Wheat Wrote WHAT?!

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May 20th, 2015 at 17:00 pm

Choosing A Class

I am on a braiding binge and so doing lots of thinking about “things I wish I knew back when”

Within that context – let’s consider how one might, in a near perfect world, take a serious approach to Japanese braiding and with future side trips in the much larger world of Fiber Art & Jewelry Braid Making.

These suggestions may not apply to your situation and yes, may be outside your means at this time.
“Let not your heart be troubled… ”
One of the best things about braiding, is opportunity exists at many levels of commitments in time and money
So use what you can as a starting point, and adapt as needs be to make it work for you.

Plus, everyone should be able to find some level of involvement withing their means that will bring them enjoyment in the making of braids.

Equally, there is NOTHING wrong with being among those who view braiding as just another tool in their jewelry making technique box so long as they are honest about their products.

But if that is you, you might want to stop reading now.

So why am I writing this rant –

Quite frankly, I care too much to be less than appalled by the background and training of those who would take your money in exchange for likely next to nothing other than how to screw the legs into your stand and generally exhibit no respect as an artisan for the craft they profess to be competent to teach.

The goal for this discussion is NOT to be “teacher specific” – rather to list and understand things that will best serve YOUR needs as a student at the level of your present expertise – a starting point for your own due diligence.

In case you were not sure so far, these are admittedly strongly held beliefs – but feel free to discuss the point and not the persons

Please be compassionate to your would be fellow students. Nothing can destroy a class for all involved when it is intended to build on a specific level of confidence. As with all “rules” there are exceptions, and “Japanese Braiding” holds a qualified exception

At one time or another we have all taken a class where there was someone who should not have been there. Way over their head, and pulling the rest of the class under along the way.

Be honest first with yourself and if you are determined, then contact the teacher and explain your situation honestly. Let them decide if it is worth your time and money to participate.

If needed accept you don’t meet the prerequisite gracefully and wait for a better opportunity.

Exceptions sometimes exist = when the class is led by a Japanese “trained” teacher – One whose training, skill and expertise represent a high level of competence in the craft AND the ability to teach. Why is this? Because their ingrained study and teaching ethics includes instruction with multiple levels of teaching – A Japanese one room school house if you will. Likely exists in other cultures and maybe in modern programs like the UK’s Cities & Guilds.

There are some excellent mentors to help you get started on your “braiding” journey in the use of the most basic equipment, the braiding stand either “flat top” or Marudai. If you are not yet able to participate in class, I truly hope you will find one who is a good fit to your needs.

If someone is kind enough to try to help you, one thing to expect is that at some point they will say it is time for you to make the commitment and find a way to study with a top level teacher. Do not feel abandoned, try to understand that they may know you need something different than they can offer.

So CAN you learn to use a marudai to make braids without taking a class? Some can – many try and even do but should you?

Speaking from experience – having to “unlearn” bad habits is second only to “unbraiding” in my least favorite learning experiences, so if you can, as early as you can after you determine that braiding on a stand is “right for you”
Find a way to learn from a well qualified instructor.

Can you learn to use a marudai CORRECTLY and create a basis for doing more than the “starting structures” of each braid family?

I don’t think so – there are just to many subtleties not covered in any current book or DVD that must be shown, first hand, with the velvet glove needed to guide you into the tiny differences.

Does that mean you should not try – of course not – probably not, but know up front that you are creating long term obstacles.

So what kinds of questions should you ask

Recently, as a morph of a discussion, I saw a really excellent summary of what one should look for in a teacher of braiding on a Marudai or “flat top” – and I hope this garners enough comments to create such a list –

Meanwhile, if I am going to pay for a class, I want some confidence that the teacher will have sufficient training to teach it “right”.

There are very specific reasons for every nuance of Marudai (and all other Kumihimo as well) –

The first things I would look for in a class description is a “defined” skill level and what if any prerequisites are required.

For formal learning opportunities (retreats, conference, ongoing study groups) – there is often a very strong correlation between costs and quality when one is considering fiber art education.
The obvious exception is when the class is being sponsored by an educational group such as a guild – and because of the quality of the setting, Then, dues paying members get a break because some of the costs are a membership benefit.

So it only seems prudent before spending hundreds of dollars to ask a question or twelve.

Look at the teach bio – with whom have they studied?
How long have they been involved in the craft –
What specific experience and expertise do they claim

Look at their work – yes, you may be a beginner, but is this something you “aspire” to create?

If the bio is not specific – ask how long they have been braiding – where else have they formally taught.

See what they share on line in braiding venues – does their commitment to the craft fall in line with yours?

Those are my openers –

Let’s work together to make a list of the factors to be considered before you commit your hard earned free time and money.

Definitely looking forward to hearing your comments here or in Facebook at either Beaded Braids Kumihimo & More
or the AllJustString community page

Or if you are shy, email Email wheat@itsalljuststring.com

Thanks for reading ….

Enjoy The Making,



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