Tuesday, August 14, 2012

the good, the bad, and the sorta ugly

My favorite grandaughter, age 4, making her whole family watch 'Sewing With Nancy' and providing commentary!  (photo sent by her dad who had, shall we say, minimal interest in Nancy!)
I can't wait to get her to my studio when they come to visit over Thanksgiving!  We are gonna make a Killer Quilt!

WOW, I don't write for a few days and all my readers disappear!  I guess that life forces have speeded up these days and if you're not up in front, you're not in the race.  A few years ago I stopped teaching because it was too hard coordinating things from two houses-  I was always on the plane with stacks of quilts and carousels of slides, scared to death one of the cards making up my house-of-cards was forgotten or at the wrong address or that a new teaching idea I got in Florida had all it's supplies back in Massachusetts!  Anyway, it was time to move on to my own work so it wasn't a tough decision as much as I loved teaching.  i told my crit group all my reasons for hanging it up and they understood since most of them also traveled and taught at some point and agreed it was a tough row to hoe with little compensation beyond satisfaction.  Oh sure, expenses were paid and money was earned, but the part that wasn't covered was the planning, the gathering of sources, the packing, the schlepping, the covering things at the home base for the time being gone, etc.  While out teaching somewhere there was the food problem where I was served things I wasn't comfortable eating (anything white!) in circumstances where I couldn't say no gracefully.  Or meals out with 15 people I didn't know all talking about local issues and other members I didn't know.  Then, of course there was the returning time of getting it all put away, getting the family back on track and the house returned to normal- another couple of days.

So, all in all, I had to add two days of time before a trip, then two days of time after the trip just to get back to where I was before.  Sure I was paid a fair amount and I appreciated it immensely for validating what I loved to do, but I was paid for the actual lecture and the actual workshop and the rest of the time was lost.  Now let me tell you that, being an old art teacher, it was super gratifying to reach some women who were told they weren't 'artists' way back when and spent their whole lives believing it.  Seeing one woman out of a group of 20 suddenly start believing in herself was, to me, like watching Dorothy enter Oz over and over!  I simply loved watching them suddenly get it.  Every once in awhile I would get a nice note from a former student telling me what she was working on or that she had seem a quilt of mine in a show or enclosing a picture of a new piece she finished.  So cool, I saved them all.

But I am digressing again, as usual.  What my point is, is that within days of me just announcing to my crit group, the teaching offers dried up.  You'd have thought I had a banner over my name or sent out announcements or something.  Really, only a few offers trickled in after the moment I voiced that decision, so word travels quickly these days.  Perhaps I put it on the blog, I don't know, but that was the end of that!  And I miss teaching every day I wake up-  I simply loved it!

But about that same time I realized that I wasn't teaching technique, I was teaching art using quilters tools and materials.  The other teachers I would meet on the road all had some gimmick and people were flocking to them and buying their books-  HOW,  I wondered every time I saw the wall of books in a quilt shop, how did these even get published?  They were chock full of close up pictures and had pages and pages of instructions for some miniscule way of doing something.  And these Stupid Quilt Trick books were selling.  And unfortunately the quilts that were made out of them were less than stellar yet appearing in every show I would see.  Ugh.  They were the quilt equivalent of jello salad-  people would add a can of crushed pineapple and boast about how it was their personal recipe!

OK, that's my rant about technique driven classes.  My philosophy was always to teach them the art part, the decision making, the design work, and then let them figure out how they wanted to make the thing!

So I am still in MA, tonight my son and his bride are coming over for something take-out to celebrate all our birthdays, tomorrow I have the contractor coming in the morning, then we race to the Aquarium to show the grandkids the fishies.  Thursday I am signed on to a field trip to see the Gardner after it's renovation, Friday I meet up with some friends for lunch, Saturday we go to NH for a BBQ, and so far nobody has claimed my Sunday.  I go back Monday and spring the doggies from the spa-and-boarding and get to start something new in the studio!   Yeaaaaa.  And of course get back on the Blog Bus.

Don't give up on me, I'm here.  


Anonymous said...

Thank you for being there and coming to my house every morning. You make me smile,you make me laugh.you make me think. You inspire me. Keep going.

Mary Beth said...

LOL I didn't give up on you - I just figured you'd be busy in Lowell. Glad you met Pamela and are having a good idea.

Different times I've gotten involved in teaching - quilting and otherwise - I've come to know how much time is involved in preparing oneself and the material. As much as I really enjoy it, it's scary if I'm not feeling prepared and ready and it takes a lot of work to maintain that readiness. I've weighed the traveling for teaching with the impact traveling has on everything else and I just don't think it's for me. That pretty much means I will have to keep doing two jobs - one to pay the bills and give me time to do the other job of doing my own work. (I have to explain that to the dayjob folks a lot.)

Anonymous said...

Cheers Jan is still with you.
I started out taking technique classes but now I have them under my belt i prefer design classes.
At the moment I can work an idea in my head and not even touch a piece of fabric.
I call these my Zen Quilts that serve a mental perpose, express a feeling, resolve an emotion.
Sometimes better not translated to fabric.
Working on the stash in the real world, it takes longer to catch up to the ideas.
Basically I am a quilt thinking procrastinator.
Cheers Jan

Mandi said...

Those techniques seem to be all that people want! Sad...which is why I've given up on quilt anything.

I still read...but from google reader, so may not show up in your stats.