Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wordwear Workshop: On Tag Team Teaching

At the beginning of December, Gretchin and I taught The Strong Silent Type: Creating Your Own Wordwear at Scarlet Star Studios. The workshop was based on Gretchin's development of wonderful metal tag jewelry featuring meaningful phrases, jewelry she called wordwear. After a few conversations with her, I started doing some word tag jewelry of my own, using different techniques. Finally, we came together and developed a class that brought the best of both our worlds together. I'm certainly not the first to blog about it - Gretchin put a few words in on her blog, as did one of the participants, Dayna. And I've got samples of finished jewelry posted on my website.

This is a shot from the workshop - it shows how gloriously chaotic the workspace gets and how intensely everyone focuses on their individual projects. I love it!

And I loved teaching with Gretchin. We had several great conversations about our theories of teaching and how to structure the class - each of us focusing on the things that we do best. Gretchin started the workshop with some writing exercises, helping everyone find their own words - something I wouldn't have done if I'd been teaching the class alone. When it came time to demonstrate, I did my big letters, pounded deep, and ornamented with lots of extra bling, colors, and beads - bringing in all sorts of jewelry-making know-how. And then Gretchin showed everyone how to use tiny letters for a neat, precise, clean look well-spaced on the tag. And by teaching both methods, Gretchin and I (as well as our students) learned a lot of new things!

Including the fact that Gretchin and I had each developed our own ways of doing wordwear based a lot on our own personal styles - I do a lot of big, bold, loose art, mixing media - always with an eye towards the emotional impact of the whole. Gretchin has worked as a calligrapher and poet, and all that attention to detail and spacing as well as an incredible respect for the words themselves has informed her way of working much smaller and cleaner, with a focus on the words themselves.

And it was marvelous to see the students experiment with both styles, to see them have so many options to explore. To see how some reveled in my style of unbridled enthusiasm and experimentation, and to see how others felt so at home with Gretchin's introspective calm and gentle precision. And some who happily rode the wave of both.

And this is one of the biggest challenges of teaching. To stay true to your own style while accommodating the needs and styles of as many students as possible.

On a very different note, the Sweetie and I went and saw Enchanted yesterday. Very fun - especially the whole singing in Central Park scene - it was like seeing one of my private fantasies played out on the big screen. Grin.


gl. said...

working with you made this class better than doing it myself. thanks, bridget!

Bridget B. said...

Cool! A big "ditto" and a Thanks back at ya'!