The first tiny house of Miss Lucy Morgan

One of the first things I noticed my first morning at Penland was a new post and beam structure which was sheltering this truck.

Penland's current-day replica of Lucy Morgan's 1933 truck and "tiny house" for the Chicago World's Fair. Housed in a post and beam structure made by a class in 2016.

Penland's current-day replica of Lucy Morgan's 1933 truck and "tiny house" for the Chicago World's Fair. Housed in a post and beam structure made by a class in 2016.

Lucy Morgan was quite a woman. She started Penland School of Crafts with her brother Rufus. Rufus soon bowed out, but Lucy spent her life tending the school. It started innocently enough. She taught local women to weave goods to be sold as a way to support their families. Eventually she found herself running a school that taught much more than weaving. 

In the midst of the Depression, there was no money and the students were not coming for classes, so Lucy rounded up the funds to take the below truck and a log cabin building all the way to Chicago to sell the weaving of her Appalachian community. Her weavers wove all winter without pay to make stock for the fair and their gamble paid off. She even got the yarn supplier to give her materials with the promise to pay him back after the fair.

I think perhaps Lucy Morgan was the inventor of the "tiny house". She had the courage to plop her little log cabin down in the midst of the glitz and glamour of that fair and to bring home a profit for her community of weavers.

I hoped that simple little log cabin would not feel embarrassed and inferior among all the ultramodern buildings there. But as we drove through those great gates I got the feeling that the little cabin arched its roof a bit and felt a modest pride in being just as good and important for its own purposes as those skyscrapers and great glass palaces were for theirs. So we took our place with a feeling of achievement and dignity.
— Miss Lucy Morgan, Gift from the Hills
Lucy Morgan and Toni Ford on their way to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.

Lucy Morgan and Toni Ford on their way to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.

I read much of Lucy Morgan's Gift From the Hills while at Penland. It is a fascinating story of a woman who had a vision of teaching people craft. She created the Penland we see today despite many hardships. And as the below quote testifies, things still run much the same today... though today the lights don't get turned out at all some nights.

At Penland one may slip over to the loom house as early as one wishes, weave all day and into the night, and even stay until lights are turned off at ten o’clock.
— Miss Lucy Morgan, Gift From the Hills

Her story is full of tales of weaving and occupational therapy which makes this weaving OT proud.

What follows is a little more about my time at Penland. I'm still a bit tired, but am so glad I had this opportunity to teach at such an amazing craft school.

First weaving-day activity: arranging the yarn table by value.

First weaving-day activity: arranging the yarn table by value.

The yarn table at the beginning of the class and at the end.

The yarn table at the beginning of the class and at the end.

Tapestry made by the class for the scholarship auction

Tapestry made by the class for the scholarship auction

Lower textile studio with everyone working and after they went home.

Lower textile studio with everyone working and after they went home.

Back Row: Kay, Hadas, Joann, Alice, Abbi, (student who didn't want to be identified), Robin  Front Row: Jenny, Sue, Isys, Mandy, Rebecca

Back Row: Kay, Hadas, Joann, Alice, Abbi, (student who didn't want to be identified), Robin  Front Row: Jenny, Sue, Isys, Mandy, Rebecca

And here is some of the marvelous work they did near the end of the session.

Abbi Tucker worked on this weaving for a week. It was a push at the end and she had to leave out some elements she was committed to, but her color gradation was beautiful. Abbi had never woven before.

Abbi Tucker worked on this weaving for a week. It was a push at the end and she had to leave out some elements she was committed to, but her color gradation was beautiful. Abbi had never woven before.

Alice Martin's final tapestry was a large and gorgeous gradation piece.

Alice Martin's final tapestry was a large and gorgeous gradation piece.

Robin Beveridge ended the session with this lovely landscape.

Robin Beveridge ended the session with this lovely landscape.

I loved that Kay Barrow used the color wheel yarns for her final weaving. Her cartoon came from torn squares of paper.

I loved that Kay Barrow used the color wheel yarns for her final weaving. Her cartoon came from torn squares of paper.

Hadas wove this marvelous Snapchat image of herself. I love the juxtaposition of a social media image made in a slow fiber art form like tapestry. I think she must be a fantastic art teacher and I suspect she'll be weaving more tapestry in the future.

Hadas wove this marvelous Snapchat image of herself. I love the juxtaposition of a social media image made in a slow fiber art form like tapestry. I think she must be a fantastic art teacher and I suspect she'll be weaving more tapestry in the future.

There were so many more examples woven during those two weeks. I can't possibly show them all to you but you can see more on my Instagram feed.

And, as always, if you are inspired as I am by these wonderful examples of tapestry, you can study the same material with me in my online courses. Much of the material we worked on at Penland was from the Color Gradation Techniques course.

And if you want to read Miss Lucy Morgan's history of Penland School for yourself, you can find it HERE.