Anita's quilts and quilting

A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.

Unequal and unfair exchange

Thank you to all who have responded to my question.

Lately, I’ve had several requests from people to be my apprentice employee. More requests than I normally get. These people are toppers, but not my customers. My answer is always NO. The main reason is insurance coverage but there are several other reasons too.

I did put a little sarcasm in the post but only because over the years I’ve seen this sarcasm from other machine quilters when discussing the same issue on some forums. Machine quilters invest large amounts of money into starting and running a machine quilting business. The machine itself is only the beginning.

I was trying to show the unequal balance between the person who has invested years of learning and the person wanting to take advantage by becoming an apprentice employee.

Hmm…. how to put it more simply? Ok, if a neighbor is constantly asking to borrow food items from me. Eggs, rice, potatoes, sugar, etc. This goes on for a long, long time. This would be ok if the neighbor bought and returned the items or would loan me things when I needed them. An equal exchange is fair. But if the neighbor never replaces any item and never has what I need to borrow; then, I’m supporting not only myself but them too. It’s unequal and unfair. Eventually, I will need to tell the neighbor they have to support themselves.

Here is another example. Someone asks me to teach them how to make a quilt. They really, really want to learn but need individual instruction instead of a classroom. I agree to help them get started. I do this because the person is so eager to learn and I’m a very nice person. Over time, one quilt turns into several. I furnish everything from fabric to patterns, templates, sewing machine, and thread. I get nothing in return and the student never buys anything for their own quilts. Suddenly I realize I’ve been supporting not only my own hobby but theirs as well. This is unequal and unfair. Eventually I need to tell the person they must support their own hobby.

The point of the examples is about the unequal exchange of having or being an apprentice employee. Unless the apprentice employee has a knowledge and talent, equal to the established quilter, then the exchange is unequal and unfair.

Hmm… Another example. Let’s say I really, really want to learn to draw portraits. So I go to my favorite portrait artist in the hope of learning from them. I don’t have money to pay for private lessons. I could offer to be the apprentice and create an unequal balance. The artist would have to teach me before I could do portraits for the customers. Does that sound fair?

It would be much better if I barter for lessons. I could offer to do other things that the artist needed in exchange for classes. I could offer to wash their dishes, scrub their floors, clean paint brushes, cook their meals, make their beds or what ever they need done in exchange for the lessons I really want but can’t afford. This is much more equal. You get the idea? I’m giving the artist something they really can use in a more equal exchange for learning.

In all the years and all the people who have asked to be my apprentice, there is only one who has been serious enough to actually buy a machine. She did offer to become my house keeper but I said no. She’s been waiting patiently on me, for several months, to help her learn. I will be going to her house so she can learn on her own machine. Now that I’m retiring I will have the time needed to actually be a really nice person again. (smile) I’ll be talking with her in a few days to set up a day and time to get together after the last waiting quilt is finished.

Ok, I gotta go make another post on the other blog.


This entry was posted on August 17, 2009 by in Quilting - business or hobby?.

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