The life of a textile Artist on the road. The joys, the pitfalls and the passion.
You want to be a quilt teacher?
How do you find out how to go about it?
You can’t ask Mr Google that question, its one thing he doesn’t have a proper answer for, I know, I asked him.
First of all, you need to have served your time.
You need to have put in the hard yards, the hours of work perfecting your amazing techniques and to be honest, you should have produced some interesting patterns or a book that no one can be without or maybe you’ve even won a blue ribbon in major quilt show. The Church fair doesn’t count. (not that the church fair isn’t a legitimate competition, but you do need to have your quilt out there with the big stuff)
How many techniques are there in quilting you ask?
100’s maybe 1000’s and how do you know that the technique you develop is not already being taught? Mr Google, experience and intuition tells you that.
By default, everything I teach is my own technique/idea. Lets take thread painting for instance, someone else may have a similar technique but its like art. There are a million ways to paint the Mona Lisa and everyone will come out different. My thread painting technique is fine thread art not necessarily following an image underneath the thread. That’s what I teach. That’s what I do amongst about 20 other techniques, all my own.
So you have made up your sample quilts, you have written the patterns and you’re ready to go.
But let’s get back to the nitty-gritty.
First of all you need a gig. (a place to teach) Mine came about because I created something that others wanted to do.
When I got a request to teach, I grinned widely from ear to ear, I didn’t consider the cost of getting half way around the world…. and excitedly wrote back, OK, I will teach you that, and it cost me far, far, more than I earned. Sometimes it still does.
My Husband, an Accountant will tell you that I’m not a business person, but I’m sure working on it right now.
But, the upside is that I learned a lot. Each trip I honed my skills, I gained experience, I learned to engage the group and I just loved what I did.
Acceptance as an artist came early for me but I was still very uncertain of my skills as a teacher in the early days. I worked hard at it and I think I’ve made it.
What is my role as a Teacher.?
I love teaching, I have confidence in the fact that I am master of the subject matter in the class. I genuinely present material in an enthusiastic manner and work to instill a hunger in my students to learn more on their own. Its my challenge as a teacher of adults. Beyond teaching my subject, I have the opportunity to inspire confidence and passion in another person
I allow room for mistakes. Sir Ken Robinson said it best when he said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
Of course you have to travel from one place to another and as an International traveler the experience provides a few extra challenges.
I’ve been driven to tears with tiredness and frustration when driving on the opposite side of the road in a foreign country and the GPS ceases to work. I’ve had to use every ounce of my stamina to get through that little situation.
I’ve encountered storms, flight delays, missed planes, got kidnapped at sea. I’ve run through airports like a woman possessed, luggage trailing behind and heart pounding. On the other hand, I’m a privileged flyer and I get to spend time in very nice club situations with the airlines I fly with. The peace and solitude of a Qantas club affords me the sanity I need at the end of a hectic week.
Sleeping in a different bed every couple of days is also a challenge, the consistency is that I shut the door on the world outside and this small place is my ‘home’ for the next few days.
I take with me the comfort of my own cup, plate and some familiar food. Some rooms are better than others, and to be really honest. homestay is very difficult for me, event though I have made some wonderful friends through the experience. It’s much harder to make a room in someone else’s home ‘your’ personal space.
Class preparation for an extended trip is a nightmare and takes days and often weeks. Its been made easier for me with the help of my PA Roz, who now has a good idea of the ordering situation and packing of patterns, implements and quilts for each particular class. It’s as huge weight off my shoulders. However, the weight is in the cases folks… 2 huge cases filled to the legal 50 lb, hand luggage carrying the projector, computer and compulsory back up systems and a back pack full of cameras and I have to be able to move the entire lot on my own through an airport in case there are now luggage trolleys. Yes, I can do it.
My brain is constantly computing the best way to get the luggage down the stairs, into the taxi or car and don’t leave anything behind.
Today I begin another short trip across the mountains and then in 4 days I get to travel to Korea for a long-awaited 10 days with my Sisters and Sister in Law for a recreational tour of unlimited timelines and just pure fun.
I love this life, but its fast coming to an end. I Need to spend more time in ‘my place’ but I’m so desperately going to miss all those wonderful students and friends I have gathered into my personal friend box.