I plan to give my wife a Skill Workshop session as a gift.

I've no interest in the skill myself, but I feel odd giving her a gift to do completely on her own. Ideally I'd like to go with her, and sit at the side, so that afterwards we can still talk about it, etc. (I.e. it becomes at least a shared experience).

But since I'm not interested in actually doing the skill itself, I'd prefer not to pay for a second (moderately expensive) ticket. Naturally, I wouldn't expect to be a part of the (practical) workshop in any sense.

Is this a reasonable thing to request of the instructor?

If so, how would I go about requesting this with the craftsman - I wouldn't expect to just turn up on the day with her.

If it's relevant the skill in question here happens to be Kintsugi - a Japanese art-form involving pottery repair with golden enamel. I get the impression that the workshops are very low volume, probably 1-5 people.

Workshop is in UK (London or Oxford), and is run by one "Iku Nishikawa". Whom I guess to be Japanese?

  • 1
    Is this seminar held in Japan? What do you think most of the attendees culture consist of (ex: Japan or US)? What is the culture of the host?
    – Vylix
    Sep 4, 2017 at 16:20
  • To show your support, sure, go ahead. But I'm not sure what the question is. Is it about asking the instructor? Or is it about deciding whether to attend it or not?
    – NVZ
    Sep 4, 2017 at 17:43
  • Oh, Kintsugi. Be still my heart! Pay for the workshop and do the practicum. That would solve a lot. Sep 4, 2017 at 20:09
  • @Vylix ... you think "Is this rude" is clearer than "Is this reasonable"? Seriously?
    – Brondahl
    Sep 5, 2017 at 9:15
  • @anongoodnurse Can't tell whether that was a sarcastic "Be still my heart" or not?
    – Brondahl
    Sep 5, 2017 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


This depends on the culture, the instructor, the hosting institution (a museum? The instructor's workshop?) and how much information the instructor reveals in the introduction.

I can answer for the US, but not for Japan or other countries.

Instructors usually expect to get paid to part with specialized skills, both the presentation and the practicum (practicing the skill.) If the class size is small, e.g. to allow for a lot of personal interaction, then I would not ask the instructor if you could sit in, especially as it is an expensive workshop. Asking puts the instructor in an awkward position.

If the class size is large, such that they break down into smaller groups for the practicum, I might ask to sit in, and if permitted to sit in, I would not take any handouts or ask any questions.

If the instructor is passionate about his art and wants to spread interest as much as possible, they might welcome you to sit in (the fact that the workshop is costly may indicate that such might not be the case.) You might be welcome in a workshop held in a museum; I would not ask if it was in the instructor's home/workshop.

I used to teach a workshop. It took me years of reading and experimentation to become skillful at what I taught, and I would not take too kindly to someone wanting to learn what I had to impart for free. Yet there were other things that I loved and taught for free.

how would I go about requesting this with the craftsman

Ask when you're purchasing your wife's attendance fee.

I've no interest in the skill myself, but I feel odd giving her a gift to do completely on her own. Ideally I'd like to go with her, and sit at the side, so that afterwards we can still talk about it, etc.

Maybe cultural, but there are lots of things married people do independently of each other. I had no interest in golf or squash/racketball. "How was your game?" was as much as I wanted to know.

You might actually have more to talk about if you don't go to the presentation. She can be the "expert" and you the "student". You would have questions to discuss.

  • 5
    I imagine that, regardless of actual size, if the class if full (or can be expected to fill up, as in no empty seats), a request to sit in can be declined for that reason alone.
    – NotThatGuy
    Sep 4, 2017 at 21:51
  • +1, particularly for the point questioning the initial feeling of wanting to attend in the first place.
    – Brondahl
    Sep 5, 2017 at 9:23
  • 3
    I want to add that not only the instructor, but also the other attendees could feel disturbed by the presence of someone who is an "outsider" because he is not interested in learning the craft. - The people attending the course (especially a small course) can share a special bond - they all have genuine interest in the craft, while you would be only there for your partner, this could evoke animosity from others towards both of you from other participants and worsen the experience for your partner
    – Falco
    Sep 5, 2017 at 11:27
  • A hyperbole which could bear some resemblance: Going to church with your partner and telling the priest "I don't really believe in god or want to pray, I'm just here to talk with my partner about it afterwards and watch what kind of stuff you do here" - one can easily sound condescending or hurtful without meaning ill in this situation.
    – Falco
    Sep 5, 2017 at 11:30
  • @Falco - I'm sure the OP wouldn't present it that way. It is a bit of a hyperbolic scenario there. :) Sep 5, 2017 at 14:17

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