Saturday, January 14, 2012

Taking the next steps in fiber


Teaching is a big component of Nice Threads. We spend a lot of time demonstrating and teaching, and our materials shop is designed to support our students for their journey from class to the next piece, and then the next.

At least we hope that our students continue in the techniques that they learn here, but we know that is up to each individual student. We want you leaving our shop confident that you can do [spinning/ weaving/ felting/ dyeing/ knitting, etc] on your own, and hope you come by and ask us for advice when you “lose the thread.” Not everyone who takes classes at Nice Threads will become a working artist, but it's not about the end result, or what you call yourself. Fiber is a journey, not a destination. You may be strolling through, or making careful itineraries, but Fiber is a lifelong endeavor, at any level of proficiency

The big secret to excelling at any of these techniques has to do with a basic fact - it’s all in the numbers. Your second piece will be better than your first, and your fifth piece will kill your second. Keep producing - and please, don’t think of it as practicing!

Practicing brings up scolding mothers and piano lessons on nice days. The word “producing” works better for me. Make a habit of starting a new piece (even if it’s just notes on what you would do better next time) right after you finish the old one.  Sketch if that is a good method, or cut photos out… whatever has you planning the next piece. Work on it regularly, even if you do just a little at a time. You will gradually improve technique and trust your own instincts.

On the subject of instincts, and your own personal expression, I leave you with the best advice that has ever been given to an artist (IMHO), in a quote by legendary modern dance artist Martha Graham:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time; this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium  and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.”