Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guest Blog

Teena has written out some thoughts about her experience at John C. Campbell:

I was thrilled to get the announcement of Laura's class so close to my home and signed up right away for a recent one at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

I had already been weaving for a long time but knew from reading Laura's blog regularly that I could probably learn a lot from her.

Though I have woven since the mid 70's, I never really tried to make a living at it. I was mostly self-taught, so I did not develop my skills in any consistent manner.

I was, however, interested in selling my work and realized that I had to be as efficient as possible so was not averse to learning new ways of doing things when I had the opportunity.

I had worked in an apparel company and near the factories and sometimes with the industrial engineers so I was aware of time and motion studies and tried to apply whatever I could get from other weavers and books, especially Allen Fannin's and later Peggy Ostercamp's books on the skills of warping the loom and weaving.

I tried Allen Fannin's method of threading but have never gotten to the point of being able to thread 800 in an hour. Threading is a large portion of the time of setting up the loom and even if that was the only thing I improved on, it would be worth it.

I also had retired a few years ago and am trying to market my work in a more serious way than I have for many years and wanted to be as efficient as I could to accomplish that.

Taking Laura's class was going to be the first time that I had ever concentrated on those technical skills all at once, as opposed to picking up tips here and there. Laura was a very good teacher. She has abundant knowledge. She is able to give her students instruction that will help them no matter what their equipment constraints or weaving interests since those are also factors in efficiency.

I realized, for example, that I might become able to thread 700-800 threads an hour in a straight draft, but maybe not if the threading was very complicated. Laura also made the point that there is a commitment in learning a more efficient skill if you already have muscle memory doing it some other way. I was ready for that, though I was surprised at her rule of thumb, that it might take seven warps to become accomplished! Made me realize the amount of perseverance required and not give up too soon, just because a different way of working is awkward at first.

Laura also warped and wove during the time of the class while we were working. This was very helpful to see how it could be possible. Just watching her body in motion was helpful.

Just to prove the effectiveness of the class, I was able to warp and weave 10 yards total in three days. (Snow covered roads kept me from the first two days of the class. But because of a lot of individual instruction, I was able to get two warps done in the time that I had left.)

Also the others in the class produced a lot of work. When we had our exhibit of student work at the end of the session, we had by far the largest amount of work to show off of any of the other classes there.

Back home I am still enthusiastic about my new way of threading and am using it exclusively. It is still awkward for me but I'm improving and I'm looking forward to beating my past self. (I have been keeping records all this time to price my work.) It makes it more pleasurable to get to the weaving as fast as possible.

I would recommend Laura's class for those who are just beginning to weave. Better to start at once learning good habits, than to wait 40 years to be your most efficient! But she had much for me to learn, as well.

Teena T.

1 comment:

Rhonda from Baddeck said...

What she said! I was also in the class, and wove 4 towels in about 20-30% of the time it previously took. Beaming, threading and sleying also went a lot faster - even for my first time trying a new method. I just need more practice. Thanks again for the class, Laura!

(John C. Campbell Folk School has dozens of other interesting classes besides weaving (in case you want to bring a non-weaving friend). They have a beautiful campus and a superb staff. Laura will be teaching there again in March 2012. You should sign up!)