|The Powel House in Old City|
Today was definitely something different. A close friend has another friend who is involved with the historic sites in Old City Philadelphia. She texted me a few weeks ago to ask if I'd be available to teach an embroidery class. I said yes, without asking for more details. (Hey, a job's a job, and embroidery beats lawyers.)
I soon found out that I'd be teaching a group of kids who were attending a history camp at the house. Most of them had been coming for several years, and they wanted another period-appropriate craft besides the weaving class they already had.
Now, I may make things for kids, but I don't have kids. I don't have that much contact with kids. I'm not really comfortable with them, especially in groups.
|Eliza Powel's ballroom / drawing room, set|
up for the class.
Then I found out that in addition to teaching the class, they wanted me to do a 10 minute presentation to the combined group (about 15 kids and 4 adults) beforehand. "Just a little something about embroidery generally and in the period," they said helpfully.
As Dr. Seuss would say, I puzzled and puzzed til my puzzler was sore. What to say? I certainly have the information, and I thought it was a nice angle for the girls that no matter what they personally feel about going to school, their counterparts who would have lived in Philadelphia at the time they were studying probably wouldn't have been allowed to attend school. So embroidery and other "feminine" skills were really all that a lot of girls had to occupy their time, unless they had progressive parents with money.
They told me there were boys, too, so I made a point of looking up all the trades involving sewing that would have existed in Philadelphia at the time -- tailor, sailmaker, bookbinder, shoemaker. Not to mention the fact that soldiers and sailors, away from home for long periods, couldn't run home to mama if they lost a button. Sewing was just a practical skill that nearly everyone had.
|Corner of the ballroom|
Thankfully I didn't have to -- I winged the entire 10 minutes somehow -- but when I went to put my outline away later, it turned out that it was actually my 2 page to-do list for what I need to get done before my next craft show. So a fat lot of good that would have done me anyway.
I told Mario when I got home today that I wasn't sure what surprised me most -- that I'd managed a group of 8 kids (6 girls, 2 boys) for 2 hours with no problems and no overwhelming urge to bite, or that I had spoken to a large-ish group of people without having the urge to projectile vomit in a historic house.
Children and public speaking have always been things I'm massively uncomfortable with. I had to do an oral report in English class in junior year, and while I did it, I also threw up afterward. Mario suggested that what I feared in school wasn't public speaking but the judgment of the other students, which makes perfect sense. Now.
But isn't it strange when you realize you've just accomplished something you thought you were afraid to do, without thinking about it until afterward?
Class continues Thursday, and I'm looking forward to it. The kids were fun, they caught on quickly and the two boys -- both around 10 years old -- did really well. One did hands-down the best work of the group, and the other worked the hardest.