I notice that a great many quilt makers are teaching nowadays; I wonder why?
If I talk with my painting friends, very few of them teach. And in my piano playing group nobody teaches at all! Nor in the square dancing group. So what is it about quilt making that leads one to teach?
For me...I had one lesson - the very first one in traditional quilt making where you cut out precise triangles and put them together also very precisely to make a cushion/pillow cover. (Cushions and pillows mean different things in the UK and the USA by the way. An American pillow is an English cushion! I've never yet discovered what an American cushion is! Also it took me a long long time to realize that in America, a garden is actually nothing more than a vegetable patch - people say "I'm putting in my garden this weekend" and you're thinking "a whole garden???!! in a weekend?!!"..ah well, I digress.)
My beginning: I had one quilting lesson, the teacher had to go into hospital, I went to visit her - no grapes, no health enquiries just "when is the next lesson?" Like an addict! I quickly volunteered to help her teach the next lesson and the one after that....and so it began.
And so, I began teaching because I wanted to learn...and I would say that has continued for me. I wanted a class in design - nobody was teaching it, so I went out and learned it in a different medium, then taught it to myself for fiber, then was asked to teach it to others. (of course now, Everyone is teaching design!)
For me teaching has always been about what I wanted to learn myself. I love to do the research required before I put a class or set of classes together. I rarely devise a class where I already know everything! I want to be able to go out and learn something new, analyze and synthesize, really get to know it and then put it together in a class. So I really enjoy coming up with new classes. I don't know how people can just teach the same class over and over. When I was a university lecturer and had to do three sections of the same topic in one semester, I felt like an automaton!! Of course soon I would deviate from the curriculum in three different ways!
I'm currently really enjoying putting together a Master Class where I get to choose the topics!! (if you're interested by the way, call Linda at 508-477-0057 , she's organizing it and there are a couple of spaces have recently opened up because of late cancellations. Cape cod. June 8-12).
I've chosen to study something called the Hidden Order, the structure that holds a composition together. It's a way of seeing the bones of the design, like the skeleton supports the human body. But that's just the first thing!
Then I thought it would be really interesting to look at some of the male abstract artists that I ignored when I developed my Abstract Art for quilt makers class. Funny that...ignoring the white males!!! So we're going to take a look at them, examine and analyze their abstraction processes then apply those to quilt design.
After that, I decided it would be really neat to show how one photograph can lead to many many different designs. By the end of the week everyone should have a whole folder of great designs, and several small quilts all blocked out.
Lots of critiquing to help make designs stronger - which I could have used myself when I made this shaggy dog below!!
This winter, I plant to expand the Hidden Order part of this class into an online class for next year....and then develop a Part 2 to my Abstract Art for Quiltmakers class after that.
But who knows what I will stumble across that I really want to learn!
So Learning is why I teach. Here's a link to my workshops.
Of course there is also the wonder of visiting so many different beautiful places. I've been all over the West Coast now from San Diego upto Salt Spring Island (July).
On the East Coast I've been down to Sanibel and upto Cape Cod - never, alas, to Maine!!
I've been from Alabama to Canmore, north of Calgary. From Gateway Canyon to Hudson River Valley.
But why is teaching so popular for other folk?
Perhaps one reason that people start teaching early is because the basics of quilt making are pretty straight forward and easy and it's so much fun you want to tell everyone about it and get them doing the same thing!
Another reason is that it's a lot easier to make money (albeit not a lot) with teaching than it is with selling work which seems to get harder and harder every year.
What d'you think? Why are so many of us quilters out there teaching? Do comment!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth