When I began teaching bead embroidery workshops in July of 2007 I started out by offering technique-based classes in which students made samplers. I still teach those beginning-level and intermediate/advanced-level workshops and still love to teach them. In December of that year I also offered a workshop in which students began creating a bead embroidered ornament I had designed that they would finish at home.
Each year since then I've created two or three new ornament designs, and the classes and kits continue to be some of my post popular. I love teaching them as a way for students to create something of beauty that they can enjoy for themselves or give as a gift, and students who have taken my technique-based classes often come back year after year for the ornament classes, which is great fun for all of us. I love the reunion-like atmosphere and the enthusiasm my students continue to show for my new designs each year. The challenge of designing what are hopefully engaging new ornaments in varied palettes and looks as well as creating detailed instructions for two or more ornaments each year is an undertaking that is also good for me as an artist and teacher.
Some of my favorite stories and experiences over the years about the creation and disposition of ornaments include: two connected back-to-back blue and white ornaments used as the top of a daughter's wedding cake for a blue-and-white tropical beach wedding; a long-time student who always buys two of each kit--one for herself and one to give as a gift; some beautiful finished ornaments that were framed in shadow boxes for a wall display; and a lovely mother-daughter pair who have taken nearly every ornament workshop I have offered (if one can't be there, the other will pick up a kit for the missing one to make at home). The ornaments have also been made into proudly-worn pendants, brooches, and decorations on beaded purses.
These students' stories and so many others have become unanticipated gifts to me--ways of letting me know that the work I do is valued and life-enriching for the people who take my classes, stitch my designs, and view or own my original artwork and prints.
One recent gift was given to me by my long-term student Shary K., who kindly sent me a picture of the filigree-like wall piece she purchased in order to hang the ornaments I've designed that she has made over the years (all but the blue-and-white ornament kit that sold out before she began taking my classes). She has two or three more in the works as I write this.
Another long-term student, Erica, saw this picture and immediately planned to go out and get a similar display for her many ornaments. :)
At this time of year of gift-giving, gift-receiving, and giving thanks, I want to thank my many students and contacts from all over the U.S. and abroad who have taken my workshops, purchased my kits, sent me very kind e-mails about my artwork and teaching, and in other ways let me know that the career path I have chosen has in so many ways proven to be a choice I'm so glad I made. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and happy New Year to you all.