I took a one-night pottery workshop a few weeks ago, and left knowing that I wanted – that I needed – to learn more. As it happens, Greg has long wanted to learn how to make pottery, too. So we did what any couple with unusual work schedules would do: we signed up to take an eight-week pottery course on Wednesday mornings.
It seemed like such a good idea at the time! I figured I’d catch up on missed work on Wednesday evenings, no harm no foul.
I have to say, though, that this class has been totally stressing me out.
It’s not that pottery is hard. I mean, pottery is hard. But that’s not what I find stressful. I’m totally comfortable with a steep learning curve, and I enjoy being humbled by my inability to catch on quick.
Part of the stress comes from my lovely situation of having lots of work to do. I’m in the midst of a freelancer’s dream: I have lots of work – not too much – and it’s all enjoyable. And that means taking off every Wednesday morning is not the grand stick-it-to-the-man adventure I’d thought it would be. It’s more of a when will I get all my work done aaaaaaah kind of thing.
And part of the stress comes from my desire to work at my own damn pace, thank you very much. Halfway through the course, more than half of our class is behind. I skipped out on class this morning because I needed to work, and the lesson I missed involved making handles. Only thing is, only one or two people in class actually have mugs made to stick handles to.
If I were to do this properly, in addition to every Wednesday class I’d spend an evening or two every week in the studio practicing. But since Greg and I are both taking the class, and we have a kid with an early bedtime, it means we’d have to manage for each of us to be out for an evening or two each week, and not on the same nights. It makes my head spin. And anyway, I usually want to be in my pajamas within five minutes of my kid’s early bedtime anyway.
It’s more than that, though. This class has reminded me of the way I prefer to learn how to make things. That way being: try, try some more, fail miserably, try some more. At my own pace. I want to get started on something and push the limits of whatever that something is, and only then, once I understand the limits, do I want to learn about the next step to take.
I’m a pain in the ass student is what I’m saying.
And I know it. It’s why I love teaching myself how to do so many things, in the comfort of my own space, without someone else telling me how I should proceed.
I joke that I have an attitude problem, and I’m sure it sometimes seems like I do. But really, I just know how I learn how to make stuff, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to allow myself to proceed in the way that works best for me.
In an ideal world, I’d have my own personal pottery studio five steps away from my house, and I’d make some magnificent messes in there and learn from all sorts of sources, and mostly play around until I come up against limitations I can’t overcome on my own; then I’d seek out help.
Given that it’s unlikely I’ll have a pottery studio five steps away from my house anytime soon, it’s quite possible I’ll set this pursuit aside till I have a far more flexible schedule. Maybe when I’ve retired.
M.K. asked the Maker Concierge about making postcards, specifically, but this information will help you get started eco-printing on paper of any size (and, in some cases, on fabric). Just apply what you learn to postcard-sized paper (or cut larger paper down to postcard size) to make pieces to send to all your favourite people!
Eco-Printing Tutorials Online
Books & Magazines
Tips & Notes
I’ve read mixed reports on what people think of using watercolour paper for printing, and some people say that any heavier weight paper will work. My impression overall is that there’s quite a lot of trial and error involved. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to experiment. Try cutting down larger pieces of paper to keep your paper costs low.
From what I can tell, the process of eco-printing on paper and on fabric is much the same, with some minor differences in preparation. I see a slippery slope here, is what I’m saying. :)
In the Honolulu, HI Area
I’m not finding anything local that’s specific to eco-printing, but you might check see if The Green House could be a resource.
Back in November, I took a clay workshop and made a mug (which I totally use, much to my continuing satisfaction). A few months later, the same studio held another one-night workshop, this time including some wheel time. Wheel time! OMG.
So I made that lopsided bowl at the top of these photos, using a potter’s wheel for the first time since I was a kid at summer camp. And since there were only two wheels but about ten people in the class, during my non-wheel time I made the other two bowls. The ring bowl now sits on the ledge above my bathroom sink, where I use it every day.
When I got home after the workshop, I told my husband I’d woken the pottery beast that had been lying dormant in my brain for many, many years. I was ready to go deep. I was ready for a proper, weekly workshop.
Then he surprised me by saying he’s always had a fantasy about pottery, too. I’d had no idea!
Which is how it came to be that next week we’re starting a pottery workshop together.
No, of course we haven’t been dreaming aloud about converting our garage into a pottery studio. That would be insane.
Quilting is an outstanding way to reuse and upcycle old clothing, and quilters have a long tradition of turning worn-out and stained clothing (or scraps) into warm and beautiful blankets. I, too, love using up every last bit of material that would otherwise end up in the landfill, so I was thrilled when I got this question from Kelly in Washington, DC, in my Maker Concierge inbox.
If you’ve ever wanted to turn a pile of well-loved clothing into a warm and snuggly quilt, here’s how to get started!
Quilting & Clothing Recycling Tutorials and Online Classes
Books & Magazines
Tips & Notes
In the Washington, DC, Area
Laurie in Lynn, MA, has been dreaming about making a graveyard-themed terrarium. After preparing some advice for her on how to get started, I totally want to make one, too. Here’s a great list of resources for how to get started (many of which could certainly be used to make terrariums that are totally unrelated to graveyards!)
Tips & Notes
It seems like there are a variety of not-terribly-in-depth graveyard-specific terrarium ideas online, but I suggest you start with plain terrarium information and tutorials, and add your own graveyard touches as you desire. Look for products and tutorials that will help you craft your own miniatures, or miniature graveyard.
Terrarium Building Tutorials
Books & Magazines
In the Lynn, MA, Area
As you may know, March is National Craft Month.
As you may also know, one of the major parts of the work I do is as a crochet instructor at Craftsy. Crochet is the craft that got me onto this path toward camp-counseloring-for-grownups, and I love that Craftsy enables me to teach students from all over the world whom I’d never have a chance to encounter without the magic of their platform.
(And to be perfectly frank, my income from Craftsy allows me to do nutty spontaneous things like launch the Maker Concierge on a total whim. So I love it even more!)
This month, for National Craft Month, Craftsy is doing a very cool thing. They’re going to make a $1,000 donation to a craft-focused charity of one lucky student’s choice.
Every person who purchases a Craftsy class between now and March 13th will be entered into the draw to choose the charity.
If you’re new to the whole concept of online craft classes, here’s why I think they’re awesome (and not just as a teacher, but also as someone who loves taking online classes):
- You get hours of high-quality video instruction you can watch at your own pace, repeat as needed, and refer back to whenever you want.
- Yes, I most certainly mean you can work through them in your pajamas, on your comfy couch, at any time of day or night.
- And yes, you have access to the class forever (on some platforms – Craftsy included).
- At least on Craftsy (not all platforms include this), you also get access to the instructor – you can ask questions anytime, and the teacher will answer you. (This is the part I truly love, because though the videos are awesome, it can still be very hard to know what’s going wrong when you’re stuck on a certain technique and are pulling your hair out.)
- Downloadable class materials complement the video instruction. In my Craftsy classes, for example, downloads include stitch patterns, diagrams, and reference materials.
- There’s just a massive variety of classes available. Like, there’s one on the science of bread-making that I just discovered, and I think it might change my life. And there’s one on how to make a t-shirt quilt, and one on how to knit faster, and one on taking great photos with your phonecam.
Perhaps most importantly, online classes enable us to learn pretty much anything we want, even if those things aren’t taught in our own local communities or our schedules don’t allow us to easily attend in-person classes.
As someone whose major schpiel in life is encouraging people to try new creative things, online classes are like magic.
Which is all to say that if you’ve been wanting to learn some new things, signing up for a Craftsy class by March 13th would be a good time to do it, since you’ll get a chance to decide where that $1,000 donation will go. That’s a pretty cool reason to dive in right away, eh?
PS Links to Craftsy classes are affiliate links, and they all include a discounted registration just for you.
PPS I wrote about this in my last newsletter. I don’t usually duplicate newsletters here on the blog, but I want as many people as possible to hear about this event, so here we are. And you should totally get my newsletter. Just sayin’.