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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

10 January, 2016

The Power of Connections

I feel very privileged to be living in an era where being an artist does not mean struggling on your own, trying to justify what you do and why you do it against more ‘worthy’ occupations.  I know – most of us work on our own, and yes, we do end up trying to explain, and on occasion trying to justify, what it is that we do, and its validity.  But in the world that has access to the internet and social media, we are no longer emotionally or professionally on our own any more.  There is so much information online, some brilliant, some good, some mediocre and some downright wrong!  But we can reach out, through blogs, through online forums, through social media.

And when we connect with others, we sometimes get criticism, we often realise just how much we have yet to learn about our chosen medium/media, but more often than not, we get support, encouragement, validation, understanding.

I’ve spoken before about getting those ‘aha’ moments, and how wonderful they are.  But I had never before read an account of how these moments happen.  To me, I knew that the connections were made between specific techniques/problems/topics and my more general region and that there is not really much that is new but the individual voice and ‘genius’ comes from connections that are made between things that might not have been connected before, or thought about in that specific way before.  I also knew that many of my ideas come from quiet moments – the middle of the night, just before falling asleep (and thus preventing sleep!!) or immediately on waking, in the shower, walking the dog – and had assumed that my subconscious had been working on things whilst I was actively or passively engaged elsewhere.

Then I read a newsletter from somewhere – possibly Sam and Joe at TextileArtist.org (more of them later) – and the author had written of a fabulous little book called A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young, published in the 1940s.  I searched on Amazon and bought this little tome.  It arrived and this morning, whilst drinking my mid-morning coffee, I read it from cover to cover.  Don’t worry – this is not impressive!!  It is a short book – 48 pages cover to cover.  But it expressed exactly what happens in the creative process in such a lucid and succinct way.

This leads me on to my main point in this blog post.  The world is now a much smaller place thanks to the internet.  We can connect to each other like never before.  The guys at TextileArtist.org are part of this amazing chain of connections and they publish really good material.  If you haven’t come across them yet, please do click on a link in this blog and go and visit their site.  Their story alone is one of connections and curiosity.  Watch the videos that they are currently putting on their site – there is a time limit on them (good publicity ploy!) so go and check it out before the videos disappear.

The only danger is that we can get so easily side-tracked with all this social media  - so many people to connect with, so many wonderful textiles to look at and admire.  But connectivity-wise, we have never had it so good!!

25 January, 2009

Weaving Teaching is Fun

Filed under: Teaching,Weaving — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:31 pm

Now I’m back from the US, it’s back into teaching with a surge!  I love teaching.  I know I’m in a very privileged position because I’m self-employed and people from all backgrounds and geographical reach come to my home studio to learn.  And not just from the far reaches of the UK, either.  It’s wonderful to teach students from the US, New Zealand, and across Europe and each student brings with them their particular outlook shaped by life’s events, and by their culture – from the standard of living their upbringing imposed, to choices of work, ways of thinking and how they live now. 

One of the things I love to explore is how people think.  I know that I have a certain visual acuity, but I love words (although I frequently have to stop to work out what I’m trying to put across <G>).  I can visualise quite a lot where weaving is concerned, and have huge intuitive leaps between things I see and creating an interpretation of that in my weaving.  However, I can really struggle when learning a new field, and sometimes have to work in a comprehension vacuum until my brain filters what it’s trying to absorb, and eventually it gets to that ‘aha’ moment when everything clicks. 

So what interests me particularly is the myriad of different ways our brains process learning.  I know that for a lot of teachers these things are old hat, but even though I’ve been teaching for nearly 20 years, I still find it fascinating.  The student who can’t understand anything until they’ve actually physically woven what you are suggesting, so you need to give them detailed instructions and they follow them through verbatim and then – kaboom – the wonder and comprehension in their eyes when they see ‘in the flesh’ as it were, what was written down.  Other students seem to have an instant fundamental understanding – intuitive - before they get anywhere near the loom. 

People with an engineering bent, or very practical in sorting things out around the house, usually can visualize really easily.  Artistically inclined students sometimes have wonderful ideas but no idea of how they can translate that to the loom.  Some are willing to experiment and push the boat out, whilst someone else might need a lot of encouragement to move away from a published draft.  Some gravitate instinctively towards a particular set of colours, whilst some are in total confusion about what colours to use. 

One thing that does strike me, and this isn’t just through my weaving teaching, is how anxious people are in general about getting things wrong.  We constantly ask ‘is this right?’  or ‘Am I doing this correctly?’.  Therein lies another musing, I think!!  But it is a constant and it shows up very strongly in a teaching/learning situation.  So one of my key things is to re-assure students that in weaving there are no mistakes, only opportunities or possibilities, and that if it doesn’t work for you, then try another way.  These are weaving cliches, I know, but there are as many ways of doing things as there are weavers, and I feel that a didactic approach can hamstring students/weavers into set patterns of behaviour that constrict and restrict them, both in approaching the practical hands-on part of weaving, and the creative designing element. 

What do you feel, either as a student or as a teacher?