Saturday, September 26, 2009

So Far, So Good

On Thursday from Kansas City to Portland, in spite of Southwest boarding number B 25, which is not good if you want to have any control over where you sit, and I did, being constrained by the twin deities of Not in the Middle and Room in the Overhead Bin, I found myself in an aisle seat next to a delightful woman from Austin (I'm sure her husband was delightful too, but I didn't interact enough with him to make that determination).

We chatted about knitting (she likes to make Noro scarves. Who can argue with that? Honestly? I could, but only because I can't bear to knit scarves, though I've occasionally been tempted when seeing the funky multi-directional and shape-shifting coolness that some people have done with colour-change yarns like Noro) and cross-stitch (which she enjoys the most. Perhaps it was counted cross-stitch. I'm that vague that I'm not certain of the difference, or if there is one) and the importance of lovely fibre (she had a friend who visited Ireland bring her some wonderful Irish wool which she promptly knitted into a scarf with beads and gave to her friend) and the joy of being able to (and wanting to) make things.

I asked what she was doing in Portland, to which she replied that she was accompanying her husband on a business trip, and would just chill, perhaps walk or shop, nothing much, just hang.

You know, I said, there's a bead show in town, and you could take a class. Might be fun. I know there are spaces open. And I hauled out my Bead Fest poster (thanks, Interweave!) with all the pictures of the projects for the classes.

Her eyes lit up.

Two daughters, a daughter-in-law, the holidays approaching, beautiful hand-made jewellery ... she was hooked. She swore up and down I'd see her Friday morning in class.

She was true to her word.
I've taught people of all skill levels, and the most relaxing classes are of course those in which people need minimal guidance, a little explanation when the instructions get weird (very often designs that delight me involve some odd or unusual way of achieving a neat, clean effect; in other words the instructions get weird), and chit-chat about beading or art or colour or gossip or whatever.

Immensely rewarding and exciting however, is that rare person who comes in with effectively zero experience and take to it as if they'd been boning up all their lives, just waiting to actually get their hands on beads, needle and thread.

This was Debra. She zipped on ahead of everyone, barely needing anything from me. She was a natural. It was awesome, and best of all, she was delighted, determined to do more, make more, and of course buy [more and more] beads.

Not that I didn't enjoy the others; I certainly did, though I do wish I'd been able to inspire more confidence in the other student with no prior seed-beading experience. She actually (in terms of square inches of completed beadwork) achieved as much as every other student in the class, but remained convinced that she didn't know what she was doing, and wasn't getting it, even though she completed most of it without my standing over her and directing every move.

As adults accustomed to dexterity and competence in what we do, I think we suffer a larger emotional setback when we don't immediately (and "immediately" probably spans different amounts of time for different people) succeed or understand new things. I suspect this this woman took to her previous media (she mentioned metal clay) much more readily, and anticipated equally instantaneous mastery of seed beading, and when her internal count-down for having "gotten seed-beading" reached zero and she wasn't where she had expected to be, nothing I said or did seemed to be able to rebuild her self-confidence.

My hope is that she tries again, without the anxiety, distraction and time constraints of being in a class, and discovers that she actually learned more than she thought she had.

In the afternoon I once again had a delightful mixed bag of students (in terms of beading experience): two from the Zip on Ahead School, and two who had somewhat less experience, but all of whom left (unless they were lying; I sincerely hope not) having mastered this odd little herringbone variation, confident that they would complete it later.

If George was really diligent, he'll let me know in class today how well he managed when he got home last night...

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