It is almost time for a new year, and that means the new semester is just around the corner. Although I fully intend on spending the coming weekend watching classic movies and enjoying the end of 2016, I have a few things that I need to focus on before that happens. The holiday season has become a time for me to prepare new classes and to adjust preexisting course material because I have learned something new from my students.
As I prepare for the Spring 2017 term, I am teaching a Wig and Millinery class for the first time, and that means it's time to purchase additional supplies, so they arrive by the quarter term. We already have a fair amount of Buckram and Millinery Wire, but I'll be putting in for extra just incase everyone wants to build a Kate Winslet in Titanic-worthy hat. Today will be spent putting those orders in and then buying cotton quilting. (I will post on the hat building process during the semester.)
Most costume craft and construction courses have their fair share of expenses. The wig supplies were part of a show budget as these pieces will become part of our stock when the students are done with them while the hat understructure came from student lab fees. Most people would say that all of this is straight forward until I tell them that I'm teaching undergraduate. Most people will not say it, but it's the specify of the class that gets them and tends to make them think "graduate" level, and they are not wrong.
As I work at a small liberal arts university, I know each of my students and what he or she can or cannot accomplish. I also have control on who enters a course like this and will sit down with a student if I think he or she may not have the underlying skills or attention span to succeed (previous craft courses). This has saved not only them but me from hours of frustration and by the time a similar course is offered again the student in questions is usually ready for the detail work that I ask of them. By the end of spring, each student will have finished a soft cap, a structured hat, a mustache and a fronted wig. I believe in classes like this for many reasons: 1) it teaches them to have an eye for details that can sometimes be overlooked in regular design and construction courses, 2) it supplies them with a new skill set that may aid in employment, and 3) for my students who will never be hardcore constructionists or pattern makers it provided them with a sense of accomplishment as these "smaller" projects seem more obtainable.