Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I Need Your Help Please

Right now, I'm working in the garden. Last Thursday, I spent three and a half hours pulling weeds out of the walkway that I started building in the spring. The path is cleaner and ready for the sand, gravel, and bricks that come next only that will have to wait until spring. Friday, I spent another three and half hours cutting down plants and moving them around and on Saturday, I trimmed the edges, mowed the lawn, and moved more plants.

Yesterday, a friend came over to give me advice on designing and fine tuning the layout. She used to own a nursery and I'm new to gardening which makes me very lucky to have her input. Tomorrow, I'll move a few more things around and decide what to do next. There are large piles or rocks that need to be moved.. yet.. still.. again. I am giving myself until Canadian Thanksgiving on October 8th to work outside and after that I am absolutely going back to work in the studio where...

... I have spent not nearly enough time this spring and summer. This pendant is the fourth "designed by me" piece that I've made. It's inspired by the work of - and tutorials that I did by - Nicole Hanna. Her primary method of working uses long wires that weave and bend throughout the entire piece. There are only four base wires in this piece that started at 40" each.

When I began the pendant what is now the right side was - I thought - the bottom and then it shifted and what is now the left side was - I thought - the bottom and then, when I was done, it shifted again to the orientation you see. That's such an important aspect of free form creativity - to remain fluid and open to change. If you allow a piece to evolve, rather than attempt to control it, it will become the best expression possible.

Being fluid is something I learned starting in 2004 with my year of play. It's not something that came naturally to me. I was quite controlling and overly planned before that and yet now, after years of practice, being fluid has become my best way to work. Now, I get quite itchy, anxious, or bored working in any "paint by number" kind of way.

The chain on my pendant is a failed Viking knit weave which, now that I've researched it further, was not nearly as failed as I thought. I made a three loop weave and drew it down to the narrow width shown only the sharp end of each new wire was sticking through. I trimmed the ends and wrapped two more wires around the outside of the entire chain, redrew it, and then used liver of sulfur to add a patina. I've since learned that the ends will poke out and to turn them inward with round nose pliers. I'm ready to try again with a wider chain similar to the one in this bracelet also by Nicole Hanna.

Because her layered, textured, flowing style is similar to mine, I've been working through several of Nicole's tutorials to learn how she thinks in wire. I've also been talking to her via email and she has been TREMENDOUSLY giving. It's so amazing when we can connect with someone helpful, encouraging, and inspiring like her online. That's the best of the Internet.

I made the pendant to wear with the outfit that I sewed for my older brother's wedding on the 16th. I have one younger (left) and one older (right) brother and this was the first time the three of us were in the same room in possibly twenty years. We're not actually sure how long it has been. They were making fun of me since I don't drink and I'm "so tiny" as they say. I'll take that. I do plan to get pictures of the outfit at some point soon... when I get back to regular blogging... which will be after Thanksgiving... since I'm gardening until then. It was a comfortable combination of my favourite t-shirt and my favourite pant patterns.

Going back to work last year as a hairstylist answered a question for me. Although it was wonderful from a creative perspective, it was not so great from the being in control of my own time perspective and that's something I've come to really value so hairstyling isn't an option anymore. Putting it aside had me thinking about what I want from any job I might take on which turned my thoughts back to teaching. I've been described as an innate teacher. It's something I really enjoy. I love supporting and encouraging the creativity of others and teaching new skills and abilities that allow them to express their own unique creativity. It's not the only thing I can do but it is something that resonates. This fall I'm teaching a  friend how to alter ready-to-wear garments to be more creative and flattering to her larger frame. That kind of teaching energizes me especially because it grows the creativity of my students.

I'm doing debating my options and WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE your feedback. Feel free to email me privately if you don't want to comment below at myrna@myrnagiesbrecht.com. I am debating writing and illustrating online workshops that teach the skills and abilities students need to put together creative everyday clothing and accessories. Having taught before, and become quite burned out in the process, I want to take a sensible approach that maintains work life balance and solid financial management. SO...

... my plan is to start with non-interactive, downloadable workshops that would be offered year round and if that goes well to move on to interactive workshops that would be offered two to three times a year and if that works well to look at in real life workshops that would be offered once or twice a year. Here are some of the questions I'm debating...

1. Is there even a need?

This is the most vital question. Each teacher has their style and way of presenting material. Different teachers will present the same material differently and it can be valuable to study with a variety of teachers HOWEVER... that doesn't necessarily mean there's a need. Perhaps this is an area that is already well serviced. I want your honest answer around this question because I can invest my time, money, and energy in several directions that I would enjoy equally and I want to invest them wisely. Be honest, even if you think it's not the answer I might want to hear.

2. If there is a need, what workshop(s) would you like to see me teach?
3. What is your favourite length of workshop - such as 3 or 5 lessons?
4. How much is too much information? Some workshops are overwhelming.
5. How much is too little information? Some workshops feel like a money grab.
6. What is a good price range?
7. Which are you more inclined toward - non-interactive or interactive workshops? Why?
8. How important to your learning style are photos?
9. How important to your learning style are videos?
10. Would you travel to take a real life workshop or would you sponsor one?

Having taught on-line before, I am absolutely confident of my ability to write and illustrate an informative workshop that is well worth the cost. I have worked with textiles for over forty years and I am very good at what I do. I love learning new skills and sharing them. That said, I'm not well known in the area of creative clothing and it's been almost ten years since I taught textile art meaning that I'm not so well known there anymore either. Whatever I do, I would want to start small and to have the support of and positive word of mouth advertising that would come from working with all of you.While opinions will differ and while ultimately I will have to decide what works best for the direction I believe I'm heading in, I certainly want to invest my time wisely and need your help to do that... please. Based on the responses, I'll decide what direction to head in - teaching or something else - and so all responses are welcome and wanted.

THANK YOU - talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - direction.


  1. I love the idea of you teaching! That said, just about everything someone would want to learn, making-wise, is covered in the Crafsty platform. Another blogger that I follow does classes (free, and maybe some paid) through Crafsty. My advice is to check them out and see what they offer. That might give you an idea of what is already out there and how much they cost. I'm thinking the wire work might be something that isn't commonly offered.

    1. Thanks you. I love the idea of me teaching as well and luckily there are numerous ways to teach that may or may not be paid. Feedback and research will show me which path to take. I agree that Craftsy does cover a lot of subjects. As a student, I have found the lack of answers from instructors quite frustrating. I know from research that instructors are only obligated to monitor the class for a set length of time so older classes are not nearly valuable from a feedback perspective. As an instructor, I want to remain in control of my product and how it is delivered. I've been "out of control" before and it was quite difficult to have built up a reputation and a following and to have it disappear overnight because of someone else's decisions. With wire working, I am still a student and will be for quite some time while I build up my technical skills. I've learned a tremendous amount from the classes I took on Craftsy. The instruction aspect is very well done.

  2. My two cents. I have and am currently taking classes from two different ladies on Facebook. I became aware of them and their skills and product by Facebook posts, pages and comments. I believe you mentioned in the past that Facebook was not on your radar but truly I think it is a platform that could help you gauge interest and build your name. By joining groups that share your interest, you would have an opportunity to engage other members and narrow your teaching focus. Like it or not, blogs are bogged down. Interest has shifted to a quick and concise content and then builds from there. The groups I belong to, one is a pay group, one not, (and in the interest of time I have sort of dropped)is a subscription monthly fee structure which is automatically billed monthly with a one year obligation. Not cheap, we are talking hundreds per year here. More info supplied by request. Good luck with this venture.

    1. I love that you're going out to find what you want with workshops. I'm giving social media a really good think. I agree, that it may be a necessary component and I need to be sure it's an avenue I want to take. If it's not, it may be true that teaching then becomes an avenue I can't take. I need to debate that and to be realistic about what I'm willing to do and what it can provide and what I'm not willing to do and how important that ingredient would be overall.

  3. I love taking all sorts of on line courses. Even when I already think I am learned in a subject I find there is always more to learn. I would love to see classes in upcycling clothing. I think there is an interest in not just tossing old clothes.
    I prefer interactive classes, where you can ask questions and see other students work,maybe using a private facebook group. I have taken classes both Craftsy and Creativebug as well as Masterclass and some private offereings. The prices are varied but I have never paid more than 150 for a series of classes and I do not think I would.
    Just my two pesos.

    1. Wonderful feedback. Thank you. When I taught on-line before, it was interactive and I enjoyed supporting and encouraging my students. I found a small number of students actually participated compared to how many were enrolled... which was probably good for me since I answered every question thoroughly. If they'd all participated, I wouldn't have had enough time. - LOL. Have you experienced good participation levels?

  4. Lots of questions, and I need to think about it more to be able to give any useful answers.

    On the media front (because you know I do media): Have you checked out Instagram? If you don't like Facebook (and I think that there are a lot of reasons to dislike it), Instagram might pair well with your blog or website. The proprietor of a ceramics studio based in Tennessee is a good friend of my niece and has told her "Forget Etsy; forget Facebook--we get more sales and commissions off of Instagram."

    I would also say, if you go this way, your blog needs to become a subsidiary of a website (similar to what Marcy has done).

    1. I went to email you privately and your email address has disappeared from my address book. I'm not sure why it happened but I lost a few a while back. Would you mind emailing me with your address? Thanks.

    2. done. It will come from my work email, which you can reply to. I check Comcast so rarely these days!

  5. This kind of thing would fit you perfectly:

    These conferences always have an artistic person for one of the workshops. You would be wonderful!!!!

    1. You are right. These are the types of opportunities I would enjoy. I'll look into it more. Thank you for the links and the support.

  6. A little late to this party but since you ask for opinions, here is mine. I speak as a bookkeeper, one who is very interested in stories about how people set up small businesses and the things that either help them succeed or fail. I have read Kathleen Fasanella's blog for years and, although you are not considering setting up as a sewn products manufacturer, many of her insights can be applied more generally.

    My thought is that people's opinions about possible classes, while interesting, will in general not have too much connection with the reality of enrolling in those classes. I think the only way to test for need or interest in a class is to actually offer a class or workshop and see what happens. I know, this is a lot of work for what might seem like a big gamble, but I think it is the only way to know. You can use all sorts of media to get the word out and then see what happens. Putting money down for a class is very different from expressing an opinion.

    Since you've been in business, I have a feeling you probably already know this. :)

    For example, although I enjoy reading about your projects and think that there are probably quite a few people who would like to learn to do similar things, I also know I am not personally likely to enrol in a class or workshop, in real life or online.

    Anyway, whatever you decide to do, I wish you the very best.

    1. There are some general percentages that help to evaluate data. I can look at how many people read the blog posting, how many responded to the questions and calculate a percentage of that number as the potential for enrollment. Looking at the responses from an enrollment perspective, it would not be worth the work. Looking at the responses from an information point of view and then asking myself some yes and no questions, allows me to see where I might want to invest more time and energy that readers might appreciate. I then determine if those are areas that match what I want to do going forward because it's never a good idea to do something because someone else thinks you should. That doesn't work. Over the past several weeks, I've been framing possibilities as yes and no questions because I find that when I have to give a yes or a no answer, that I tend to zoom in more clearly on what it is I am or am not willing to do. The comments have certainly helped with that. I've been feeling for a while like the blog needed some new energy and having spent some time thinking about that, I'm excited to make some changes.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.