Back in July I gave a Seminar with the Handweavers Guild of America Convergence Conference called "Finish and Exhibit that Piece!"
Here was my seminar description with HGA:
As a fiber artist I tend to work with a concept and do not think about how a piece is going to be presented or issues I may run into in hanging or putting the finished work together. This problem can often be solved by considering this at the beginning of the design process but there are usually plenty of bumps along the way. This seminar focuses on the importance of finishing and hanging decisions, touches on photographing work for entering shows and encourages fiber artists and hobbyists to get their work out there!
Before the conference I had the time to reach out to my seminar attendees to see what level of interest everyone had in the 3 main things I planned on discussing:
1) Finish work (sewing, hand work, edging solutions)
2) Ways of hanging pieces and tools/materials to create hanging structures
3) Photographing/basic editing, what to look for in photos
All of my attendees were interested primarily in the first 2 so I didn't work on getting into photographing. Lucky me because the finishing process is much more fun to delve into. I try to make each of my talks, lectures, seminars different. I grow and learn so what I have to share grows along with me. I have a base talk that I work off of for the big key points but I always tweak my discussions the week (or day) before. I think I left photographing out besides pointing out why it's important and different ways jury processes can view photos.
My class was really quiet. To the point I was wondering how my attendees were doing. I did finally realize that they were just listening intently and had really great questions once we were moving along.
I brought samples of molding, plexiglass, and the tools I use to cut and drill. There were also plenty of pieces of my own artwork with varying ways that I have finished and hung them over the years. The good, bad and the ugly. I think it's really important to be transparent about "here's where I started and didn't know what I was doing"..to "here I am now and it all looks much more professional however I'm open to new ideas and ways of making the finish work even better."
The thing I felt I missed out on was getting to look at some other people's work and discuss the issues they're hung up on. We possibly could have addressed more questions and ideas looking at work other than my own. I did stay after to talk about some images that an attendee had sent me before the class. I really love to talk process and help other fiber artists excel. I had also gone through some of the exhibits for the conference the day(s) before my talk and was able to incorporate photos I had taken of works everyone could see in person. I love looking at and discussion creative ways to hang exhibits.
I felt like the seminar went well although I could have gone on for much longer. I struggled a bit with getting it dark enough in the room to get the projector images nice and clear but no one complained about that. What I did hear the rest of the conference was how great my talk was. I was stopped in the hall by other attendees telling me they wished they had known about my seminar, a vendor asked what I taught and when I told her she said that she had heard great things about my seminar and that attendees really learned a lot. It reminded me that this really something I needed help with when I started showing my weavings. The best ideas any of us have at the beginning of trying to present textiles of all sorts is to stick it on a dowel rod which isn't the only option (and usually not the best option).