It was such a great group of kids, and I had almost nothing to do while they made their creatures. No prodding or prompting needed! Within a few minutes, they’d even invented a whole society for their creatures to belong to, complete with a supreme ruler, royal children, and a hierarchy of dignitaries and servants.
I love that there’s a girls-only Maker Camp in town, and that the organizer, UBC prof Dave Ng, includes crafty pursuits alongside the mechanical and coding projects.
A couple of months ago, I got a Twitter mention from the Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee, about a Mighty Ugly workshop they were going to host for Valentine’s Day. And I nearly fell out of my chair. I mean, how perfect is that?! It’s totally perfect. So of course I told the librarian how excited I was, and I sent her a signed book to give away, and I recorded a wee video intro for the event.
Here’s the video (in which I explain why Mighty Ugly and Valentine’s Day are a perfect match, natch) and some tweets from the event that made my heart sing. (If you’re a librarian who thinks this idea is swell, or you’re just an average person like me and you’d like to ask your friendly neighbourhood librarian to host a Mighty Ugly event, check out this link with loads of info to help!)
I’m still finding my way around Periscope, and one of the things I love most about it is that people can comment as you record, so you can respond to what they say or ask. I just love it. Anyway, as I’ve been experimenting with the platform, I find I’ve been chatting with people more and more about daily making and Year of Making, so I did a scope highlighting five reasons to do a Year of Making. The video of my five reasons is below, as is the link to get the free worksheet I promised in the scope!
My online not-really-a-class: Daily Making Jumpstart. (That’s what you’ll find at the website I mention in the scope: camp.kimwerker.com. In a few weeks, I’ll launch my next class on there; sign up for my weekly email to be the first to find out about it!)
Several weeks ago, I got an email from the manager of an art-supply store here in Vancouver, asking if I’d like to teach a collage workshop in the store – specifically about how/where to start when you haven’t a clue. One of the things I love about Opus is that they have a very liberal view of whom they consider to be an artist.
Of course, I don’t really do collage. Like, ever.
But I want to. And I’ve wanted to for a long time.
So I considered the where-to-start thing to be totally in line with my goal of experimenting with collage, and I said yes. An enthusiastic yes to teaching this workshop.
Because though I know very little about collage, I am an expert in doing things I have no idea how to do. In fact, I have spent my whole life honing my not-knowing-where-to-start skills.
And very specifically, I’ve become truly ace at not knowing where to start and starting anyway.
So the way I see it, and the store manager seemed to agree, I’m totally qualified to teach this workshop. And teach it I will.
The first thing I had to do to start preparing for the workshop is to start starting. So I laid out my ideas for how to start a collage when you don’t know how or where to start, and then I started executing those ideas.
It’s tremendous fun. You should give it a shot!
Stay tuned for more workshop details. I’ll post about it on Instagram and Twitter (and also here on the blog, obviously) when registration opens!
Note: the very brief bits I wrote about collage in Make It Mighty Ugly were bits I really struggled to write, because I knew I was writing good advice, but I also knew it’s advice I’ve had a very hard time following. I think this workshop will finally be the death of those particular creative demons. Hallelujah!
Check out Petunia Alex, the ugly creature Pamela Arriera made when she worked through Make It Mighty Ugly. I love seeing photos of readers’ ugly creatures, and it’s even better when they include the story they wrote about their creature. Thanks, Pamela, for giving me permission to share yours here!
The 2015 Vancouver Mini Maker Faire was the first one I didn’t attend, as a visitor or a Maker, since the event started in 2011. I considered cutting our road trip a week short so I’d be home for it, but then decided that would be the wrong decision. No regrets.
But imagine my glee when I got an email on the road from my friend Dave, who’s a prof at UBC and was organizing the second annual Maker Camp for tweens (this year’s was only open to girls aged 11-13), asking if I’d like to lead an afternoon session. He’d asked me to participate at camp last year, too, but I couldn’t due to a scheduling conflict.
So there I was on the road, trying to reply to his email while wrangling very spotty cell service. I’m so glad we were able to work it out!
I learned some things doing Mighty Ugly with a couple dozen tweens, much of it related to my usual refusal to do this workshop with anyone younger than the age of majority.
A Mighty Ugly workshop consists of three acts:
Act I: Introduction and (usually) awkward discussion.
Act II: Making an ugly creature.
Act III: Show & tell, and (usually) spirited discussion.
Adults take a while to warm up to the idea of exploring ugliness and failure and doubt, which is why the introductory conversation is usually short. I find that forcing conversation at the beginning of a Mighty Ugly workshop achieves pretty much nothing. So then we move on to the making. This is where things change. It’s kind of like magic. A few people dive in with gusto while a few others sit in quiet terror, and the rest start to slowly gather supplies. Over time, from what started out as a quiet gathering of uncomfortable people emerges a low hum, and sometimes a great cacophony, of chit-chat and mumbling. Eventually, the terrified people get moving. By the time the making is wrapping up and the first people are ready to introduce their creatures and discuss their experience, most people are willing, if not eager, to talk. Not all people. But most.
What I learned at Maker Camp is that my assumptions about children are true. Or, in scientific parlance more appropriate to having led this workshop in a bio-sciences lab, my hypothesis was supported.
The kids wanted to talk and talk and talk at the beginning of the workshop. They wanted to tell me about things they’d already made at camp, and meals at home that had become total gross disasters, and Lego gone awry. Eventually, I had to put my hands up and tell them about the making. At which point, the place became the happiest mess I’ve seen in a long time. No hesitation. No terror. Just a mess of making.
At the end of the making, a few kids wanted to talk about their creatures, but many didn’t. And there was very little cross-room discussion. No one seemed particularly interested in connecting their experience of making ugly things to their experience of the frustration or shame or sadness of failing at their usual projects at home or at school. No one found the activity to be particularly challenging. And that was that. Totally not what I expect, and routinely experience, from a roomful of adults.
It was such a fun afternoon, and I though I will continue to offer these workshops only for adults, I’ll also continue to make an exception for Maker Camp. I learned a lot about this age group that I’ll use to adjust the workshop for next summer, for sure.