One of the technical requirements in the first circle of the guild study program is for me to select two mediums and work with them. The first is obvious - sewing. For the second, the guild suggests choosing something very different, like sculpture, jewelry making, or wood carving. I'm not sure what my second medium will be... Perhaps sculpting... It's something I used to enjoy but feel out of practice with. Not to mention, I would love to learn how to sculpt with porcelain eventually. But for now, I'm going to think about some of the questions asked as a way to get me started towards my working outline. Forgive the meme-like nature of this entry, but there will be times when I want to brainstorm like this.
Will you be able to take classes at a local art center?
The thing about sewing is that I've been doing it since I was four or five. There are many, many things I could learn but I think I'm a bit beyond a sewing 101 class. That said, I've recently learned about the Thousand Island Arts Center and it seems like just what the proverbial doctor ordered. Although their website is being reconfigured and their classes have yet to be updated, last year there were courses on weaving, spinning, quilt making, and all manner of traditional arts. Quilting is something I would love to learn about and it would undoubtedly provide me with an opportunity to perfect my skills under master teachers. They have even offered classes on sewing clothing - something else I would love to improve on.
Will you need to use well-illustrated how-to books and the rigorous school of trial and error?
Who knows when the Arts Center will post more classes? In the meantime I have to rely on tutorials, trial and error, and my own tenacious creativity. It's part of the game, I suppose. Luckily I already have some wonderful books that can help me with the more technical annoyances of sewing.
How available, affordable and sustainable are the materials you will need?
I already have many sewing tools. My husband recently revived my old sewing machine, and my father fixed another that will arrive at my home sooner or later. I also do a lot of hand stitching lately which is, I'm sure, more sustainable than using electricity. I like to buy fabric and tread from garage sales and second hand stores. I also like to recycle clothing and scraps. Unfortunately this doesn't always meet my needs and I do buy a lot of fabric and other materials from art and craft stores. I try to research sustainable and organic materials but, unfortunately, many of them are a bit too expensive for me at the moment. I try to make up for this by reusing and buying second-hand when I can. Some more sustainable and affordable materials have crossed my radar recently. I've noticed more felt made of recycled bottles on the market. There are also some recycled buttons. I've found a few skeins of organic or bamboo yarn. In addition to all of this, the possibility of lead testing on toys sold has made me more conscious of where my materials come from and what's in them.
Luckily, as long as I can find thread and keep my needles in tact (their origin is more dubious than my fabric), I will be able to sew. There are always scraps around. I would love to learn how to spin wool and eventually weave my own fabric. In Northern NY, there seem to be plenty of sheep and alpaca farmers with homespun wool for purchasing.
Is there anyone in your community who can serve as a resource for you?
The Art Center I mentioned before will, I hope, become a resource. There are also bound to be other local artisans I have yet to meet. Within my own tribe there are plenty of crafty, needle-happy people. My friend Parallax is an accomplished seamstress. My mother and father are both talented and are my original teachers. My aunt used to make her own clothing. There is also the internet with its many tutorials and forums.
Are there opportunities to work and learn collectively with other novices?
Should the Art Center offer more classes, then yes.
What kind of assistance or advice will you want/need from the Artisan Guild, if any?
I would expect the guild to be a community of learners at various levels of expertise. I would love to bounce ideas off others and receive honest feedback. I am always open to advice and help.