Teaching and Learning In My School House Studio

Gail sewing in my studio
Gail sewing in my studio

Gail’s been painting for a while, but she wanted to so something different.   She wanted to sew.

We haven’t known each other long, Gail lives in New York City and recently bought a house near us with some friends.  We we all get together on the weekends and the friendship has been a quick one.   Partly because we’ve all chosen work and a life outside the mainstream.  And now we’re beginning to connect creatively.

When Gail suggested we get together and sew on Saturday I was all for it.

“I made a dress once in the 4th grade”, she told me as I uncovered my sewing machine,  “I hated it.”  Making a dress as a persons introduction to sewing is like giving someone who’s learning to read Emerson’s Self Reliance as their first book.

It’s difficult enough just sewing a straight line without having to worry about patterns and pinning and getting things  just right.  And it’s not fun.

I think learning should be fun.  It should make your brain spark and your heart race.  It should make you want more.

So Gail started at the beginning.  Choosing two pieces of fabric and sewing them together.   She was actually really good at the sewing part and found she was more comfortable sewing standing up than sitting down.

And being a painter, Gail had no problem figuring out the colors and shapes.  I helped with the technical sewing stuff and gave my creative opinion when she asked for it.

And a couple of hours later she had a wall hanging for her new house.

Gail told me I was a good teacher and should think about giving classes.  This is something Jon has said to me many times, and something I’ve thought about doing.  I certainly have my thoughts about teaching and learning and enjoy doing both.

When I told Gail the idea of teaching makes me nervous, she got a big smile as if that was the best thing in the world.  She basically said that’s what life is about, doing things that we want to do that make us uncomfortable.  Otherwise, why bother being alive.

So, I’ll see.  That idea of teaching has always been on the horizon for me.  But I do feel like it’s getting closer all the time.  And working with Gail this weekend was another step towards it.

Gail with her Wall hanging
Gail with her Wall hanging


6 thoughts on “Teaching and Learning In My School House Studio

  1. Maria…teaching is such a great idea! I’d do it! You have so much to offer! We could never duplicate the “goddess ” beauty of your work, but we’d have fun trying!

  2. Teaching is another creative avenue where you put yourself out there. It looks to me like you’ve already started easing into it.

    Great wall hanging Gail. Good for you not letting an earlier unpleasant sewing experience keep you away from trying it again.

  3. You must be the best teacher! Unfortunately I don’t think I had a very good teacher. When I was in middle school I had to take sewing; our first task was to make a gym bag which was to take only five weeks. It took me fifteen!!!!!
    As a result in was way behind making my apron and had to take it home for my mom to help me. Believe me, she wasn’t so great at sewing so needless to say I didn’t do well. My teacher didn’t help much because she worked more with the girls who could sew and let the rest of us fend for ourselves. I did much better at cooking (eating too).
    Years later, at UCLA, I was a theater major and when I was assigned to work in the costume department, my teacher told me that I absolutely could no use the sewing machine; I couldn’t sew a straight line and I would ruin the costumes.
    So much for positive reinforcement.
    I agree with you about learning. I just finished three months working part time at my old school. The principal asked me to come in and work with children who needed help with writing. I did. I had three groups of twelve students (3rd.,4th. and 5th. grade) for one hour each twice a week.
    When I handed back a paper one of the children asked me what the grade was, and I said I’m not going to grade you. I’ll make comments on your papers, but what I want to see is progress. I told them writing is a process and going through the process can be fun. Today I asked them how they felt about the workshop and two of the fifth graders told me that they never used to like to write and now they love it!!!!
    I agree with you, learning should be “fun. It should make your brain spark and your heart race.” It should put a smile on your face and should make you feel good about yourself. “It should make you want more!”
    You are a good teacher.

    1. Thanks Jane I take that as a high compliment coming from you. Those lucky kids that you’re teaching now. I’m glad for you and them you went back to teach them.

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