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Stained Glass Mentors?

My other job is in the health care field, where having a mentor, has proved to be a valuable resource for difficult situations, morale support, bouncing ideas with, as well as the plain old need to download a bad day.

It occurred to me, that many of us work independently, sometimes remotely, and that we may not have a dependable colleague familiar with the ins and outs of stained glass, to talk to. Are there any of you who might find this a beneficial resource?


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I thought forums such as this were a way to provide multiple mentorship to all that asked for help.


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The forum offers a variety of interactions. Answering questions, posting a new class, comments about an upcoming event. It does not necessarily offer the expertise, support or encouragement of a good one to one relationship.


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I suggest forum interaction is better then a direct mentorship. A one-to-one connection will provide only the opinions and experience of a single individual while forums provide a multiplicity of different viewpoints.


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Well, I guess one would just require a mentor with a Socratic bent.(Nudge, nudge)

I think I agree with Dennis. Once one has learned the basics, a broad span of diffrent methods can be gleaned from the net, rather than the single view of a "mentor".


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Why do you assume it has to be either or? I didn't suggest that the forum be abandoned. A mentor can be an additional resource. Trust is a hard commodity to come by in this day and age. I wouldn't offer up my design process or thoughts on trends to just anyone. Most of us have seen some of the callus and rude postings. If I got to know and work with someone, over a long period of time, we would have a better sense of where the art work was going, have a better understanding how, what might help and less likely be flip, in the response. That's a plus and a forum, to boot.


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I'm sure there are a great many mentorships now operating but trying to develop a mentorship program on any scale faces two problems. First, there are many more wanting help then there are willing to provide it. Also, I believe there is a serious shortage of artisans with sufficient skill to make good mentors.

A significant problem with receiving instruction primarily from a single teacher is you'll most likely learn only what that teacher wishes to teach - which is frequently only the teacher's personal preferences. The more different teachers a student accesses, the greater the range of knowledge the student can access.

I suggest the best possible mentorship program is for a student to access every forum they can find and ask questions from anybody willing to answer them. They'll get different answers from different people but it's those differences that will supply the most valuable lessons.


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"Why do you assume it has to be either or?"

I certainly don't advocate the elimination of either. Merely a preference for one over the other.

I hate doing this, but I find myself agreeing with Dennis again regarding the imbalance of available mentors and "mentees" (did I make that word up, or is there such a word?)


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You are certainly allowed your preferences and alliances. My definition of a mentor must be much bigger than yours. I don't see them as limiting or solely as a single resource. I look at the Las Vegas and Providence shows and see well known teachers charge a lot of money for their insights to design, for a single day. Mentoring is a reciprocal arrangement. Mentoring long term has great benefits. Mentoring is not about money. Mentoring develops the artist.


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The high class fees at those shows have more to do with the cost to put on such shows then the fees paid to the instructors. In almost all cases, the instructors earn more teaching at their home studios. I taught for many years at Vegas and although the instructor fees were quite satisfactory I earn double that teaching at my own shop.

People go to those shows precisely because they can access instructors of the highest calibre. Such instructors are in too great demand to be available as individual mentors.


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OK! Let's do the semantic thing.

Strictly speaking a mentor IS a single source. To "mentor" is, like grandma used to say, to "take someone under one's wing." As a noun, a mentor is a tutor or coach. And since being a coach is rather a oneway street, it can't be "reciprocal".

Putting that aside, I get your point and some "mentoring" along with gleaning goodies off the internet sounds good to me.


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Hmmm… I think you may be mixing up mentor with apprentice. I have had the privilege of teaching a few courses over the years and have always learned from my students. That knowledge has hopefully made me a better instructor. This is the reciprocal learning that I am talking about. The difference is that as a teacher, I get paid. When mentoring, money is taken out of the equation. Both parties should be learning from each other, this evens the playing field, lets ego, attitude and experience differentials, to be parked outside the door. Mentoring fosters problem solving using creative ideas rather than crisis management.


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Hmmm…

No, I mean mentor. Here's what the Merriam Webster Dictionery says:

MenĚtor

Pronunciation:\ˈmen-ˌto&#7 75;r ,

Function:noun

Etymology:Latin, from Greek Mentōr

Date: 1616

1)Capitalized : a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son Telemachus

2) a trusted counselor or guide b: tutor, coach

Modern management philosophy uses "mentorship". They assign a senior staff member to "mentor" a younger employee - usually a recently recruited college grad - for whom top management has great hopes.


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I hope such agreement won't become habitualized lest it cause a collapse of universal alignment, but I'm in line with Graham's interpretation of mentorship. It's a one-on-one arrangement and is almost entirely unidirectional with questions directed to the mentor and instructional guideance from the mentor.

Many artisans have taken it on themselves to provide mentorship. You can see numerous examples with the aid experienced artisans provide on various internet forums. Also, many retailers make it a business practice to mentor their customers and instructors often maintain ongoing relationships with past students. Mentorship in the glass industry is already active and extensive. Between the internet, emails, and individuals that drop into the shop, I have over 100 artisans and aspiring artisans I mentor on a regular basis. Of all the advice I offer, the advice I stress most is to look for advice from as many different places as possible. Read books and ask questions on internet board - but the most important mentor anyone can ever find is themself. Experiment. The more one relies on themself, the more likely they will innovate and originate.


re: Stained Glass Mentorship

A lot of artistic mentoring just "occurs" in an informal setting. Frequently, a teacher/artist will recognize a special talent in one of their students, and will provide enhanced instruction and extra favors.

The teacher isn't looking to mentor; and the student need not be soliciting mentoring. The relationship naturally springs from the teacher finding a student that is worth the extra effort, and a student that is eager to further him or herself. The mentoring springs spontaneously from the heart of the teacher.

I don't think this can be formulizes successfully, but I may be wrong.


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Mentorship could occur either way but one formed by a mutual compatibility between student and instructor will always produce superior results to one created artificially.

I have several "students" that I take extra effort to help because I recognize they have taken extra effort to help themselves. I also have many many more that want help mostly because they have little interest in helping themself but want somebody to do everything for them.

I suggest that a structured mentorship program is like an arranged marriage. Few work satisfactorily and none as well as those that grew out of mutual respect.


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You are too funny.

I'll give you a hint. I have an artistic temperament, so I neither have to make sense nor take the being quoted the literal, too seriously. I read a great little article on Innovators, by David Dunne in the Globe and Mail, back in September. If you are keen, you can pay for the download. I'm here to talk about stained glass, not business 101.

If artists were to only create art faithfully as perfect as a digital photograph image, regardless of the medium, what would be the point? How we see and interpret color, shape and meaning, makes art an individuals expression. The literal or data is just the jumping off point. You can choose to use your very strict definition of what a mentor is, or let it deepen. In my experience being a mentor is more than just giving instruction or advise. If it isn't, bank tellers, tourist booth operators and nurses would be a mentor every time the talk to someone. Being a mentor involves commitment. A coach doesn't show up only when he /she wants too. They are there for every practice. A senior executive probably doesn't just talk work with his/her assigned graduate. Thats just training. Theres something more.

Life skills, diet, nutrition, exercise, education tracks, relationships, image management, strengths and weaknesses, and likely referrals, to others with specific expertise. A good mentor learns to know you. They become an anchor that can be turned to, in triumph and tragedy. No forum, no matter how many, can offer that kind of respect, insight or growth potential. Having a question answered here or there on a forum is not what I would call having been mentored. As humans, we are not meant to be islands. Having a lot of resources at our disposal is great. Having someone to help negotiate all that data is where a good mentor comes in handy. Relying solely on yourself must be very lonely, difficult and tiring. A marriage might be a good thing ;)


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Why do you assume that because I teach business I don't also teach stained glass technique and stained glass design? In addition to about 20,000 books of patterns, I've sold about 6,000 copies of "A Lazy Man's Guide to Stained Glass" - with a new revised edition coming out shortly.

I also teach "Teaching" and "Self Publishing". We just put a group of MFA students from the University of Victoria through a glass art design class in our shop.

Not only do we conduct stained glass technical and design classes on a regular basis, our shop is now offering weeklong intensive classes for everything from beginner to advanced professional.


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Ouch, I'm detecting the icy blast of credentials. This is good. You are now entering the zone outside of comfort. What a great place of deep learning. So if the stained glass mentor model is that we are all on the same level playing field, how are you going to proceed?


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Wow!

All those qualifications!

My Dad can beat up your dad! So, there!


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You suggested my comments about mentors related to business as opposed to stained glass. I suggest it was appropriate to note that I have extensive experience in teaching/mentoring stained glass. Would you like me to add my credentials in teaching business?

I believe an artificially created mentorship growing out of a structured environment will have little value. To produce significant growth it must, as Chantal suggested, grow spontaneously between student and mentor.


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It seems that "arranged" mentorships work, or we wouldn't still be talking about them

"In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcumus and, in his old age, a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and of his palace."

It simply IS an arranged process. I'm not at all sure what the original Mentor had by way of qualifications, but I'm guessing that he didn't have an M.B.A. or even a B.A. in fine arts.


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The point is irrational, perhaps even mystical. In the darkness of chaos are found the best jewels. More credentials only suggest you want to engage with a power over stance. Level the field. Risk is very much part of the process. What are you afraid of?


what-ever

You must be talking to Dennis.

My only credentials are a passport, a driver's licence and a social insurance card (the senior citizen edition)

But I have a Captain Marvel decoder ring. Does that count?


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Can you translate that into English?


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A question. A good start. Perhaps the decoder ring can help with the translation, or a different question?


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Elizabeth said:

"Life skills, diet, nutrition, exercise, education tracks, relationships, image management, strengths and weaknesses, and likely referrals, to others with specific expertise. A good mentor learns to know you. They become an anchor that can be turned to, in triumph and tragedy. No forum, no matter how many, can offer that kind of respect, insight or growth potential. Having a question answered here or there on a forum is not what I would call having been mentored. As humans, we are not meant to be islands. Having a lot of resources at our disposal is great. Having someone to help negotiate all that data is where a good mentor comes in handy. Relying solely on yourself must be very lonely, difficult and tiring. A marriage might be a good thing ;)"

I believe the key to this is trust. It is not just sharing techniques and such as a teacher student would. It is knowing each other at a different plane. Being able to say what one feels about the medium at hand, a no blame no shame relationship. We all share different aspects of our life with different people. Your profession in glass would be no different. Having a "mentor" relationship would be beneficial in many things. You may even excel in different areas of the trade which may have the people involved changing hats at times.

I have always felt that the trade is about more than the work we do, it is about the people. Some you will like, others you will not. Some always seem to have a personal agenda while others are just the helpful sharing type. You will be lucy if you meet up with someone you can talk with about the trade in a more personal way. If this is looked upon as a mentoring situation or not, it would be a good thing.

I always have this one thing in my head I go by: If some people called me friend, I would think less of myself. But I also have a few people whom I feel I can discuss the trade with, I also have a lot whom I feel take a lot and give little. I chose to try and be the one to give what I can and let the pieces fall where they will.

I feel a forum is not the medium this mentoring will take place in. This would be an area where one would have to at least have met in person. I find people are different in person than just words on a screen. I also feel this discussion would also have went further outside a forum, many do not speak on a personal level in this medium.

All clear as mud?

Dennis Swan


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Clear as mud? Absolutely!

But, mud's good.