Monday, June 4, 2012

Handmade 2012

Little Richie checks out the exagerrated knitting in the knit lounge run by Holland Road Knit Company

Handmade 2012, what a steep but enjoyable learning curve for me. My first time as a tutor and my second time attending. I was too busy to attend any classes and next year I shall endeavour to go hear some of the guru's that attended. I love Rosemary McCloud's textiles and wish that I had been able to attend her lectures. There were a few New Zealand interior and fashion designers, as well as master chefs and makers. I think if you are a seasoned maker, those intensives are well worth attending. You get to sit and glean from people who have spent years in their field, to gain from their wealth of knowledge and experience.
I loved seeing friends I've made over the past several years, both online and now in person. As I get older, quality friendships become even more valuable. People I've known for years. Friends like Betty-Ann who continues to be my cheerleader. She prompted me, encouraged me and cajoled me into getting my application as a tutor in last year. She constantly offered her help and support, her kind words fuelling my belief in myself because until we do it, we don't always know we can. And she buys me food and coffees. 

Friends like that are precious. Last year I sat in Melissa's class awed to finally meet someone I had admired for years via her famous blog, Tiny Happy. Now she is a good friend and we are involved in a small community project together. Tash is a young business woman. She owns the successful specialty yarn store in Petone, Holland Road Yarn Company and runs a great knit lounge at Handmade symposium. Tash is supporting The Great Sock Monkey Challenge (link to Facebook page), another project that I am proud to be a part of and its great to be part of her journey. Both women good hearts and are passionate about what they do. 

My classes were awesome. I felt so privileged that people valued my personal way of working with textiles.  I enjoyed encouraging others to value their own stories, to explore and develop ways of working that are meaningful and important to them. I especially enjoyed hearing their own takes on their motifs and even peering into their beautiful sewing boxes and stashes. I must've been particularly blessed with students. They kept returning throughout the weekend to show me their completed works and to tell me how good it had felt to be in my class.

Saturday morning I prayed that every person that attended my class would not only gain a few new skills but more importantly would leave feeling better about themselves than when they came in. I believe that people are the experts in their own lives and this includes their capacity to create and express themselves. I know that with enough encouragement and a bit of guidance, with lots of practice and mistakes, we eventually will find our own voice as a maker. Eventually people do want to do their own work but we all start by copying others. As our confidence and knowledge grows, so does our work.

Ok, so maybe this is only for me. But the one thing I kept telling myself was to just be myself. To keep it real and keep it about the students. I enjoyed handing out lollipops to women 40+ and opening the button tins and telling them to dig in with abandon. I loved seeing people get the same materials and turn them into completely unique little works of handmade joy. I loved seeing women who no doubt have very full lives sit down and play for a couple of hours with fabric, buttons, ideas and stitching. I couldn't give away enough stuff. My whole focus was on giving as a teacher.

By no means am I a strong artist. I can't paint to save myself and my own sewing machine baffles me constantly. What I do know is that my classes are not about art or craft, they are about people. About people knowing they are important and valued, that their lives have meaning and giving them the opportunity to celebrate their victories and honour the people who got them to where they are. A chance to develop their narratives and write new chapters by standing on the strength of their stories. To explore what is important to them and guide them through a small process to express that through cloth and stitch. I am so proud of my students. I am chuffed and believed I delivered what I set out to do. And as a first time tutor that is a pretty good outcome. 

Here are just a few pictures of Handmade 2012 from my bat phone. Sorry they are not great quality and Google+ editing suite leaves a lot to be desired. And I apologise that I only managed to get photos of two of my four classes. To all those who came to my classes, a heartfelt thanks from me to you. To the organisers who did a smashing job, well done, I can't wait for next years one. And to those of you who thought about it this year, make sure you come next year. We're all normal people who put our underpants on one leg at a time too. ;)

Ruby, Shelley and Sharon and their own take on a tribal banner. Sharon, from Christchurch made a banner  for her son's family who have just built their first home. Shells was for her daughter Leila who loves all things blue. And Ruby entered hers into the Your Home and Garden magazine competition. I hope she wins. She has a real strong sense of design and is unafraid to try new things. I love her temporary tattoos too. 

Tribal banners. They looked dynamic in person and every one has its own story.
"Molo Sisi" means 'my sister' (South Africa) x

Day 2  We had Maori Television filming in class. It was exciting and intense at the same time. It was all about Hinetekawa (the young girl at the front) and I working together to help her create a taonga. She learned to thread a needle and sew her first project. I was so proud of her and hearing her speak Te Reo Maori warmed my heart. Its really hard work filming. We had to go over things again and again making it look natural every time. And the crew were awesome. The other class members were great sports. They are seated behind Terina, Hinetekawa's mum. Some travelled from around the country to be here today. My heart was happy to have the Maori crew there. What a privilege for us all. 
Day One, Handstitched Narrative Jewellery
What great women in all my classes. As it was my first time teaching at this capacity, I wasn't sure how people would find my way of teaching. Luckily most of these ladies were familiar with stitching and they really only needed permission to play and they were away. One lady came especially to do this class. I was humbled by every person who came. I saw beautiful heirlooms, one lady had her grandmothers wooden sewing box, another had a little notebook full of beautiful typography. Everyone had a story. Everyone had something close to their heart they wanted to express. Creating a small wearable that was meaningful, swapping tales, lollipops and buttons. It was really special for me to see the way they took on what I shared and incorporated it into their works. x

Lovely little handstitched narratives that were turned into necklaces and brooches. x
I have some community projects coming up and life has taken a turn this year as I turn my focus more outwards than ever. I realised a couple of months ago that I wanted to spend my life encouraging and building people, not working 9-5 building a career. My dear husband agreed and together we have decided to continue on one income at a time when many women start to rejoin the workforce and contribute to their family income. For us both, our heart is for others, especially those who struggle in life. I look forward to sharing more adventures here with you all as things take shape. I am always thankful for my family's support behind me, my faith and the people who surround me, cheering me on.



india flint said...

you're so right
workshops are about people
the things we make and do
are really the icing on the cake

roz said...

wow, this has been a fabulous experience for tutor and class member alike
and it seems you have the gift of teaching which allows students to feel safe and ultimately free to be thenselves in your classrom
your experience has been so beautifully expressed ..thank you

Ruby in the Dust said...

I'm so glad you had a good time; you have so much to share Rachelle :) It was nice to see you again, pity it was just in passing every time! by the way, we're making our sock monkeys tonight :)

Unknown said...

Thanks again Rachelle for allowing us to shoot with you and your class on Sunday, you are an inspiring wahine toa. Loved listening to your little tales about your nanny and little trips with the boys to the beach to collect buttons, hilarious. Stay awesome ;)