Tuesday, September 4, 2007

City and Guilds - from Helen

Diane asked me to post about City and Guilds so here goes. I am doing it in person at the School of Stitched Textiles which about 30 mins from me. It sounds very grand but it isn't at all in fact! I am doing the certificate which you need to get onto the diploma and it is done part time ( Classes every other Sunday am and then work at home) for three years.

I started it becuase as soon as I discovered quilting I knew I needed classes and the School used to be just Eccles Carm craft center which had a big needlecraft shop and lots of leisure classes so I went out to see it. They have dropped much of the retail and gone into more formal teaching The City and Guilds was advertised and I just kind of went 'Oooooh,Ooooooh, a formal qualification' becuase I am a bit of an education addict! It seemed to take me through every possible technique and seemed a great way to get up to speed so I signed up in the Februray I think to start in the September.

We started with the design modules which took up much of the first year although every now and again a patchwork tecnique would be interposed. We did portfolios on line, colour, tecture, form and shape. the very frustrating thing is that we were not allowed to stitch anything for these portfolios, the logic being that our designs were not craft specific but should be portable to any cake making or woodwork C&G students, say. So I had to mess about with lots of art stuff which I didn't want to do and wasn't good at. I took to saying to my husband that I was off to Kindergarten on a Sunday as I came home making very bad polymer clay buttons and the like ( thats just grown up Plastercine right?!) My model of a Cameroonian chief's house made out of table protector and Costa Coffee straws was a sight to behold!

That said, some of the lessons at least have certainly sunk in and now I see shape and texture etc everwhere I look. At Festival of Quilts I got very strange looks for lying flat on my back in the cafe taking pictures of the ceiling rather than the quilts....but you should have seen the patterns in the intersecting lines of duct pipes and support struts!! I do have lots of ideas for quilts based on thse portfolios even if I don't feel experienced enough to actually make some of them yet! ( I suspect you will be seing some mini versions!!)

We are now moving on more to the actual doing. Ultimately we have to design and produce five pieces - a container, an accessory, a wall hanging, a quilt and a something else I forget just now! We have to cost it all as for a business and work in an innovative way (gulp!). We also do 70-100 samples of techniques which I am enjoying doing.

I will ceratinly learn from this and I expect will go on to do the diploma in due course. However for me there have been significant disadvantages. Our teacher is bad! She is a nice enought person but we get handwritten notes with errors in them and we learned fast that we should always redraw her templates becuase she has been photocopying them for years and so they are distorted and don't fit together. She is a retired school home ecconomics teacher rather than a wel known textile artist. We don't get hands on teaching and someone watching over our work as you might expect from a class in a quilt shop say. She sits at her table in the corner and has several years of students in one room, each at their own table. Our class of 4 gets called up and have about twenty minutes of her giving us handouts and showing us her samples and thats it!

It is possible to do the C&G on line with people like Linda Kemshall so you in the US etc can still do it. I would not recommend the Schhol of Stitched Textiles company though - I thought about swapping to another online provider but the costs are prohibitive - I pay £96 per year, on line it costs over £1000. Illogical I know but true! Plus, I am now good friends with my class mates. Brenda you did yours online didn't you? Why not post your view?

Also because I learn well from books and am greedy for knowledge I am in some respects running faster than the course. We have just done log cabins for example but my first quilt was log cabin and I had actually sold one before I came to do it on the course! That is not to say that I have done everything though and the formality of the course does give me a justification for playing with samples. (Yes, I know I shouldn't need justification but I do!!). I am also think that the qualification won't hinder me if I want to teach later and I have already sold articles based on the course.

I suspect this is a more than long enough post. If you have specific questions ask away and I'll tell you what you really want to know.


Kristin L said...

Thanks for the insider info Helen. I have been eyeing C&G for several years now -- my sights were on Opus or the Kemshalls since I am not near a brick and mortar site and family and frequent moves make planning anything longer than 3 months difficult. Anyways, already having an art degree, I realized (with the help of other experienced quilt artists) that much of the work would be redundant and the non-redundant could focus more on flashy technique or materials, which I don't care much for. I still admire the Kemshalls' work very much and would love the opportunity to learn from them, plus formal qualification sounds good to me too. Maybe C&G is still in my future...

Susan D said...

It does help if you have a good teacher. I did a watercolour class at my local school a few years ago and all she did was give a handout of what to paint and a few tips then sat at the desk for the rest of the 2 hours just coming round half way through to look at what we'd done.

Deborah said...

So interesting, Helen. Thanks so much for the information and your thoughtful views.

Karen said...

Hi Helen,
I've been taking the patchwork and Quilting 7822-10 from the Kemshalls for a while now. I'm on module 5 out of 10. It's basic quilting which seems redundant but I'm really learning a lot. There's quite a bit on color theory, shading etc., and I'm finding that the English have different techniques than over here. I like that I can go at my own pace also. Karen