Robbie LaFleur

Education Coordinator Recap

Becky, before her world changed

Becky, before her world changed

I’ll be in the Weavers Guild later this week – as a student!  In a way, that’s a role I had from last June until last week, as the interim Education Coordinator; it was a fabulous learning experience.  I am thankful that the board thought it was a great idea for me to be hired to help through the transition and Becky Franklin’s maternity leave.  I could write volumes on the amazing experiences I’ve had in the past nine months, but you know, I have other projects waiting.  I spent last summer asking questions of Becky every two minutes–about Guild history, about instructors, about record-keeping, about everything.  It’s a good thing, because when Becky left, my goal was NOT to call Becky about anything.  Before Archer made his appearance on September 26, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without Becky and the sunshine and enthusiasm she brings.  After she was gone for a while I thought how odd it would be when she returned.  And these last weeks since she came back, the world of the Guild seems right again.

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Susan Larson wears her just-completed Sami-inspired necklace from Katherine Buenger’s class.

I scrolled through my last 12 months of photos and was amazed at the number of photos I took of happy people weaving at the Guild.  Due to the fabulous work of our instructors, there are so many people each year who come away with beautiful projects and more importantly, a solid sense of accomplishment and learning.  I have enjoyed working with the teachers immensely, talking about classes to offer and writing descriptions. I have a very personal feeling about the Winter/Spring catalog of classes, and feel elated each time a class reaches its minimum number of students.  Many have hit the maximum. This season is going very well.

You never know what to expect with each day at the Guild, but as a staff member you are guaranteed to be inspired by the work of  talented Guild members. I always poked my head into the study group meetings and was often rewarded with stories (like “Rosebud and Bubba are in the Weft“) and seeing member projects. I particularly had fun with Facebook; it’s an effective way to share enthusiasm for the daily activities at the Guild and the accomplishments of its members.  My favorite post was recent, when I posted nine photos of spinning wheels in various state of disrepair. Molly Wallace from the Ramsey County Historical Society was looking for help in identifying the wheels and parts of wheels.  Andrea Myklebust commented on each photo, and Molly was thrilled!  In this case, Facebook was the perfect conduit for relaying information from a smart Guild member to a person who needed expertise. (Post by Weavers Guild of Minnesota)

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Then there was the day that Chillon Leach brought in Halloween spider web stuff, carded it with wool, and made spring-y yarn.  Whoah.  (Read more.)  And the time that a woman stopped in because she was interested in having a poncho woven just like one that she loved.  Purely by chance, about ten talented weavers were present and descended on the visitor.  Within ten minutes the yarn, weave structure, and construction of the garment were analyzed. (Read more.)

IMG_7871It has also been very fun organizing Guild events, like the lecture by Siiri Korhonen last summer at the American Swedish Institute, a morning at the Somali Museum pop-up gallery, the artist talk with Susan Hensel this fall, the program by tapestry artist Ruth Manning in January, and the Guild 75th birthday party in February.  For the workshop by Linda Weghorst last fall on African kente cloth weaving, I arranged a special viewing of kente cloths with Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers, Curator of the African Collections at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Here is the most amazing realization of my tenure.  It’s something I knew, but could not fully comprehend until I experienced it on a daily basis–Weavers Guild members are enormously generous with their talents and time.  Whether it is teaching a design class to students, or managing 34 Girl Scouts on a visit, or proofreading, or buying Guild supplies, or winding yarn for the shop, or pricing equipment and yarn, or demonstrating weaving and spinning for State Fair visitors and others, or setting up for meetings, or serving on the board, or finding grants, or a hundred other tasks, Weavers Guild members step up to the plate! 

Last week Jennifer Nicklay began her tenure as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Weavers Guild of Minnesota.  This will be a fabulous new era!

When I retired from my position with the Legislature I felt I was ready for new adventures, and that opportunities would turn up.  For now, this opportunity awaits: a half-finished tapestry on my loom covered with stray yarn and textiles.

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One comment on “Education Coordinator Recap

  1. Pingback: The New Issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter is Out | Norwegian Textile Letter

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This entry was posted on March 10, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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