Peeking Inside Creative Minds: How did your classes and workshops come to be? Why do you teach? (Part 2)

Camille Monce —  April 14, 2021 — Leave a comment

Foreword

I have a confession to make: I get extremely excited every time I come across a creative person, or a person that holds within them such exuberance that it often manifests itself in a delicious cacophony of quirky character traits, unique stylistic choices, tangential thought patterns and behaviors, and an uncanny knack for seeing the world in a way that most do not, that when all combined, I find equally intoxicating and endearing.

For me, it’s the creatives that push the boundaries of what we collectively believe is possible. They dare to imagine, dare to dream, dare to believe, and in their own process of creation, create the world as they see it.

In this editorial series, I reach out to a curated list of creators who not only live and breathe the art of creation but undertake to pass on their learnings to the next generation of creatives. I find this combination of creativity and education noble, and use this editorial series as a way to delve deeper into these minds in the hopes that we too, can get a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of such noble creatives. Who knows, perhaps we will learn something along the way too.

How did your classes and workshops come to be? Why do you teach?

I started teaching these techniques initially to my own trainees, then in TAFE and University courses then in my small Fitzroy studio as a way to pass on the important things I had learnt. Now, three decades later, and having established Slow Clay Centre nine years ago, I am still teaching these techniques!

Jane Sawyer, Founder at Slow Clay Centre. Melbourne, Australia.

Slow Clay Centre is known for teaching the Japanese techniques of wheel throwing and that’s because I trained, in part, in Japan and really want others to learn the benefits of these wonderful techniques!

I trained to become a potter straight after finishing an art teaching degree where I majored in ceramics. I was introduced to Japanese techniques during a traditional 3‑year studio training with the wonderful potter, Andrew Halford, in Sydney and he then formally introduced me to fabulous pottery in Japan called Shussai Gama where I spent a further two years in hand-made production of studio pottery.

I also learned wood firing in a massive kiln, natural rock, and ash glazes, and mixing bespoke clays from local materials.

When I came back to Australia in 1990 I was surprised that no one was teaching the Japanese methods of wheel throwing because they are so wonderful! The methods enable a lovely workflow and have the added benefit of ergonomic positions.

So I started teaching these techniques initially to my own trainees, then in TAFE and University courses then in my small Fitzroy studio as a way to pass on the important things I had learnt. Now, three decades later, and having established Slow Clay Centre nine years ago, I am still teaching these techniques!

Over the years by using my educational background, I have been able to package what I have learnt into a logical and refined method. I have trained many, many potters over the decades in these techniques and since Slow Clay Centre started I have also trained others to teach these techniques under the Slow Clay name.

The lovely thing about it is you can see the difference in the pottery! The pots are immediately fresher and more expressive whilst also allowing for refinement as the student develops their skills.

I was screaming out for a creative outlet and became really interested in the art of taxidermy when I found out that you had not been able to learn it in Australia since the 1970s

Natalie Delaney-John, Founder at Rest in Pieces. Melbourne, Australia.

When I first decided that I wanted to learn taxidermy it came from the simplest of curiosities. I was screaming out for a creative outlet and became really interested in the art of taxidermy when I found out that you had not been able to learn it in Australia since the 1970s.

In order to get involved in the industry I harassed a mentor for 3 months until he took me on. I then spent every weekend there for 3 years to pick up some basic skills and also travelled to Spain where I was fortunate enough to help build some works for a museum on the history of hunting.

Upon my return to Australia, I wondered if there was anyone else like me that might want to learn. That is how Rest in Pieces (RIP) was born.

We believe that wine-course education and events is a great way to increase our database and connect with people who really want to delve into fine wine (our main offering) as well as have participants understand our passion and commitment towards our vocation

Phil Hude, Founder at Armadale Cellars. Perth, Australia.

I met Demi and Kym soon after the formation of WeTeachMe after seeing the concept raised in the press and straightway thought, “This is the new version of the “Centre for Adult Education”!” The Centre for Adult Education is an old-time paper version of education that was released bi-annually and hosted many courses in Melbourne city center for decades, and where wine courses, amongst many others, were sold to the general public. I thought the WeTeachMe concept was a great way to offer wine classes and workshops to the world.

We are first and foremost wine merchants/retailers. As part of the “marketing mix and offering” we believe that wine-course education and events is a great way to increase our database and connect with people who really want to delve into fine wine (our main offering) as well as have participants understand our passion and commitment towards our vocation. During COVID-19, wine Zoom tastings (6 x 187 ml wine bottles) became a reality and were incredibly popular adding another style of forum that we believe is now here to stay!

We found our classes grew from not only for teaching the basics, but for creating classes for advanced decorators wanting to upskill and learn how to use new cake tools in the market

Rachel Gilbert, National Retail Manager at Bake Boss. Sydney, Australia.

With the first Bake Boss retail store opening over 9 years ago, there was a very high demand for cake decorating classes to teach beginners the tips, tricks, and techniques required to master the basics for decorating cakes, cupcakes, and even cookies.

We found our classes grew from not only for teaching the basics but for creating classes for advanced decorators wanting to upskill and learn how to use new cake tools in the market.

We also introduced kids classes for the young creative generation, with the skills taught setting them up to become advanced cake masters later in life!

As it turns out, cake decorating is not only skillful but super fun for all ages!

I never wanted to be a teacher but on the set of an ABC TV production in 1993, an actor said to me, “You direct in a different way to other directors. I want to learn how you do that.”

Richard Sarell, Director and Creator of The Rehearsal Room (Acting Process). Melbourne, Australia.

I never wanted to be a teacher but on the set of an ABC TV production in 1993, an actor said to me, “You direct in a different way to other directors. I want to learn how you do that.”

I cautiously took up the offer to run an acting class.

Seven years later that hesitant step had turned into a full-time job and I had discovered that I was a good teacher. Now I am about to publish my first book on a new and uniquely practical acting technique.

An offer rejected is an opportunity missed. Say “yes”!

We use our gelato classes as an educational tool so that people understand our product, can meet the people being the scenes who make the gelato, and so people get a special insight into how we do things at Gelato Messina

Sian Bishop, Brand and Marketing Manager at Gelato Messina. Melbourne Australia.

Messina has been running gelato classes for over 10 years now! We started them as we put so much effort into making our product the best we can, and we wanted to show people what goes on behind the scenes.

We use our gelato classes as an educational tool so that people understand our product, can meet the people being the scenes who make the gelato, and so people get a special insight into how we do things at Gelato Messina.

We also can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than indulging in a gelato class!

Working with clay is like mediation in a way, it’s a beautiful way to center the mind from this fast pace life a lot of us live. My studio is a sanctuary for students to enjoy, to be inspired, and to create.

Sarah Schembri, Director of Sarah Schembri Ceramics. Melbourne, Australia.

I’ve been teaching for approximately 10 years at other studios. It wasn’t until I moved into my new larger studio in Fitzroy, Melbourne 4 years ago that I fully appreciated just what I could offer and certainly, never envisioned my classes would be in such demand as they are.

I really love teaching and sharing my knowledge and experiences. Seeing student development each week and learning new skills–and knowing I had a part in this–is very rewarding to me.

Working with clay is like mediation in a way, it’s a beautiful way to centre the mind from this fast pace life a lot of us live. My studio is a sanctuary for students to enjoy, to be inspired, and create.

I love that I’m not “just” a music teacher. My tiny students learn real-life skills such as sharing, turn-taking, motor control, and their parents concurrently gain an insight into how their children learn.

Sophie Maxwell, Founder, and Teacher at Leaning Note. Melbourne, Australia.

I had been a violin and viola teacher for 7 years when I had the experience of teaching a 2‑year-old viola. Whilst the experience was one that I consider successful, and whilst the 2‑year-old still learns from me 8 years later, I thought that there had to be an easier way to teach younger students.

I was lost at a Suzuki music conference one rainy day and stumbled across a baby and toddler class, and was immediately hooked! I couldn’t believe how involved those tiny children were, and what they were achieving.

I love that I’m not “just” a music teacher. My tiny students learn real-life skills such as sharing, turn-taking, motor control, and their parents concurrently gain an insight into how their children learn.

It’s an amazing process to be a part of, and after 8 years, I’m still enthralled by it!

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

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