Friday, June 18, 2010

Three Cheers for Dorothy

Tomorrow I am teaching a seed bead class at The Beaded Iris in Albuquerque. (You can see my teaching schedule with pics on my Classes page on this blog). When I advertised the class, I sent out flyers to the local Deaf Community. I know American Sign Language. In fact, my home is bilingual and I use ASL everyday. I got a video message on my iphone from a woman who called the video phone (VP) at my home. When I clicked on the video, there she was, asking about my class. I don't think Dorothy would disagree with me that she's elderly. We had a VP conversation and I held up some samples of the bead project in front of the VP camera at my house. She said "oooohhh" with her facial expression, and then she signed. "I would like to try it. Something new!"

Two weeks ago was the first session. I taught in English and ASL in tandem. Dorothy has glaucoma, but she carried on with the seed beads with persistence. It was the first time she had worked with seed beads. "So tiny, " she remarked. She seemed a little nervous. But she's a lady who had her hands tied in elementary school to prevent her from signing. She learned ASL anyway. So, I knew she had moxie. As she focused on her first three rows of peyote stitch, the room was filled with the chatter of the hearing students. It is harder to "talk" when you need your eyes and hands for both the art and the conversation. We took some breaks from the beads and got to know each other with our full attention.

From time to time I let Dorothy know what the chatter topic was amongst the other students. But, there was really no way she could be a full participant in that conversation. She finally got the peyote set up, undaunted by her vision, her age, lack of experience, and being the only deaf person in the class. By the end of the session she made a beautiful focal piece for her necklace - purple and green. Truly stunning.

Dorothy's sense of adventure and her willingness to take a risk and try something new despite the challenges inspires me. Tomorrow is the second session. I can't wait to see what she is going to do with the netting I will teach. Perhaps, one day there will ASL chatting in my classes as well.

Ammonite Fossil with Peyote Bezel "in Progress"