Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude, duh

This guy is The Best

Aside from images of medieval serfs in ugly hats making glue out of horses, or Micky and those psychotic brooms, I had only the vaguest idea of what an apprenticeship was when I embarked upon mine. I knew my responsibilities would involve washing brushes, sweeping, cutting, sewing, tiny tasks of manual labor and probably the occasional errand that would take me out of the bindery and into the wilds of Brooklyn. I wasn't so sure what I'd be learning though. I mean, "bookbinding," of course, but I was comfortable with the basics (or thought I was) and entered into this open and enthusiastic about learning whatever the boss decided to teach me.

I've been assistant teaching an introductory bookbinding course, and it has been a hugely important experience. It's much harder than I had anticipated, more interesting than I had hoped. It wasn't until I had to explain a particular technique five hundred times in an hour or try to figure how to correct a student's gigantic error without making said student cry that I realized how truly difficult teaching is. And that realization was accompanied by another realization - that my boss Gavin Dovey of Paper Dragon Books is a frickin' rockstar. I mean, aside from being an exceptional craftsman, which he undoubtedly is, it's the patience, the generosity of time, the willingness to share his craft with this enthusiastic but admittedly bumbling chick who interrupts his work almost constantly and, lets be honest, really only gives back in the form of a clean floor and dust-free presses and the occasional granola bar that is humbling and inspiring.

Lest this come off as an attempt at brown-nosed blogging, I'll confess to spending the first few months vascilating between frustration and absolute fear of the guy. I had spent the previous four years working with a gaggle of kindly, gentle, mild-mannered knitter ladies, and was ill-prepared for directness, for critique, for frenetic energy. But I've figured it out, pretty much, and now that the fear has subsided, I am truly in awe of the generosity he has shown me.

I am thankful for so much in my life right now, for my family, my friends, all the lovely and warm things in my life. Yay Thanksgiving, right?! So many great things! But I wanted to express particular gratitude for this opportunity I've been given, to learn these skills and to grow in this craft. Thanks, Gavin, for making me your apprentice, and for teaching me so much.

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