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 Textile Evolution

Liz Kettle Artist, Author and Creator of the Stitch Meditation process

Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

The Death of A Teaching Industry?


I have been thinking about writing this post for a while but I was worried I would sound whiny. However, the questions need to be asked. Please know that I really want to know what you think.

I am a teacher and an artist. I am equal parts teacher and artist. I love both aspects of my career but my teacher keeps feeling like a failure.  I am not whining about a lack of students. I am already moving in new directions because of this sad trend. I do however, want to understand how you think.

Being a teacher in the mixed-media art/craft industry is not a piece of cake. Developing classes, experimenting with materials, writing articles and tutorials is exciting work for me and incredibly time consuming not to mention expensive. I often work for months to research, design and craft what I think is a great class. I unveil the class, put it up at a store or a retreat and while many say...oh that is so cool. Very few students sign up. 

When enough people don't sign up for a class it has to be canceled. The people who did sign up are disappointed but two people can't support the effort of the teacher and a class with only two students lacks the dynamic energy that makes classes so much fun and deepen the learning experience. The store loses out as well. Those of you who have lost all of your local quilt shops or art stores know that lack of class attendance was part of their death knell. 

When classes at retreats are canceled it can really wreak havoc with the event schedule and for students who have made travel arrangements which can't be refunded. A teacher at a retreat also has expenses and if she doesn't have enough students to cover her expenses and provide some income she simply can't travel to teach. At some events in the last year students have waited until the last minute to sign up for workshops and then get upset when they find the workshop was cancelled due to low enrollment. We feel like we can't win. 

We teachers, store owners and event organizers talk about the 'why' all the time: not enough advertising? bad economy? boring classes? too much free stuff on YouTube? Do the classes look too hard? Do the classes look too easy?

The other think we teachers discuss is how do we create an income if students aren't taking classes? Many are looking at leaving the industry. The number of retreat swelled in numbers for a while which hurt attendance but now there are fewer retreats and still fewer students. These retreats can't stay in business if they don't have students. 

What are we doing wrong?

Maybe we aren't doing anything wrong. Maybe you simply don't want classes anymore. Maybe you simply don't make the time for fun anymore? Maybe you are satisfied with what is available for free on-line. Maybe you are bored with me/us?

So, I am asking you.

Why do you take classes?

Why don't you take classes?

Why don't you attend retreats?

Why do you attend retreats?

Do you get enough information on-line? 

Do you prefer on-line classes to real life classes?

Do you think classes are too expensive?



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Visual Journal Fun!

I just returned from Art and Soul Retreat in Va Beach, VA. It was a great event and the weather at the beach could not have been more perfect! I only got one photo of all my classes! 

mixed media mayhem art and soul va beach

These are some of my Mixed Media Mayhem students before the mayhem really got started. Our tables were covered with color and chaos by the end of the day...I am sure the hotel staff is still finding Angelina fibers and glitter in that room.


I was home for 2 days and then headed up to Ft. Collins, CO to teach 2 days of Visual Journaling with the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters. We had a bit of fun and laughter while learning a ton of techniques and then putting them into play. We scraped, sprayed, stenciled and stamped paint. Glued, glittered and gilded, in addition to lacing, mangling, and distorting. We explored the journal magic of Misty Fuse and baby wipes. One among us earned the crown of 'fly queen'. I am just a tad tired so I will share some photos of the fun and head to bed! Tomorrow evening I get the pleasure of sharing my Thread Lecture with the rest of the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters. 

Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-2 Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-3

Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-4Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-6

Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-7Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-8


Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quiltersVisual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-5

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Art and Soul Blog Roll + a Giveaway

Only 39 days until the Portland, OR Art and Soul event! Sept 30-Oct 6 2013 That is a great reason for a giveaway! 

ArtSoulOnSafariFINAL 1

I love teaching at Art and Soul because where else on earth can you be completely immersed in doing what you love, surrounded by hundreds of people who also love the same thing, in a beautiful setting on the river? The creative energy is so thick you can touch it.

I also love Art and Soul because it changed my life! I am not trying to be dramatic here. It truly changed me, it touched my art and my soul.

If you are looking for a place to learn, explore and build your wings this is it.

I am teaching three classes this year and they are all so very different.


First up is my gelatin plate printing class Monday Sept 30: Delectable paper and cloth. We use both a traditional gelatin plate as well as the Gelli plate. Total creative abandon in this class. I am always blown away by the energy in the room and the fantastic papers and fabrics that emerge.

gelatin print papers

gelatin plate printing portland a and s

delectable cloth class work

The next day, Tues Oct 1: Mixed Media Mayhem! You better eat a good breakfast before this fast paced stash building class. Before I was half way through the day teaching it in Va Beach students were asking when Mixed Media Mayhem II would be ready for sign ups! We cover a ton of techniques and create unique bits for your stash. this is just a sample of the cool stuff we will make.


My third class is Stitch Dancing on Sunday Oct 6. This is the class that was featured on Quilting Arts TV with Pokey Bolton. Using thread and tiny ephemeral bits of fabric and silk roving we create these luscious embroidered pieces. You will love the process and all it's possibilities.

stitch dancing free form embroidery


Ok, so after I read what I wrote I realize that my three classes aren't all that different from each other. They may be based in the full range of mixed media but they all are about learning techniques, exploring possibilities, asking 'what if' and surrounding yourself with beautiful stuff. :-)


Follow the blog roll and visit my fellow teacher's sites to see their amazing classes and some of them have sweet giveaways!


Aug 19 Serena Barton

Aug 20 Clarissa Callesen

Aug 22 Jen Crossley   and   

Barbara Worth Rainey

Aug 23 Jill Berry Blog:



Gotta have a giveaway!

book giveaway


Post a comment below and you will have a chance to win a copy of First Time Beading on Fabric by yours truly, a bead mat and a collection of beads and sequins from my personal stash including a lovely purple cabochon. I have been cleaning up and out lately so you may find some other goodies to help you get beading right away!


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Art and Soul Blog Hop-Jean Van Brederode

Welcome to your first stop on the 2012 Art and Soul Artist Interview Blog Hop! I can't wait to read all the artist's interviews...what fun to peek into their creative process. I am excited to introduce you all to an artist I first met in Portland last fall, Jean Van Brederode. I love Jean's enamel jewelery work. It is so fun, unique and almost all of it has some yummy fibers attached! Gotta have those fibers. I received a MAPP gas torch for Christmas so I see some enameling in my future! I just need to decide which class to take now...

Artistic Artifacts-the official Art and Soul on-site store has put together awesome mixed media prize packages for each blog on the hop. leave a comment at the end of this post telling me your current favorite technique. I will draw for the winner next Saturday January 28th.

This is a sampling of all the delicious stuff in the blog hop prize packages. Judy at Artistic Artifacts has all the good stuff Be sure to check out the next artist interview on the Art and Soul hop! Sunday features Barbie Saint John's interview on Kari McKnight-Holbrook's blog Now---here is Jean!

What teacher (s) lit your fire to be an artist?   I started taking classes at Art & Soul in 2005 after I retired from teaching 8th grade English for 34 years.  Art has always been my passion, and my goal was to find the art form that would carry me through the rest of my life.  What a wonderful adventure!  The journey was well worth the effort and expense. Instructors who have made the greatest impact on me are Susan Lenhart Kazmer, Jane Wynn, DJ Pettitt, Richard Salley, and Linda and Opie O'Brien.   Enameling teachers outside of Art & Soul include Linda Darty, Averill Shepps, and George Waricher.  Their dedication to their craft and excellent teaching skills led me on a path to enameling which is now my passion and life's work.  The things I learned that impressed me the most are that experimenting is incredibly fulfilling, "happy accidents" happen for a reason, and failures do not exist.  Even if you trash a piece, you still take away ideas to use in your next project.  

What 4 tools can’t you live without?     The four tools that I couldn't part with would have to be the enameling kiln (what a surprise), the Bonney Doon 20-ton hydraulic press, a set of Fretz hammers, and a pencil which I use to create designs in my journal.  

Why do you love to teach?     Since I used to teach 8th graders in another time of my life, it delights me to instruct a roomful of students who are all eager and active learners!  After I retired from teaching, I didn't realize how much I had missed the process of instruction like preparing lessons, gathering materials, creating worksheets, and researching background material.    

Do you have a favorite technique?    My favorite technique was shown to me by George Waricher, a college professor who taught enameling for over 50 years.  One method that he often used was writing and drawing on enameled pieces with enamel-bearing oil.  George can no longer practice his craft due to health reasons, but I am honored to carry on this fascinating technique

Classes I am teaching at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach- March 1-6 2012

VA179 Enameling: Necklace Roulette - Thursday, March 1

VA180 Jewelry Applications Using the Hydraulic Press - Fri Eve March 2

VA181 Nesting Instincts - Thurs Eve March 1

VA225 Bird Nest Enameled Charm Bracelet - Saturday, March 3


More of Jean Van Brederode’s work can be found at: Charmed I'm Sure – The Village Artisans Gallery, Boiling Springs, PA. Jean's Etsy shops - Art Girls Tools - - dedicated to selling jewelry-making tools that I personally recommend. Charmed I'm Sure - - an outlet for my many enameled jewelry pieces. Enamel Warehouse - - As a Thompson enamel distributor, I offer opaque and transparent enamels and enameling supplies and pass on an attractive discount to my customers along with enameling tips and advice. Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a mixed-media prize package! Just click on the comment link below.

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