Coral seas had a very difficult question for me: “What was the single most valuable thing that you learnt from the course?” When I sat down with Nicola Jarvis, my teacher, to talk to her about the answers to all of your great questions, she really wanted to hear my answer to this one. Honestly, I had to think about it for a long time and really clarify the best way to explain what I learned.
Because I’m a musician and a teacher, I think I approached this question from a slightly different perspective than others might. I tend to look for more global answers to questions, so an answer such as “how to execute long and short shading perfectly” or “how to design a piece of crewelwork” wouldn’t be truthful. I did learn lots of specific skills and being at the course helped me to increase and consolidate my knowledge of crewelwork. It also gave me the opportunity to meet some truly amazing women who share my passion – they are enthusiastic, supportive and kind. I hope I get to work next to them in the workroom again, often.
So what was the single most valuable thing I learned from the course?
I learned that professional embroiderers are artists who have skills and knowledge that are greater and deeper than I ever imagined.
Embroidery is a hobby for most of us. Fortunately it isn’t terribly difficult to achieve a reasonable result with some skill and practice. In fact I thought I wasn’t too bad when it came to my level of technique and skill. Well, I’m OK, but I have a very long way to go before I even come close to those who do this for a living. And that’s the other component of my answer: this is their living. These people must produce embroidery under the pressure of a deadline, to order, at the highest level of skill day after day. They know multiple ways to create something beautiful, solve a problem, devise a new method to get the visual result they want. They think in thread.
The RSN’s goal is to teach the traditional methods of the various methods of embroidery. In this respect the RSN is exactly like the training I had as a musician: I had to learn the basics of my instrument, practice the rudiments until I had complete understanding and a good mastery of skill before I could deviate and experiment with new ideas and ways of doing things. Nicola Jarvis taught us the basics well. She is an amazing teacher, able to adapt her instruction to meet the needs of a wide variety of learners. She also shared her new ideas and alternative methods with us so we would know that, after we master the basics, there would be alternatives. But first the basics.
The RSN course is expensive. Traveling to England is out of reach for many. It was a choice for me to spend this amount of money and it meant I had to say no to other things. I am so glad I made the choice: it was worth every penny.
And man, can the pros stitch fast!