Monday, January 25, 2010

Tjhe Agony and Ecstasy of Proposing

"Laeta Acus"
A book simlar to Sampler in a Wee Book that was sent to Memphis, Tennessee.
Laeta Acus is now traveling the US in the EGA 19th National Exhibit and won both the Rocky Mountain Region Award and the Judge's Choice Award.

" The Bee Book"
This is a star book (when fully opened it with the back cover touching the front cover
it is star-shaped) with fourteen pocket pages.
In each of those pocket pages is a sample of a stitch on perforated paper.
There is a bee stitched onto each page too.

With great relief I sent two sets of proposals out today. One set was sent to Memphis, TN for the 2011 Tennessee Valley Region Seminar. The other set was sent to Shalimar, FL for the 2011 EGA National Seminar. Now don’t get excited. The chances of my being chosen to teach at either of these places are slim. The selection committees go through hundreds of individual folders send in by many teachers. And let’s face it, my stuff is not the most popular stuff at these learning seminars. My classes seem to be too advanced, or too original, or too thoughtful. Okay, I can be too catty, too.

The national seminar packet had four proposals in it--a four-day and three two-day classes. The region seminar had three proposals--all two-days. Region seminars are almost always just two-day affairs with region meeting taking up a couple more days, while the national seminar can have up to seven or even nine teaching days. Normally I do not send the finished project if I can take a good picture of it to send instead, or if the project is small and I can just tuck it into the proposal folder. This time for the national seminar, I only sent one finished piece--the actual book of the Book of Bees. In the Tennessee Valley proposal packet, I sent two small books also--the book from Sampler in a Wee Book, and The Little Stitchery Book. I think it is an advantage sending the finished piece, but cost and danger of its getting things dirty or creased sometimes make it not worth it.

I have taught several other people how to do proposals. Jette Finlay from England is my most famous student so far. Jette teaches Danish whitework and does a fabulous job of it. She has been to the US many times to teach at national seminars and she has been to Canada to teach also. Her husband Roy who is a magician and all-around-fun guy told me that I changed his life. I think he meant that in a good way! Jette and I lived fairly close to one another in England. I was about a thirty- minute drive from her house through the glorious countryside of western England. I met her at an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting in Newbury, Berkshire. We took to each other instantly.

Most recently I urged Annette Gutierrez-Turk to offer her colcha to national seminars. She is proposing for the 2011, so that she will have experience for proposing for the 2012 right here in our front yard--Buffalo Thunder Resort north of Santa Fe. I hope she gets both positions!

I am not sure why proposals are so agonizing for me, other than I put my heart, skill, and future on the line for theses classes, only to have all those dashed to bits with a rejection notice. When I first started out as a national teacher, I was getting about a 33% return on the proposals for several years. Then I went through a long dry spell with no classes picked up for about ten years. And now I have hope again with one region seminar in California under my belt and two more national classes that I am looking forward to teaching. So wish me luck. And hope that EGA has finally caught up with me and with what I love to teach.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hecklers, Gabbers, and Rebels

An example of my ribbon art.
This really has nothing to do with the words below.

I was having coffee at Border’s the other morning with Laura Sandison, a wonderful and inventive lacer and embroiderer. Laura has been a member of Sandia Mountains Chapter of EGA for some time, is a teacher of lace and other art-oriented things, and is also a member of the local lace guild.

We were talking about several interesting topics, including the differences between teaching children and teaching adults and the place originality plays in the art and craft of embroidery. I like to teach adults very much. They come voluntarily. They have actually paid to take the class. They are (mostly) eager to learn. And they are very grateful when you teach them some little bit. Children, on the other hand, are sometimes forced into class. They may be developmentally unable as of yet to do the small tasks of learning. Hormones rage at certain ages. And they have better things to do. Of course, Laura, who loves to teach children does not see me eye-to-eye on this subject. And I have to say that she has developed several clever strategies for keeping the monsters busy, happy, and (mostly) on track. The book I wrote with Eloise Carlston, Experimenting With Art, was written as I was teaching art in a little private grade school in Sandy, Utah. I have taught children quite a bit through my life, so I am not totally ignorant of the little rug rats. But adults--I am much better with adults, though I have had my own problems with certain adults.

Some adults come to the class with an agenda in mind that has nothing to do with learning the topic. They almost seem to be hecklers with myriad questions. It seems that they ask questions just to be asking and disrupting rather than with anything else on their minds. When I was giving a talk to the Sampler Guild up in Denver many years ago, I had one of those. She sat right up in front and wouldn’t let her topic of choice lapse after a discussion of it. I was talking about how Americans have an ethnicity to their work too. How it can be recognized around the world as purely American. And this woman wanted to talk about signing and dating works of embroidery. She came back to it five or six times until I had to ask her to talk to me further after class about the topic. But no, she wouldn’t let it drop. I was embarrassed--I didn’t know how to get out of this predicament. So I started agreeing with everything she said, wild or not, believing in it or not, I agreed. It worked. It calmed her down. What I wonder is why no one else in the audience stepped in to put her own two cents in. Maybe they knew her and knew she was damned hard to stop. Her thesis? Every piece of needlework should be signed and dated on the front of it for future generations. Well, no, I still disagree. Some needlework is not worthy of signing and dating on the front. Some needlework will be spoiled with a signature and a date on the front.

I had one woman who tried to take over the class and who literally stepped in and tried to lead the discussion. We were learning color theory in that class. The woman was the program chairman of the sponsoring guild chapter. I guess she thought she could be better at it than I was. Well, maybe she could be, but it was my class, my paycheck, and, above all, my reputation. It was a frustrating thing, but I managed to uphold my position as teacher. I did learn that sometimes teachers cannot be “nice,” but must be bold enough to step in and step on toes. I learned that some women, like the woman in the previous paragraph, cannot be reasoned with. They are not looking for reason, but for affirmation. I have learned that some people who ask endless questions are not seeking knowledge, but have some other thing in mind and don’t mind disrupting a whole class of people to get their point across.

I do have to say that now when I teach, things like this rarely happen. Are classes getting more polite? I don’t think so. I think that I finally have enough experience that people know not to try that sort of stuff. Maybe I automatically see those problems and put an end to them early. Not that everything is smooth sailing. I still get gabbers who would rather talk to their neighbors than listen to the class discussion. Though I have to say, this happens more frequently with people I know and have been associated with. Things are less formal with friends of many years.

Still, I love teaching adults way more than teaching children. Even with the hecklers, gabbers, and rebels.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The New Year in Wholesale Color

Color-Aid Paper
These examples are arranged in an adjacent or analogous color scheme. The C-A Paper is strictly controlled so that these hues are the correct ones for a color wheel.

Color-Aid Paper
It comes in about 250 colors with the hues, their tints and shades, other colors such as cyan and magenta, and a whole list of white, many grays, and black.
This color scheme is analogous with one complement.
The orange second from the bottom is not Color-Aid.

Lavender Collage
No two people can actually agree on which of the above colors is lavender. This is the reason for the strictly controlled C-A Papers and for the short list of color or hue words. The eleven hue words? red, green, blue, yellow, orange, violet, brown, pink, black, white, and gray.

At the beginning of this new year, I am starting something new. I have opened two wholesale accounts with embroidery supply companies. I worried and worried about it for several months before I was ready to dip my toe. But the reality is much easier than the long-drawn-out agitation of anticipation. But most of it turned out to be instantaneous. Easy-peasy. But let me hasten to add that I have opened small accounts for small orders. I do not have a resale license, but I do have a NM VAT number for artists. That was enough to convince both Wichelt Fabrics and Rainbow Galleries to let me make minimum orders for my classes. So now I can order fabric and silk thread for Intense Pattern, my new blackwork class.

My next area of endeavor is to get Color-Aid Papers to sell to me wholesale in small quantities. Hopefully they will accept my VAT number. That is Value Added Tax that allows artists to charge and collect taxes on their finished products. I know, I know--I didn’t want to know that much about the underside of the embroidery business either. I hope to be able to order the papers for my new color class, Pirate’s Gold, for the EGA National Seminar in San Francisco this September. Carole Rinard and I can also use it to buy paper for our ICC Rainbows Bend when this current order (by Carole who paid retail) runs out (if it runs out--depending on how many people want to take the ICC).

Today was one of the regular stitch-ins for Sandia Mountains Chapter. As usual we transact and talk about guild business for at least half of the conversation. It is a good way to put people in the know, to sound out opinions, to get advice. All of us at the meeting are officers or had been good volunteers in the past. We also talked about the origin of the two phrases: jury-rigged and jerry-rigged. Our conversations do wander far and wide. Ask Cindy Brueck for the etymology and definitions of the two. She knows!
When I told everyone at the meeting that I had finally gotten wholesale orders in for the blackwork class, only the people who were taking the class were impressed. All that worrying and wheezing about getting big companies to sell small amounts wholesale went unannounced, unacknowledged, and deeply ignored. That will teach me!