Last week I wrote about how I found kumihimo, Japanese braiding, and how it led me to working with copper which in turn led me to a love affair with copper itself.
This week, since I have already explore copper a bit (and will do so again in the future) I thought I'd talk about what some of us do out of love of our crafts: teaching. Many members of the Starving Artists Team have taught classes. I was asked to teach a class on kumihimo, Japanese braiding, at the local bead shop BeadsontheKennebec.
When I teach I use the foam disk. It's the best for beginner braiders since it has notches for cord placement. (The maru dai does not which makes things harder; you need to know placement and keep it while braiding with no indication of where the cords go.) Here's what my disk looks like.
This is how I set it up. That black thing is my high tech solution for a counterbalance needed for keeping tension of the developing braid. It's a small bag that holds enough pennies, washers, and small batteries to get the weight right. I always keep it this way because I'm teaching how to braid, not to make a finished piece. They need to learn the movements. It took a year or so for class members to accept that. But they did and one day a class member walked into the store and told the owner that she had been asked to make a couple of necklaces for her coworkers. The sense of satisfaction I felt was incredible.
Now here's some important advice for teachers: it's good to have written directions to hand out so class members have something to take home. It's bad when the directions are incorrect! In my very first class I was showing how to start and a nice lady looked a bit confused and said "but the directions say the other way..." Lesson learned here: the first class teaches the teacher. I finally came up with a list of "Things I Wish I Had Known Earlier". So far the list is up to 25 things and still growing!
Some students must learn but need to overcome a disibility; one woman was not able to use both hands well due to a stroke. And it's so easy to get off topic and start talking and forget why they are there. Beware though, if you teach, expect students that aren't always so nice. Some really wanted to shop for beads (couldn't blame them but they paid for the class) and wanted to hurry through in an hour. Some think they know more than the teacher regardless of the subject! Some argue because "isn't there an easier way to do this?". But all things considered it's fun to teach.
So, the end of my interview now. But not the end of learning and having fun sharing.