Monday, June 15, 2009

In Praise of Continuing Education

My absolute favorite quote comes from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: "The best gift you can give a man is not to share your riches with him, but to reveal to him his own." In my mind, the perfect teacher is not the one who does everything for you, but who encourages you to ride on your own, stands there ready to steady you as you take off without training wheels, is ready to pick you up when you fall (as you are likely to do when you're learning) and cheers like hell when you've gotten the hang of it.

Carol Soderlund is such a teacher. I cannot say enough about what I learned these past five days in her Color Mixing for Dyers class offered at Pro-Chem's facility in Fall River, MA. Don't get me wrong. The days were long, and the information was, in Carol's words, relentless. But the group of women I shared the class with were wonderful, generous and gifted; that, in turn, raised my inspiration and enjoyment level exponentially. We came from different levels and styles of expression, but had a common love of color and fiber.

By day three, you have dyed the 1029 squares you will need to assemble your very own copy of The Book; when Carol says this on day one, you might be wondering: well, what are we going to do the rest of the time? Carol probably has forgotten more about dyeing than many people remember, and what is extraordinary about her, is that she doesn't keep it to herself, she shares it....all of it; I'll bet she could have done the class for seven days, and we still wouldn't be finished! Fortunately, there is Color Mixing for Dyers 2, and I will be taking that class sometime next year; I'm sure there is much more to learn.

Another wonderful feature at the Pro-Chem class is Vicky Jensen, the Director of Education. Vicky is very talented in her own right, and showed us some gorgeous felted pieces she was working on. Vicky was there to assist from the start, helping us get our stuff into the class and arranging lunch and dinner (one night in the classroom, another night at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in nearby Somerset). Though the class went through the weekend, Vicky was there, making sure everyone was getting what they paid for.

If you've seen The Book, you know that it is, simply, a monumental thing of beauty. Carol gives you the knowledge to create your own colors, and the freedom and encouragement to get out there and experiment. I'm sharing a photo of gradation dyeing we did in class, and you will get an idea of how wonderful having The Book is. To see an open copy of The Book click here.

I'm still using my training wheels, but Carol has given me what I need to keep going. Look out, world!

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