Long,med,short spiels
To demo or not?
Showing diff. techniques
Sample boards
Certified Professional Demonstrators

(for adults --and/or for kids)

(the following info mostly concerns doing a demo while selling at a show

(for doing demos for classes or guilds, see also Teaching and Groups-Guilds )
(for doing demos at home or office "parties" --or anywhere-- see Starting a Business)
(for online "Webcam demos, " see Groups-Online --or Groups-Chats if it's been uploaded)

demo outside a booth, on small TV table (website gone)
4 people doing demos of various types at 2001 Fair in Trina's photos (notice the toaster oven wire headed for the ceiling in Johanna photo)
(website gone)

For even more info on demos, see also these threads from past posts in the polymer newsgroup
(instructions for how to do this are in Business/More Resources):

--Polyclay Demonstration
--Doing a demo at a craft show
--Info Board Display?


And for some reason, I took along some small (1 1/2inch) cookie cutters from walmart. Now, I had already thought to bring along clay, pasta machine and an oven for a demo. So anyway to make a long story short (too late), I put up a sign, "Make-them-yourself-Christmas Ornaments $2.00 & $3.00" (i have 2 sizes cookie shapes). I made up a few different color worms with the clay gun, reduced some bulleyes and a couple of jellyroll canes and started slicing. The kids could decorate their ornaments any way they wanted and even a couple of Moms joined in the fun. Grandparents looked terribly proud, and other kids bugged their parents to let them join in the fun. It's hard to say who enjoyed it more: the kids, their parents or me. The local TV station came around to our booth TWICE and filmed us. Folks couldn't get to our table because too many other folks were in the way. (It's ok, though, we had another entrance to the inside of our booth) We did good. Now this would not have been possible had not DH been there selling while I was doing the demo and handling the kids. –Byrd

>I was wondering if anyone has tips on what dollar item I could easily produce for the kiddos >in the crowd. I understand they drive parents to your table and if I havesomething good…
Try "Quick Critters"... basically a round ball head with BIG eyes, silly mouth and big clown type feet... hair, hat, other add-ons for personality as desired... Quick and easy to make, particularly to do assembly line style... keep them small, 2 for $1.00 or .75 each so they can afford 2 ... kids love characters... and if you put wings on a few the girls will go bonkers for "lightning bug fairies"... Sammy

Short, medium, long explanations

The Hook.... ten seconds, (if you're lucky!) something to snag the interest of those "casual glancers." ["Have you ever seen an art medium that does all this? Isn't it fantastic?" or "Polymer clay is cured in your home oven, so you don't need a kiln! Anyone can do this!" or "This is the only hobby that's kept my interest for very long... we haven't hit the end of what we can do with it, yet!"]

The Line.... thirty seconds? They've wandered over, and have changed their body language to something more open. What can we cover in just thirty seconds? ["You can see that there are too many things to try, with this... these beads would mix with some vintage black glass for a necklace, and if you change the colors in the marbling, you could do peach roses from push molds instead of the blue pansies, and you see how the same technique was used for this bead, and this pen and this tin? :::pointing to the various items in the display::: And *you* could come up with something no one else has even thought of, yet! Once you've got a handle on just a few basic ideas, you can have so much fun, just playing with this, to see what else it can do!"] I don't have any of this memorized, this is just the gist of some of the things I try to get in there.

The Sinker... A couple of minutes? With a captive audience, I can speak at length about p/c! (Or anything else I'm interested in, for that matter!) "The Zen of Conditioning" (Thanks, Irene! ;) dream tools, simple tools, "found" objects that become tools, powders and enhancers and embellishments and metal leaf! Classes and guilds and the overwhelming amount of information on the web. Inspiration always at hand! Gifts made by hand that can't be mass produced! I'll stop there. ;)

I need some "POW!-factor," I'm sure, but, it *is* my first day. *ggg* Elizabeth

for MY 10 seconds.. I say pretty much the same:
I wave my hand to the display and say "this was ALL made with Fimo clay!"
They say... "really? What's Fimo?"
I say.. "It's a polymer clay that you can bake right in the oven.. <stuff some into thier hands>
You don't need a kiln... and, unlike earth clays, it'll NEVER dry out... and it COMES in all colors, so you don't have to paint it either. (although you CAN if you need to)
AND you can MIX it, like you would paint, to create NEW colors!"

Usually something in the display elicits a question... and my 30 seconds is determined by what they key in on. If I get them for the 30 seconds... they are MINE!!!

I don't even HAVE to hard sell for the rest of it. Like you did, I just point out some of the many applications by going over what's on the display. I follow the lead of where thier interest goes... but if it's not clear... I pick up the sculpted head first and talk about how it's center is aluminum foil and tell them how they can use foil and armature's on larger items, to conserve the clay. I mention toothpicks for smaller creations that need a little support.

I point out the altoids box, hammer, and Salt/pepper shakers, frames... to make them think about how they can get REALLY functional with it. I have them pick up a switchplate and turn it over, so they can see it's built right on top of a regular plate like they ALREADY HAVE! <gggg> I mention covering the doorknobs and switchplates of my bedrooms to match. They love that too.

The next thing I pick up is the kaleidoscopes... to get their imagination soaring away from the functional towards the fantastic. I show them the eggs with beads inside.. when they shake them they're delighted!

Of course, through it all I'm talking about the qualities of the clay & getting them to touch it. I'm usually conditioning a piece throughout the demo. I mention strength when they're looking at the scopes... one fell off the roof of my car at 30mph!
I show them a cancelled postcard to illustrate the strength of the fimo "it stands up to the USPO!!!".. I pick up an egg and drop it to the tables surface. THAT blows them away!!! LOLOL!!! If someone asks me about durability before I get to it myself... I pick up a pen and TOSS it to the floor, or whack it on the table surface! It shocks them so! Then they BELIEVE me when I tell them you can carry it around in your purse!

If they're still there, which they almost always are at this point, I point out styles, effects, & techniques that are displayed in the samples.

Of course, I offer to help them through a simple project right off... and several times throughout if I don't think it will scare them off. SOME people will stay a long time... but the minute they feel *on the spot* they'll leave. If I feel they're that sort I just try to keep them comfortable and give them the information they want. They'll go home and try it on thier own. And come back later! I encourage them to come back and show me what they're working on. That helps a demo too! I also tell them they can bring it in if they get to a point they have trouble on and I'll help them past it. Again, it's great for the demo. Joanie :o}
... I can tell by what you write that you are exhuberant during your presentations in the way that I'm trying to be. I'll bet your enthusiasm is infectious! I'm too "reserved," yet.... but, I'm sure that will change with a lil more practice.

Stuffing some into their hands... great move! *g* It *is* a very tactile medium, after all, and not something you can show them.

And your ideas for shocking them with its toughness... I think I'll have to practice that! LOL! Just my luck... I'll thunk a piece on the table and it will be the one-in-a-hundred that is undercured or overcured, and I'll have shards of clay flying! Like the postcard idea, too! Very cool!

I need to get more "figures" made, don't I? I've got some really neat covered stuff, but, the figures are most interesting, aren't they? And the head with foil armature would intrigue doll makers - I remember when I was obsessed with finding something I could make miniature dolls with... I was using DAS with mixed results... a doll head of a porcelain looking material would have snagged my attention!

You have soooo many good ideas! Thanks for being so generous with sharing them, and taking the time to post! Elizabeth
It always sorta surprises me (my exuberance)! Another thing people tell me all the time is how PATIENT I am, especially with kids... THAT blows me away!!! LOLOL!!! Heck... with your obvious love of the clay, it's hard to imagine you being ABLE to stay reserved about it when people are right there wanting to KNOW... and actually ASKING you to tell them!

You need to make a pen or two just for that purpose (showing the toughness of clay)... and an egg. Thunk 'em at home a couple of times so you can see what they'll take. It's surprising! You do want to keep an eye on your *thunking pens*... because nothing can be thunked forever without cracking up...Just discard it if it's looks like it's getting weak in some area... or give it away before it happens... you can rotate your *thunking pens*.

(figures are most important?) Not necessarily , I only have one really intricate head on a stand... just to show the clay's potential in that direction. Some people will come that will have no interest in ANY of the other applications EXCEPT the sculpting. So you need to have at least one thing to keep thier interest. Then you talk to them about armatures... prebaked eyeballs... show them how to blend clay... stuff like that.
I do have some small *cutie* figures... a bunny, bear, a couple of dogs... people LOVE dogs! That's about it though. Joanie :o}
I've been teaching and demonstraiting for a little over a year now, and I start right off the bat with Millefiori. But color is a powerful and seductive force. Folks get confused and scared by color, so I begin with black and white -- only black and white. I start with a simple bullseye: white wrapped with black. (Always put your lightest color in the Inside so that it won't get dirty and turn folks off) Then I play with it, keeping a small bit of each step out so that folks can see how it has progressed.
First a white centered, black outside bullseye. Then reduce and put a bunch of them together for a lace cane. Then wrap the lace cane with black and put alternating right-side-up, wrong-side-up triangles of the bullseye on the outside for a simple flower cane, and so it goes. Each step is new and unexpected to the folks and intregues them.
I keep a glass candleholder handy and put a thin slice on it, adding as I go so they can see how it might look.
But most important of all, I flirt with everyone. I have fun. I ask a child to put a slice on the glass, I ask a mother to cut the cane off and see what was just created. If someone looks interested enough, I have them reduce a cane. (reducing is another form of wonder and awe). After I have a few canes made, just sitting around, I ask the folks to tell me what to put together with what. Whenever possible, I let them cut off the clean ends to see what was created (showing them how to use the blade safely). If I use gray in my canes, I have the folks mix the clay with their own hands (small bits so they don't get bored, Handi Wipes right there, in use). I talk with folks as I work, listen to their suggestions, I enjoy the process and the people.
That last part is pure Magic. Enjoy the folks. Enjoy what you do. If you mess up, laugh about it and see how it can be rescued. Model having fun. In fact, sometimes, I pretend to mess up a cane, then rescue it, just for the fun of it. Bottom line: Have fun. Enjoy. Laugh and share your own passion for the clay. Nothing will serve you better. Byrd

That is SOOOOO true! And don't you find you LEARN the neatest little tricks and color combinations from the most unexpected places? Kids especially! I think my demos were so successful BECAUSE of the pleasure I radiated at simply working with the clay... and the fun of it! Joanie :o

~ Another thing that helped me during the last show I did, which, BTW was not well attended, was to demonstrate. I bet I was one of the only vendors in that show who sold anything...This past year I built tables that are higher than the average table. I think 36" high if memory serves me. This puts my merchandise up at eye level. I think that helps.

~~I have found that to "calm those nerves" and also have something to do those times when it is slow, I take some clay and demonstrate. It seems to draw people to your booth. At the last show we did, I actually had an individual come up to me asking a million questions. It seems that she wanted a hobby and thought that PC was the way to go. So I gave her a bunch of sites to visit, books to check out and vendors on-line. The second day she came back armed with several lists of what to buy and what not to buy. In the booth next to us a lady was doing watercolor sketches. She and her daughter, age 7, had tried to make napkin rings out of SIII, but they kept breaking. The daughter spent most of the second afternoon helping us to demonstrate. That show was not the best in the way of $, but was one of the best for making you feel good about your craft. The moral of this story is that even if things aren't selling, you can still get lots of ideas and encouragement, and maybe even start someone out in this wonderful medium. Just my two cents. Marciafirst

To demo or Not to demo?

There was a brief discussion at one of our guild meetings over whether or not to demonstrate at shows. Personally, I am torn. When I do demos, the booth gets very crowded, but I have found that the ones who come and watch are not buyers and then it's too crowded for buyers to get into my booth. Also I tend to say things like "oh, it's very easy", but my DH pointed out that that comment makes it sound like anyone can do it, so they don't buy, rather they go home and try it for themselves. By the time they figure out I do have some expertise, the show is over and I have lost a sale. Byrd

I would say do the demo but only on certain times on the day!! not the whole day!!! Lets say from 11 till 12 and 2 till 3 ;) that will give the people who are interested in the demo the time to go and look. and it gives you the time to have fun watching the crowed and you can answer the questions yourself And do not forget to say how hard it is ;) and how much time goes in only one painting!, Byrd. Ria

... you're at a show to sell, not create. I think that these two things require such different types of concentration that they're mutually exclusive. I tend to block out almost everything when I'm in a creative mode, and that is not conducive to good sales, let alone loss prevention. :) Julia S.

I don't do shows, so this is just off the top of my recently-pointy little head, but if it were my choice I'd make a little easel with colored chunks of clay attached, a slice of cane in which you've used the colors, and a finished item. Sorta [a] + [b] = C. That way, you've shown the roots from whence your complicated item came, shown them why it's complicated, and made them appreciate your craft more. Kelly shows I would do a demo if I were selling supplies or trying to get people to come to classes. Otherwise, I'd have pictures and examples (under glass even) for the interested ones. I also believe in having high-end (pricy) items in their own section but at the same showing and velvet coverings on the tables. If customers only see $5 - 8. items, they equate all pc going for that range. Then you'd have no place for my $400. bowls (hahahaha). I sold $80. bears right along with $500. bears . Just my opinion and prior experience. Dar

Whether you demo or not would depend on a number of things to my way of thinking. Can you make separate space for the demo so that the buyers can get in to buy? Is the purpose of the demo to show how much skill is involved and to encourage sales? Is the purpose of the demo to interest people in trying clay so you can set up classes? Will the demo mean that people will see what you are doing and say, "I can do that" and you sell nothing? Personally, I might do some small demos, but nothing that would give away your secrets. A class is one thing, but showing the general public...who you want to spend to do it themselves is a good way to lose sales. Kim2

Something else I learned the hard way....Almost all of my pieces were made up of caned translucents. Well, everybody thought they were painted! They understood what the material was when I said it was like Fimo, but couldn't understand how I 'got the colour on there'. Some people sort of understood what I meant when I compared it to Venetian glass makers but the majority still didn't get it. That meant that they thought I was overcharging for something that was simply painted - the ones who didn't hear my explanation I mean.
The next day I brought a ceramic tile with me. I made a cabochon in white and placed a few slices of cane over top. I didn't cover it all the way or bake it. I also brought the full cane with me and had a few extra pieces sliced off and laid on the tile. I unwrapped a bar of Fimo and Sculpey and laid that out too.
Then I put a sign up explaining that these pieces were made without the use of any paint of glaze. As soon as people saw the display they stopped to look. Then when they read about no paint used, they were intrigued even more.
I allowed kids to touch the full clay block (better than tossing the jewelry around lol!) which satisfied them while their parents browsed. I'm sure I made more sales because of my explanation.
Oh, I also included a card with each purchase that explained the process a little. And even if people didn't buy from me, I figured I was educating them as to what the medium is, what we can do with it and how much work is involved. sporti883

It is hard to demo with that knife to your throat. How about a group of little kids wanting to squeeze your canes? We just finished our week at the fair and generally people were amazed. We didn't sell anything in our booth but did hand out flyers for classes. I had more interest in the simple citrus canes I was building ear rings out of than the more complicated dragon fly I was designing (pictures at 11).And it did help MY sales because I could tell people to go to the Craft Corral and buy them. Like Kim said, it depends on your goals. Trina

We have never found that to be a deterrant at our guild shows. It draws them in. But we (especially Dotty) always demo simple canes and never anything too complicated. Also these shows are outdoor "Country fair" type and it adds to the atmosphere. Trina

I love to demo at shows but when I do I am usually with at least one other person. They take care of sales and showing items. I always demo up front, and outside or to the side of the booth so I don't have a crowd clogging the inside of the booth. The crowd around me seems to attract attention and other people will walk into the booth to see the finished items. If you are alone in a booth it might not be so good to be demoing. Dotty in CA

Interesting & best ways to show the various techniques/things that polymer can do

I have the same technique shown on many different samples... the notebook goes with the pen and the box and if you're not into trinkets, look how great MG is on this switchplate, and that switchplate is made from millefiori canes! And here's that MG, again, but, on beads!
These molded flowers on the frame are just a different color combo than the ones on the hair clips or the name tag or the wreath or the pen stand....This marbled mixture covers the frame, but, there it is on the box, and as a base for a transfer and a pin and a name badge. Elizabeth

I like Joanie's idea of the hammer, myself... gets people thinking in a "different" direction! (?)

.. oh yah... and don't forget to show how impressions in the clay change EVERYTHING!!! LOLOL!!! Lace, sandpaper, a rough rock, rubberstamps... roll out a really thin piece and press linen into it... show them how it really looks clothlike and suggest they cut patterns out of it to dress thier creations.
And powders, and wire ... Mixed media with the clay is a whole 'nother WORLD!!! You just never know which detail is going to light a persons fire! Joanie

portable "techniques sample & info board . . . " handouts, or just samples?

I'll take some photos of my boards... the caning one is particularly good I think. For the class boards at Michaels I always glued a business card on the bottom... that way if someone was interested in a class... or possibly a group thing... they could call you.
At demos, I only gave out the handouts the company sent me, except at classes. For those I had a FAQ sheet. Joanie :o

One thing that worked really well for me at the last show I did was having an example of each step of the beadmaking process. (I had mostly beaded jewelry in this show.) I took along an unopened block of black Premo so people could see the material in its raw state; a ball of plain black clay; a ball of clay with various cane slices on it, not rolled in; the canes themselves with slices cut off, and a baked unsanded bead made from the same canes on a black background. I had these all laid out in order on the table in front of me. Since it wasn't the most hectic show, I had time to tell people about the process briefly as I showed them the steps.
I think the most effective part of the spiel I ended up with was the very end. I would hold the baked, unsanded bead out to them and say, "And this is what it feels like after it's been cured." Without fail, everyone took the bead and felt it. Then I would tell them to feel the other sanded, buffed, finished pieces on the table as I would tell them about the intensive finishing process. (Let 'em know you worked for it!) I think that getting the pieces in people's hands made all the difference between "just looking" and buying. Julia S.

I made some signs to use for said "It's Not Paint" which worked VERY well... San Diego County Fair . . One was all pc cane slices which everyone loved and fondled and led to interesting questions which we eagerly answered. Kim K.

Johanna's photocopied technique board (on orange background, on table)
(website gone)
Joanie's demo board, showing possibilities of using the same cane and scrap, reductions
(website gone)


If all the prefab canes out there are so lousy, why not make canes for sale? I have demoed at craft shows and have been offered $ for the canes I make there. It could be a specialty! First, figure out how much you want an hour.....$20.00? How long did it take you to make the cane, 1 hour? Weigh it, and figure in the retail price of the clay and sell it or pieces of it. Slice off one slice to bake and roll the rest of the raw cane neatly in wax paper and put it in a little box (you guys know how much I love boxes) Glue the cooked slice to the top and include some directions in the box. I believe these would sell well at craft shows because there are a lot of crafty people at a craft show and to demo as you go I think would be a great hit! You could have boxes of pre-made canes ready to go as you show how you made them.

Certified Professional Demonstrators (CPD)

Shirley here of Spumoni Clayworks. I have had a great time being a CPD. (In case you don't know this stands for Certified Professional Demonstrator)

There are alot of us in Southern California so I haven't had many jobs since becoming an official CPD (have done demos for years). I like to travel once in a while and this gives me the chance to visit new cities and my favorite places...craft stores and shows.

If you'd like to get some info on the CPD program, visit the HIA (Hobby Industry Association) site. Shirley
Was it difficult to become certified? What did your cert. process involve? Eliz.
*Not really, if you attend the HIA trade shows anyway. I suppose it is hard for some to get there as it moves around. I had to send in a form and payment, then arrange with a company (EK SUCCESS) to demonstrate in their booth for a day...or less. Sometime during this, a person comes by and evaluates your demo. You don't know they are from HIA/CPD program. If you pass, you are certified. Some try more than once to receive their certification, but I guess my years of experience and confidence helped. :o)

What does the program look for in a demonstrator?
*You need enthusiasm, a professional look and really study the manual they send you, it helps your demo ability so much. What you do not need really, is full and complete knowledge of the craft you are demoing. Don't get me wrong, read up about it so you can answer Q's and be confident. But you don't have to be an 'expert', as different companies with different products will want a demonstrator. ASK FOR ANY INFO they have on the product(s) and read, read some more, and study!

I read somewhere about someone getting certified during their demos at trade shows, and wondered if you had to be observed during demos as part of the cert?
Yes, unless you have someone video tape you during a demo or class...and show the audience every so often. Then you mail in the video I believe.

What crafts products did you demo with?
*Actually, it all depends on the company.
*FOR THE CPD DEMO: I am also into scrapbooks, and teach "Creative Lettering" so I was mote than happy to demo lettering techniques (and talk about their wonderful pen characteristics and new colors). I also knew that the Polyform (wonderful PREMO!) and AMACO (Fimo) booths had great demonstrators already for the show.
*OTHER DEMOS I'VE DONE: I also work ongoing for Plaid as one of their demonstrators. I do wall finishes, stenciling, faux finishing techniques etc...when they need someone in my area.

I'm thinking that once I get a grip on this clay stuff, there are a bunch of other things I'm interested in... but, is it tough to keep more than one medium going?
Yes and no. For a one time demo, if you are good, you can really demo anything. But as far as personally, I find my studio overflowing and have to clean it out every so often (ick). Thats the curse of working in the many mediums that I do. But the knowledge comes in very handy as a CPD. Shirley

Back when I was certified (1990), I went to HIA trade shows several times to participate in the CPD classes. The classes plus the Book of Knowledge sure helps. I worked my booth for Tulip paints to become certified. It is easy to demo with a product you know and love. At that time I was big into fabric painting of all sorts. Since then I have been with Plaid as a main contract altough I work for many companies doing the ACCI show. I did Aleene's booth last year. I love connecting with retailers, and consumers and helping them learn how to use products.

Since I'm heavily OCD'd into inking now, I demo for All Night Media as well. I have been teaching classes at an area college as long as I've been a CPD. I've done recreations and workshops for many organizations. My most fun is doing in store training for store personnel. I get to travel around my area.

With anything, you need to promote yourself. Connect with companies, let them know your interest, show your samples. Go to trade shows, send out postcards or brochures.

I just became certified as a CPT a couple months ago!!! I am the 5th CPT. It was an honor to be certified alongside some of my industry buddies. Lea
I think doing training for store personnel would be a very important part of getting good information to the consumer. In our area, at least, where unemployment is so low, and anyone who's breathing can find a job, the "kids" who work in the stores don't know, and aren't particularly concerned about finding out, either... I have thought about doing free workshops for store people, to give them the basic "skinny," even. Might try that, at some point. Elizabeth
Okay, now, what is a CP*T*?
The *T* stands for teacher. Being a teacher is even more important than a demonstrator, althought I think both go hand in hand.

The "old days" manufacturers had us give free personnel training (I was paid tho) because if the store knew the product they could help the consumer, be excited about product, and be better to teach all facets of what product could do.

Yes, now; I hear complaints of consumers because they get bad customer service and that staff doesn't even know what the most elementary item is. I use to do plenty of demo's at crafts stores, but then they decided to have in-house staff do it. Well, to me that is ok, however, I've come across staff I've come to know and they didn't know how to demo product right. They didn't know how to use the product, and then said they didn't like it, which of course reflected in their demonstrations. Samples were done poorly and product didn't make an impact as it could of.

I don't know what the answer is??? It is very complex. All I know is that I am trained and given info by mfg. I work hard to learn and research all facets of a company and product. I DO NOT demo a product I do not believe in. It is impossible for me to do so, it's like lying.

Oh well...I've jabbered long enough. I have been doing most with teaching and having fun. I get a kick out of a student who gets excited from learning and likes to play! Lea :-D

Thanks for clearing that up, I thought "T" might be "teacher," or maybe "trainer."

I wonder if the stores have yet realized that they simply don't have the ability to teach all the employees the rudiments of all the materials they sell? Michael's company policy, for instance, supports demos and employee classes given by supplier-trained teachers. Joann's ETC stores, too.

You brought up samples, and I think I might leave a sample and a small demo announcement card at the stores I'm doing. You're right - the samples I've seen out there are poorly made, so far.

I'm with you - I wonder how you COULD demo a product you didn't believe in and LIKE? There are some craft products out there that I look at and think, "Why? You could make that better with such and such!" I wouldn't even TRY to demo something I didn't feel was useful or high quality. So, if a kid in craft store is asked to demo something s/he isn't excited about, the results are going to be kind of deflating, from the start.

Where do you teach, now? And I should ask "What," as well. :) Some people have had good success teaching in their homes, and I've been wondering about that. And, yes, it's FUN to have someone get excited about the stuff you show them, and want to play! Elizabeth