Teaching Nantuckets Off-Campus

The 2015 Florida Tropical Weavers’ Guild Conference was held at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, Florida from March 19-22.  One of the 2½ day work-shops was Nantucket Lightship Basket Weaving.  Here’s what the brochure said:

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Create a Classic Nantucket Basket  — Don Ferris, Instructor. Nantuckets are beautiful, intricate heirlooms. Help preserve the history of these treasures by experiencing every critical step in the process and creating an authentic classic. You’ll craft and set up the staves, weave the entire basket, complete the rim, do the finishing steps and dress it with “scrimshaw”. Students also receive an exclusive, take-home review manual to help complete future projects. It’s an enriched learning environment with both student-to-student and student-to-teacher reinforcement.

It was a touch-and-go as to whether I’d be able to make it.  I’d signed the contract in the Spring of 2013, too late for the 2014 roster.  Like the Campbell School, they book teachers a year ahead.

The problem, if you haven’t picked it up in another story, is that the over-exertion of remodeling  our Florida house during the preceding five months caused my right leg to start buckling without notice.  It was a combination of my already compromised back and a pinched nerve.  I started exercises to rebuild the quadriceps, but I was still not very mobile.

The Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center is a 300 acre facility with a mile of lakefront, about half way between us and Orlando.  It was founded in the 1960’s as a retreat and youth ministry center.  Starting with two camps and an administration building, it has grown exponentially to include adult accommodations, full food service, multiple conference rooms . . . and a campground!  I drove the Big Horn over there on Thursday. Dot and  friends Keith and Cherie followed and took care of setup and unloading all of my supplies into the classroom.

With a cane and a  lot of care, I was able to make it back and forth to my classroom and meals.  Rather than walk around the studio, I gathered my eight students around me for instruction.  They were very gracious about bringing their problems to my central station rather than make me hop around.

I can normally teach the course in 15 hours.  In this case, we were pinched for time, because the time frame was condensed, leaving no room for the “overtime” that most students put in.  As a result, some of them were unable to complete the last step. I was prepared, however to send them home with the necessary finish, brush and plastic gloves.

Dot and my dear friends came back at the end to rescue me.  I really enjoyed the experience, but it’s much easier to teach here at Sandy Oaks. I can spread out the classes and don’t have to transport a dozen big tubs of equipment and supplies!