I apologize for the sporadic posting of late. I’ve been so busy lately, and my brain has been so scattered, that its been a challenge to marshal my thoughts into a cohesive blog post. And I apologize if this comes off a little rambling.
I just received the Craft Inc. Business Planner by Meg Mateo Illasco for my birthday, and I have to say I highly recommend it. Its the practical companion to Meg’s book, Craft Inc., which is an invaluable resource for anyone running a crafts business. The business planner includes lots of useful tips and tricks, plus worksheets to help you plan a budget, price your work, or plan a marketing campaign. Not only will I use it as a resource for my business, but also when I’m teaching my students about running a business.
And speaking of teaching, I really do love teaching all aspects of running an art, design, or crafts business. I had a blast earlier this year when I did a professional development workshop at Arizona State and presenting about micro-production at Kent State (where I went to grad school). And I’d love to come speak to your school, group, or guild as well. Just drop me a line at meauman(at)yahoo(dot)com – I’d love to present on any of these business related topics – pricing, marketing and promotion, wholesale and retail shows, web 2.0 and social media, and lots more. So send me an email, I’d love to work with your group in 2010!
One of the reason that I’ve been so busy lately is that I’m teaching A LOT this fall. I’m actually teaching 3 classes in the Metals + Jewelry and Interdisciplinary Object Design programs at Towson University. I’m also helping coach cross country at the local middle school/high school again. Plus, I recently completed my LCI training through the League of American Bicyclists, and I’ll be attempting to teach a few bike classes this fall as well.
All of this is a long way of saying that I’ve come to the following conclusion – I love teaching!
I know I said a while back (I can’t find the exact post) that I was done with teaching, but I was wrong. I think I’ve grown a lot in the past year, and I’ve come to understand just how important teaching is to me and my own creativity. I think I’ve also learned a lot about myself as a teacher – things that are helping with my stress levels so that I don’t reach the burn out that led me to take last fall off.
I’ve frequently joked that if I could, I would be a lifetime student if only I could afford it. I’ve now come to realize that teaching is learning (and I get paid for it). I feel like I have freedom to learn, and play, and experiment, and hopefully get to pass that new information on to my students.
I’m also understanding how much the environment I’m teaching in has a lot to do with my happiness level. I’m lucky to teach with some truly amazing people at Towson, and I’m grateful I keep getting asked back to teach.
Something else I’ve realized is that I can actually be a rather competitive (and dare I say, jealous) person. When I see someone with a successful business, its hard to quash the voices in my head saying, “why her, not me?” I’m not proud of that, but its true. With my students and the kids I coach, I’m the complete opposite. I want only amazing things for them. I want them to be more successful than me. Its an amazing feeling to see the accomplishments my students make, and know that I helped them (even if it was just a little) a long the way.
I’m also starting to understand (with a little help from Seth Godin) that teaching is an incredibly effective, personal form of advocacy. Instead of screaming from the rooftops in the hope that someone hears me, I have a slightly smaller audience that is actually listening. Teaching can be a powerful tool in the pay it forward method of advocacy. If I can reach 3 people, and each of them reaches 3 people, and so on, suddenly so many people are impacted.
At this point, I still can’t honestly say that I want a full time teaching job at a university. Even after all the growing, I still don’t think I’m ready for the all the bureaucracy. But I am happy to continue teaching and coaching and learning along the way, because I can now honestly say, even on the hard days, that I love it.
Thanks for reading.
As I mentioned before, I’m teaching a summer session class – Jewelry for Non-Art Majors. I’ve never taught a summer class or a non-majors class before, so I really had no idea what to expect.
Well, I’m happy to say I’m loving it. I’m the only faculty member teaching in our studio, so I have the place to myself. My students are fantastic – fun and curious and so excited about everything they’re learning. Their first project was a cuff bracelet, and I’m very happy with the results. (And I love this picture, its like I’ve got a whole class of Wonder Woman or She-Ra Princess of Power.)
In fact, I actually have time to make the projects along with them! Its great because I get to work on something for fun, and its really helping me evaluate what does and doesn’t work in each project.
Plus, I’ve been treating the days I teach as my own mini summer art camp. Most afternoons after my students leave, I’ve been staying to work in the studio (which I have all to myself). Its so fun to work on things I can’t do in my own studio because I don’t have those tools – I’ve even been doing some raising! (If you went to school with me at all, you’ll understand how crazy that last statement is.) And I’m letting myself work with no finished product or goal in mind – just experimentation and some good old fashioned metalsmithing.
I promise to share pics of what I’m working on soon. I’m so excited to see where all this creative freedom is going to take me!
After taking the fall off, I once again taught Intro to Jewelry and Metalsmithing at Towson University. My class just wrapped up this week, and I finally posted some images of student work online.
I really liked my class this semester – I really challenged them and I think they rose to the occasion. I even tried a new project this semester, a two layer pendant where one layer was laser cut at Ponoko. Above is one of the examples – made from copper and wool felt.
Click here to see more of my student work from this semester on flickr.