On-line, On-board, Textile Teaching


Stop Fear, journal quilt, 2007

As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know, I sometimes float ideas that want exploring for my art business or my teaching practice -- even sometimes my art work. Sometimes something comes of it, sometimes, not.

One of those tracks, coaching, seems to have run its course without much action on my part. After quite a bit of research on the topic, being a coach and making that business works seems to embody the same challenges and work load that teaching art and making art do -- it's a highly competitive field, with many practitioners and many approaches even within the niche of creativity coaching. I am pretty sure that what I was thinking about doing is being done by many people with more skills, credentials, and who see that as their primary passion and gift to the world. Then, too, I didn't find long lines of people clamoring for this service! The best way for me to guide artists and would-be artists in their creative work and their creative processes is to improve my teaching, expand and formalize the materials I use for my workshops, and to keep being a maker, living the maker's life. (By the way, one of my favorite bloggers Merlin Mann, has a lot to say about productivity and the maker's life on his redesigned blog.)

One idea that I've toyed with in the past and that I, here, publicly state as a goal for the next 4 months, is to produce an on-line course. Hold me to it. I will offer the course at a highly-discounted rate  (maybe even free) for 10 to 15 of you who read this blog  -- beta testing, as it were. I will include photos and video demos, an e-book workbook and how-to materials. Get your name on the invitation list by leaving a comment or sending an email with suggestions!

Thus said, I need a little market research, and I hope you will help me with that -- whether or not you have taken an on-line course before or not. Leave comments here on the blog, or send a personal email to susiemonday@gmail.com. In the textile art world, there seem to be two distinct approaches to on-line offerings: 1. short -- 6 lessons or so -- courses that deal with a fairly specific technique, approach, tool or medium, costing about $40 to $80 per course. Some of these are hosted on sites like Joggles, Quilters Keep Learning or Quilt University, others on the artist's own website. Most have some feedback option, but it may or may not be used by the participating student.

The second type of offering is longer, more expansive and cohesive courses with design, often taking several months and costing quite a bit more -- Jane Dunnewold's correspondence course on Complex Cloth fits this. And I know some of the other "big name" fiber art teachers do some similar programs, and they cost usually about $300 or more for a season or a year's course. I don't think I'm ready for this!

In the interest of starting small, the first type of course seems most do-able. Here are a few ideas I have thought about, do any of these sound interesting to you -- or do you think one or the other might find an audience?

  • How to make an altered jean jacket using fusible webbing, fabric collage, stitching and original design ideas
  • 7 Scarves -- new surface design techniques on silk scarves
  • An on-line version of my Calling All Archetypes workshop  (this might be a slightly longer one, culminating in making an art quilt to an archetype important in one's life)
  • An on-line version of my workshop Words on the Surface, using text on fabric in various media and a variety of techniques

Any others come to mind? What price would you be willing to pay for a 6 lesson series? A 10 lesson series? Would it be important to have a shared photo file of student work -- that's easy enough to set up and could be a great place to see the diversity of work. How about a blog to discuss the class assignments? Or do you think these interactive elements are too difficult for most people to use and would make the class less marketable? Hoping to hear from you!