Performance Anxiety in my First Workshop

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts

When I was still in college I went to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts to take my first jewelry workshop.  I was so excited I could hardly stand it.  I was taking a class with David Tisdale on anodizing aluminum.  Of course, since it was my first workshop I was also a bit nervous.  Back then Gatlinburg was a sleepy little town in the mountains of Tennessee.  It had a funny, tacky, touristy vibe, one restaurant and a hardware store.  (Now Gatlinburg is one fudge/t-shirt/slurpy shop after another interspersed with Ripley’s Believe it or Not extravaganzas.)  The school was and is tucked away off the main drag in a little world of its’ own.  It’s lovely, peaceful, and inspiring.   So, back to the class, I spent the first two days of a five-day workshop completely freaked out about what to make.  I felt this enormous pressure to make something brilliant.  What I should have been doing was just having fun with a new technique, making samples, playing with color.  Instead I wasted time feeling inadequate.  I did, finally, manage to make a few pieces of jewelry which I keep around to remind of that time.  As it turned out, anodizing was not my favorite thing but I learned a lot of things that did not pertain to anodizing.  So, that brings me to the lesson for today.  Take workshops, let yourself have fun with them, don’t expect to be brilliant when you are learning something new.  You can learn as much from each other as you can from your teacher.  In the end you may not use the techniques that you learned in class but there may be one tiny little tool or technique that could change your work in a huge way.

Eventually, I went back to Arrowmont as a teacher and it was, again, pretty intimidating, but I had a great class and it was a marvelous experience.  A good time was had by all!  Taking and teaching workshops changed my work and my life in wonderful ways.  I’ve made good work and good friends.

In my next post I will tell you about my upcoming class at Penland School of Crafts beginning July 25.

~ by debkarash on June 28, 2010.

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