|Hello there! (Images from my new YouTube video: How to Make Metal Flowers). Is this woman sane? I think not! #nuts.
Once again, I've written a very long newsletter. It is also a bit odd and also very late (as usual) I apologize (in advance) for what you are about to read - especially for the Cat Section and all the "splash" nonsense (just skip it if it scares you). You'll see...
North Bay Makers Guild at Catherine Witherell's FABULOUS studio. Judy Pagnusat, Marion, Donna and Catherine Witherell.
New Web Pages on my site:
And always: additions to my Q&A pages!
Here's a few flowers that I have made.
We are now on Vimeo! Seems many countries don't allow Youtube videos but, will allow Vimeo. So, in support of global education and global civil rights, we've added our videos to Vimeo! Vimeo is also a great website and I used to post more video there. Now, we are headed back.
I also have a Pinterest Page with 7 boards (at this time). Trying to keep up with the rest of the world. Find my jewelry there and jewelry/objects that I am awed by.
Anna Talbot - Sawing practice anyone? From her "Don't Wander Off Into The Woods" line. Part of my "splashes of beauty" seen throughout this newsletter. You will soon grow sick of my word play but, not the images!
Topic: Thinking of Teaching?
Teaching is not just learning how to interact with others, or to present material in a clear, easily understandable fashion. It's a way to share what you love, to inspire others and to help them find the joy that you feel. But, teaching can also be a challenge.
Think about it: you are going to teach a class on how to make a riveted cuff (been there, just did that!). You don't just walk in and say hi, let's make this. Nope. You've got to plan, prepare and research.
Deciding on the Project
Things to Consider
- What level you will be teaching?
- What skills are you presenting?
- What type of design will best encompass all the skills that you want to impart?
- Can it be made in the specified time limit?
- What tools will it involve?
- Do you want students to bring any tools or will you supply them all?
- If you supply them, do you have enough?
- If the student brings them, how costly will this be if they need to buy new? And, that's just the beginning of the questions that you will be asking yourself.
Experiment with a variety of designs. For the Riveted Cuff class, I started with three designs. I timed how long it took me to create each design. I also thought about things like: how hard will this be for a beginner, will one size fit all, how much will this cost, are there too many techniques involved, does it look appealing?
When I finally narrowed it down to one design I began to hone in on more specific questions like: how can I teach this quickly, what can I cut out, what can I prep ahead of time, what tools will I need? How can I leave leeway in the design for the student's taste? How will I present this, in what order, with what demos.
I kept notes and took photos of the steps. I also reproduced the cuff, several times until I knew how to make it with confidence.
As this was a beginning class, I wanted the student purchases kept to the minimum. Some of them might never pick up a jeweler's saw again so, why make them buy one?
I chose one design out of the three. It appealed to me because:
The next step was to get a few people in to make the cuff - a trial run.
- I could supply a pre-made cuff
- I could pre-cut the additional pieces
- They would only have to saw out the fold-over bezel
- Setting this type of bezel is really easy
- The blank cuffs lent themselves to experimentation with patterning - the student could choose to pattern or not
- The materials were inexpensive
- It covered the basics of jewelry making
- I figured I could pull it off
I chose one friend with some experience and another with absolutely no craft experience. I figured, if I could teach her, then we are good to go!
The trial class went well, with a little time overage due to all the chatting. Cutting that time out, I decided I could do it. I decided that the rule in the class would be: TALK WHILE YOU WORK.
Next came the paperwork. I needed to decide on and then type up a materials to bring list and a list of the tools that I was supplying. I also needed to add up the costs of materials and inform the students of the kit price. I supplied links to all the places to purchase these materials, added links to my videos, so they could be prepared for what lay ahead. I emailed this information to the students .
Next was preparing the kits. I needed bags to hold the kits in, to purchase the materials, cut to size, allocate 3 saw blades each, cut sandpaper into smallish squares, etc. I also bought extra tools like saw frames, extra pliers, bracelets mandrels. I also made bench pins and more bracelet mandrels. Busy, busy...
I supplied a pattern sheet that included the bezel pattern (that I designed), sawing practice patterns and the pattern for the back sheet. The project overview was supplied by the website that was promoting the class (which I had to prepare months before, along with a bio).
The hard part was yet to come.
I hauled about 1/4 of my studio, three trips with my little red wagon, up to the third floor. When I got there (two hours before the class was scheduled to start), I found that there was no ventilation and very few plugs. There was plastic sheeting all over the floor, which I kept tripping on. But, no worries - it's show time!
Fortunately, I over packed and had extension cords, plug strips, C-clamps, lots of tape - you name it: three torches, two rolling mills, extra flex shafts, extra, extra, extra stuff. It all came in handy.
I was still setting up shop when the students first arrived. Stop setting up now!
After greeting everyone, I made the announcement that we had very little time to cover everything necessary to make this bracelet. I insisted that I wasn't kidding. I introduced the project and myself and off we went.
Hours later, after I crawled across the lobby with my last load, I limped to the bar, let out a loud sigh and ordered a larger cocktail. It was over. Now, all I had to do was unpack the car and put all that stuff away.
Total time spent, overall for a 6 hour class: over 200 hours. But, I was able to share my passion with 9 people, who were hopefully inspired enough to try jewelry making again. Even better, were the smiles on their faces as they left my class, proudly wearing their new cuffs.
Will I be a Good Teacher?
- Are you good at communicating, clearly?
- Are you happy when speaking in front of groups? (This can take time to get used to!)
- Can you physically handle the lifting and schlepping?
- Do you have the time to invest in all of the pre-teaching work?
- Do you know your subject matter inside and out? (You learn as you go)
- Are you confident in that knowledge?
- Are you willing to spend a lot of unpaid time on research and practice?
- Do you love teaching?
- Do you like people?
- Can you handle intrusive, whiny, needy people who want to disrupt your class?
- Can you do this without getting into a fist fight?
- Are you crazy?
I'd say confidence is one of the most important things to bring to the class. Teaching is challenging and you have to be unflappable in the face of insanity. Sure, we all get stage fright and occasionally, a little voice mentions that you don't know beans from farts but, you have to learn to ignore that guy.
Knowing your subject inside and out, is one way to help you build up your confidence. It's like the difference in how you would feel wearing dirty, torn sweat pants and a moth-eaten T-shirt to The BALL or wearing a radiant gown that makes your green eyes sparkle. Are you going to be braver and a little more confident if you look like you sashayed off the cover of Vogue or if you look like you just crawled out of your neighbor's trashbin - trying to get your hands on last week's People magazine? Being confident won't make you completely fearless or dissolve your stage fright, but, it sure will help to reduce it. You know your subject matter so, stop thinking so much and teach! Remember: you are there to share - not to audition for your first major motion picture.
Detail of Garjan Atwood's (also at: Tumblr) digital fashion. Silver Knight for Italian Vogue. Beauty is inspiration. "Splashion."
Some more Tips
- Focus on teaching only a few techniques in each class (I NEVER listen to this rule).
- Get people excited. Just because you know your topic doesn't make you a good teacher. Your passion needs to lead the way. A sense of humor helps a lot. It is your job to get the student fired up.
- Announce demo times and warn people about 15 minutes before the next demo starts. Occasionally, you can't stick to the schedule but, try to catch back up soon.
- Know the class's skill level. I always ask: Who has sawn before, riveted before, etc. Do you feel confident in those skills, etc.? In the Riveted Cuff class, due to the limited time we had, I walked around and spoke individually with the students, introducing myself and learning about them - while they worked.
- Walk around and check in with everyone throughout the class - except when you are demo-ing. Look for problems with skills or understanding of the process. Kindly and gently suggest changes to their technique. But, don't let them drag you into long dissertations either. Decide if their problem is something that would benefit the entire class. If it would, excuse yourself and tell them just that - then interrupt the class work and discuss the point.
- Identify the quiet or shy person in the class. There is always one who doesn't want to be a bother or who is too shy to ask for help. You need to identify them and draw them out; perhaps, time allowing, spend a little extra time with them. Maybe suggest a private meeting, a few minutes after lunch and before class or during the break, to help them catch up. It's amazing what a little one-on-one time can do for a person's experience.
- Another type of student to watch for is the ME ME Student. You will know who they are right away: they are the ones always asking questions - then usually answering them, themselves. They monopolize the demo time, leaving no gaps for others to ask questions or even for you to move on with your demo. You've met her/him, right? Well, this person truly believes that they are the only student in the class; that all of your attention should be focused on them. To dissuade them of that idea and to give everyone else a chance to learn, I suggest that you kindly and subtly assure them that they have a valid question/issue/statement and that you will gladly speak with them later; perhaps during the break, lunch or after class? If they don't get the hint, ask them to step outside with you. This awkward moment will be less so if you announce a 5 minute break. Don't let this person monopolize your time because, they will swallow you whole!
- Take charge of the class. You are the boss here. It is your job to ensure that you are on schedule and that your students learn what they came to learn. Sometimes, it is not easy and you have to play a little hard ball but, believe me: your students will thank you for it. See below for one of my experiences with a teacher who didn't understand his job.
Enamel by Wendy Mcallister. She is not involved - in any way - in the tale below. "Splashamel"
A Teaching Tale
I took an enameling class in Mendocino County. The teacher had been brought in at the last moment (due to the original teacher cancelling) so, he was obviously, ill prepared. One student, who we will call: the Annoyingly Subversive Student, decided to bring in all of her recent work. She then proceeded to take over the class, explaining - in minute detail - how she made each piece. The teacher sat, bewildered, in his chair while this insensitive woman reigned as queen. My experience in that classroom was a lesson for my future (teaching) self: The student wants the teacher to control the class!
There will always be troublesome students. You just have to assume that, they too, are there to learn. Your job is to ensure that everyone, even Ms. ASS, leaves your class feeling well taught and happy. Sometimes, that means being the boss.
Personal Updates (i.e. Whining)
It's been a crazy few months for me and my family and I've barely had time to breathe!
I had my cataract surgery on October 14, 2014. It took way more out of me than I had planned for. Spent at least four days, recovering, on the couch.
Hated that metal bandage thingy. Looking so pretty here! "Splashugly!"
Eventually, I was driven from my lethargy to move my mother, her car and her 50 bags and boxes of stuff to her new home in Healdsburg, CA. To be able to do that, I rented a pickup truck and drove the 270 miles to my sister's/mother's home. Drove back. Dropped the mother off at her new home, unloaded the car and truck, drove home and collapsed.
Mom ("mother splasher"), all settled into her new town and enjoying this decadent dessert (a bit too much): ("splashumptious") at Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar in Healdsburg, Ca. We had a great $$$ lunch. Must have been the chocolate that sent the tab past 2 digits (or the wine - not sure). Lobster rolls, crab cakes, chocolate...hmmm?
Set up the jewelry studio at Chimera (for the second time). We will be moving the studio for the third time to our new, much bigger space - sometime around May/June 2015. But, this time I WILL HAVE HELP!
After finishing Chimera's studio setup. I'm a little beat... ("Splished".)
We've been having jewelry meetups with great turnouts, at Chimera. There is a lot of interest in the jewelry program. Many want to learn, practice or expand their knowledge base. Can't wait to start classes: teaching them, having others teach them and just generally, watching Chimera grow into THE place to go for all things creative!
First Jewelery Meetup! (A "splashup")
I am so impressed by what my son has managed to accomplish. I remember when he first discussed his dream of creating Chimera. We were sitting on the couch, having a little chat and he said: "I want to create a makers/artists space." I felt my stomach lurch. "He's insane", I shrieked in my head. "He doesn't have a clue of what he's in for!" (Which in retrospect, was probably best or he would have given up right then!) Of course, I enthusiastically encouraged him to go for it. Now, from that little meeting on the couch, a ton of support from many dedicated people, hutzpah and talent, Chimera has drawn thousands of people to its doors. Makers and artists of all kind are becoming part of this great community resource. I am very excited for Chimera's future and hope everyone can help. Become a member or just support the work that they are doing there. Donations of tools, labor, materials, money, a special skill, etc, are always welcome. See Chimera's wish list and mine (for the jewelry studio at Chimera), on my Chimera page. Not using that hydraulic press? Well, get a tax write off and donate it to Chimera. We are a non-profit agency! Come by and visit or join a meetup - they are always free. The community is amazingly diverse, talented and brings a plethora of ideas and experiences to its doors. Come join us and be amazed at what you will learn.
Joined the North Bay Makers Guild (by invite only - sorry). Bunch of nutty jewelers, who happen to be women. We eat, talk, talk about jewelry, tools, obsessions, etc. Great group. We meet once a month. I had the group over to my studio for a chasing and repousseé afternoon. We got little done (in my opinion) but, we ate well and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Lin Stanionis: "Awakening". A little (or a lot) more beauty to inspire. "Splashy poo."
Of course, all this outside work cuts into MY time but, I do what I can - which is never enough. Seems I'm always adding new "stuff" to my list of to-dos:
- Now, I'm working on a jewelry book (the title and content is a secret for now!).
- Still working hard on putting tons of new information on my website and actually finishing some pages.
- In the editing phase of a new full-length video (read: it will be for sale) on Photographing Jewelry and Small Scale Objects - with a focus on using the cell phone camera.
- We are also going to start filming another full-length video on Creating Natural Forms with Metal (not sure about this title yet). I'll demonstrate many flower designs, how to make leaves with stems, how to make branches, texturing metal, enameling and other methods of coloring metal and how to put it all together in the creation of a fabulous, garden necklace. Should be fun. It might be! Maybe. Depends on who is having the fun. Probably not me. Well maybe...oh shut up Hamilton.
- Getting ready for our next YouTube/Vimeo video which, should/might be on enameling flowers. But, we will see...
(Really Nancy? Does anyone care?)
WeeWee LouLoo ("splash-eyed")
WeeWee LouLoo (aka: KiKi, MeKi, Meka, WeeweeKiki, Loolen, MekaLou, etc.) The little star of my videos, is doing fabulous. The 16 year old, cross-eyed, fur factory, with a big mouth; enjoys her fame. She has insisted on new newspaper for her basket and that her brother, Ralph, be removed from the family. Weewee likes to sing. Her favorite song is: A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody (here, sung by Mario Lanza). I sing it with her every night but, I substitute most of the words for: "Weewee, LouLoo, Keke Poopoo" - (they rhyme you see, ahem...) which she insists are the original lyrics.
Ralph (aka: Muffy, Muff-Muff, Barge-in-Binks, Jar Jar Binks (his original name) Bugeroo, Tiger, Ralphy G (G - for good looking), etc.): WeeWee's brother. Ralph was recently diagnosed with diabetes. So, that's been fun: learning to be Nancy nurse. I must say, he's a little easier to shoot meds into than he is to pill. When pilling (or giving him liquid medicine) we have to make him into a fur taco (large bath towel, wrapped over all lethal parts) while my husband holds him down with all his might. We all need Valium afterwards. Ralph might have kidney failure, one eye, severely arthritic hips, asthma and God knows what else, but he is one big, stubborn cat. His favorite things are chasing and trying to kill Little B (see below), eating, napping and belly rubs. But his most favorite thing is to stare at WeeWee just to piss her off - and it works quite well.
Peach: (Aka: Petey, Nella, Nella Lou, Peterson, Mrs. Peach, Peaches, Puters, Treaty, Ms. Bitch, etc.). Mother of Ralph and Weewee, at 17, is the Queen. Lording over her children and me, in her charmingly aggressive manner. I should be as healthy as she is. OF course, I'm not because she rips my skin and bites me when she's decided I'm just too annoying. Daddy (my husband) NEVER gets bit. What's up with that? I feed the woman! Dang. She also likes to throw things off my desk, sit on my keyboard (only when I'm typing) and tear up important papers and notes. There is an ulterior behind this behavior: she wants treats - which she wants about 28 times a day and only when I'm working.
Ralph (left) and Petey in a "splash-pile". WeeWee would rather eat dry food than be in that "splash-pile" - dry food being the second most horrible thing that she can think of.
Little B ("splashy")
***Free to good home: Little B, neutered female, chipped (owner is nowhere to be found - what a creep), wormed, no fleas, affectionate, likes the outdoors - great barn cat! Ralph hates her and so does Petey. Lou thinks she hates her too. Little B adopted us this past summer. I love her but, want her living with someone else. I have enough problems (and expense) with the three that I already have. Evenings are four ring circus events with my three trying to kill B, while B tries to get a little dinner. Things are not calm around here.
Something to Consider
Those of you that have received recent email responses from me will, no doubt, have already read my pitch. But, in case you haven't, I'm including it here:
Hello Everyone! Just a brief note before I go: In case you didn't know (I figured that I should, FINALLY, mention this): I am a small, negative profit business. In order to continue to produce our free content, we need your support. If you purchase books, tools or materials through my Amazon links (I only recommend links that I trust and/or have used) or you watch the short ads at the beginning of our YouTube videos, you are helping to keep the free videos, newsletter and web content coming. Also, by purchasing my video (soon to be videos) you are showing your support. My only source of funding is from these venues. Thank you so much for your help! Nancy and the Team at Nancylthamilton.com.
The End (finally!)
So, thanks for reading this, for subscribing and for all that you are and do. Go out and spread your passion and talent around - share what you know and teach. Enjoy the adventure and have fun. Nancy (out of her "splashing" mind!)
Wisteria: the view out my kitchen window. Spring has "splashed".