Welp, I’ve finished the Textiles 1 course with the OCA. At the beginning of the course, I wrote:
“I'm taking this course primarily for my own enjoyment and growth. I love the creative crafting that I do, but I've felt recently that I'd like to push myself more. I have a lot of passion but little formal knowledge! So I'd like to gain skills, and put 'tools in my toolbox' to help with my artistic expression. I want to stretch myself, and surprise myself with what I produce! Like a lot of people who weren't good at art at school, I have a bit of a fear of drawing and painting, so I'm looking forward to pushing myself to use these methods to help with my textiles.
“As I work full time, I'll be studying for the course in my spare time - evenings and weekends. If this course goes well, and I'm able to balance it with my work, I'm quite keen to go further with the OCA. I'd like to do the level 2 textiles, and maybe some courses on printing and drawing - who knows, it might end up as a BA!
“I love church textiles, and I've made a few stoles for a friend who was being made a Deacon in the church. That's something I'm keen to develop, and combine the church's liturgical images and traditions with Christian symbolism and my own imagination. I'm hoping to focus on this in one of the projects.”
A year later I can say I’ve enjoyed the course and I feel I’ve grown as an artist and crafter. I am delighted with the range of techniques I’ve learned on the course, which I hoped I would learn. What I didn’t expect the course to do is help me grow as an artist and designer. I’m keen to carry on with more OCA courses. I loved the printing part of the textiles course, and I’m going to do the Printmaking 1 course next. I then hope to do the Drawing 1 course, and when that’s complete, move on to Textiles 2.
I did indeed use my faith in the artistic progress, and what I have learned has helped me express my faith in other ways. I find creating can be a meditative, prayerful experience. What I didn’t expect was how much I remembered the string making I used to do as a teenager in the archaeology project I was part of. I loved making the plaits and braids, and realised I love the ancient roots of these crafts.
I’m reading "Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement" by Linda Parry at the moment, and it’s helping me clarify thoughts that have developed over this course. Reading about the importance of both artists and makers in the Arts and Crafts movement has shown me how both these elements are important in my work. I love being the imaginative artist, but I also love the craft in producing the items. I’d love to make more of the basic elements – spinning my own wool, or weaving my own cloth, but using them for my own artistic expression.
I started this course feeling like someone who dabbled in crafting. After finishing this course, I feel like an artist and a crafter. The frustrating bit is that the more I see of others’ work and see the potential in the methods I’ve learned, the more frustrated I become with some of my work!