Goldwork in School. Pure magic

How to couch. The metal thread is laid on top of the fabric and held in place by couching stitches.
How to couch. The metal thread is laid on top of the fabric and held in place by couching stitches.

So….we had 20 students not 17. Teaching elementary goldwork to a large group of young embroiderers needs careful planning. And I discovered that even with what I thought was very careful planning some things were a surprise.

I had no clue how long this project would take. To have 20 students learn a new technique, and stitch an entire, time sensitive project before the holidays was hopeful perhaps. After some initial name changes in the student list and some additions of students who really wanted to be included. We made a good start with learning couching. Surprise #1. The 5th grade students took to couching like pros.  We had great conversations full of math words like “equidistant” and “perpendicular”.  But couching is now theirs. They understand it, they have harnessed the dexterity necessary to make the materials behave the way they want them to behave and they are thrilled with their new found skills.

Four finishers. Four proud people. Four students with success in their hands.
Four finishers. Four proud people. Four students with success in their hands.
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Seven more completed.

 

Goldwork is a very simple, very pleasing art form. The students really enjoy the creativity involved and the feeling that they have learned something new and made something beautiful.

Surprise #2. We are going to finish on time. There are 11 finishers who can come to class as tutors for the nine still to finish. To learn a skill and teach it empowers the students. It is possible to watch the self esteem blossom in the classroom. The warm smiles and palpable feelings of accomplishment are very rewarding, to themselves and to me.

Surprise#3. Even though I organized the gold threads into bags labeled and counted exactly, with extras just in case …and explained this in minute detail to the class. We still ran out of the third gold thread for the tree. Can 5th graders count to four?  How did that happen? No idea. Mysteries of this kind are all part of the story of teaching creativity to a large group of enthusiasts.  Embrace it.

Surprise #4.  It is likely that my after the holidays class might be bigger. This is a challenge I am happy to embrace. Goldwork “lite” which is how I think of what I am teaching is a simple, effective creative technique. The glitter and glitz of the threads and the interplay of learning and undeniably attractive results makes this class a popular choice with this group of after school artists.

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