"When will you have a little pity for every soft thing that walks through the world, yourself included?” ~ Mary Oliver
Recently I experienced my sixth fortunate visit to Snow Farm,The New England Craft Program. This one was made even more fortunate due to the generosity of a woman named Sarah.
As a part of their wonderful Workshop Access Program for local artists, we all had recently received an email for an opportunity "made possible by the generosity of Sarah Etelman, a long-time Snow Farm student and supporter who recently died of pancreatic cancer. Sarah was hoping to attend this class and requested that her spot be gifted."
I was excited to give it a try and entered my name in the lottery for the popular and sold out "From Glass Beads To Fine Jewelry" class with the awesome Liliana Glenn.
Honestly, I had been feeling a bit down lately and getting the email that I had won was a huge uplift, but also carried an emotional heaviness for a sensitive person like me.
On the first day after struggling with new techniques and my lack of experience melting glass/flameworking, I had a bit of my own meltdown in front of everyone. In tears, I had thought it may be best to give up my space to someone who was going to be better at it, someone who would find it a passion to pursue. It only filled me with terror and self-doubt.
I felt uncoordinated, overwhelmed and bewildered...just wanted to run home to Frog Hollow. I felt unworthy of this incredible, generous gift from someone I did not even know. I put all of this emotional baggage on top of something that I should have just seen for what it was...five days with an amazing, rockstar of a teacher amongst seven other women looking to further their skills, learn new ones, just enjoy meeting new people from all over the country in a beautiful and peaceful setting near home. Having wonderful conversations, laughing and bonding over a shared experience.
That day (and throughout the week) Liliana was so kind and patient, helped me feel like I was where I belonged, and encouraged me to keep trying. I've recently realized I may have ADHD, so learning new skills by just watching someone can be really difficult. She sat me down and moved my arms through the process, guided my shaking hands and calmly led me back to focus.
It. Was. Amazing. I did it! I somehow melted and formed rods of glass into many, many little round (well, mostly round) glass beads. Some were made of waves of clear and cobalt and green glass, some I added tiny shards of mica under translucent colors to catch the light. All perfectly imperfect but an appreciated new skill, and more importantly for me, less fear of the torch flame.
Our teacher so masterfully (and with great joy and empathy) juggled all of her students with varying levels of skill through two incredibly challenging and wildly differing mediums - glass and metal. Liliana was so dedicated to making everyone feel listened to, challenged, and proud of their accomplishments.
Ideas coming together.
On Thursday we all displayed our work together outside and it was so striking to see the vast individual style and creativity that could be brought to life with the same materials to start with and limited time with new skills brought to life by such a vibrant, funny and charming educator.
I am so grateful to Sarah to have allowed me to be there with her spirit - to open my horizons just that bit more, and to break myself out of the hermit-worker mentality that had settled over the past few years. I'm sad that I never got to meet her, I think I really would have enjoyed learning alongside her as I did with the other women in my class at the heart-affirming community that is Snow Farm.