Looking to tap into your creative side? Check out these five must-try adult education classes coming soon to Watkins Community Education at Belmont University, and get to know the passionate teaching artists behind them! These courses are a great way to mingle in the community as you explore art forms ranging from pottery making to sewing and fabric dyeing.
About the teaching artist: Lesley Patterson-Marx is a lifelong artist from Louisville, KY, who made her way to Watkins College of Art and Design in 2001. Today, she teaches a handful of Watkins Community Education classes, such as sewing, print-making, and book arts.
“I constantly find myself asking, ‘What if?’ in the studio,” says Lesley regarding where she finds inspiration. “There’s so much to explore creatively, and the ideas are never-ending. Inspiration is everywhere. It’s the editing and prioritizing that’s the challenge! I am always inspired by spending time in nature, especially on my daily walks in my neighborhood.”
Introduction to Garment Sewing | January 25 – February 29, 2024
If you’re interested in learning how to sew your own clothes, consider enrolling in this six-week course taught by Lesley. Taking place every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., students can learn how to make a pair of pants with an elastic waistband and pockets in addition to a matching top. Throughout the course, you’ll learn about sewing patterns, bias binding, hems, and more. While all skill levels are invited to enroll, this is considered a beginner course. Admission is $200, and students should bring their own sewing machine.
Sew a Dress in a Day | March 9, 2024
During this one-day course taught by Lesley, students learn to make a sleeveless spring dress. Perfect for beginner and intermediate sewists, you can choose between inseam or patch pockets when sewing your dress. The class begins at 10 a.m., and registration is $80. Students should bring their own sewing machine and fabric.
About the teaching artist: Mississippi native Larry Rogers teaches ceramics at Watkins Community Education. While Larry primarily works on the potter’s wheel, he also implements a process called “Nothing Wasted,” a surface design technique that adds texture to his pieces.
“Make time for self-care. Be deliberate with what you are doing,” says Larry of his advice to aspiring artists. “We have seen artists put all their efforts into their work and try to do every show and be in every gallery that they can without any reserve for themselves.”
Beginner Wheel Throwing | January 23 – March 12, 2024 + January 26 – March 15, 2024
Larry is offering two installments of this nine-week ceramics introductory class. At the end of the course, you’ll know basic wheel-throwing techniques to center clay and create functional pieces. Plus, you’ll take home everything from cups to bowls, vases, and more; however, the main goal of the course is to build a robust set of basic technical skills. Registration is $300, and students should bring their own clay tools. (Note: Clay and glazes are included with admission.)
Intermediate/Advanced Wheel-Throwing | January 25 – March 14, 2024
If you already have a basic understanding of ceramics, consider enrolling in this more advanced course. Over nine weeks, the class teaches advanced wheel-throwing skills, incorporates hand-building techniques, and encourages students to create larger, more complex pieces. The class takes place in a semi-open studio format, and pieces are kiln-fired and glazed, painted, or stained. Admission is $300, and clay and glazes are included. Students should bring their own set of clay tools.
CLOTH DYEING CLASS
About the teaching artist: Jan Quarles is a self-taught artist who loves all things fiber-related — from weaving and knitting to spinning and dyeing. Over the last 10 years, she has focused on the art of indigo dyeing and botanical printing and brings her expertise to Watkins Community Education.
“The constant for me has been fiber and color,” says Jan of how her artistic style has evolved over the years. “I have always worked with soft materials (apart from the few baskets I have made), with both synthetic or natural dyes and with color. I have done indigo dyeing for 20 years. In the last decade, I have focused on botanical printing and indigo, so my artisanal process has narrowed.”
Indigo Shibori Cloth Dyeing | March 14 – April 4, 2024
The shibori method of indigo dyeing involves folding, bunching, or twisting fabric to create different patterns. During this four-week course taught by Jan, you can learn about the history of indigo and its artistic applications worldwide. Students receive plenty of fabric for practice and will leave the course with hand-dyed tea towels and scarves. All skill levels are welcome to participate, and materials are provided. Admission is $225.
This article is sponsored by Watkins Community Education at Belmont University. All photography by Sam Angel.