17 March, 2014

Inuvik Trip Part 1

A week ago I was driving the ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. A week before that I was snorkelling in the Caribbean. And this morning I'm sipping tea in slippers and listening to Motown. Have I mentioned before that I love my life?!

One of the things I absolutely love about my life is the chance to teach quilting (and travel to do it). Being in a classroom full of people who absolutely want to be there, whether they are there for a new experience or just a weekend off, is an energy boost for me. You can't help but ride their enthusiasm. And my weekend with the guild in Inuvik was unlike any other.

There is just so much to share about my trip to Inuvik that I have to break it down into two posts. It was such a phenomenal experience. Up first, the class.

Seeing as Inuvik is located in the far North, we chose to run a Scrap Management workshop. They have to pay a lot to bring in supplies, so I thought it best to get people excited about scraps. And get excited they did! As did I. The days would start at the sun was coming into the sky, peering over the irons as we set up in the morning.

Like most scrap classes I run many people at first think they don't have much that's useful. But after we sort then run through the slab technique eyes are opened. The potential can't be hidden anymore. Some people brought scraps they inherited from mothers and friends. Some seriously cool scraps there. One lady brought scraps an Inuit maker gave her last year at the Great Northern Arts Festival. And like everyone does, it was fun to see the history of their quilting careers, family, and guild projects through the scraps.

One of the great things about teaching with a guild is that most people know each other well. So there is an instant camaraderie. For the teacher it can feel like you are the outsider, but definitely not with this group! They instantly welcomed me in, sharing gossip and stories, and taking me under their wing for northern adventures. You know they are a cohesive group when three of them bring the same kind of muffins for us one day.

During this two day workshop we explored scraps - sorting, remembering, making slabs and storage boxes, and working on individual projects. Some people choose projects from Sunday Morning Quilts, some take off in their own direction. The important part is that they be excited by what they are working on. I'm just there to guide the process, teach some technique, and troubleshoot, if necessary.

I had one of the best moments ever in my career as a teacher there too. Two of my students were art therapists. They work in the elementary schools - for the kids and the teachers. They have a tough job, seeing the best and worst of these isolated communities. Communities that have most definitely seen the worst of times beyond the weather - addiction, residential schools, relocations, abuse. Coming to guild, for these women, is a break for them, a chance to recharge and put work behind them. Well, on the second day one woman pulled me aside and thanked me for her own creative breakthrough. She was sewing more than she ever does in guild and was recharged personally. Usually I am pretty happy if people have fun and are inspired to sew more once the class is over, but to hear that, from an art therapist no less, was inspiring to me.

Not to mention this beading. Oh, the beading... (This one wasn't by a student, but a woman dropped by to share it.)

Thank you to the NWT Arts Council for the funding to bring me to Inuvik.


Brenda said...

Lucky you! I've lived north of 60 in Fort Smith, but haven't traveled as far north as Inuvik.

What Comes Next? said...

what an incredible adventure!

Patti said...

Fantastic! Quilters are the best people in every corner of the world. I think it would be challenging to live in the north but quilting would sure help!

MariQuilts said...

Sounds wonderful....thanks for sharing, I just really enjoyed this post, Cheryl!!!

Leanne said...

What fun and what a great group to work with.

Anonymous said...

I lived in three communities in the NWT over a 15 year period.. The North has a way of capturing your soul. I wasn't a quilter in those days, but I did learn to make my own parka. And the beadwork takes me back!