Saturday, June 4, 2011

A new tapestry teacher emerges...

I always thought I would teach tapestry "someday".  After all, I have been a teacher since I was an undergraduate, teaching piano to preschoolers, then running my own piano studio in graduate school, teaching a couple sections of 200 undergraduates medical terminology as a graduate teaching assistant, and then pretty much my entire subsequent career as an occupational therapist (teaching is teaching whether you're showing someone where middle C is or how to wipe their butt after a spinal surgery--just sayin').

Until my own teacher died three months ago today, I hadn't thought I would teach tapestry for a few more years.  But here I am and I am very excited about this new journey.  I have things to say and my own voice to say them in, so what better way to spend my time then showing people how exciting tapestry can be?  Teaching was incredibly important to James and I still feel that he would want me to teach now that he cannot do it himself anymore.  I hope I'm right about that James!

I'm starting out with a workshop at Intermountain Weaver's Conference in Durango in July.  IWC has been a great conference for me.  I love Durango and have enjoyed the atmosphere there studying on the Fort Lewis College campus.  I'll be teaching a class about color gradation for tapestry.  My work is full of this kind of color shifting as I find it fascinating, so I am looking forward to showing other weavers how to do this.  I am also looking forward to the learning that I know I will do as part of this process.  I know there will be questions that I hadn't considered.  Perhaps that is the best thing about being a teacher--the way it pushes you to learn more yourself.

Contemplative Garden, 30 x 48 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
Emergence II, 44 x 44 inches, hand-dyed wool tapestry
So today marks the day when I start a summer of tapestry focus.  My school year is completed (I buy groceries mostly with my paycheck as an occupational therapist working in the public schools) and I am ready to begin.  I have a multitude of projects to complete in the next 6 weeks and I'm so excited about each of them I don't know where to start today--probably that is why I'm blogging instead!  In the next week or so I'll be dyeing pounds and pounds of student yarn, beginning a big tapestry for an upcoming show, completing a sampler for one of the classes I'll be teaching this summer, working on powerpoint presentations for the classes, helping a friend put on a sectional warp, and finishing a design for a commission I hope to weave later this summer.  Okay, perhaps that is more than anyone can do in a week...

And for those of you in one of my upcoming classes on color gradation for tapestry, check out this online article by Kathe Todd-Hooker about ways to achieve optical blending with yarn.  Kathe is a brilliant woman and successful tapestry weaver who has published several books and runs her own fiber art company.  This article contains a lot of information that is similar to what we will be practicing in the class.

My best weaving buddy Cassy who is going to help me decide which project to start with today... or perhaps just snore.
And as a random post-script to this post:
I just returned from a trip to Michigan for my grandmother's funeral.  I had to check out the local yarn shop, Threadbender.  It was a great place.  There was a weaving class going on--but the shop is so full of yarn that the looms are tucked into corners.  You're looking for Mini Mochi for a hat and you round a corner to find a woman working on summer and winter on a Baby Wolf.

And this last photo is for my Grandmother Thelma who died Friday May 27th.  Thank you for living an inspired life Grandma.  We'll miss you!


  1. congratulations on your new adventure in teaching!

    Thanks for the link to Kathe Todd Hooker's article.

    I thought the photo of Cassy was leading into a discussion of the value scale. That's what the photo reminded me of.

  2. You go girl!! Congratulations!

  3. Rebecca-You'll be a great teacher. You have studied remedial teaching which will give you the skills you need for teaching tapestry. You know about different learning modalities-just apply that knowledge to tapestry teaching. Also, read the zen of archery.

  4. Rebecca,
    Here's wishing you find great joy in your sharing through teaching journey! Giving to others by encouragement, inspiration, skill enlightenment--all of those things happen with good teaching & learning relationships. You'll find you learn from students -- sometimes you might feel even more than they've learned from you! And it all gets put into the big soup pot of ideas and techniques and skills that you'll dip into for both your own work and for your teaching.

  5. Thanks you all. Just wanted to say that there is an opening in the Intermountain Weaver's Conference class in Durango in July. Someone had to cancel, so if you're interested, get in touch with IWC workshop chair. (The website still says my class is closed, but ask anyway.)


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