Stars at Penland School of Craft

Fenland School of Crafts North Carolina

Ohhh where have you been Suzi Baum, Suzi Baum?

I have been posting remotely this week.
Very remotely.
Remote, like from a small dirt road up a very long hill off a small highway through the Blue Ridge Mountains sixteen hours from my desk in the Berkshires, if you count the slight misreading of the map that took us to Cape May for sunset. Cape May was not really on our way.
At all.

But we, Karen and I, got here, which is Penland School of Craft for a week long discussion and workshop about art and activism. We are practicing Zen Buddhist meditation and making pinch pots with our teacher, Paulus Berensohn.

Paulus Berensohn at Penland March 2013

And today, we spent making more pots and talking about people and organizations that embody social justice with high magic, who take their work seriously enough to be willing to make a difference in the lives of other people. John Hartman and Lisa Blackburn founded The Empty Bowl project. John is a potter and Lisa a book artist and together they answered the question “How can I make a difference in the world with my work?” by founding The Empty Bowl project that provides a template for communities across the globe to respond to hunger.

John said today that the power of this project (and of any project) is in bringing the community together.

One of my Empty Bowls

We made bowls for the next firing of Empty Bowls.
I have never made a bowl before today.
Now, I have made seven.
Here they are with a few of Betty’s, who spoke about Rethink to our group. If you want to read more about how Betty is making a difference in the lives of school children in New Orleans with Rethink, look here.

Some of our bowls


How about you? What organizations or action do you support or sustain with your passion? If you aren’t sure where to turn, please look at The Empty Bowl project, or Rethink or the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

This week I am thinking hard about Lisa Anne Auerbach’s belief that

If nothing changes, it changes nothing.

I hope An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice can make a change, in the lives of women in Berkshire County and beyond. All sales of this book benefit
VIM Berkshires and the Community Health Programs both that supply free and low-cost health care to women.

Stars over Penland Morning handmade journal by Suzi Banks Baum March 12, 2013

one of the books I made at Penland with Paulus

Until then, I will be pinching pots and sewing books under the starry North Carolina night.

Xo S




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Showing 7 comments
  • monicadevine

    Thank you, Suzi, for your marvelous creativity, and for connecting us with artists, activists, and moms!

  • Lydia

    Golly, I’ve always wanted to go to Cape May!!! did you see some beautifully painted houses?
    Love those pinch pots, and I love the little bit of your handwriting that I can see at the top of the photo of the sewn collage, which is also very beautiful. Just like you!

  • Tasha Miller Griffith

    That sounds just great! My aunt went to Penland for a while and she tells marvelous stories about it, I’ve always wanted to go there . . . enjoy your week!

  • Lorrin Krouss

    Suzi, it all sounds wonderful – peaceful and yet inspiring. The “Empty Bowl” project reminds me so much of the organization my son-in-law is involved with in NYC – “Bread for the World” ( – which is a collective Christian voice that urges our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. No child should ever go to bed hungry. Amen

  • Suzi

    Thank you all for commenting. Penland is a place that inspires people on many levels. I would love to bring the Empty Bowl project to the southern Berkshires. Williamstown has hosted an event for many years. There are so many ways to share our plenty. xo S

pingbacks / trackbacks
  • […] who is a friend of Mary Oliver’s, reads her poem here. I have made clay bowls with Paulus. Here is a post about the time I spent with him at Penland School of Craft, last March. My FeMail collaborator Karen and I traveled down there to […]

  • […] I spent at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina making more paste paper, working with clay and dancing with my mentor Paulus Berensohn. • Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others   the […]