True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”— NIKOS KAZANTZAKIS
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sharing what I know about soldering with Linda, a warm and wonderful soul from Tennessee.
She was the last student in my studio, and I am so excited for her as she starts out her own journey with shaping metal into wearable art.
I remember when I first learned how to solder. Years ago, Mary Helen, my studio partner in Chattanooga, and I bought a propane plumber's torch with a huge head from the local hardware store. We went down into the basement of the old bank building where our studio was located, and found Pops-- a big and burly man, who was the building's handyman.
Pops walked us through the process of attaching the gas canister to the torch head and how to light the thing. Then we proceeded upstairs to our space and promptly began our experimentation into soldering. Back then, there weren't as many videos and books available to the novice metal manglers as there are now, and we were pretty much on our own to learn the finesse required when applying lots of heat to metal and hoping for something exciting to happen.
It helps to have a buddy when learning something new. I hemmed and hawed for months before I was brave enough to give it a go. And I was talked into it by Mary Helen, a fearless artist turned compassionate healer, not having the confidence to approach it on my own at that stage of my artistic development.
Every time I share what I have learned with someone, I grow so much within the interaction itself. Teaching forces you to slow down, and appreciate what you already know. In the slowing down, a space opens up within you that allows wonder and awe to enter again. I love that feeling..it's the feeling that drove me to explore making metal jewelry in the first place.
Over the past year, I opened up my studio to those that needed a short term buddy to witness their growth and understanding of the medium. We didn't really work too much on a take home project during these one-on-one interludes into the practical application of tools and supplies. It really was more of a confidence booster, a try-before-you buy sort of experience.
I really loved it.
Monica, another student that came in, allowed me to witness her ideas about combining metal with wood. I know metal, and she knows wood. It was a fantastic collaborative experience that allowed me to learn something brand new to me. She was already on her way to great things artistically, but needed a little help to get her idea actualized.
I like being that chirpy bird that is hanging out just outside of the nest yelling, "Jump! Flap your wings! The weather is fine out here!" to those that are ready to leap out into the great unknown.
I see that more as my role rather than doing videos and such. I was approached by a company that wanted me to do videos this year and at first, I was gung-ho and excited for the 'opportunity'. But after a few weeks into the project, I changed my mind and declined.
I pulled the plug on that because I want to share physical space with those that need a push out of their comfort zone. That was a big realization for me...and although I know it would have been a nice 'feather in my cap', I'd rather keep flapping my wings to my own beat. Besides, since I was true to myself, my bowing out opened up a space for someone else that was truly aligned to expressing themselves in that particular way.
Win-win, and that teaching energy spreads out in the correct way for all those involved.
My tag line has changed to Be...Who You Are. From here on out, I will be exploring just what that means in relation to my evolution as an artist and person. Knowing that I need to share physical space with those that I chirp to about making jewelry was one important realization that I made this year about my own next steps.
I have no idea how this will end up playing out. Maybe it means I will start applying for teaching opportunities around the country or try and teach out of my next studio on a small scale. I've no idea...but I'm excited about the possibilities and how it will all unfold.
Now that Shayne and I will have a reliable and fixed place to rest our heads, planning for things becomes a lot easier. Another perk to having a home.
I want to close out with these nice words from my last student...and to say thank you to all those that came through our studio door this year. You all taught me so much...and I am so happy that you found your own wings and are flying around, making beautiful things that come from your own experiences and heart space. That is what I want most for those that cross my path...
Be....Who You Are.
I recently had the privilege of taking a private lesson with Stacie at her Asheville, NC studio. Living in Knoxville, TN and having recently retired I knew that I wanted to follow my dream of creating art jewelry. After an extensive research of private metalsmith teachers in my area to no avail I happened upon the website of Stacie Florer. I was instantly impressed and could feel her passion for the art and teaching. She phoned me promptly after an email inquiry and we had a wonderful discussion about my goals and the techniques that I was particularly interested in. After talking with her I instantly felt a connection and new since of energy.
The day of my class finally arrived. I was so anxious and a little nervous. The moment we met all of my nerves were calmed. She just beams with personality and a since of calmness. She had already organized materials, supplies and equipment prior to the lesson. She talked about the importance of setting a calm work environment and more importantly working safely. She explained and demonstrated each technique in a clear and concise manner making sure I understood before moving on. When I got frustrated and my hands wouldn’t do what they were supposed to she calmly would show me how to tweak my technique to make it easier. The lesson went by so quickly and I didn’t want it to end. I truly had one of the best days and left so full of renewed energy and excitement. I knew with confidence that I could take what I learned that day and start creating. Stacie makes all the class notes so you only have to concentrate on learning. The next day I received an email with a comprehensive list of all of the techniques I learned, tools and equipment used and list of vendors.
It is clear that Stacie has not only the artistic talent but a passion for teaching others. I can’t wait until I need another lesson even if it does mean driving a little further to Roanoke. ”
— LINDA REED, KNOXVILLE, TN