Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Finishing the Seniors Second Craft

Successful senior crafters
Despite a rough start for me, today was a kind of triumph for my crafters. A new member came and after finding another pot, had her start though there wasn't a chance she would get done today.

For those that were here last week, they had pretty much painted the stripes, dots and pot lip on their plastic pots. 

The finished pot
Today we finished the pots by putting the daisies, I had planned for four, on the sides. After a bit of practice and time spent showing them together and again personally, I had them work on their daisies. One interesting senior, who doesn't speak a word of English, who pretty much does her own thing, painted Chinese characters instead of daisies. I have to admit that it looked very nice. Since I can't or read write Chinese, it was a pretty nifty twist.

Recreated Flower Pot In Chinese
Once the pots were finished, painted and hopefully dry, I pressed floral foam into each pot and had each person pick their own artificial flowers. Once they were pressed in, we then kept it "authentically "real" by using real moss. I must admit they looked pretty nice. In fact they were all very proud and I encouraged them to take them to their rooms but bring them back for the next class. I would coat the paint with a varnish because unless that extra clear coat is there, the paint scratches off the plastic pot quite easily. 

While I am sure each of these crafters learned something new and had their horizons stretched, I have to admit that I learned a a great many new things too. When I think of an idea for a project I assume that it will be followed as closely as possible. I mean, after going to four or five Las Vegas Painting Conventions and one Society of Decorative Painters (SDP) convention that was the point! You left with a near perfect item.
Another variation of a design

We say we go to these conventions to learn, hopefully, new techniques but we slavishly copy what the teacher has already created. At the SDP, as I recounted in an earlier blog,  one teacher encouraged us to "do our own Rosemaling thing" and that got us in trouble. As she taught what she had already created I realized my "winging" it was trouble. Completely unable to follow what she was doing, I realized what I had done didn't follow her design at all. I packed up and was all ready to leave when she came over, asked why I was leaving and after explaining she asked the class how many others had done the same thing. A whole bunch raised their hands. So much for doing your own thing.

This, however, is also an example of how I was going to teach my crafty seniors and fought their impulse to stray. When one senior really did her own thing I realized, what I had done had no meaning to her. She was happy with what she had created and to be honest, the sides of the birdhouse where she used her own, ugh, design, impressed me! It was amazing in fact. I put her birdhouse away so it wouldn't disappear.

Today, as I was teaching daisies she had other things on her mind and the pot above is what she created using Chinese. Once the flower she picked and the moss was in place she broke into song. It was in Chinese but she was so proud. We all stopped what we were doing and let her hold up her pot and sing. It was a defining moment for me. The photo on the right is a rendition of my design but done in her own way. Is it any less? She was very happy and proud. Who am I to criticize? It dawned on me that this is what artists do all the time. They may go to school, do their teachers bidding but when the time comes they must make their own way. They must create their own vision and not use someone else's. 

Teaching these seniors has been ultimately a wonderful experience. They can see what I have done, after all the sample is sitting there in front of them but unlike all the classmates at every convention I've been too, they are willing to take a chance and do what they want! I don't think a teacher can ask for anything less.

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