Continuous Learning

by | Feb 28, 2011 | Uncategorized

” You can teach an old dog new tricks” or at least that is what my weaving buddy declared at our last study group meeting.

Funny how we all reluctantly dragged ourselves off to school as youngsters but embraced learning when we became adults and had a choice of what to do with our free time. Just as our brains are starting to deteriorate we are motivated to cram more into them.
I remember when my children learned to read and, having grasped the concept of reading, how they couldn’t get enough books. I think that joy of mastering something new never goes away. It is why we take classes, attend workshops or join a study group.

The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners are fortunate to have an active workshop committee and a number of talented members who are willing to share their expertise. Through both of these groups, we have been able to enjoy both formal multi-day workshops with noted artisans and focused mini-workshops given by expert members. The learning has ranged from making cedar baskets to woven wearables and even included some history lessons on the tartans

There is nothing quite like emersing yourself in a major workshop when your every waking hour and much of your sleeping time is taken up by your craft. At the very least, rubbing shoulders with a master craftsperson transfers some of their energy and love of craft. This experience can have a major impact on your work. Often, however, the immediate response is one of euphoria followed by exhaustion. There are so many new ideas to explore that it is difficult to focus on just one. Still, I find that new concepts creep into my thinking and eventually push me to try different approaches.

Opportunities for studying with a major artisan tend to be limited either by cost or location. That doesn’t have to limit continuous learning. Within every guild there is a body of expertise to be shared. Never under estimate your ability to pass on something new to a fellow artisan. You may not be a master artisan but there are things that you have mastered that are worth sharing.

It may be a skill acquired from another activity, something you learned in a class or a lucky discovery from just mucking around on your own. I always come away from a member’s workshop with at least one idea that gets implemented immediately.

Study groups are a terrific invention. They allow people with a common interest to learn by sharing knowledge and experience. It is a wonderful way for those newer to the craft to share the joy and the pain of discovery. How reassuring it is to learn that just about everyone has experienced then overcome the same problems.
The study group format also works for those who want to expand their knowledge. The key is to have a common interest and the commitment to follow through. Our “block design” group is learning how to create original weaving designs using profile drafting tools. The learning involves a combination of research and weaving. We meet on a regular basis to share examples and experiences. There is nothing like a meeting schedule to motivate one to get the assignment done. Each of us has a different view point on the subject so we cover more ground as a group than we could as individuals.
If your local group doesn’t have a study group consider joining an “on-line” group or better still create your own. If you build it they will come.

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