B ad choice! I was wearing the wrong clothes. It was a workshop with flying dust, so why was I wearing wedges and my good sheitel? Don’t try to impress, Abby, just do your job. These students weren’t going to take me seriously now. Especially that girl in the front, she didn’t look away from me once, it wasn’t natural.

We were in a small room, an antechamber to their workshop. Everyone was sitting way too close to me. I was creeped out; I wanted to go home.

“Hi!” I made my voice super perky. “As seniors in the program, you’ve worked hard to make it to this point, and now it gets real.” I paused, it sounded all wrong and dorky already. “For the next semester, I’ll be guiding you in biweekly get-togethers for real-world practice, as well as mentoring you on your senior projects and the final showcase.”

Get-togethers, why did I call them get-togethers?! They’re classes, meetings. Get-togethers sounded like we were drinking coffee or knitting.

“You’ve learned all the skills you need to know, and you’re at the point of honing and perfecting. Practice does make perfect.” I smiled broadly, like it was a really witty line — not. “So, I’m going to be passing out a paper listing the skills you’ve covered so far, and I’d like you to check the areas you want to improve in, or strengthen, or maybe you just want to know more about. This way I can maximize our time.”

I passed around the papers. Some of the students met my eye and smiled, others looked at me then looked away. Were they nervous? Intimidated? The girl with the unblinking eyes had her hand up. Please let me know the answer to her question.

“I was hoping you would indulge us in the opportunity to observe you in the workshop creating your own piece, so I can learn from seeing practical application and process and not just theories and troubleshooting for our own endeavors.”

She spoke with such formality. We make jewelry here, we’re not English majors. Why didn’t she speak in simpler sentences?

I nodded at her, and addressed everyone in plain English. “I’ll definitely be showing you my personal techniques. Not sure if I’ll be bringing in my current projects, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see how I work my way around the workshop.” I paused. That answer sounded like I was way too full of myself. Ugh.

“Of course, you’ll realize that my style reflects me, as an artist. While there are basic do’s and don’ts, and better practices and techniques, there’s a lot of room for the individual. So, no matter what I say or do, take everything with a grain of salt. I do what works for me and for my aesthetics. I’m here to guide and help, mentor, give focus and possibly some inspiration. I don’t expect or want any protégés.”

I was talking too much. The wide-eyed girl in the front looked confused now. I don’t know what I’m doing, this is so not for me. I looked at the other students: a small group of ten — six women, four men. They seemed bored. A large man raised his hand, then pointed at my gold cuff.

“Did you make that?”

I nodded.

“Can I see it?” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 562)