was
not fully addressed at the time by reaching back to all employees who worked during the affected time
period. We want to address this mistake now and, if possible, address any overtime hours not paid correctly.

So, Penland is inviting you to contact me if you believe that you worked overtime based on a 40-hour

week during your time at Penland. I know that it was years ago, but I would like to talk with you about your recollection of hours worked during that time, so that we can resolve how that time should be handled.

Please get in touch with me by October 5, even if you don't believe Penland owes you any additional 
compensation. Again, we are very sorry that this happened. We are doing our best now to resolve this past  payroll error in a way that is in keeping with Penland's values and its appreciation of its talented and
hardworking employees.


Jerry Jackson 

CH-3130666 vl 

Equipment for sale 2012

I'm retiring due to health reasons. Located in Stockbridge, Georgia - Atlanta area.
near I-675.

Bailey Pro-X WHEEL: $425.00 with stand-up leg extensions, 13" wheelhead,
reversing switch, adjustable shelf bracket, centers 50

Envirovent KILN VENT $125

EXTRUDER Axner Avalanche, with multiple dies $175, like new


Axner POWER ARM with Centering blade, 2 Jiggering profile
tools , 2 corresponding bats, wheel brackets. Costs over $500 new. Sell for $200, like new

Many PLASTIC BATS: 7-1/2" Square $2 each, 12? round $3

Various HYDRO-BATS and Large Plaster Bats

Dolan TOOLS, MKM and Sherril RIBS: sell for half of original

Shimpo BW-25H BANDING WHEEL: $43

Steel Lab SIEVE- Screen Size: 80 Mesh $20

Ohaus 700 Triple Beam SCALE $60

SPRAY BOOTH FAN 12? Dayton Tube Axial fan for Hazardous
locations: $250

Aluminum reusable SPRAY BOOTH FILTER: $20 (new)

Gravity Feed SPRAY GUN: $12


Paasche AIRBRUSH H: $30

Paasche 62 SPRAYER: $20

Lehman Reversable SLIP CASTER RD30 - used, Costs $1,320.00,
sell $250

White Earthenware Liquid SLIP made with NY Talc (2.5 gallon box) $3 per box

Kiln shelf supports $0.25 each. 1/2? to 6?

If interested please call Gayle Pritchard at 770-464-4401,
or send e-mail to

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Glass Show at TRAC

TRAC is having an outstanding glass show, which opened last week.  If you get a chance, come on by and see it as well as the new upstairs space!

Also they have their AUCTION coming up and need donations as well as people to attend the auction on Saturday October 13, 2012.

Clay Club Show Comes Down

The Clay Club Show at TRAC came down today from 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. We had a lot of help from Kari, Tria, Pat, Kathryn, Henry and Mary, Erin, Alex, Amy and many others!  Thanks so much for coming out and helping and thank everyone for participating!  

We did sell about $1,000 worth of stuff so I hope we get to do it again some day!

Riding the Skyline Drive in The Shenandoah Park VA

Skyline Drive by johnbrittpottery at Garmin Connect - Details

Pot Pick Up?

Is anyone from the Asheville area going to TRAC today to retrieve unsold pots from the Clay Club show today?

musing about mud: Job Posting: Visiting Assistant Professor in Ceram...

musing about mud: Job Posting: Visiting Assistant Professor in Ceram...: Position Announcement Title:                                     Variable-time Visiting Assistant Professor (Ceramic...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kiln and Slab Roller for sale - Asheville area SOLD!!!!

SMALL KILN FOR SALE: Skutt 181 Kiln, AKA Little Bisque Workhorse, AKA "Baby Smurf".  Footprint: 31" High, 26" diameter; interior: 18" high x 16" diameter (15.5" shelf).  Manual knobs (L,M,H), kiln-sitter, Power 20 Amps, new plug 2010. Used infrequently in last two years, I have only used at Cone 04, previous owner said it goes to 5/6 OK. Four peeps, three full shelves, one half shelf, three each of standard post sizes. Various cones. I paid $300 w/out any furniture or peeps, will sell with all accessories for $295.00.  Pick up in River Arts District. Greg 828 707 1641.

SLAB ROLLER FOR SALE: Brent SRC (cable-style), 30" wide x 50" long x 36" high, with 6 shims (for raising/lowering slab height). In River Arts District. $500.00. Laura SOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Canopy recommendation?

Perhaps this has been discussed, but I couldn't find anything in the archives.  Can anyone recommend a good canopy for outdoor sales?  A long time ago I had an old EZ-up but was not happy with the quality.  Thanks for any info.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Does anyone know this potter??

About four years ago I purchased a vase at the Asheville Art Museum store.  Somehow the card of the artist got separated from the vase so now I do not know the name.  I think it was a female, but I cannot be certain.  I also think she lived in the Asheville area.  The folks at the art museum store have turned over so much no one could help me and Frank Thompson didn't recognize the potter.  I'm attaching an image in hopes you can help me.  I run an art gallery in Raleigh and wanted to invite that potter to be in a show.  The only mark on the bottom is what looks like an M.  I look forward to your reply.  Lee Hansley, Lee Hansley Gallery, Raleigh

Lee Hansley

Friday, September 21, 2012

October Ceramics Monthly Studio Visit John Britt Pottery

There is an article in the October issue of Ceramics Monthly which focuses on my studio. Thank you Ceramics Monthly!

Peach Bloom Vase

Oil Spot Bowl

Oil Spot top view


Glass in the Mountains .Sept 21-22-23

Show at TRAC  and  studios open . Look for the signs or get maps on line .. 50 year  celebration of glass .....                           Cynthia Bringle ...Edwina Bringle    flame worked glass at TRAC .....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crimson Laurel Gallery - New Work by Josh Copus and more!

Alex Matisse Kiln Opening!!!

Surprise Kiln Sale


One Day Only!

Sunday September 23rd 12pm - 5 pm

Join me next Sunday for a surprise one day kiln sale!  The days are getting crisp and clear and it should be a perfect day to take a drive out into the county, add some beautiful pots to your collection, and check out the new additions to East Fork Pottery.  We will have the first mulled cider of the season and there will be delicious baked goods from Sweet Heart Bakery in Asheville .  The sale coincides with the Appalacian Sustainable Agriculture Projects fall Farm Tour, so when you are finished here head up the road to East Fork Farm and see the chickens, sheep, turkeys, ducks and pigs!

At 12pm on Sunday I will also post some work online (which is a rarity!)  so if you can't make it in person,  you can find some pots 

We hope to see you soon!

Alex and Connie

October Clay Club 2012

BMCA Clay Studio
October 10, 6:30-8:30 pm
Wednesday evening

Please join Black Mountain Center for the Arts Clay Studio in welcoming a Clay Club evening.  Everyone is welcome!!!

This is a pot luck, so please bring some food and beverages.  We can also use some paper goods (sign up in studio so we don't get duplicates!)

Demonstrations will follow our getting to know each other and eating.  Charles Freeland has offered to show his canister making process.  If you'd like to demonstrate a technique in clay, please let Charles know.

The Western North Carolina Clay Club is made up of potters who gather to connect with other potters.  They usually meet the 2nd Wed. of the month.  More information about Clay Club can be obtained by checking out their blog at:   NC CLAY CLUB

BMCA Clay Studio is a teaching studio, as you can see by exploring more of this blog.  Our students enjoy working in our comfortable studio daily in classes or open studios.  We especially like being a community of people interested in clay.

-- ================

Wishing inspires an innocent opening to the possibility of magic as we wait to see if the invisible realm will bring our wish to life. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bakersville Creek Walk!! This coming Saturday September 22nd. It should be a really beautiful weekend if the rain holds off! I along with Robbie Bell and Kari Weaver will be showing off my works by the creek in beautiful Bakersville!!! Lets hope that the rain holds off for Saturday!!! This will be my first real show and I am very very excited about it!!! :) See you all this Saturday from 10-5pm!

Clay Club TRAC Show Comes down September 25, 2012

Yo Clubbers,

The amazing and most wonderful TRAC Show of the Clay Club will end September 22, 2012 but has to be taken down September 25 at 10:00 a.m. - whenever.  So if you can plan on being there or having someone be there to take your work it would be great.

TRAC has to set up the next show and can't store the work so it is imperative the we cooperate and pick up the work.

I will see you there and thanks to everyone who helped plan, apply, set-up the show and now to those who are taking it down. It has been great to show everyone what the Clay Club can do!

Call me if you have life and death problems.

If anyone can come and help - we will need it!  Tria, Amy, Nelle, Kari, Kathryn, Pat and Erin, etc. worked very hard setting up the show and now if we are the only ones to tear the show down, it won't be right!

Please consider helping us out. 10:00 a.m. Tuesday September 25, 2012.

John Britt

Robbie Bell at the Creek Walk in North Carolina

If you find yourselves in Bakersville, NC this Saturday (September 22) stop by the Creek Walk Festival 10 a.m. - 5:00 p.m..  On this first day of Fall, you'll find the Speckled Dog Pottery with some great new pots and 30 other fine crafts people.  Plenty of food and entertainment to boot.  Come to the mountains where the leaves are turning and the apples need picking.


The Speckled Dog Pottery
Robbie Bell, Potter
1454 Sandy Branch Road
Bakersville, North Carolina 28705


Kiln for SALE 2012 North Carolina

For Sale: AIM Hi-Temp Test Kiln, Model 1413. It needs new elements. There are two lines that plug into separate circuits. $100

Also for sale: 
Brent Table Top Slab Roller - SR-14, $100

Pick Up only in Tuxedo, NC
Saundra at 828-606-4564

Thanks, John
Saundra Poces

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oil Spots for Spruce Pine Potters Market

Banging out the bowls for the Spruce Pine Potters Market October 12 -14, 2012 in Spruce Pine North Carolina.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mint Museum

Sat  Sept 15  from 10-4 Come to the Mint on Randolph Road ..  40 potters from NC are showing ...

Learn how to make Ceramic Glazes

Glaze Class at Arrowmont Sept. 30 - Oct 6, 2012

I have 6 spaces in my upcoming glaze class at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN.  This is the last one for the year.

Should be a good one. We have 10 people so far but I like to get 16 so we can maximize the testing for everyone. You won't find a better glaze class anywhere! This will get you up to speed with glaze testing, firing and design and set up up for a life time of glazing success!

Basic Glaze Chemistry and Raw Materials

This workshop in basic ceramic chemistry is designed for potters who want to become acquainted with the materials used in ceramics, their origins and uses in mid-range and high-fire glazes. The class will briefly cover oxides and their sources, the Seger Unity Molecular formula, and will mix and test glaze recipes on test tiles only. Some experience with ceramics is preferred.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Clay Club September 12, 2012

Had a nice intimate Clay Club today. About 12 people. But got to meet Bridget Fox who is at the Energy Xchange, and had lots of old school varieties of apples,  as well as folks from Asheville and Black Mountain and the best baker in the county, Robbie Bell who will be at the Bakersville Creek Walk so come on out to see him.

Also found this picture of Jim Sockwell, in his younger days,  in a book about the Blue Ridge Parkway:

I saw it at the TRAC show opening.

Also the TRAC show is coming down on September 25, 2012 and I will send out reminders.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New video from the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England. They've received a grant to research 3D printing of ceramics based on ancient Egyptian faience techniques:

More details about the grant here and here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Clay Club September 12, 2012

Yo Clubbers,

I will have the Clay Club at my studio this month. This Wednesday, September 12, 2012 from 6:00 - 8:30p.m. 

154 Sparks Road Bakersville, NC 20705 

(Google for directions or email me and I will send them to you.)

Call if you get lost 828-467-5020 

I really don't have a topic but some suggested bringing a pot you like and we can discuss it, how it was made, etc. Problems with glazes/clays, etc. We could also have some quick demos of teapots or something (let me know so I can prepare if you want demos) ?  Or just hang out.

It is a regular pot luck.

Lots of folks are busy getting ready for shows, shows, and lots of shows so it should be a light evening, but it will be good to see everyone and thank them for supporting the Penland Boycott and the great results we got!!

See you there!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Glaze Class at Arrowmont Sept. 30 - Oct 6, 2012

I have 6 spaces in my upcoming glaze class at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN.  This is the last one for the year.

Should be a good one. We have 10 people so far but I like to get 16 so we can maximize the testing for everyone. You won't find a better glaze class anywhere! This will get you up to speed with glaze testing, firing and design and set up up for a life time of glazing success!

Basic Glaze Chemistry and Raw Materials

This workshop in basic ceramic chemistry is designed for potters who want to become acquainted with the materials used in ceramics, their origins and uses in mid-range and high-fire glazes. The class will briefly cover oxides and their sources, the Seger Unity Molecular formula, and will mix and test glaze recipes on test tiles only. Some experience with ceramics is preferred.

Juried Show -Extended Deadline September 21, 2012

Description: Logo for email signature revised
Cape Fear Studios
Call for Entries ~
October 2012
Eighteenth Annual
Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery
Competition and Exhibit
Cape Fear Studios presents its
Annual Juried Pottery Competition
(open to artists 18 years and older)
Juried by
John F. Britt
Click below for the 2012
Eighteenth Annual
Nellie Allen Smith Juried Pottery Competition
Call or email Cape Fear Studios Executive Director
Ellen Olson Brooks

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Clay Club Wednesday September 12th, 2012

You clubbers,

We have a Clay Club coming up and don't have a venue so I may do it at my studio and have people do some demos . Anyone one have a better idea or want to demo something?

Let me know,

Dig In Garden and other Empty Bowls Events upcoming

Dig In! 

Yancey Community Garden 2nd Annual Empty Bowls Dinner

Friday, September 21st, 2012
5 to 7:30 p.m.
Higgins Memorial United Methodist Church, Burnsville
Tickets are $25 and will be available at the door
Proceeds benefit Dig In!, The Good Eats Soup Kitchen and The Reconciliation House

Also mark your calendars:

Manna FoodBank 11th Annual Empty Bowls Luncheon
Monday, September 24th, 2012
11 a.m to 2 p.m.
Biltmore Doubletree Inn, Asheville
Tickets available in advance only for $25. Contact Manna at 828.299.3663for ticket information and to confirm time.

Manna FoodBank 2nd Annual Empty Bowls Dinner
Monday, September 24th, 2012
5 to 8 p.m.
Biltmore Park Hilton, Asheville
Check with Manna at 828.299.3663 for ticket information and to confirm time.

And yes, we would welcome donations of bowls for any of these events

Contact John Hartom at 828.675.0008 if you would like to contribute.
Many thanks.

Dorothy Feibleman's Nerikomi Magic part 1

Here is a fun way to do Nerikomi.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Penland School Admits Mistakes- Agrees to REPAY Artists!

Great news! Over the Labor Day Weekend Penland School of Crafts admitted that they made mistakes and has agreed to repay all the artists/coordinators from 2000 - 2007. 

Thank you to the Penland Board for coming to this decision!

This a a great day for workers, for artists, for the arts' community and for Penland School of Crafts. It was the right thing to do and they did it.

I want to thank EVERYONE who was involved in this group effort to get justice for former Penland artists!  We could not have done it without your help.  There are too many people to thank individually because we had over 440 people who signed our petition and I know that over 100 additional letters were sent to Penland directly and probably many more that I did not know about, as well as the overwhelming support from our NC Clay Club Blog subscribers, posting by Studio Potter Archive, the Mountain Express on-line edition and Facebook. 

We had outstanding open letters sent in by many people which took a lot of courage and they were so thoughtful  and heartfelt. Thank you for taking the time to express yourself publicly.  

We couldn't have done it without everyone. 

The former coordinators of the Penland School of Crafts THANK YOU!

Now the blog returns to it regularly scheduled programming.

Blog on!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What Happened and What We Are Doing About It Action and a statement about the controversy over Penland’s past payroll system

Penland School of Crafts has recently been the subject of public discussion resulting from a past payroll problem. The board and staff are taking action at this time that we hope will bring the matter to a reasonable conclusion. We are also posting detailed responses to some of the issues that have been raised.

Prior to 2007 Penland’s payroll was managed in a way that unintentionally resulted in hourly employees not always being properly compensated when they worked overtime. Simply put, Penland paid employees every two weeks, and hours were recorded as a single number for the pay period. While hourly employees were paid time-and-a-half if they recorded more than 80 hours in a two-week time period, they should have been paid time-and-half if they worked more than 40 hours in a single workweek. Penland’s handling of overtime was not intentionally incorrect; the staff members administering the process believed it to be legal.

The problem was brought to light in 2007, it was fixed going forward, and, following the recommendation of the school’s lawyer specializing in labor law, a group of then-current employees were compensated for back wages for the previous two years. Also following our lawyer’s advice, we did not attempt to contact former employees who had worked during that time, but we paid one former employee who contacted us about back pay. The mistake in the system was not denied or hidden--it was corrected. However, a recent campaign against Penland, led by a community member who worked at the school during that time, has brought a lot of attention to the limited scope of the retroactive employee compensation.

While we have elected not to conduct an adversarial public conversation on multiple Internet platforms, the board and staff of the school have revisited the decisions made in 2007 and have decided that the choice not to go beyond the recommendations of our legal counsel does not reflect Penland’s values and aspirations. Although the mistake in the timekeeping system was not intentional, we regret this mistake and the way in which it was addressed, and we are sorry that hard-working staff members were not properly compensated for their work.

In light of this, the board of trustees has decided to do the following:
This week, we sent checks and a letter of explanation and apology to two other studio coordinators who were no longer working at Penland in August 2007 whose records show that they should have received overtime pay for hours worked between August 2005 and August 2007. We are able to do this despite the inadequate information in Penland’s timesheets from that period because, during those two years, the studio manager kept and saved time logs for coordinators, which makes it possible to reconstruct their hours on a weekly basis. This means that all coordinators whose records show they should have gotten extra compensation in that two-year period have been paid. Several other coordinators who worked during this time period and whose records do not show they are owed compensation will also be invited to contact Penland if they believe these records are incorrect.

We are also sending a letter of explanation and apology to every studio coordinator who worked between January 2000 and August 2005 inviting them to call deputy director Jerry Jackson if they believe that they worked overtime at Penland and were not properly paid. Because the timesheets from this period don’t give us a way to tell how much extra pay any of these coordinators should have received, Jerry will work with each individual to agree on a fair amount of compensation.
Many people have expressed disappointment that Penland did not handle this more generously in 2007. We agree that we should have, and that is why are taking these steps. We feel these actions will bring the matter under discussion to a conclusion.

Although the problem raised had to do with the school’s fiscal relationship with its employees, much of the public airing has been framed as a conflict between Penland and artists. This has been especially troubling because artists--whether they are professional, amateur, or aspiring--are the reason Penland exists. Every dollar we spend supports artistic growth.

Penland is a magical place that has changed the lives of thousands. But it is a complicated place to run; it is run by people, and people make mistakes. We are sorry for the mistakes that created this situation, and we are proud of our association with this school. We hope that we can now go back to the business of helping people live creative lives.

Glen Hardymon, chair, board of trustees
Rob Pulleyn, vice chair, board of trustees
This is posted on Penland's Website at :

What Happened and What We Are Doing About ItAction and a statement about the controversy over Penland’s past payroll system

Some Questions and Answers
In response to the recent controversy over Penland past payroll system

The airing of this problem, on Facebook and other Internet platforms, has created confusion, raised questions, and spread a lot of misinformation. In an attempt to clear the air, we are presenting a list of questions that have been implied or asked directly along with detailed, accurate answers.

If you have further questions about this matter, please send an e-mail to

Does Penland pay time-and-a-half for overtime worked by its employees?
Absolutely. Since August 2007, Penland's payroll practices have conformed with all applicable state and federal laws. This was checked again and confirmed in 2011 by outside legal counsel. Any hourly employee who works more than 40 hours in one workweek is paid time-and-a-half for the time over 40 hours. North Carolina law does not set any limit on how many hours can be worked in a single day--only on the number of hours worked in a single workweek. This is carefully explained in Penland's employee handbook and all supervisors understand how the overtime policy works. It is not common for hourly employees to be required to work overtime, but when it happens, they are properly compensated.

Penland has said that it made a “technical violation” of the labor laws. What is meant by that?
This is the term our lawyer used to describe the following: Penland pays employees every two weeks. During the years in question, employees turned in a single number for the hours they had worked over a two-week pay period. They were not paid extra for overtime unless they worked more than 80 hours in a two-week period. What this meant in practice is that if someone worked more than 40 hours in one week of the pay period, they compensated for those hours by working less the other week. This was not set up maliciously or with an intent to deprive employees of proper pay. The staff members who were managing the payroll at that time believed that their system was legal. And despite charges that have been made, the fact is that all employees were paid using the same system.

Another problem with the way payroll was handled at that time was that timesheets were turned in before the end of the second week so that employees could get their checks on the last day of the pay period, but this meant that they had to estimate some hours before they were worked. This problem was also fixed in 2007.

How could you make a mistake like this?
It may be hard to understand in retrospect, but the two lawyers we have worked with on these matters told us that this is one of the most common payroll mistakes they find, particularly in small businesses and nonprofits. There was no intent to deprive anyone of their rightful pay. The staff administering it thought it was legal. We hope this can be understood as part of an ongoing evolution in Penland's business practices.

What exactly did Penland do when this mistake was brought to its attention?
The school hired a lawyer with experience in labor law. She reviewed Penland's payroll system and recommended changes to bring it into compliance with the law. Since that time, hours have been recorded for each week so that overtime compensation can be properly made on the 40-hour standard. The payday was moved from Friday at the end of the pay period to the following Friday so that timesheets could be turned in on Monday--after the end of the pay period.
Penland followed the recommendation of its legal counsel that it pay all of its then-current employees the additional amount they would have received--going back two years from August 2007--had overtime been calculated based on a 40-hour week rather than an 80-hour pay period. It was recommended that the school similarly compensate any former employees who came forward to say that they were also owed for overtime worked during those two years. The lawyer also told the school that it did not have to contact former employees who worked during that two-year period and Penland followed this advice as well. We understand now that this is the way this problem is commonly addressed in the business world, but clearly this was not an appropriate approach for Penland.

Because of the way the timesheets were structured, it was impossible to tell from those records how much, if any, overtime had been worked by a given employee. The former studio manager--the same person who has led the public campaign on this issue and also brought the violation to the school's attention--had kept, but not submitted, a second set of timesheets for studio coordinators. These were discovered after he resigned.

Those unofficial records show how many hours these employees worked each week during the two years prior to August 2007. The studio coordinators working at Penland at that time were paid additional overtime wages for the two-year period based on the information in these alternate timesheets. An employee working in the development office was paid based on her recollection. One former studio coordinator contacted the school at that time and requested compensation. His records were unclear, so he was also paid based on his recollection.

Penland's original statement referred to the "incomplete nature” of the older records. What does this mean? Were records lost or destroyed? 
No. There are timesheets for employees going back to 2000, although the school is only required to keep timesheets for two years. However, the system being used before August 2007 did not record the information needed to determine how much, if any, overtime was worked by any individual employee in any particular workweek. So the records exist; it's the information that’s incomplete.

Employees turned in a total number of hours for a two-week period. Whether time-and-a-half should have been paid for any of those hours can't be established without knowing how many hours were worked in each week. The only records dating before August 2007 that have this information are the alternate set of timesheets for coordinators kept--but not submitted--for several years by the studio manager.

It has been charged that during the time in question Penland’s facilities crew recorded their time differently than other employees and so they were properly compensated for overtime. Is this true? 
The timesheets and pay records from that time show no evidence that any employees were reporting their time or being paid using a different system than everyone else. We have no idea what is behind this charge and there is no information to support it.

Can't Penland just figure out how much people should have been paid and make up the difference?
No, it can't. Except for the studio coordinators who worked during the time period when the alternate timesheets were being kept (see above), it is impossible to determine which employees might have worked overtime unless they worked more than 80 hours in two weeks, in which case they would have been paid extra for those hours at the time. The records have been saved, but the information needed to figure out how much overtime was actually worked and how much extra money should have been paid simply does not exist.

Why has the response from Penland been so limited until now?
The tone of the public airing of this problem, which has been taking place on Facebook and other Internet platforms, has been hostile and characterized by inconsistent and often inaccurate information, and it has generated volumes of comments, some of which are ill-informed or based on assumptions that are not true--most notably that the problem being discussed is an ongoing one, which it is not.

We do not think it is productive to enter into discussions of this character. Our initial statement was meant to give a short and accurate description of what had transpired and to assure anyone reading it that the problem is not a current one. However, the controversy caused Penland’s board and staff to revisit and reassess how the problem was handled in 2007, and we decided that the choice not to go further than the recommendation made by our legal counsel does not reflect Penland’s values and aspirations.

A group of board and staff members then worked together to find a solution that would address the mistakes of the past without simply paying everyone a made-up, fixed amount of money, which would be arbitrary and unfair--coordinator work requirements have always varied considerably, and the former coordinators we are contacting all worked at Penland for different amounts of time, from a few months to several years.

The plan developed by this group required board approval and convening a board meeting requires proper notice. The plan couldn’t be implemented until it was approved, and making further public statements while the situation was in flux didn’t seem like a good idea.

So, we are trying to answer questions now. We regret the delay but it couldn’t be helped. Organizations can’t always move at the speed of the Internet.

How does Penland treat its employees?
Penland is committed to being a good place to work. In addition to their pay, employees have a benefits package that includes paid vacation, 10 paid holidays, sick leave, extended sick leave, health insurance (Penland pays 85% of the premium), a retirement account set up when they are hired (to which Penland makes contributions after two years), free meals while working when classes are in session, and a free class every two years. All employees have limited access to studios at no charge and can rent extended studio time during the winter months at a reduced rate. Studio coordinators have free access to studios whenever it does not interfere with classes. Penland also has a grievance policy that helps employees bring problems to the personnel committee of the board of trustees if they cannot be resolved at the staff level.

Penland conducts regular salary studies to compare its salaries with those paid for similar jobs at comparable institutions locally, regionally, or nationally, depending on the nature of each job. When significant discrepancies are found, the school takes steps to correct them. Penland employees have gotten merit increases every year for the past decade except for one (2009). There were no layoffs or pay cuts during the recent recession.
Employment at Penland is governed by a detailed personnel policy that is reviewed periodically by the board of trustees and legal counsel.

Penland values its talented and hard-working employees. It's no secret that many people who work for nonprofits could make more money elsewhere, and that’s true for Penland. Our employees are dedicated people who provide extraordinary creative experiences for others.

It sounds like the studio coordinators have a pretty hard job. Has Penland done anything to address this? 
Yes. Coordinators have received several raises in the past five years in addition to annual merit increases. The studio manager works closely with coordinators to help them plan their work and balance their workload. A new position was created for a studio technician to help studio coordinators with complex technical and mechanical issues. Two coordinators are now assisted in the summer by full-time interns.

Also worth noting is the fact that coordinators represent Penland at national conferences in their medium at the school’s expense. This is part of their job, but it also benefits them professionally. They have free access to their studios during the 22 weeks each year when classes are not in session and at other times if it does not interfere with classes. Most of them take advantage of this to pursue their own work. And of course, coordinators receive the same benefits package as other employees. This is detailed above.

But yes, these are demanding jobs requiring technical, managerial, and interpersonal skills, and we're proud of the talented people who choose to do them.

There have been references to people being "blacklisted" by Penland. Is this true?
No, there is no Penland blacklist. It is true that since 2007, the person who has led the public airing of the current problem has regularly sent hostile and inflammatory communications to staff and board members, and the school has chosen not to have a professional relationship with him, but neither he nor anyone else has been banned from campus, and there have been no activities that could be called “blacklisting.”

The financial statements for Penland available online make it seem that the school has a lot of money. Isn't Penland a nonprofit?
There have been several postings of a Penland listing on the Guidestar website, which publishes information about nonprofits. The financial statement posted for Penland's 2011 fiscal year has generated some misunderstanding, because it appears to show that the school had a large amount of excess income for that year. What this statement does not show is that Penland is involved in a multi-year capital campaign and that almost every bit of the excess income shown on that statement is donor-restricted for specific scholarships, endowments, buildings, and infrastructure improvements that will benefit generations of future Penland students.

Because that statement doesn’t distinguish between operating and capital funds, it doesn’t show that in fiscal year 2011, Penland's annual operating income--the money available to the school to pay for salaries, instructor stipends, food, utilities, etc.--only slightly exceeded its operating expenses. Some people have also seen reports of total assets and thought that this number is some indication of income. Total assets includes the value everything that belongs to the school: 420 acres of land, 56 buildings, furnishings, computers, studio equipment, etc.

It's worth noting that Penland's income from tuition, room, and board paid by students covers less than half the cost of running the school, with the balance coming primarily from annual fundraising and endowments. And last year, 49% of Penland’s students attended with some form of financial assistance.

Penland’s relationship with artists.
Although the problem under discussion had to do with the school’s fiscal relationship with its employees, much of the public airing of it has been framed as a conflict between Penland and artists. This has been especially troubling because artists--whether they are professional, amateur, or aspiring--are the reason Penland exists.

Penland provides artists with education, residencies, teaching opportunities, the unique Core Fellowship Program, exposure for their work through the Annual Benefit Auction, and promotion and sale of their work through the Penland Gallery. Last year, Penland provided 262 work-study scholarships, 60 full scholarships, 157 studio assistantships, and 82 stand-by discounts, and thirty more full scholarships were made possible through partnerships developed with other institutions. The Penland Gallery director advises artists on marketing and prices and frequently recommends artists to other galleries and institutions. The gallery attracts thousands of visitors each year and provides them with information about artists in the surrounding area, encouraaing traffic to local studios. Penland also provides training and support for teaching artists who use their talents to benefit children in local schools.

For their part, artists, through donations of work to our auctions, contributions to our annual fund and capital campaigns, volunteering, taking classes, being studio assistants, and, of course, the creative contributions they make as teachers, advisors, board members, and staff members, are Penland’s most important and passionate supporters.

Penland School’s relationship with artists is a mutually beneficial give and take: no artists, no Penland. It’s that simple