It’s My First Teacher Week at Craftsy! To celebrate, we’ve asked some of our instructors to reflect on the most influential teachers in their lives. Some of their touching responses are shared below. Be sure to come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for more heartfelt tributes from your favorite Craftsy instructors!
Rick Sammon, Photography
My first photography teacher was my dad, Robert M. Sammon Sr. (pictured above). In the early 1960s, he, along with my mom, Josephine T. Sammon, showed me the basics of photography. They also taught me how to develop pictures in our basement darkroom.
It was real magic setting a picture appear on a piece of paper in the muted light of the “safelight” in the darkroom. Watching the pictures “swim” around for an hour or so in our big basement sink was also kinda fun. We dried the prints in cardboard rolls.
I shot with 120 film box cameras and then with my dad’s Linhof, the Caddy of all cameras back then.
I really can’t remember any specifics, but I do remember my dad telling me that I can do it. He lead and showed by example. That is what I try to do today.
Nancy Marchant, Knitting
My mother when she was 89-years-old. She came to visit me in Amsterdam.
Minnie Marchant, my mother, was my first knitting teacher. As a child growing up on an Indiana farm, she was given chores such as making butter, weeding the garden, and for fun, sewing and knitting her own clothes.
When I was growing up, she was constantly making things for our family. Our pajamas, sweaters and quilts were all handmade. My mom kept us warm.
Her passion became quilting. She organized the Piecemakers with other members of her church. They met every Wednesday and hand-quilted tops. The money they made was donated to charity and these women are still the very best of friends. Every year, at the Indiana State Fair, the Piecemakers are there in the Pioneer Village demonstrating their quilting skills.
Like a lot of knitters, my mother taught me to knit at a very young age. She gave me needles, yarn and an idea for a pattern. Southern Indiana didn’t have a lot of yarn shops. Woolworths was about as good as it got. So she had to encourage me to create my own patterns using the materials that were available, sometimes unraveling an old sweater.
- Nancy (Explorations in Brioche Knitting)
Camille Roskelley, Quilting
My mom and I, sewing our fabric
I don’t remember a lot about learning to sew, but it was close to 25 years ago. I was about 5 or 6, and was probably sitting on my mom’s knee at the time. It wasn’t until several years later I decided I wanted to sew a quilt all on my own. I cut up a bunch of my mom’s scraps into squares, and she showed me how to cut, press and sew the most simple 9-patch, with a 1/4″ seam, of course. I worked really diligently on that quilt. I pieced it, bound it, and even machine quilted it all on my own. In black thread, of all colors! While this certainly isn’t the most beautiful quilt that I own, it is probably the most meaningful. It is still used in our home to this day. In fact, you can even see a peek of my first quilt in my class, Playful Piecing Techniques. We all start somewhere, right?
I am so grateful to my mom for taking the time to teach me to quilt, and for her mom for teaching her, and so on and so on. In fact, I’ve already helped two of my little ones to make quilts of their own. I’ve also taught many friends to sew, and now teach quilting classes. It is always so exciting to help someone sew their first few stitches, and even more exciting to see them finish their first quilt! I can’t imagine my life without quilting!
My mom, Bonnie, and I now design fabric for Moda together, and even though most of our sewing together is done over Skype (since we live two states away), we still find time to sit down and sew together. I feel lucky every time.
Thank you Mom!
- Camille (Pre-Cut Piecing Made Simple)
Three generations of quilters: my mom, grandma and me at Quilt Market
My son Aiden, age 8, working on a quilt.
Lisa Raffael, Cake Decorating
After working in Industrial Marketing for 15 years, it became clear to me that there was more to a job than just “working.” I wasn’t inspired, wasn’t fulfilled. Coming from a family of doctors and dentists, this was not an easy decision to make — “you’re leaving a stable, great job and are going to make cupcakes for a living?” They thought I was crazy!!!! They didn’t even understand working in Corporate America!
I finally decided to leave Corporate America to explore my passion for the culinary world, took a “leap of faith” and enrolled in the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.
All I knew, is that I loved to bake, and cake decorating was my passion. I didn’t know what to expect on my first day, but it felt right. I was EXCITED!
The MINUTE I met Susan Logozzo, my baking instructor, I knew I made the PERFECT decision, and NEVER LOOKED BACK.
Susan not only is a remarkably talented pastry chef and sugar artist, she also inspired me in ways beyond technique. Her constant encouragement and support showed me that it is possible to do what you love, and earn a living. Her teaching style exuded confidence, she helped me to focus on my strengths, and how to perfect techniques.
To this day, when I teach, it’s Susan’s voice I hear. Nurturing and direct at the same time. Positive reinforcement and constructive, effective critiques. Always turning “negatives” into positives.
Because of Susan’s guidance and genuine interest in me as a student, I enrolled in a class with Colette Peters, which IGNITED my cake decorating passion. Colette taught me to “make it yours” — that cake decorating techniques had no boundaries. Colette helped me develop my strengths and perfect my personal style.
Learning has always been KEY to me. I take as many classes as I can — (and Craftsy has opened up a WHOLE NEW WORLD!!). And even when I take a class and think, “I already know all that,” I realized that I’ve gained confidence, which I think is priceless.
Making a change is hard, and I can honestly say, without Susan’s talent, skill and her willingness to share it all with her students, I would not be where I am today.
- Lisa (How to Start a Cake Business)
Shirley Paden, Knitting
Actually, my first teacher was my grandmother, who taught me how to knit when I was 8-years-old. I have talked about her in several magazine articles and on my HGTV video interview.
I also have another person who mentored me through the basics when I began knitting again as an adult. She was a yarn shop owner. I began teaching at her shop. My first classes were my Finishing Class and my Advanced Knitting Techniques Class. They were both first taught at that shop in the early ’90s. Those classes are still a part of my class line up. She is in a different industry now, but comes to help me whenever I am in deadline trouble.
- Shirley (Handknit Garment Design)
Colette Christian, Food & Cooking
My high school was like the one in “Dead Poet’s Society” except that it was a day school. It was private and exclusive. The focus was on academic excellence and sports. We did not have home economics classes — except in January. Every January there was Spirit Week, during which there were great activities to choose from and no homework.
I spent my Spirit Week in Mrs. Burrelli’s big kitchen on Lake Shore Drive learning how to make bread. She was our geometry teacher and for that one magical week, my first bread making teacher. At 14, I fell in love with making bread. She taught us how to mix our dough with a wooden spoon, when to dump the mess onto the counter and how to knead. “Push, fold and turn” she would say — I say the same phrase today when teaching fledgling bread makers how to make bread. She was generous, kind and encouraging. We went home with beautiful loaves of bread — white, whole wheat, cinnamon buns and on the last day, a three-braid challah.
That class got me thinking about cooking professionally. A month later, I had my first restaurant job. My high school classmates have gone on to be politicians, professors, producers and captains of industry. I went on to be a chef, a baker and a teacher. I believe it was that week of bread making that set me on my course.
I am sure Mrs. Burrelli would be very proud of my Classic Croissants at Home class. Not only is there dough, butter and yeast, but triangles as well. Geometry and baking — perfect!
- Colette (Classic Croissants at Home)