Bill Teaching in Winchester, KY  Actually, preparation to teach begins when you first commence to gather the skills, tools and reams of reference data & materials into a useable stock-pile. I’ve been known to actually tear and remove a desirable bird-image out of an up-scale magazine whilst awaiting my turn in a Physician’s waiting-room and fold it neatly into my pocket. Hmmm! With me so far?  My library on my chosen subject (birds) is fairly impressive. That’s how I “roll”!  For a specific New Class Event, the subject chosen,

  1. I carefully pick the available Time and Dates for all (10?) Sessions and plot them on my Wall & Google-Calendars. Since this Blog also has a “Calendar of Events” page, I plot it there, as well. Now, the class is “Committed”!
  2. I locate patterns, modify as needed and make several copies of the pattern as it’s to be used in the project.
  3. Since I personally catalog all carving-projects in large hand-labeled manila envelopes, I make one for this project as well. These newly developed materials will kinda pile-up as we proceed. Eventually, this project will be taught and each student will receive on Day #1, their own labeled project envelope. We’ll take a brief inventory of it’s contents as we work  down in this list.
  4. I print transparency copies of the pattern for myself and for each student; an exta copy for myself. I cut-out the pattern on my extra copy to use in tracing the pattern on to the wood. Into the envelope all of these copies go. Firstly, I measure the pattern to ascertain the dimensions of the wooden block that will be required for each bird. Notice, I’m already calling “it” a “bird” and not a “carving”? On “New-to-Me Species” projects, I create a new Notebook” for that species  Copies of all printed materials used in this project as well as reference info & photos are included permanently into the notebook. On “Repeated” projects, old-notebooks are up-dated or amended as necessary. 
  5. I inventory my supply of available wood. As usual, I’ll probably need to order some from my friendly wood dealer. Deal with someone you have confidence in. I use one dealer for Tupelo and another for Basswood. See the Blogsroll Listings on this Blog. I pick-up the phone and call in the order.
  6. I like to send a “New Class Notification Letter” to my E-Mail List of Woodcarvers” about a month prior to the first day of the new class. This list is composed of addresses volunteered by interested individuals. I have pretty much ceased to send “Snail-Mail” due to the time, effort & money involved. Also, because I have become very comfortable with “smaller” groups in the class. It requires more work to attract more students! No way! I compose or up-date the letter, which includes all class details &  info, pick the date to send the e-mail and on that day, send it! My credo is, “If I have students, I’m a Teacher. If I don’t, I’m a Carver!” Carvers may have as much or more fun than teachers, anyway.
  7. O.K., the wood arrives. I get myself comfortable, turn on my tunes in the shop, stack the blocks of wood conveniently on my bench, have a pencil or two near by and retrieve the pattern cut-outs from the envelope where “all” materials are stored at all times. If you’ve misplaced as many items as I have, you’d be this way too. On each block of wood, trace the side & top profiles of the pattern on to the wooden blocks. Make about three  more than needed so you can carve those three in different stages before & during the Class-Sessions on-going. These ‘demos” are priceless to the students. How did I know how much wood to order, you ask? Well, any extra wood is “never” extra. “So many birds to carve and so little time”. I normally like to prep a  “blank” each for the class with maybe, four extra for teacher. So, if we estimate four students will enroll, lets prep  seven-blanks for purposes of this illustration.
  8. A “blank” is the block of wood, band-sawed on the top and side profiles. This Blog is not intended as a class on how to do this. Maybe later. Band-saw  the seven blanks.  Feel free to prep as many as you need for your own class. I’ll only saw more in the event we have more enroll than four.  Pencil in the center-lines on the teacher’s blanks…..Oops! I nearly started the class too early.
  9. Now’s the time to ascertain the correct glass eyes, size & color and cast-legs (if appropriate to this class-project), and check my inventory. Just as I thought, I need to order some eyes and legs from my favorite vendors. Pick-up the phone and order them. If, the Vendors are not currently listed on my Blogsroll, they may soon be; eventually, maybe….
  10. It is however, important, to begin carving all of the teacher’s birds.  Show the starter-cuts on all four of them and the next-cuts on the second blank, next-cuts on the third, etc. Go ahead and do the same to the fourth  blank, which will be the one you will carve to completion along with and a little a head of the class. All of the teacher’s blanks serve as visual-stepping-stone-pathways for the students. I often elect to leave the first three with the starter & more cuts “as-is” for future projects and mount them on a short board, using dowels. I have more than a hand-full of these aids sitting together in small groups on a shop-shelf . Someday, after the last student has matriculated, these “aids” will finally become the “birds” they were always destined to be. Hope that I’m the one to do the deed.

As much as I hate to do it, now is a good time to clean-up the shop & inventory my tools. I actually have nearly a month to get around to this chore; maybe tomorrow….

See my definition of “Shop” in the “Glossery of Words & Terms” page.

Happy birding and carving,  Bill