This past weekend, I had the honor of attending Teacher Certification training by Leonie and Bill West of Westalee Designs. We all met in Eugene, OR; the home of Sew Steady.
I started my education by touring the manufacturing process of Sew Steady Extension Tables and Cabinet inserts. Tables are cut to order and then hand finished, one at a time. The time from order to shipping can take up to 3 weeks, but it is usually less. I loved looking at all those new shiny tables awaiting to be boxed.
Next up was the laser cutting of the quilting templates. This amazes me. First there is the computer design file which is magically sent to the laser cutter. Eventually a huge sheet of acrylic becomes a handful of templates. The process is not as quick as I thought even though they manage to get as many templates in one file as possible. Think cutting cookies. Acrylic cannot be rolled up like dough, but I am happy to report that the left overs are recycled. Manufacturing runs 24/7. Even though there are computerized cutters involved, it is still a labor-intensive product. I honestly think the price could be more; especially considering the cost of acrylic.
Meeting the staff was a high-light as I talk to these folks on the phone regularly. I love connecting faces to voices. Then of course, there was shopping. It was too tempting seeing all those shelves of ready to go template sets, so yes, I came home with a few……or more.
Now it was time for class. Leonie and Bill spent 2 days going through basics to advanced uses for templates and showed us prototypes of soon to be new template sets. We shared our own work, talked about up-coming education for consumers, and brain-stormed for the future. My head kept spinning with the possibilities; both with the product and classes I can offer. Leonie has what I call the perfect mind for designing. She can see a simple shape and imagine endless possibilities. She marries this with the math we learned in Geometry (ok, that may be over simplified) and a template is born. Then she takes it further to see what other designs can be made. It is genius. The possibilities are truly endless. The Whoa! Wait! What? moments kept coming. I am inspired and yet humbled as there were only 5 of us invited.
The Wests are truly lovely people with a heart of gold. There a few new tools being released and they took the time to make some with our names engraved on them. That small gesture means sew much to me.
Every course requires graduation ceremonies and ours was nothing short of special. My expectation was a paper certificate with my name in a curly font. And then the unexpected happened as I was the first called to the podium. Inside a small cloth bag was a Full-Size Gold Ruler Foot and a Mini 12” Arc Template hanging on a chain. It is the official sign of being an Accredited Teacher.
I am now one of 10 in the world that have been accredited by the Wests. With honor comes responsibility and one I will not take lightly. I will continue my online classes; adding new sessions as quickly as I can and look for opportunities to teach in shops around the country. If you want to see my necklace up close and personal, please feel free to contact me.