Sunday, November 9, 2008

A tribute to Barb.



I spend a lot of time and space in this blog writing about people in the virtual world – sending you to their websites and blogs. I realized after going to a Teachers’ Branch meeting yesterday that I have been remiss in not featuring the people in the real world who mean so much to me. This is the first entry to rectify that.

Meet Barb D’Arcy. She is my mentor, my friend and probably the single biggest influence in my life in hooking thus far. An incredibly lively octogenarian, she has more vim and vigor than many half her age and I continually tell people that Barb is who I want to be “when I grow up”. I know that she is reading this post, as she does every Monday, with her cup of coffee.

Barb was the featured speaker at our meeting yesterday and was, as usual, simply captivating. Her talk was about “Rug Stories” and she presented about 20 of her pieces along with their stories about where and when they happened, what influenced her in creating them, and the lessons she learned from each one of them. The rug in this picture is one of my favourites. But it certainly is not the only style she hooks. The variety in her rugs is the perfect chronicle of her journey through different styles and times of her hooking life. She says that many of the pieces seem too simplistic today, when mats are becoming more of a form of personal expression than they used to be. However, I feel that every one of her featured rugs is very personal, and they are a record of the time in her life when she created them

Although this was the second time I have had the privilege of seeing this presentation, I heard and saw different things this time around. I guess that’s the joy in a good book, a good movie and a great presentation.

I first met Barb just over 5 years ago when I started hooking and a neighbour gave me her contact information when I asked if she knew a teacher I should try to hook up with. Lucky for me, she had space in her Monday night class and I started my incredible journey with her.

Barb teaches in a bright and beautiful studio in her home three nights a week. Each class has a distinctly different DNA and each group creates an incredible, emotional bond with Barb and with one another. Once a year, the three night classes get together for a potluck dinner and spend the evening comparing stories and gushing over our favourite mentor.

Barb’s class structure is always an “open” format, where everyone works on their own projects, providing learning opportunities from each mat as people hang up their work to show progress and discuss areas where they are stuck, or where they need guidance. Barb has always encouraged the opinions of everyone in the class, thereby nurturing the “inner teacher” in all of us. She has the ability to convince everyone they can be a designer, that they can journey outside their comfort zone and pushes us all to grow and evolve. She takes great pride in each and every one of us as she watches us come into our own.

For some of us, her encouragement included a gentle shove to consider becoming a certified OHCG teacher. Especially here in Toronto, there is a need for more teachers. Barb has guided many of us through the necessary preparation and the voyage to get there. Yesterday, Jeanne Field commented that the students she recommends and mentors become some of the finest teachers in the Guild and all reflect Barb’s dedication, enthusiasm and love of the craft.

Everyone should have a “Barb” in their life, though I am sure that many will not have that pleasure. I am so lucky to know her, to admire her, and to be influenced by her.

Cheers Barb. Enjoy your coffee and this little salute. In my world of hookers, both online and off, you are definitely the best of the best.

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