The Gifts of Teaching

Toni' class=

I received gifts this week. I sent some as well. The egg tempera painting of the shearer’s kitchen went back to Australia to the woman who had a childhood there. I gave some of these sticks that I bought from an artist in Australia to members of my art group. There are more in my collection that she had given me many years earlier and are tucked into a corner on a shelf with even more gifts of extraordinarily woven forms that were simply given to me by a student in Australia.

Dick' class=
One of the members of the art group brought this amazing clay bottle he had formed and wanted me to have. I love this bottle. It is large enough to hold a full bottle of wine and it feels wonderful in my hand as I tip it toward the glass. It sits well on the counter where we serve guests.

Also this week a package came from another student in Australia. It is a book she made from her own handmade papers. That alone is very generous of her. I don’t think I could part with paper I made after all the work to get it to even look like paper. But she did and then called the book she made for me “Sandy’s Bible” because of a binding I taught her that hides how it was done and leaves a nice flapped edge like the old Gideon Bibles given out in school parking lots by somewhat misguided elderly believers.

Barb Adams' class=

It is a generous gift, like the bottle above is.

I gave a book away recently simply because I was so excited about how it felt when I was working on it. The pages felt like cloth and fit perfectly with my idea of doing a book about mending. The spine had a darning pattern over the long stitches and you needed to hold it in both hands because it just felt so good. So I took it with me and invited people to just hold it and asked, “What do you think? Isn’t it lovely?” And someone said, “Oh, yes.” and smiled just so. I told her she could have it as soon as I finished it. Just give me her address so I could send it to someone who responded with all the enthusiasm that I felt for the book. She owns it and I made myself another.

Sandra Brownlee' class=

Sandra Brownlee' class=

On the subject of students and books, below are images of what I call my Evidence of Learning book. It was made from papers tossed out in workshops at John C Campbell Folk School. The pages are the table cover papers that the students saw no value in once they drew and made notes on. I turned them into folios and made lines and copied images from the catalog on them. Some I gessoed and tea stained. All were bound together and wrapped with a cord and a small wood carving bought in the craft shop. It is filled with class descriptions, notes and evaluations from every class I have taken or taught since at the folk school. I opened it to teach last week’s class and it now has haiku poetry in it for the first time. One student wrote a poem a day on the board. His gift to all of us.

JCCFS notebook open