What is in Teaching for me?
I love traveling around to teach. I have gotten to see a lot of the country, and even a quick stint to Japan to give a lecture. I get paid fairly well, but more importantly, I get out of the studio and learn a lot myself.
I mainly try to teach patterns and good shaping methods. All the skill in the world creating the most complex pattern ever made will be no good unless it is laid on a well formed bead. Also, after an artist gets the great form and the great pattern; you need the heat control to not screw it all up. So I teach best through teaching the beads and designs I know best. I do not worry about keeping secrets and someone copying my latest and greatest thing. It was actually through needing to come up with new lessons that I have grown as an artist. Many of my series were developed to teach some aspect of heat control or pattern work, and I adopted the lessons into my own stable of series to create. And if you teach properly, then you leave room for everyone to bring their own style to the lesson, even if it through something as simple as color selection.
That is the moment when I start to learn. Seeing what each new student brings to a lesson, will lead me off on new ideas. It becomes an atmosphere where everyone can see what works and what does not, and thing take it back to their own studios.
Teaching a particular style of bead also makes you really think about why you do it the way you do. You have to have an intelligent answer when someone asks “why do you do it that way?” It never fails that I have to come up with an answer to an unexpected question every single time. That kind of forced self-examination is always good, even if the answer you give is” just because it’s easier”.
Even the simple act of meeting new and interesting adults is worth the trip. Many weeks I will realize that I have only spoken to my kids and quick hello to others on the walk to school for a whole week or more. I am always nosey and ask about the students’ lives outside of the studio. I have met some truly great people over the years, some who have an impact on my life even when we just catch up at the gathering once a year. The family of artists that teaches and takes bead classes is a truly wonderful quirk of our particular art form. I love seeing a bead artist who took one little thing I taught them and grew it into their own unique style and sensibility.
I have actually taken quite a step back from teaching, but a recent trip to Third Degree in St. Louis reminded me of a lot of the benefits that I get out of the trips. I look forward to teaching more in the future, even if it is on the new limited scale. I am currently trying to balance the act of sitting in the studio creating, with the sporadic excitement of travel and teaching.