There’s always room for vise

Traveling to teach is not without drama.

Recently, my best pal and I met in her town and road-tripped to another state
(that’s a BIG state, not a little one) to tag team teach at Bead Fest Santa Fe. Now, you have to understand: teaching metals classes isn’t easy. You have to move tool steel, kits, torches and tanks for a dozen or more students per class. And, you want to bring extra stuff for your students to try and possibly buy. And, you have to rely on a sequence of events falling into place in a particular timeframe so everybody’s needs are met.

Don’t get me wrong — teaching is very rewarding. It’s just the logistics that aren’t. And, something always goes wrong. No matter how well you planned. It’s just a part of the thrill.

Like the vise. It’s heavy. You can’t fly with it, but you need it. Do you buy one when you get there and pray somebody in the class buys it? Do you ship yours? Do you borrow one and pray a student does not destroy it? Or, do you order one with your tool shipment and hope it gets to the hotel in time? And then, how do you get the thing 5 blocks over to the Convention Center, along with the 300 pounds of kits and tools for your classes? Oh, and stubbing that vise with your big toe in the middle of the night in the hotel room is really fun too.

Here I am teaching my Getting Started in Metals class, and totally delighted with my students and their progress.

We love teaching at away games. Really. But, when I said vise, I meant vice. Like cold adult beverages and good old fattening food with friends. And sweets after dinner every night. Because, when you meet up with fellow teachers you haven’t seen for a while, survive 4 days of teaching and assistant teaching in a strange town — without the shop equipment you are used to having nearby to teach well, vice is what you really need to get through it all. That, a sense of humor, and a sense of adventure will help you remember why teaching is fun. But, you’ll still need to leave room in the shipping box for the vise to go home once you wake up from the vice part of the trip the next morning.

Today’s tip: I saved my son’s toddler socks to cover my hammer heads when I travel. The little socks are the perfect size to protect the textured faces of my student hammers, and they remind me of my little guy when I am far from home.


About Helen Driggs

Metalsmith, Teaching Artist, Writer, Maker of things. Former Senior Editor of Lapidary Jewelry Artist Magazine View all posts by Helen Driggs

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