Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Teaching Experience

This past Saturday I taught my first full-fledged day long class and it was a joy. I had a full class of 8 students, the maximum the facility could accommodate with sewing machines. The class was not about the sewing however, it was about design. It was based on my recent article in The Quilt Life Magazine (October) on making Strata Art Quilts.

Strata Art Quilt article in The Quilt Life Magazine and example from article.
The students were varied in their backgrounds and level of art quilting knowledge. I think most were in the stage of having a great interest but not having done a whole lot that they would call art quilts. They were all very enthusiastic students and I enjoyed them.

Each student had to come with a feature fabric or focal point fabric as well as some other fabrics to possibly go with it. I brought a giant stack of scraps as well, although they were of limited use in that many of them were pre-cut strips and weren't very wide.

At least two of the participants had chosen a focal fabric and then changed their minds and selected a different one. Luckily they brought their original choices and I talked them into using those as they were better choices. Go with your intuition!!

I did not know when I was planning the agenda for the day how long it would take for the students to do the actual designing of their pieces, so I allowed plenty of time. It turned out that it did take a while so the timing worked fine. Some of the students would get my attention to come see what they had done as they felt they were about ready to sew it together and I would proceed to encourage reworking what they had and almost completely changing it! I guess they were OK with that as they seemed to really like what we ended up with and could see how it worked better than what they had. Goal accomplished.

After the design segment of the class I gave them some information and tips about the quilting and then beading/embellishing. I think everyone was interested in the possibility of another class where I would help them with the beading of their projects, including maybe going to a bead shop to select what they might use. I'm considering such a class for January but haven't sat down to work out what it might look like, where we'd have it, and what I might charge for it.

I really enjoyed moving between the students and helping them with their projects and hopefully providing them insight as to what might not be working and what to consider that might make it better. There were a couple of students who were quite capable of doing this themselves and had something up on the design wall that looked pretty good in a short period of time. I didn't really feel like I offered them much assistance in their pieces besides a comment or suggestion or two, but hopefully they got something out of my lecture and tips during the other segments of the class time.

The comment was made that they definitely think I have lots of wisdom to impart so I feel a little more comfortable that I am not a fraud and that I might actually be able to teach something! I've held off doing this because I didn't want to just be regurgitating what I had learned from others. I wanted what I teach to be uniquely my experience, knowledge, technique, or style. I think I might be there finally and hope for more successful class experiences in the future.

Thank you to all my students and I'll be in touch!

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