Three members of staff at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design spent a productive summer sharing their craft with students in the USA and spreading the word about DJCAD’s league topping reputation for design and craft in the UK.

Dr Sandra Wilson, award winning jeweller and Reader in Jewellery and Metal Design at DJCAD, joined colleagues Jane Keith and Malcolm Cheyne at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.

Penland School of Crafts has an international reputation for furthering artistic practice,” said Sandra. “Situated in the blue ridge mountains of North Carolina its rural location adds to the very special atmosphere to be found there. Recently DJCAD was No 1 in the UK according to the Guardian League Tables for Design and Craft and so when I was approached by Penland to develop closer relationships with the school they seemed a very good fit.

“Leslie Noell, the Penland Director of Operations came to Dundee two years ago to meet with both staff and students and following this three of us were invited to run short courses at Penland for summer 2018.”

Sandra ran the “Waxing Lyrical,” course, working with wax and casting while Jane led a “Colour and Cloth course” and Malcolm  a “Take a Seat – Making a chair” course.

Penland was first established in 1929 by Lucy Morgan to provide economic opportunities for local women by teaching them a craft. Since the it has grown to include more workshops and studios and a full programme of short courses, artist residencies and fellowships.

“Twelve students were registered for each course,” said Sandra. “There was a mixture of recent graduates from US universities, some current students who received validation for their time in Penland and some mature students who had businesses at various stages of development.

“Rachel, for example, on the casting course had her own shop in New Orleans and was looking to develop some experience of working in wax and casting to increase her profitability and the volume and range of work she could produce. One student even travelled from as far as Japan to take the course!

“Many of the students are also on the look-out for future masters and PhD programmes and Scotland is a popular choice.

“Teaching for two weeks solid is quite an intense but hugely satisfying experience. None of the workshops are locked and students can stay in the workshop as long as they like to get the most out of their time there. All staff and students share meals together and in some cases accommodation. The workshops are incredibly well equipped with a broad range of tools and machines although it took some getting used to the different terms and pronunciation for things between UK and US. Students are also very focussed on their practice and being hands on.

“On the casting course students made tiny silver babies each with their own little characters. For example, some had bowler hats, bow-ties and backpacks etc, and another student made wedding rings for both her and fiancé.”

Sandra is confident the visit had an impact on Penland.

“We definitely left an impression,” she said. “All 290 students know that DJCAD is no 1 in the UK for design and craft and it will be interesting to see how many students develop post graduate applications with us. In the future we hope to build on this connection to create perhaps shared PhD students and research projects exploring the social and health contribution of craft practice to the wider economy. “