- The instructor of the workshop needs good teaching skills.
- The participants in the workshop need to have a shared intention, and have left their neuroses at home. The focus of the participants is at least as important as how good the teacher is.
- The location of the workshop should be accessible, with good light and enough space for the group.
- The participant herself should be realistic about how compatible her skill level is with the material to be covered.
So, what went wrong in this particular workshop? I was thrilled about the chance to learn from Tilleke, who is a justifiably famous star in the stitching world. Her lecture the night before was inspiring enough, but then she just repeated it for the class. That would have been okay if a number of participants hadn't heard the lecture already, but most had and were eager to get on with it.
The really unfortunate thing was that right off the mark Tilleke said she wasn't there to teach us how to stitch like her. Fair enough, but she also was not forthcoming with any instruction. Instead, she waited until we had stitched something to critique it. I wasted a lot of time using the tracing paper design transfer method she recommended, and, after a couple of false starts over the two days, ended up with nothing to show her. So my interaction with the instructor was pretty limited.
I'm willing to take my share of the blame for that, but what had me really annoyed was that a couple of participants chose to talk throughout the whole thing in loud voices about themselves and Tilleke did nothing to get them to quiet down. Midway through the second day, my friend and I picked up and left because she sensed I was getting ready to blow. (I think I reached my breaking point when the lady from Texas proudly said they had "Open Carry" gun laws in her state.)
The workshop took place in the Net Loft on Granville Island, which is incredibly fabulous. No complaints there. The staff at Maiwa are pros at providing all the amenities.
In the final analysis though, of course, the biggest problem was probably me. I already knew everything Tilleke had to show us. (Which wasn't much, but still...) My style is already quite developed. I was there just to rub shoulders with an art star, and nothing much was rubbing off Tilleke. She was a very nice lady but what I hoped for just wasn't happening.
Workshops aren't easy to dial in, so much depends on the group as well as the instructor. But when a workshop has an elite reputation, and costs over $300, it's hard for me to write off a bad experience.
I didn't even take any photos. There really wasn't anything to show. But I did have a great visit with my friend Barb, so the trip to Vancouver was not completely in vain.