I went to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market this past weekend. I'd never been* and so this was the year. I had seen the film, Silkies of Madagascar, at the Clothroads film festival and then read the Thrums book, Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos. Both things made me want to see the market where so many artists gather to show their art.
I’ve been a teacher in some form for most of my professional life, but I’ve only been teaching tapestry for eight years. The growth that has happened in my own knowledge of tapestry practice and in my abilities as a teacher has grown exponentially in that time. I’ve gone from an apprentice to someone who appreciates other artist’s practices, but has confidence in her own and can teach others to follow their own paths.
Fiber artists are creative and every day I see something unique and inspiring from one of my students. Sometimes it is a fully-formed tapestry. But often it is the small seed of an idea that someone is trying out in a sampler. My job is simply to offer a little oxygen and water to that seed and encourage the idea to grow and perhaps become something marvelous. One idea leads to another, and a little chain of successes can lead to a whole body of work which enriches the maker and the world.
Making the Fringeless four selvedge warping class has been an adventure. A new online class always is. I totally love curriculum development. I like editing videos especially if I pick up some new skills for each class. And then the best part is when the class goes live and I see people's reactions to it. This class was extra special for me because I got to work with Sarah Swett who is always inspiring and a fantastic teacher. Also, the fact that she regularly makes me laugh is a big plus.
Fringeless is running and I've already seen some fantastic things happening.
Sarah wove three enchanting tapestries during the filming of the course and we had a drawing for one of them yesterday morning. Everyone who registered before midnight July 9th was included in the drawing.
That probably isn't true for all of us... that summer is for weaving. But it is definitely the time when I feel the least inhibited by my inner rules about the weaving (you know the ones... it must be big and grand and perfect and say something and...).
Because in the summer I go outside.
When you live in Colorado, going outside is expected. I don't think you can live here without owning running shoes, hiking boots, a closet full of clothes containing some level of synthetic wicking fiber, and some kind of bike that might just cost more than your car. (Give me a break Coloradoans--mine is just an inexpensive commuter bike, but at least I have one and I know how to ride it! Also, I don't run. But I do own running shoes... which I use for backpacking. The hiking boots are for snowshoeing. Also, I don't ski. Don't judge.)
So I made a mistake. Maybe.
The jury is still out.
There is a whole industry around teaching online classes and I have taken many classes in how to build successful online classes. And I have built some great ones, so clearly the information I've learned is useful.
But all of those experts advise opening registration in your online class before the class content opens. Build excitement they say. Get them invested with a little bit of content they say. Get them all pumped up they say.
So for Fringeless, I decided to do that.
And I found out that tapestry weavers are an amazingly enthusiastic bunch!
Four selvedge warping for tapestry is something I've been interested in for years. I've followed the adventures of weavers such as Susan Martin Maffei, Michael Rohde, and Sarah C. Swett as they used this technique in their work.
As Sarah Swett and I were shooting the video for our Fringeless: Four Selvedge Warping online class, Sarah talked some about how four selvedge weaving has changed the way she practices her craft. Listen in the video below.