Choosing an evening course

posted in: Organisation | 22

Regular readers will know that one of my prime motivations in life is to keep on learning. Even on my death bed I will be interested in studying its effects and its impact on those around me.

I like dressmaking and pattern cutting as there is always something new to learn and stretch me. This year I have really learnt several new skills – especially making pockets, and knitting. And I have been logging my jewellery making classes where I have now made three items (I will share the second ring soon). The best development over the past few months has been learning alongside my husband Nick. This has, itself,  been a learning experience. I was pretty surprised that he was rather good at doll making, especially in terms of using a needle and thread. His precision didn’t hold him back, in fact it produced a finer product. I was also impressed by his willingness to tackle a “feminine” craft and especially how his connection with his granddaughter Maia was strengthened through making something for her. At the jewellery class Nick’s skills are superior to mine – he loves the tools and most of the skills are familiar to him already. Although he doesn’t wear jewellery himself, he has been making items for his daughter Charlotte, so she will be getting a ring and a pendant for her birthday. Isn’t that nice?

The jewellery making has been lots of fun and we are considering returning to the same great class, with the same great teacher, at Morley. Nick has really enjoyed the process – cutting, filing, soldering, hammering, polishing and finishing. I found it very exciting, especially how ingenious the methods were and how varied the tools. But I found the sawing and filing pretty hard work and I guess my hand-eye coordination is not that good. The second term (intermediate) starts with an optional project to learn a new skill, allows the student to do their own design, with a second interesting technique being introduced after half term. The initial project this term, for the intermediate students, was riveting, followed by reticulation.

So I asked him if next term he wanted to do another course, and he agreed.

These are the options

  • Basket making
    Morley Contemporary basketry
  • Textiles (probably digital)
    Digital printing
    My digitally printed shorts from 2014
  • Creative writing
  • Ballet (not a chance, but I keep putting it on the list)
  • Patchwork and Quilting
  • Jewellery Intermediate
    Jewellery making
    Nick tackling the ring setting
  • Pottery
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Millinery
  • Shoe making
    Shoe Making
  • Knitting and crochet
  • Furniture restoration
  • Saori Weaving
    Saori weaving

Most of these are courses in London, where there is tremendous choice. But we have been looking at what is available near our new Cotswold home, although with summer coming we want to get outside really.

I have given the list to Nick as everything on it appeals to me! Having created a short list I am intrigued to see what he choses.

What course would you do, given the chance? And what about doing a course with a friend, spouse or child? Esme and I attended a couple of courses at Goldsmiths a few years ago – I did Introduction to Journalism while she did Sound Engineering. Gus and I went to Short Story Writing together. When our teacher read out the register she called my name “Kate Davies”. I said hello. Then she read out “Gus Davies – no relation!” thinking only that there must a coincidence of surname. Gus had to say “Actually she is my Mum!” That was such a fun class and it was illuminating for me to appreciate Gus’s take on books, styles, genres and writing. This week he heard he had been accepted to do a degree in Linguistics and French at Birkbeck (2-3 evenings a week over four years). I am so happy that he is going to study a subject that really interests him, alongside his job.




22 Responses

  1. Buttercup

    I would pick shoemaking followed by intermediate jewellery making and then textiles. I wish we had the same kinds of courses where I live in Brisbane Australia.

  2. Anne

    Well, you know I’m with you on continued, lifelong learning! Yes, David and I have been on courses together. The biggest was stained glass panel making. David really liked it but I found it a bit messy. We didn’t continue to intermediate, because of me, regrettably. We’ve also been on photography courses together – landscape photography in France as well as more local ones. Photography is his main hobby. We’ve also done golf tuition together (my interest). Then many years ago we went to ballroom dancing! David is interested in trying leather work. We have the leather. I have a friend who went to silver jewellery making for a long time – I would choose the intermediate classes in that.
    Congratulations to Gus and good luck with his new course.

  3. Stephanie

    Yes, shoemaking is on my wishlist for Florence, though I think I’d have to indenture myself for a year to be accepted.

    I admire your energy. We probably have fewer courses available here (almost certainly) but a big obstacle for me is energy after work. In the evenings I want to be at home. Even if a night course is interesting I often feel kind of resentful that I have to go out!

  4. Marji

    It’s not on your list, but the first course I’d sign up for if it were an option where I live is upholstery.
    From your list there is a lot that is appealing too. Initially the shoes look appealing, but after watching Carolyn from make shoes along with everything else for a year, I think I might give the shoes a pass in favor of baskets or millinery. Definitely the millinery.

  5. Linda galante

    The shoes! You inspire me to try something new and I showed my husband the photo of your husband working on his project in hopes he’ll get inspired to join me! Fingers crossed..,,

  6. Lesley

    You’re so fortunate to have access to such great courses Kate, I get the feeling, having taken some near me, that our courses aren’t of the best quality.
    Ever since #1 son and I used an oxy/acetylene welder to join pieces of ‘the still’ he designed (read water purification system), we’ve both been champing at the bit to do course in welding. Since he lives in Canberra and I live in Sydney, its somewhat unlikely but not impossible. Looking forward to our move to ‘offshore’, lots of room to fiddle about!

  7. Su

    Like so many others, I would think shoemaking would be fascinating and based on how good your first course has been, it would be intermediate jewelry.

  8. ceci

    Excellent news about Gus’ course…..I always admire those who work and study at the same time, I would never have managed it! I’d take the hats or weaving courses, myself. Shoemaking looks too dangerous for someone as injury prone as I am!


  9. Elle

    What a treasure trove! I took basketry courses for several years and even joined the local guild. It gave me a great respect for the weavers of the Pacific Northwest U.S. where many parts of the native cedar were used for baskets, clothing and hats. My own cedar bark work was pitiful. I did make a large willow basket for firewood and some smaller baskets that have proven to be useful around the home. So that has been a lasting pleasure: to have useful and attractive items, made by me, in daily use. So perhaps thinking about what would be useful and beautiful in your new space, and then learning to make those items.

  10. Aida

    oh, try shoemaking, it is the most exciting you’ll see!
    p.s. I admire so much your philosophy about constant learning, I try to do the same!

  11. alison aka indigotiger

    My first choice would be the shoemaking, and my second choice would be millinery… but that is because I have been doing metalwork and enameling since I was a young person. If I hadn’t had that as a lifelong skill already, I would choose the intermediate jewelry course

  12. Annieloveslinen

    You’re thinking ahead, I am more impulsive and are more likely want to begin something when the thought tickles and courses are already underway. Gus’ course is a big commitment but will be beneficial academically and that’s a good motivator.

    If I had to choose from the list I’d pick drawing and painting, I am in awe of anyone that can paint realistic portraits and would like to try that.

  13. Cherry Heinrich

    I love my botanical painting class and in the summer term there are so many subjects. It has taught me to really look. I mean really look. There is a lot also to learn about structure and colour so interesting links with clothes making. On your list I’d be interested in the weaving as it looks achievable to me.

  14. Brenda Marks

    I’m so interested to hear the choice. : )

    I recently ordered a custom pair of shoe lasts. It turns out my heels are narrow and my feet are wide. No wonder it’s so hard to find shoes that fit! So I’d like a full report on that if you take it!

  15. Kim

    I am, as you already know, terribly jealous of your proximity to Morley College. All the courses there are so good that any on your list would be wonderful. Continuing your jewellery adventure would be good, as would the popular shoemaking (but wouldn’t Cordwainers College be better for that?) – but I would be a ballet vote!

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