What to learn next?

posted in: Inspiration | 8

Regular readers will know that my main mission in life is to learn! After the bootmaking Ceci was asking What next? And so were we!

I love travel, exploring nature, meeting new people, eating food especially food I have never tried before – novelty attracts – but most of all I like to know how things are made. I like to discover the “secrets” of a craft.The ah-ha moment when I realise what makes a shoe a shoe, or how patchwork really works, how sourdough bread only contains flour and water, how pattern cutting works, how to knit certain shapes and motifs. Oh my word! There are so many things we  the world only appreciate superficially until we engage with them and learn all about them.  Discovery, and then learning to replicate what we have seen, is so thrilling.

We went to boot making as I had wanted to learn to make shoes for ever, especially as my Mum’s family were all in the shoe trade. The fact that my cousin (the son of my mum’s brother) gave me lasts from the factory makes me feel very connected to my personal history. With a father in textiles and a grandpa in shoes is it any surprise that I have the passions that I have?

Vintage wooden shoe lasts
Vintage wooden shoe lasts

I researched shoe courses but they are rather expensive and intensive – as Mary Funt mentioned they are aimed more towards the semi-professional. I would very much like to have another go one day. But for now I have other considerations. I want an evening course – our weekends are for relaxation in the country. Nick is happy to come with me, and is leaving the choice to me this time (obviously this is my opportunity to select ballet!).

Here are our thoughts to date.

  • Upholstery. My Mum suggested this. She did upholstery herself repairing and improving chairs. She made tapestry seat covers and they are rather nice items. I will get some photographs over Christmas. We are tempted, mainly because we have a nice old leather chair that has been wrecked by naughty little kids jumping on it. We would enjoy restoring it and recovering it. Also as Nick’s carpentry will soon move away from cupboards into furniture I thought it might marry up well.
  • Pottery – we have both had a go at this before at school or adult ed classes. It is such a lovely primal thing, sticking your hands in clay and creating plates, cups, jars and vases. We might be able to create a collection together with a theme for the country house. Nick wants to make big things, and I want to make small, delicate things.
  • Spinning. I see pictures and videos of this and I am very keen to learn. Obviously now I can knit this is a way to get the raw material for my craft. But also, in the Cotswolds, we are surrounded by sheep and local sheeps wool is widely available, straight off their backs.
  • Weaving – related to spinning and sheep and wool. This was always an option at my school but I thought it was far too slow. But inspired by my friend Bridget Cass, who has a loom at home, I would love to do this one day.
  • Textiles. I have done a few printing, painting and dying courses, and I really love making textiles. I can’t get enough of this.

Plenty to be getting on with.

But at the weekend we decided on photography.  With a proper camera rather than a phone. I feel I owe it to you, my kind readers. I expect you are equally dissatisfied with many of the pictures I put on the blog and some of my learning will be in taking pictures of myself that are not bathroom “selfies”. I want to learn what all the knobs on cameras do and I want to know the basics of editing.

My brother was a professional photographer. And my first, late, husband John did photography and video at collage, and was a keen and very precise photographer his whole life. He had a dark room in our first flat – a Council flat in Wandsworth – and there is something about the red light, and the smell, and the excitement of pictures slowly developing and hanging up to dry. And my Uncle Stuart was a keen amature. So I had plenty of people around me who took pictures. But I have never taken a proper pictures myself.

Nick and I will be going to photography classes next term (from January). Hopefully you will find my blog photos improving as I learn.

Last week I met up with Lois. We talked about three choices for where anyone might go next

  • Set up a business/develop your business
  • Get a job/develop your career
  • Do a degree or an in depth course.

The last one was what interested us both and we talked about an Art Foundation course. That would be bliss for me. To learn all those arty things that I have never really tried like life drawing and sculpture. Of course the cost of doing a full time course and not earning at the same time would be impossible for most of us.

Lois, at lunch

@Lois.h is on Instagram and takes lovely pictures. We are going to meet up again so she can give me some Instagram and iPhone tips.

8 Responses

  1. Jenny

    All great ideas but photography is an interesting one. One of the many things I like about your blog (and IG) are your pictures of your life and creations which are natural and authentic. These fit with the narrative of your blog content as you share aspects of your life and your thoughts. I’ve noticed a trend amongst some of the blogs I follow where the writer has ‘professionalized’ their blog and has now moved to beautifully styled photos but they lack the warmth and authenticity of their original pictures. Artfully placed objets d’art next to whatever can look like a magazine which is at odds with the written content of sharing. I guess like everything in life it’s getting the balance right.

  2. Annieloveslinen

    Good call, not that your photos need improving, they’re interesting for their authenticity, but you’ll utilise what you learn and that can only benefit your blog. I mustadmit it’s the part of blogging that I struggle with especially selfies, I can’t seem to find the right setting and they just never look right or show what I want (and I have taken a course).

    The difference between you and I is that you get stuck in to learn and I give up if things get complicated. ?

  3. Marianne

    There’s nothing wrong with your blog pictures, Kate. But it will be interesting to follow what you’ll take away from this course. The other options look great as well but I guess it’s only a matter of time before you have a try at those!

  4. ceci

    Lots of fun options….. photography sounds like a natural, but hope the class doesn’t change your blog photos too much, as I enjoy their spontaneity and the way they actually show the clothes. As for the other options, I found taking a pottery course in the winter (years ago) that the clay made my hands awfully cold. Maybe you all have better heating over there? I’ve always resolved to take pursue pottery again in a warmer place. And upholstery sounds like a great teaming of your husband’s woodworking and your fabric skills!

    Does this mean there will be a learning hiatus until the new year? Hard to believe!


  5. Lois

    Oh Kate what a wonderful idea , I will follow your photography journey with interest .
    I met an Instagram friend last week who has completed an Art Foundation Course and said it was a great fun and that there were lots of mature ladies on her particular course which thought was encouraging to hear.

  6. jay

    I don’t think your blog photos need improvement, but I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of a photography course anyway. I did some spinning (and weaving) once. Spinning is very relaxing. I never reached a great skill level, my yarn was very slubby and we were supposed to be aiming for smooth and even, but woven as the weft into a purchased wool warp it made a beautiful jacket, which I wish I still had!

  7. Sue

    I love the idea of the photography course – it’s so technical whilst being really creative. My son did a course during his degree and I was totally surprised at some of the assignments, so be prepared to be pushed in strange directions.

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