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  • ejmaek

Working on workshops

I get a lot of requests for workshops - at markets, on social media, and here on my website.

It takes a while to set them up - securing a suitable venue (basketmaking needs a really big space as well as a sweepable floor like spooncarving), making sure there are enough materials and finding a date that works.

Its been great to team up with other organisations to put on workshops. As someone who mostly works solo it feels lovely to be part of a team and share the work and pleasure in seeing people enjoy learning a new skill.

If you look on my workshop page here on my website you'll see that I have quite a number of workshops happening over the next few months - some of them here in South West London, and others in the glorious Surrey Hills.

I love sharing the skills Ive learnt - and similarly I love learning new skills from other talented practitioners. I don't think there's ever a time when you stop learning - the more you know, the more you realise how much you don't know.

One of my most popular workshops is asymmetric baskets - its amazing how complete beginners, who've never made a basket before, make the most fabulous baskets. It's an intense day of total willow immersion, but so rewarding as each basket slowly takes shape.

On a shorter course, like spoon carving, we're covering a lot of ground in a shorter time and the looks of concentration while folk are absorbed in mark making with sharp knives of soft greenwood, followed by the smiles of success are fabulous.

There's a fine line between teaching and sharing knowledge with willing learners, ensuring people have an enjoyable yet rewarding experience and that they go home with something to be proud of.

This 'trophy' object, I feel, needs to be made as far as possible by the learners, otherwise its not their object. But then, sometimes, it needs 'rescuing' on order to bring it back to a shape that can be worked into the finished object. Its a very subtle and nuanced process - not too much that it becomes my work, but enough to bring it back to a workable state. For some learners its about the process and understanding the technique, for others its about the finished object and as a teacher I need to be attuned to this.

I really hope that people coming to my workshops find it enjoyable and rewarding and that it sparks even half as much joy as I get out of making and learning.

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