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Tips for Teaching Crafts

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via 5 Artistic Expressions)

I remember when I took up bobbin lace I was informed by several of the books I got early on that it was important to keep the craft going by teaching at least three other people to do it, too. I took that challenge seriously. I taught one on one, helped run a beginner’s workshop, did demonstrations where I handed out information for getting started and helped people try out a demonstration pillow… yeah, I don’t know how many kept doing it, but I pointed a few folks in the right direction to get going.

Of course along the way I made some spectacular goofs. That first demonstration where we didn’t bring along lists of recommended books and suppliers was a classic. I also picked up a few tips that would work with pretty much any craft you might want to teach someone to do. And today, I pass them on to you.

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Two Great Crafts That Go Great Together

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
By Twistie

I love putting things together, and the more unlikely the mix, the more accomplished I feel when I put them together. Still, some things come together more gracefully than others and I appreciate that fact.

For instance, the ancient Japanese braiding technique of kumihimo marries well with modern beading techniques, as shown in this festive and fun spiral bracelet by Susan Jefferson.

Jefferson uses a variety of techniques to create her unique jewelry. Her materials range from seed beads to polymer clay to silver clay (a material I was heretofore unfamiliar with), to the fine fibers that she braids into her beaded kumihimo pieces.

Her work is for sale through her website, and she also teaches classes. Unfortunately for me, I would have to be in the East Rochester NY area… and I live in California. But if you’re in her area, be sure to check out her class schedule on the Let’s Bead store  website.


Get Classy

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
By Twistie

As much as we love to craft on our own, there’s nothing like a good technique class to help broaden horizons, pick up new skills, and correct bad habits. Heck, just the chance to be in a roomful of people who enjoy using their hands to create things can be a breath of fresh air!

But sometimes you don’t know where to look to find a class. That’s why I sat down and found some courses where you can learn new techniques and hone old skills.

First up is the illustration above. It’s a quilt. The title is Big Sur in May, and it was created by quilt artist Judith Baker Montano. It’s pretty spiffy, isn’t it? In point of fact, I think it’s pretty breathtaking. Well, as it turns out, Ms. Montano is holding a workshop in quilting land and seascapes in May through the Madeline Island School of the Arts in Wisconson. The class is four days long and costs $620.00. See here for details on the class and how to sign up.

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Quickie Question: Oddest Craft Lesson?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
By Twistie

Sometimes we give and receive lessons in the oddest ways. I think I was about sixteen when I heard one of my brothers giving his friend a lesson in waltzing… over the phone. That’s not something one would normally expect to be able to pick up without some sort of visual or active demonstration, but it did work. I know. I danced with the friend and he did just fine. Not that I’m the best waltzer in the world, but I’d done the dance more than my partner had!

And so it is with craft works. Sometimes you meet up with someone, start talking, and discover you know how to do a craft that person wants to learn. Suddenly, despite the fact that neither of you has the necessary tools or the correct surface or any of the materials… you just start the lesson anyway.

In trying to explain bobbin lace to the uninitiated, I’ve drawn diagrams (which do point out my desperate need for a good basic drawing class!), manipulated straws at restaurant tables, and even once showed some basic technique by taking a bit of my own hair (still on my head) and using that to show the movements of the threads. It was one of the few times in  my life I’ve been so grateful to have uncurlable hair. It showed the movements pretty clearly.

So how about you? Have you ever demonstrated or taught technique in a really unconventional way? In a really strange place?

Tell me all about it!


Herbal History at Plimoth Plantation

Friday, July 1st, 2011
By Twistie

There are hundreds of uses in craft for herbs. From pretty dried sprigs for your wreath to fragrant additions to your potpourri to colors for inks and dyes, herbs are wildly useful to the handmade lifestyle.

The folks at Plimoth Plantation understand this. That’s why they’re holding a series of workshops with renowned English herbalist Tina Stapely from July 14 – 19.

Whether your interest is in historical cookery, planning and growing your herb garden, medicinal uses, or, yes, dyestuffs and inks, there’s a hands on workshop for you.

I know if this was happening on my coast, I’d be there! Let’s see… cooking or dyes and inks….

 


Fire in the Hole!

Thursday, March 31st, 2011
By Twistie

Photo by Greg Crane

Do you know about the Crucible?

No, I’m not talking about Arthur Miller’s classic play about the Salem witch trials written in response to the McCarthy hearings. I’m talking about the school of fire arts in Oakland, California.

What are the ‘fire arts?’ Well, any craft or performance style that requires fire of some sort to make it work. At the Crucible you will find classes on such diverse topics as: ceramics, glass work, blacksmithing, kinetics and electronics, welding, and fire performance, among others.

Whether you want to learn about making neon sculptures, enameled jewelry, or bicycle repair, this is the place in the Bay Area to go. Oh! And look at that! They’re having an open house on April 2 from noon to four pm.

If you happen to be in the area, drop on by and check out the range of classes. Or, you know, just marvel at the fire eaters  and fire dancers.


Pass It Along

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
By Twistie

via Wikimedia

When I first took up lacemaking, I quickly learned a mantra among my fellow lacemakers: teach at least three people to do this to help keep the craft alive.

In a world that often ignores the hand made and sometimes even scoffs heartily at doing things by hand that can be done by machine, this idea struck me as a good one for any crafts practitioner. If people don’t understand what goes into the work, they don’t appreciate it, and it starts dying.

But we who do these amazing things hold the key to keeping our crafts alive. If we seek out those interested in the knowledge, we can share our skills and the craft goes on.

Yes, you can do it. If you know how to do the craft, you can tell someone else how it works and help them get started. Offer to help a friend who seems interested or volunteer to talk to a youth group… heck, put up a flyer at a local coffee house for a class. And then remember the tips I’m about to give you.

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