I am in my final preparations for rug hooking camp next week. Do you know what a rug hooking teacher does to get ready? Every teacher has their own way of preparing for their students. I'm going to give you a peek behind the scenes and I'll tell you what I do!
When I get my list of students from the camp director, I will send out a welcome letter and a student questionnaire. It may take me a week or two to get this out but I always do it. If you haven't heard from your teacher and it is getting close to rug camp, let the camp director know. Sometimes e-mails don't get delivered or get dumped into your spam file. The teacher won't know this unless she is contacted.
My student letter briefly explains a little bit about my teaching method and how I conduct my class. The student questionnaire is important to me. Please fill it out and send it back! It gives me information about what pattern you are hooking, what colors you like, and a little info about your rug hooking style. I usually follow up a couple weeks before camp if I don't hear from you.
When I get your questionnaire, I read it over carefully and then I look on line to see what the pattern looks like (if I'm not familiar with it). I will often print out a color picture to attach to your questionnaire. This is just a reference for me, it helps me in my planning.
If you have any questions, please contact me. Give me time to answer...I may be traveling and can't get back to you right away. If you sent me your questionnaire and you don't have any questions, we are good to go. You won't hear from me until we see each other at camp.
I begin washing/dyeing wool and drawing up student patterns if necessary. It can take me several weeks to do all the washing and dyeing and drawing! Don't hesitate to bring wool from your own stash. Often times, a student will have a wonderful texture that is perfect for their rug!
Oh yes, textures. I love textures. Plaids, stripes, herringbones, windowpanes. Don't ask me to do shading. Don't ask me to do dip dyes, spot dyes, graduated swatches! There are other teachers who teach that. I do not. And that's what I love about rug hooking....there is something for everyone, and a teacher for everyone. Just as I have stated in one of my other Etiquette posts, please research a teacher and stick to her style. Please do not ask her to teach outside of her specialty.
Behind the scenes, I make lists! Lists for what to bring to camp. Stapler, pens, notebook, etc. Wool, patterns, possible alternative materials, special request patterns. I try not to forget a thing! If I am flying to teach at a rug camp, it limits what I can bring. I ship most of my wool (more on this later) but I won't ship my rugs. So I am limited to a few rugs in my suitcase. Likewise with bringing books or extra patterns. BUT if I am driving, it is a whole different story. I can fill up my van with all kinds of wonderful things! Have you seen Big Mama? Well, here she is and she can carry a lot!
Teachers make the big bucks, right?
Um, no. Usually a rug camp will pay the teacher a set amount for the whole week or however long the camp lasts. At most camps, we get a lump sum, regardless of how many students are in a class. This covers a typical day of teaching and sometimes a walk-through in the evening. It doesn't cover any time before or after class officially starts and ends, or spending hours in the evening in the class room. Now please, don't get me wrong....I love, love, love to teach (really! it's not always about the money!) but after a good 6 to 8 hours in the classroom, my brain needs a reboot. My color choices are not always good when I am tired. Remember to let your teacher wind down and rest! Tomorrow is another day!
Teachers usually get a stipend for travel. Sometimes we get reimbursed for the actual travel cost but most of the time it's a flat amount to travel. This has to cover my gas and meals on the road, plus possibly a hotel bill along the way. Or it has to cover a plane ticket and baggage fees (if I am not traveling on Southwest). If I go over the stipend amount, it is on my dime. Same with shipping wool. It is always on my dime. And I usually ship 6 or 7 really LARGE boxes of wool. I want to make sure I've brought a nice variety of textures. In my case, I ship via UPS and to ship those 6 boxes costs me about $200.00 one way. Yes, that's right. I have to sell $200 worth of wool to break even for shipping one way. Hey, I'm not complaining! I just don't think it is something rug hookers think about. Please consider buying wool from your teacher.....it is really and truly the way we can make a living. And just know we are not making the "big bucks."
To tip or not to tip, that is the question....
This has been a burning question on some rug hooking discussions/forums, do you tip your teacher? First off, let me tell you that I never expect a tip. It is always a very, very lovely surprise when I get a card and a monetary tip but I do not expect it. Sometimes I get a card signed by all my students. One class purchased a massage for me while I was at camp. Sometimes I get little gifts that are handmade. They are all very lovely thoughts and very much appreciated. I know rug camp can be an expensive proposition with your hotel bill, camp tuition, pattern and wool purchases, and food bill. Do what your heart tells you to do.
What do teachers do before camp? Correspondence and research, washing and dyeing wool, designing and drawing patterns, packing up everything, traveling by plane or by car. Many, many hours go into your workshop before you ever get there! So now you know!