Friday, April 12, 2013

Are You a Lover of Beaded Learning?

I am knee deep in making plans for my 2014 teaching schedule. As I create new samples and design projects that will demonstrate techniques, I'm always wondering to myself "what do students really want to be learning?"

I have never met a beader yet that wasn't interested in learning something new.

Be they students, random shoppers in a local bead store or commenters on a blog, everyone has something they are aspiring to know how to do someday. I hear/read excited "OH, I wanna learn that someday" sentiments all the time! We are all constantly evolving our styles, eagerly devouring new techniques, and seeking knowledge of how the next cool trick might make our beading lives even better.

Right? Right.

So, I thought that it would be great to open up the comments today to a discussion about LEARNING! I think it would be a great insight for instructors as they design their class proposals, and cool for students too. Maybe someone else is excited to learn something you didn't even know existed!

Here are a few questions to get you started commenting...
  • What is your dream class... what would have you in your car or on a plane and into a classroom in a heartbeat? 
  • Do you like learning techniques or would you rather leave your class with a finished project to show off?
  • Retreats vs. Big Bead Shows... which do you prefer?
  • What technique is on your list as a must-learn? Bead weaving, stringing, wire working, metalsmithing, lampworking, polymer clay, ceramics, etc... what's next on your list?
  • What jewelry designer or bead artist do you wish would start teaching?
I look forward to reading your thoughts!! Start sharing!!


TesoriTrovati said...

Good questions Miss Kerry! As a self-described learning junkie, I am always on the lookout for new things to learn. I take quite a few classes each year. What I find is that I most often take classes in metals, which is odd because I don't have a studio set up that can accommodate most of my newly acquired skills! I buy a lot of books, but I have never once made a project from them, something I am trying to rectify this year (with mixed results). I also have taken a few online courses, yours included (which was AMAZING by the way). The bad part for me is that if it is in a book, tutorial, online... I don't do it. I need to be in a class to make something. I don't much care if I finish a project, I usually don't, mostly because I am too busy connecting with others as well as testing out the techniques and devising ways to make my piece intentionally NOT like the class samples. For instance I am still working on pieces from two classes I took with Debbi Simon, but I am very excited to put the techniques to work! I have a need and a strong desire to learn more about the nuances of polymer clay. I am working on developing some techniques of my own using some printmaking ideas for my own pendants, but there is so much I could learn! I am over the moon excited that I will be going to ArtBliss in Sept. A lot of times I sign up for a class with an artist I admire - like you - more because I want to learn from them and meet them than what the class is about. That has been the best part of taking classes with masters every year! I look forward to your new class schedule for 2014 and hope that I might be able to learn more from you! Enjoy the day. Erin

Clair said...

I teach at my local bead store and we generally find is that our beginners prefer to leave with a completed project; our intermediates want to learn something new or work on something a little more complicated; and those who are more advanced in their own form of beading like to branch out into a new technique - like soustache, metal clays or lampwork. It can be hard to keep up with them all!

As a student, I like to be able to dabble without 'commitment' - so classes would need to include equipment and materials. And I would always value smaller class sizes - so I'd probably prefer a retreat setting, where I was able to focus on a new technique.

Looking forward to coming back and reading through everyone's answers!

Gardanne said...

I don't need to finish a project in a class I like to focus on the techniques. As you know lamp working is my first love, I prefer more advanced techniques. Sometimes there is a mixed group of skill levels and then I find myself having a lot of repetition.
I prefer a retreat setting where people can get to know each other, there is more time, and the instructor and the students don't feel rushed.
On a personal note my biggest problem is practicing the skills when I get home, I get back into my old routine and don't make the time. This is something I hope to work on this year.
For this reason I do enjoy e courses especially ones with videos, since I learn best that way. I also take advantage of purchasing the ecourse downloads or discs so I can refresh the information as needed.

baymoondesign said...

I would love to try polymer clay or ceramics. I definitely prefer to leave with a finished project and written directions as a reminder. My ideal setting would be a retreat somewhere where the setting is comfortable and pretty but not a huge distraction where I feel I have to take advantage of leaving the setting and exploring. I also like online courses where I can move at my own pace and go back over the material if I need to do so.

Kerry said...

@Erin... I think I'm like you! I sign up for a LOT of ecourses, Alisa Burke is a favorite. But my participation tends to die off after the first week or so. And I don't make the projects either.
@Clair... what is soustache?!? I've never heard of it!!
@Anne... So, do you like to take advance techniques classes in any specific areas?
@Kathy... as an author I struggle with copyright when teaching projects from my books. I know students like to leave with directions but unless they buy the book, I can't print things out for them. It's a real catch 22. What would you think if an instructor made her book part of the kit fee?

Ann Schroeder said...

I don't necessarily need to finish a project, but my concern there would be that I could have questions once I leave and not be able to finish because I'm kind of a newbie to many techniques. So really, it would be a benefit to me to have the instructor's book as part of the kit fee. Then I would be taking instructions, pictures, etc. with me!

Wendy said...

I love learning new techniques and go to several classes a month locally. I'd love to learn silversmithing next, and lampwork. One of the best things I've ever learnt was polymer clay millefiori, that opened up a whole new world. I also went to a chain maille class on Thursday and loved it

Divya said...

I would really love to learn metalsmithing and metal clay. Most other things can be self taught, but as playing with fire is serious and metals expensive, I would really love an opportunity to learn first hand from an artist, rather than videos but its not easily available in my country

Maneki said...

Well now... I don't take classes due to several reason: price, lack of classes where I live, I'm self-taught and like books/online info and experimenting on my own. Books are great as I can sit and read to learn or be inspired everywhere and anywhere when I can't be at the workbench.

But I do know one thing: what a class would need in order for me to consider attending. If I were to take a class I'd go for the ones that would otherwise -- if learning by myself at home -- would require buying tools and/or many or expensive materials (e.g. because it's sold in larger volumes or it's precious). Especially it'd be things I want to try, but don't see myself working an awful lot with in the near future and therefore don't want to buy a lot of stuff in order to just try it once or twice.

I'm definitely a technique person, I want to learn how to use certain materials/supplies and tool and then add my own design and experiment, going where ever my inspiration and intuition leads me. Not sure I'd be good at following instructions for a project unless it was pretty basic/generic or had lots of room for my own ideas.

While I don't know the basics of all the things I want to learn, I at least know something little about the techniques or materials (and know gerenal basics as a intermediate beader/jewellery maker/needleworker) -- and am very likely to have read up on them beforehand. The class is there to get the practical side right and, more so, give me access to the tools and supplies. And perhaps a teacher that can help me with suggestions when my experiments and testing doesn't work out.

Have never been to a bead show, but generally I'd probably want to devote time purely to the class/workshop and free time to create than try to learn in a venue where there are things like bead shopping, contests, displayed jewellery or anything that'd also want my time and attention. So much thing one doesn't want to miss in a definite period of time. I want to shop at a bead fair and learn at a less busy place where time to create is in focus.

Stuff on my want-to-learn list are pewter casting (and mould making), pewtersmithing, raku enamelling, ceramics/porcelain (pendants, components), goldwork embroidery, rubberstamping and printing techniques, dyeing (esp. natural dyes), etching, weaving (small scale with unconventional or mixed materials), creating working/moving clockwork/cogwheel jewellery and objets d'art, tooling and colouring leather, shibori, all sorts of mixed media (paper, metal, embroidery). And probably some more stuff I can't think of right now.

Erin Siegel said...


FYI, If you do ever write another book, you can get the language changed in your book contract that will allow you the right to copy and use individual projects from your book for classes and tutorials as along as any printed material you pass out credits your book. I did that for Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry. I have yet to take advantage of it, but I will be in the near future.

As for your class questions, I do like to take classes, but I don't necessarily take them for the sole purpose of learning a technique or gaining skills. I like to take classes as a form of entertainment. To have fun and try something new even if I have no intention of ever working with that particular material or technique ever again! I just like to try things out and have some fun and if I learn something that's a bonus! And who knows? Maybe that material I never tried before will really resonate with me and send me off in a new direction I could have never anticipated otherwise. I like to stay open to possibilities and new experiences.

Like the other Erin said, I also like to take classes from those that I admire. It's kinda like me saying, "Hey, I like you and I want to show support and participate in what you are offering."