15 June 2014

Shakerag: teaching

Tomorrow I begin my second week at Shakerag - and this time as a student! So I thought I should get this post out (that I wrote Saturday morning) reporting on my week as a teacher.

Last week I taught a workshop called The Stitcherly Book at Shakerag Workshops in Tennessee (see previous post about Shakerag: the place).

Student work in progress
I encouraged students to bring materials that they thought they might want to work with and that included photographs, fabric, thread, book pages, maps, letters and other paper ephemera, as well as low relief objects that could be incorporated into a book.

They arrived with bins and boxes and suitcases full of goodies!


We were in a room that is a biology classroom during the year and were in good company with the bones:


We only had simple hand tools and the school provided a sewing machine:


One of the students brought a typewriter that she kindly let all of us use:

And we had a small dying station for tea staining fabric and paper, and the same student also brought walnut ink that she, again, generously let us all use:


The generosity of the students with one another - with materials, tools and information - was extraordinary.

We began by all making samplers of embroidery stitches so that everyone was on the same page with their stitching skills

Then we progressed to making 2-d stitched collages, similar to the class that I teach in my studio. This was so that students could get a sense of how to combine paper, fabric and thread. Many realized at this point how long this process is - especially the hand stitching.

On day two we made some simple book and binding structures that I thought would work well with the bulky pages that we were going to be creating with these materials. After learning these skills, and seeing the copious images that I projected on the screen, they planned their books and got to work.

I also taught image transfers and block carving and printing as another way to get text and images onto paper and fabric. The resulting books were beautiful, funny, personal, thought provoking and poignant. Here are a few images (some in progress):

At the end of the week the school has a "walk about" where we all visit each others' studios. But before that we had our own share session in our class - it was so nice to hear the stories behind all the books as well as the challenges the students all faced in using these unusual materials to create books:

I encouraged the students to make little installations at their worktable to show their materials and process for the walkabout:

A fabulous end to a magical week. Everyone boarded the airport shuttle or got in their cars Saturday morning and the school is now preparing for the next wave of instructors and students to arrive.

another Shakerag dog


  1. Oh Jody--a whole week with you and your talents. Sheer bliss!! Beautiful work by everyone, Congratulations to all. Jean Beebe