There are several blog posts whirling in my brain about what I learned and am now able to share with you. I hope the insights help. First up: What I did this weekend.
All classes given at National Seminars, whether EGA or ANG, need to go through a trial run called a pilot. The teacher uses the materials identified for the kit and charges for the kit. The instructions are handed out. The teacher usually visits a chapter or area not their own so there is a lack of overt familiarity. The teacher may charge for transportation and expenses, but not a teaching fee. If it is supposed to be a 4 day class, then the pilot is 4 days, etc. The group of students taking the class provide feedback on everything - written materials, quantity and quality of materials, flow of the information, and so much more.
I have participated in 3 of these classes now. Each has been a very powerful and fun experience. When done right, the class becomes very collaborative in its effort to make the final product the best it can be. I have learned lots of techniques while interacting with a number of excellent stitchers.
The first one I did was with Lois Kershner. It was Blue Bonnet Homestead. Lois's instructions are excellent, but like anything it is hard to ensure that what you intend to convey in a step is clear. There were a few nits but the most interesting for me was the choice and use of threads. One thread was plied and we were to only use one of the 2 plys. I could do this by lessoning my tension, but my fellow stitchers had tension issues and the thread frayed badly. It was important for the teacher to replace the thread with something that wasn't stripped down and would take the hard tension of canvas stitchers.
The second class was with Michelle Roberts. It was an interesting look at using couching threads on canvas to underlay bargello. The design became a decorated box. The "ribbons" on the box were actually a method of couched stitching in a brick pattern. The "wrapping paper" was the bargello pattern over the metallic threads. Then the top of the box was decorated with metal threads similar to making a button but very 3D and then to be placed on the finished top of the box. Fascinating and very new ways of using classic metal thread techniques.
One of the best parts for me was seeing that the teacher had sprayed the canvas with spray paint so that any canvas that showed was not obvious. I HATE blank canvas. It is one of the reasons that I don't do a lot of canvas work. Here was a way to overcome my main obstacle!
This last weekend was a class with Marie Campbell. The class was a pilot for Turquoise Trailing - a bangle bracelet done in bead embroidery and being taught at the upcoming 2014 EGA National in Pheonix. I have done some bead embroidery, but not a lot. What I hadn't expected was that I would need to basically design my own bracelet. Yes I could have followed what the teacher did, but each package of cabochons was a bit different and necessitated some rework anyway. I had signed up for turquoise since the options were turquoise or warm pallette/orange/red. Since Marie had brought extras, I actually chose lapiz and lavender. Yes I will post pics when I am done.
It was a tough group of students. I think I was the least experienced of the beaders. This meant I could be useful in asking the "newbie" questions. It also, hopefully, brought home that even experienced stitchers can benefit from a quick insightful review of materials and techniques. For example, we were given 12 bags of beads. If I am "designing" my piece knowing what each type of bead does best or can be combined to do something special, really helps. Also, since some students are paralyzed when confronted with the need to design something, giving the student tools to work with, makes the experience easier.
We all stall when confronted with a blank or nearly blank canvas. Our mind gives us either too many ideas or too few. Some people can draw and some can't, so saying draw it out is NOT helpful. However, if you say draw your "go to" basic form - round, oval, square, swirl, paisley, etc. puts pictures into the brain that can translate to pencil even for those of us who don't draw. Saying layer from high to low and low to high in your bead structure also gives creative help.
I learned a lot about beading this weekend. I also reminded myself of what I am really good at - I am an idea person. I joke that people keep me around because I have good ideas, but that is true and hopefully helps me be of value to others and myself.