Not a Teacher

I'm a self-taught weaver; a few things I do without thinking, some I don't know how to do properly and wing it; and some I do in different ways depending on the fiber, weather or just-because. Yet others, I pace, talk to and gaze for hours, days and weeks concocting a solution. This is why I don't teach; I may not know the answer, or I may confuse you because I'll blurt out three different solutions. I always thought weaving is what you make of it, and it's a solitary thing for me; I cherish that.

So it was with trepidation and anxiety that I awaited for the appointed time on Friday when Annie came with her dressed-and-partially-worked rigid heddle loom she picked up in Christchurch for $30 then hauled back to Nelson on a bus. I knew Annie to be a young art school graduate, with some experience working in several art galleries, with a famous artist big sister; we worked together packing up Red as we knew it. She asked me earlier in the week if I could show her how to weave, and I didn't know how to say no to this lovely youth, so we set a time. I thought I'd wing it, not make it a regular thing, but just show her enough; she's an art school graduate, she'll know what to dobeyond the mechanics. I should have a lovely time over a cup of tea.

And that's how it went. For four and a half hours. We talked about weaving, galleries, climate change and natural disasters, NZ politics, and we had a lovely time. She's one intelligent cookie, and I take it a superb listener. She got the basic idea from my frantic, fragmented explanation, with great illustration, (body language, that is.) We're not sure if she's going the cloth-weaving route, the art/show-piece road or both or something in between, so we went back and forth brainstorming. She's worried about putting on a new warp, so she might come back to dress my RHA. All I'll do is to think of a project, collect material/tools, and figure out the numbers; when she comes, I'll give her just enough hints so she can make the warp and dress the loom. Win, win.

Make no mistake, I'm not turning into a teacher; I'm not good at it. But I can do this with Annie.

And speaking of someone who does teach, last week when I was working on the sketchbook, guess who looked up at me from the pages of an old Australian magazine? Kaz!
And then last week I found this on TradeMe, the NZ version of eBay. Having been published in 1990, and from the title, I didn't think there would be much about multishaft or complex drafts, but if Kaz had anything to do with it, it would be full of lovely colors, and it was!!
Thursday afternoon I had a tooth extracted from top left at the back; why does it hurt at bottom right now??


  1. Your top probably ached so much you didn't notice the bottom. Always something!

  2. I feel like sieve...

  3. Meg, I was initially drawn to this entry by the title "Not a Teacher"! How could that be. Then found the images of my previous publications!
    I'm sorry but I must disagree that you aren't a teacher as such as I feel I've learnt so much from you and your voice in this blog. I buy most books you recommend and your writing allows me to look at what I'm weaving and thinking in another way. I think teachers come in many guises and many are guides which are suited more to the teaching we get from each other throughout life. The word 'teacher' is a bit awkward really as it brings up military style sameness and strict definites.
    As you know, handweaving is full of problem solving and a sense of unsatisfied seeking as we work primarily by ourselves outside of a shared workshop or industry situation where everything is done the same established way for the weaving of the same thing. We're looking for a way of describing something deeply human in a 'mere' cloth. The quest goes on for me and your 'teaching' contributes greatly to that. Thank you.

  4. Having come from a family of teachers and having been put in a tutory position since I was 16, I most definitely have a narrow, prescribed definition of teachers, Kaz. So I see myself more like a ranting, half-crazed hermit expleting ideas, advice and comments, good or bad, wanted or not. Which doesn't sit well with my idea of a weaving teacher. Though I may have potential for a good member in a brainstorming session. And I have gazillion ways to accommodate uneven tension. But thank you for the input and your opinion; I feel like a Yogi with a fresh haircut!

  5. I feel like you. I like to create inn solitude. I also have a hard time with people pressuring me to teach them how to copy my work. I love how you said, "give them just enough" so they can get started and off doing their own thing.
    I too like to wing it and offer options as opposed to instructions.
    Reading about you and annie... sounds like my mentor and me. I think perhaps you are a fine mentor! :) Being a mentor requires a special relationship.

    Awesome read. Thank you and let it be known I have never had this much to say in a comment ever! ... you got me thinking.
    Monika in Canada

  6. Wow, I'm a little overwhelmed. As I say all the time, I blurt out here what comes into my mind, half for the company, but half so I can come back when my memory fails. I also think we have different expectations for teachers, and at least when I'm a newbie to something, I prefer a relatively regimented, prescriptive course following a syllabus. But what I really love is brainstorming, so even when alone, I try that.



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