Teaching Philosophy

I feel successful when I teach people:

- to see what they look at!

- that it is ok to be different!

- to open a whole new world of creativity for them....

- that there is a solution for every problem (mostly with a quick-unpick!)

- that it is a joy to be creative......

The Creative Mind Plays with the Object it Loves -
Carl Jung

Saturday, 21 January 2012

In the Chair....

Taking over the reigns from seasoned Committee workers was rather daunting.....!    We were all in awe of Jenny Whitehead, a formidable member of our Guild.   She was instrumental in starting the Guild in 1986, a Past President of the South African Quilters' Guild and extremely knowledgeable on all quilting matters.    She proved to be very supportive and only a phone call away, always offering sound advice with her no nonsense attitude.    Our Committee was inexperienced, but we rose to the challenge with a common goal - to grow the Guild into a happy and interesting place for all. 

Personally, the most terrifying was that I would be the official voice of the Guild and had to do most of the talking at the Guild meetings.   It took me straight back to my school days where I found it so difficult to participate in debating evenings - I would generally have a serious case of jitters alongside with an upset stomach.   The other was that I had to address the meetings in my second language which was not really a problem, but when in a stressful situation, sometimes the vocabulary did strange things.....!  Somehow, humour got me through tricky situations and nobody really cared when I slipped some Afrikaans words in..........

I realized a few things right from the start - the voice of the Guild had to sound positive, informative and entertaining to keep them interested enough to attend meetings regularly.   Another was that although members shared an interest of quilting, they were from all walks of life and educational levels.   It was
therefore important to listen to each and every one with respect and treat them equally.     I made the most wonderful, special friends during this time and am still blessed to have them part of my life.......

But all was not just paperwork and running  meetings.    After the 1998 National Quilt Festival, we decided to run a mini festival to coincide with the 1999 Annual Spring Show to keep the excitement levels high in the Guild!    I prepared a workshop to teach which I called Picture Perfect - students had to bring a landscape picture which I would teach them to make a pattern, enlarge it without mechnical means and to transform it from paper to fabric and stitching.   This proved quite an exciting workshop.   I made a landscape sample of the Amphitheatre at the Royal National Park in the Drakensberg with the Tugela River in the front for which I had quite a lot of photographs taken during a stay there in 1985.   

The techniques to create texture of the animal quilt, Woodville (1998) was very experimental and I took the ideas further.   I made lots of needlelace from pieces of fabric which I unravelled and cut into smaller bits, sandwiched between two layers of Avalon and stitched untill it was secured.   These I used for trees and bushes.   For the reeds, I used long threads of fabric which I also sandwiched between two layers of Avalon and stitched with a very slim zig-zag to hold the individual threads.   It worked very well and I was so excited as it looked very realistic.    I also used some fabric paint for shading on the mountain, foot hills and boulders in the river.   Doing this landscape quilt, took me right back to the exhibition in Harrismith where I learnt so much from the artist, Eduard Wium painting landscapes.....   I kept on remembering what he taught me about creating depth......!    He was a very good teacher....!

Amphitheatre - Source of the Tugela 1999
I finished the quilt with a geometric border and stipple quilting - one aspect of my work with which I was not completely satisfied yet.......     As this was a small quilt, 50cm x 63cm, I entered this at the 2000 National Quilt Festival in the Miniature Category and was amazed when I won a Second Prize.   Technically it was not a miniature quilt and I was fortunate.......   The Miniature Category is now properly defined for the National Quilt Festival Competitions......   This little quilt is still one of my favourites.     While making it, I felt in control and excited as I was creating the visual impact which I wanted - the first time since I started making realistic themed quilts.....!    
During this time, I also prepared a Protea Workshop which I taught locally, at Fynbos Quilt In in Stellenbosch and in George.   

Protea Workshop # 1

By now, I was much more comfortable with public speaking and in a routine.....   I was now also the Representative of the Dias Quilters' Guild on the South African Quilters' Guild Committee.   New territory again.    It was a huge challenge to participate at that level and I quickly learnt that the wheel could not be re-invented every time.   Reading the entire history (minutes) of the Guild since 1989, gave me a better understanding of the dynamics of the Committee and work to be done.   I was also fortunate to compile a Register of all the Prize Winning Quilts at the South African National Quilt Festivals since 1987 - it was incredible to see the growth and development of quilting in South Africa......     I was thrilled to see how the quilts slowly but surely got a very distinctive South African flavour...........

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