Being a good teacher
Suggestions for class projects, prep, etc.
Teaching at stores
Teaching at Michaels
Finding students + teaching at other places (including home)
Finding classes and teachers, to learn polymer clay
also "Teaching and Working with Kids" on the
Kids page for many ideas
...(lots are applicable to adults too)
for online webcam demos
...see Groups-Online --or
Groups-Chats if it's been uploaded
(.....these could be free or for a fee classes to demonstrate a technique, or even to have impromptu "meetings" with other clayers --see Guilds-Retreats > mini retreats for those)
These posts located
in the archives of the polymer clay newsgroup (rec.crafts.polymer-clay) have good
information in them also:
(...you MUST copy these subject words into their Search box exactly ):
Teaching class for kids
Info Board Display?
weird art teachers
Re: Need info/opinion on teacher pay
promoting our product (not a spam!)
Re: Make It and Take It
Doing a demo at a craft show
Crafts a la Cart update
There is also a list
of polymer clay teachers who already give classes and who've
put their names at Polymer Clay Central: http://polymerclaycentral.com/teacherindex.html
and another list at the National Guild's website:
being a GOOD TEACHER
One of the problems is just that poly clay teachers are frequently asked to teach based on their work or techniques. We don't begin as teachers, we find ourselves placed in that position. Many of us don't begin with the desire to teach - having acquired vital teaching skills.
When I began to teach, I had to think long and hard about what separated my best instructors from those that were mediocre. I think a giving spirit and genuine concern for one's students is first and foremost. You just have to give up the competitive thing, or else you shouldn't teach at all. I agree about the "technique" issue. Technique is just technique! It's what you do with what you know that matters. Donna Kato
All of my experiences at the workshops I've taken were good! The three major workshops I've attended were by Susan Hyde, Pier Voulkos, & Petra from New Zealand. All three gave great instructions/demos and they kept the class busy all the time, so everyone felt they really got their money's worth. Barb
I'm still terribly insecure. I just bluff my way through things. I'm
happiest when letting someone else take the "floor." I hide at parties
where I don't know people. But even with all this, I do enjoy and feel comfortable
when teaching. Seems to be my "natural" thing. Also, I spent a good
part of my life on stage, doing radio, early TV, etc. When I'm pretending to
be someone else, that's when I'm most at ease. So you see, never judge a person
by their "cover." It may just be a facade which makes one able to deal
with life. Dotty in CA
(see more on insecurity in Creativity/Inspiration/Art)
given a number of classes, I understand the nervous feeling! However...I must
say that there is an advantage in
doing classes when you are yourself new to something. .
--you don't forget to say obvious but basic things that people need to hear
--you remember more easily how it felt and what confused you when you were new to a technique
--however much you don't know, you do know more than *they* do so you've got things to teach them (which is all that really counts). Diane B.
Different people prepare and conduct classes differently and there is where I think the most important differences are. I'd much rather take a class from someone who's tried to be prepared by thinking through what they will do and organizing it a bit than someone's who's brilliant and accomplished but who is either disorganized or just "knows how to do something subconsciously" and hasn't put much thought into how to explain things to someone else...not to say you can’t pick up things even from them! One teacher who was difficult for me was my first one...ack; I left those classes feeling really frustrated; almost nothing worked right. I wanted to conclude that I just didn’t have the talent for this and quit pc, but my juggernaut of curiosity helped bulldoze through that insecurity long enough to begin learning things. Diane B.
that different people have different abilities to explain things
in a clear manner, especially to newbies.
....Try to go over and over the explanations you'll use, putting them down on paper at least in outline form unless you have a photographic memory, then try to see them from the viewpoint of someone who's unfamiliar with what you're explaining (which really requires a change of mental mode).
...It also helps to try and do the lesson for, or at least run some parts by, someone else too because they'll be able to see things you can't and you'll see trouble spots.
...No matter how much natural ability one has to explain and teach, all human beings can learn how to do it better.
As I have sat under Patty B's teaching for a few years, I can tell you she does everyhing with a whole heart. ...she never showed any favortisum in class, she was always well prepared, if any one needed help she was ready to do that, and everyone received a word of encouragement before the class was over. ....she would always find something we were good at and point it out. Oh that all teachers would be like that !!!!! Phyllis
Having just attended a workshop, I can give you some hints on what "not" to do <GRIN>. I took a beading class at a local bead shop. The class was ok, the instructor was good and I will probably take other classes there. But several things happened that made the class less enjoyable than it could have been. Not that you would *ever* do any of these things but here are just my observations from the class I took. So the word "you" really means *my* instructor, not anyone here.
1) You are there to teach a workshop for which people have paid for. Don't spend your time chatting with the shop owner, talking to customers trying to drum up more business, try to figure out payment methods, accounts receivable, etc. Our instructor stayed later than she had planned which was great, but frankly she was gone doing the above things for over 1/4 of the class time. Class was frequently interrupted by the shop owner and customers. The instructor lives on the other end of the planet and is only on this side of town every month or so, which is why everyone needed to see her. But to me, she should have done business before or after the class, not during.
2) Beware of the "step by step" person. There were four students in my beading class. One woman took up 80% of the class time. She literally could not go from one step to the next without a detailed explanation (which was ok, the first 2 or 3 times she was told the directions). I am an instructor myself and this is the hardest situation to deal with. The only "solution" I can think of is to teach the entire class the steps first, make *sure* they understand the directions and then do 1:1 with that individual while everyone else is working. Unfortunately in my class it was the reverse, which resulting in a lot of wait time to get a question answered. And not to be rude to the one student, but if you are giving her constant 1:1 instructions and someone else has a question, STOP, and answer the other question. Don't wait for a convenient stopping point. In my class we had extreme difficulty threading the small beading needles so our instructor (who had a magnifying headset) did it for us. It frequently took me 10 to 15 minutes to get the instructor's attention long enough to have her thread my needle.
3) Make pre-requisites crystal clear. If you are going to be teaching an advanced caning class, a person who has never opened a pack of polyclay would probably not be a good fit. Personally, I believe you need to discuss this with the shop-owner first (if that is where you are teaching). If people do not meet the pre-requisites, they should be able to get refunds and hopefully schedule a class that they do meet the requirements for. Obviously, it is much better to handle this up front when a person signs up for a class than when they are already there. Trying to "teach to the middle" just frustrates everyone, it is over the heads of the beginners and the advanced students won't feel they got the class they signed up for.
4) Because of all the activities listed in point one, we did not finish our projects (in fact not even half way through). I have been thinking about what would have made the class better. For me, it would have been nice to have 2 classes. One class to teach me the basics and what I was going to be doing for the project, and to get started on the project. And another class, not too far in the future, where I brought in my project and finished it. But from the instructor's standpoint, this would be a pain to do. An alternative would be to have a *very* simple project to do in class and finish it to completion. A good rule of thumb might be that if it took you an hour to do, plan on spending 4 hours doing it in the classroom. And make clear what you will be accomplishing in class. As an experienced crafter, I know that I am not going to get a very advanced cane done in 4 hours. If I am brand new, I might not know that and I will expect to have a finished project. If you are not going to finish the project, make sure you allow some time at the end of the class (and pry the clay out of people's hands so that they pay attention <GRIN>) and talk about the steps needed to finish. Of course the steps should be written out clearly in a handout but it would be nice to have visual aids as well. Kind of like - this is what the clay looks like before baking, this is what it looks like after baking (pass around a sample), this is after Future has been added (again a pass-around sample), this is after buffing only, as an alternative finish for those that don't want shiny (and another sample). Have students read the directions and see if they understand them. I may "assume" that baking at 265 means pre-heating the oven first, others may not. And how to recover from mistakes - like being able to re-bake a piece. Tips on how to tell if a piece is done or not. Cautions like "Don't microwave".
5) So what was good about the class? Lots of stuff. Mostly the hints and tips that one gets from someone that has been doing a craft for a long time. Finding out what materials the instructor likes and why (for this group, Fimo or Premo, baking times, conditioning hints, how to revive old clay, recommended books). But most of these were verbal and a result of my questions. It would have been wonderful if they had been written down ahead of time. A tip sheet which has some of the basics and the address to this group and Glass Attic would be great, most people have never heard of newsgroups. Books that have projects like the one you are teaching for those who want more. So if you plan on teaching more than one workshop, keep track of the student's questions and use them to produce tip sheets or to "fine-tune" your instructions. And if you say something and everyone scrambles to write it down, that is definitely something for the tip sheet! One tip for where I live (Arizona) would be not to order clay when it is hot because it will be baked by the time that it gets here. Also places in-town and on-line to buy supplies. My instructor told me that she uses upholstery thread rather than Nymo (nice tip) and then told me where she goes to *buy* the upholstery thread, what colors it comes in, what sizes, etc. (GREAT!).
6) Things I wish I had done: *Bring my own supplies!!!*. For some reason I never thought of bringing my own needle threader, pliers, scissors, etc. Luckily the instructor brought her's and the other beaders were happy to share (which I why I love hanging around with crafty people). So maybe you could make up a sheet that could be given out when a person signs up for a class that says: "Things you might want to bring if you have them", with things like brayers, pointed tools, mineral oil, whatever. The sheet could also list what is required for the class and what will be provided. For a polyclay class, I would beware of students bringing in 10 year-old, half-cured blocks of Fimo while others are using Fimo Soft or Premo <GRIN>. Either have small notepads and pens or remind students to bring their own. Duh stuff. Yep <GRIN>, which is why I ended up supplying notepad paper for the entire class plus the instructor. And I totally agree with Lori's post. Make it fun! Adults can feel "stupid" when they are not catching on as fast as others. An informal class can help a lot. Crafting is supposed to be fun! That is why we do it, as a pleasant diversion from "real-life".
Hope I didn't bore y'all to death with this! My class was just last weekend so it was still fresh in my mind. Cynthia
have never hosted a workshop, but I have given demos and attended a few workshops
with some well-known pc artists.
Here are some suggestions based on what I've experienced, and what I've heard other people be disappointed about after a workshop.
Assume students know nothing, because there are always tips that even advanced students can pick up since you might work differently than they do and they just didn't realize a differnt way before.
Don't talk too fast...people will be trying to watch and write it down..... Printed step by step instructions can help some people too...especially if you can't finish on time and they will finish at home.
Have a finished product that you can show beforehand, of course.
Have a finished version of each step done ahead of time so you can show them what they're working towards.
Demo in steps, and let them go back and work on a portion of the project, if time permits.
(Watch for people starting to glaze over if it's too much info to handle.... revise your schedule as you go if necessary).
Be sensitive to new people who might not know as much, but don't hold up the whole class for them. (Let them know you'll come and explain more to them after the demo).
Walk around while people are working to answer questions. (Some teachers don't do this, thinking students will come ask them...they don't always!)
... I've found that
the most important thing was to be prepared, for my own demos ....but that's
probably a given. Have all of your steps worked out ahead
... It can be a lot of work, but once you have it done once, it's done and you have it for next time! And like Sarajane said...HAVE FUN! -- Lori Greenberg
I love being able to give feedback on this because I really think it helps everyone!
....The only thing I can say is be yourself, and hopefully yourself is friendly and helpful :) I have taken many classes, as well as workshops not related to clay and what I've found is that if people like YOU, they often like your class. That's pretty broad, but think about it. If someone comes in and the teacher automatically rubs them wrong or doesn't pay them attention, or whatever, it taints the class from the beginning. There have been many times when I have had a great experience in a class/workshop while others have had terrible times. This will probably happen no matter how good of a teacher you are.
...Some of it in the past has had to do with student's skill levels too. I've taken advanced caning classes where some of the students were proficient with the clay, but not at all with caning techniques, let alone advanced caning techniques. They felt left behind and unhappy with the class. I loved the class.
...Some people also get upset if they don't have a finished project to take home with them when... but I personally love to learn tons of techniques and take home samples, notes and ideas, rather than a finished item.
...Some people love freeform (do what you want and experiment)... while I for one like more of a structured step-by-step class.
So, as you can see from some of my examples,
no matter what you do, someone is going to like it the other way! :)
...Maybe being real clear about what you are going to teach and what the end product will be can help. I don't mean to say this to scare you....more to help you to be more confident in what YOU do! Again, be yourself, and have fun! That will shine through. They wouldn't have asked you to do it in the first place if they didn't like you and your work.
....There are teachers that I don't really care for what they teach, but I love being around them and their creative energy and I would take their classes for that reason! Lori
I've been to lots of workshops -- never went to a really bad one because I learned something at every one, but I've been to a lot that I wouldn't want to repeat, because they weren't. fun.
As someone else said, enthusiasm by the instructor is the key. If the instructor is reasonably enthusiastic and shows a sense of humor and encourages comment and discussion between the participants -- that makes it fun.
I saw one polyclay start-up guild with ten participants at the first clay-play/meeting die at that first meeting because the leader was not skilled at building up camaraderie among the participants.
....Almost all workshops I've been to were made up of total strangers, and sometimes these strangers appeared to be uncomfortable with each other -- or maybe I was the only total stranger and they were all uncomfortable with me! I've noticed that most participants of these workshops don't come back to repeat the experience
....A lot of social interaction makes a workshop fun; I don't mind the old "tell us your name and something about yourself" (maybe I'm just weird) -- it provides a key to working and sharing together. ....Name/desk tags make communication less awkward (for longer workshops). At the very least, it helps for the instructor to wear a nametag. It keeps me from having to say, "uh , er, uh . . . teacher?" LynnDel
(The way you've
planned that class) that is a lot of projects to do in one day.... I need
time to socialize and to check out everyone elses projects. lala
...Lala, I think you touched on something every important, if not necessarily listed as a project. ;-) One of the experiences that helps most people leave a class with a good feeling is having had the chance to see what others have done, to share stories about how they did what they did, where they acquired particular supplies, etc. .
...Near the end of almost every class I've taught, I ask everyone bring whatever they've made to one cleared table so I can take a group project photo..... I learned that getting the photo is not as important compared to simply getting everyone together so they can share, as you mentioned.. Most times I have to wait about 10-15 minutes before everyone is willing to step back so I can take the picture because that 'gathering' is full of chatter, enthusiasm, bonding, sharing stories, etc. That's the best moment of the class, IMHO. :) Desiree
I do teach clay classes, to all ages. When working with adults, I teach a three hour class. I show them how to make a simple bulls eye cane, a simple jelly roll cane and just a plain old stacked cane (you, know, stripes) Then I let them loose on a votive candle holder made of glass. While that is baking, I offer them a bic pen to cover. (I charge $50.00, but I include the clay) Works every time and they LOVE it! Just a thought. Incedentally, no two are ever alike and the most common statement I hear is "I never believed I could make something like this! It's gorgeous!" Great fun for the teacher. -byrd
For well-known instructors, I have paid $65. for a one-day, 6-hr workshop, & $135. for a two-day, 6-hr daily workshop. For a local instructor at a local cultural arts center (who is actually very good, she just isn't well-known nationally), I have paid $25. for an 8-week course that allowed 3 hrs per once-a-week class.
These prices are all for adults. If you are teaching children (you mentioned deciding what age groups to teach) it would probably need to be lower than the going rate for adults since parents won't usually put out that much for kids to dabble. The cultural arts group I mentioned charges half-price for teens, no young children allowed.
I know prices are different in different parts of the country. I'm in the Central OH area, but the "celebrities" were (two) from California & one from New Zealand, if that helps any. Barb
I charge from $35 per student and up to $60 for a one day class. The prices I see here usually are already bumped up due to the fact the store where they are add their percentage and that varies. Now when I travel by plane there are usually extra fees involved and that is on an indivdual basis depending on many things. But I think you are looking for an answer for your local area right? Then there is the off chance that you are providing all the materials too. For the beginning classes I teach here in my store, the fee including materials for a four hour class is $40 per student.
Hope this helps you. Klew
It seems that for our guild, the going prices for a well known polymer artist are around $60 for one day (10-5:00), and $100 or a bit more for two days. Yes, at stores… I usually do a class size of 8-12 and the fee is $15-20 depending on the materials needed for the class, than the rent for the classroom is $50.00 leaving the rest for me. Classes are 2 hours, with lots of exchanging of ideas afterward! :-) I know this will sound like a shot but I don't really do it as much for the money as I do for the socialization and sharing that takes place in classes, regardless of who is teaching. I have 3 lessons I currently do, which are rotated through a schedule. When time allows I will develop more, but similar to the Polymer Clay teachers I have been reading about, I like to have lots of samples to help genereate interest in the class, as well as give folks an idea of what they may need to bring as far as supplies. Rather than beginner or advanced I prefer to do lessons that would work for anyone except the newest of stampers who tend to distract the rest of the group depending on the lesson. Clicker Stamper
~A much more lucrative course, for me, (than teaching at stores) was contacting church groups and such.... offered half-day workshops. Charged $15 a person... had a minimum of 8 to make it a go... they brought thier clay & a paperlined baking pan, I brought the tools & the know-how. Usually I got between 10 & 20 people at a workshop. Joanie
For project ideas,
here at GlassAttic there are links to many lessons (just look for the word
"lesson" on any page).
See loads of ideas for kids on the Kids page especially.
Sculpey's site also has a lot of full lessons http://www.sculpey.com/projects.htm
Lessons for polymer projects from mostly the Carol Duvall show on HGTV, in its archives
http://web.hgtv.com/hgtv/web/advancedSearch (then enter polymer clay in the Search by Topic box)
on conditioning many pounds of clay (for 140 students) at one time,
in preparation for a class:
the first class, I wanted people to be able to play with clay when they
got home, full of enthusiasm. . .
I made up a kit and told them if they want to buy it at the end of the class, they could give me $6.50; it consisted of:
(this is for a beginner class)
I also agree with Elizabeth that the all-you-really-need "goodie bag" of tools is great for creating enthusiasm . . . so far, everyone has bought one. For classes that explore other techniques, I would try to include a mold, bit of Pearl-Ex powder, etc.. just so they can go home and do it again while it's still fresh on their minds or to show the family. Diane B.
My friend Becky Cassidy puts together beginners kits in those inexpensive hinged, plastic school pencil boxes from Walmart ...great compact size and really hold a surprising amount. Denise M
I have quit recommending that people have caning experience because no on signs up. But it takes all my skill to get them to have good results with the Premo. So I have a mini-lesson on leaching. And a mini-lesson on conditioning Fimo and we have a lot of fun. Trina
One thing about newbies is that they have different expectations than experienced clayers and they are always more satisfied with their results than I am. (But I don't tell them that). Trina
I learn alot from each class and that makes the next one a little better. Trina
think the main thing is to let your enthusiasium for the clay show. It's
catching!... Then to begin:
... Give them a rundown of the hundreds of ways you can use the clay.
.......make working with it sound easy, and that the tools you need to begin with are minimal.
....Write up a handout with an outline of what you will be teaching...this way they won't have to depend on notes they make.
....Bring samples with you to jog their creativity.
....I always have the class members gather around my table first thing so I can TELL them what we are going to do.
....Then I SHOW them what we are going to do for the first step.
......they then go back to their workspace and DO what they have seen me do.
....I walk around to make sure everyone is getting along okay.
....Then they come back to my table so I can show them the next step. Dotty inCA
..Print out business cards to give to the students- they can e-mail you later or pass the card onto someone else who would just love for you to teach a class. Laurie
I usually start my beginner classes (kids and adults) with a spiral cane . . . it's hard to do wrong and has a lot of Wow-power. A roller isn't strictly necessary; just show them how to roll a seamless ball, then press/press/press with thumbs and forefingers and slightly pull to create a small rectangle from each color. Then roll/reduce, trim end, slice, and apply to another ball, e.g. Practice yourself first to see exactly what size and steps you want!
We go from there to wrapping a cane (then usually doing a lace cane from half of the wrapped cane). The various pieces can be combined to make a simple flower cane (spiral in the middle) and/or random slices for a ball. (The spiral canes can also be combined or cut & combined to make some very interesting complex canes.) *Now* they're impressed and excited!
we really use in addition to conditioned clay is a single-edge razor blade and
an acrylic work surface (to which I've taped a paper ruler underneath) which is
resting on a piece of rubberized drawer liner --or you could use waxed paper held
down with tape-- and a toothpick to make a hole in any resulting beads (or straw
for any pendant shapes). It's best to have a toaster oven, but I have sent some
of them home with instructions for baking instead.
I usually offer to let anyone buy one of the "kits" for my replacement cost, and usually they're snapped right up --also gives them something to carry their canes, etc., home on. (I often include an acrylic brayer too, which I have cut from a longer length at the plastics store.) Diane B.
When teaching a class, especially for kids, bring along a regular electrical heating pad, folded in thirds. Cut 1/4" slices off the clay blocks (Premo or Fimo Soft) and place in the heating pad on low for about 5-10 minutes. Do this right before each color is needed. The clay will be pre-warmed and easy for even kids to knead it. Heather
At my classes, I give everyone
a vinyl sheet protector (like you'd keep in a binder) that has a in it...
a quarter-inch grid, and circles of various sizes.... 1/8", 1/4",
up to 1 inch.... and a diagram for laying out an cutting/folding a Skinner Blend.
You could make your own reference to put in the sheet protector. Smooth surface
and keeps your clay off the table. It stands up to straight-down cuts,
but you really can't make many "dragging" cuts with your knife or blade
before your surface starts shredding. Elizabeth
You can see some of the things I've done with kids at my son’s
school (since the 1st grade) ; all needed to be gender-free! (never had
any complaints). I don't think I did anything in the 2nd or 4th grades, but
by the end of the 3rd they were just old enough to do some simple caning. I
have a photo of the catfood-can containers they decorated on this page,
along with lids for them:
(before 3rd, we'd done only faces for pop-ups and fingerpuppets
....For the 3rd grade class, we made 3 canes (are you familiar with canes?) --spiral, wrapped (also called bullseye), "lace" where we cut and recombined the wrapped cane several times introducing the concept of millefiori, and a flower cane combining some of the reserved cane parts with wedges of background clay & a final wrap. They then decorated the cans and some plain clay disks I'd made to fit inside the top lips; I baked them after class.
....Last year for 6th grade I did a 4-parter with Jeanette's class (we had longer than 45 min for this class, more like an hour 10-15 min...just wonderful!). There are photos of some of the results of these four as well at my photopoint page (link is in my sig or above):
....1. canes again, then a symmetrical "kaleidoscope" cane by cutting and recombining the lengths; covered a pen with the resulting cane slices
2. teddy bear, candy cane, pumpkin, and a small frame with flowers & leaves ("sculpture")
3. metallic powders & foils, and molds; made pendants by combining the methods
4. freestanding bowls created over armatures of glass or metal --one with cane slices and one with draped solid sheet (I premade the canes & sheets for that one)
(this class ran from Sep to Mar, I think, in the order above so you can see the age range)
....As for how much clay, partly it depends on the project and partly it depends on how much conditioning *you* want to do (and partly on $$$). I would buy in bulk online if I were you (see the Supply Sources page )
....I did show the kids that they needed to get the clay soft and pliable at the first class, but never bothered with it afterward because it just eats up too much time for them to do it then. If you want to use Sculpey III (the colored bars), you don't *really* need to condition for this kind of thing (though there's a storm of controversy about this). SuperSculpey and Sculpey III are brittle in thin or projecting areas though, so likely to break if dropped or bumped (the white Sculpey in a box is *very* brittle).
...Premo is a good choice; it's strong after baking, and softer than raw Fimo Classic for sure. It usually needs only a few passes through the pasta machine, or twisting/folding by hand, to get it soft enough. The new FimoSoft is softer than the Classic Fimo (which is a b*** to condition), but can be somewhat less strong and variable in its firmness, and other things --fine if you like it though. For your non-critical purposes, clays can be mixed if you want to do that. Colors can be mixed too of course.
....What I did was to create lots of colors (way back in the beginning), rolled logs from them, and cut to about 3/4 x 3/4" cubes. That gave the kids a lot of colors to choose from (I always limited the choice time or some of them would still be there today...). I lived off of these color-variety cubes for a long time, supplementing with whatever was needed for that class. (see more on preparing the clay and colors for class and warming them in Conditioning > Misc.)
...I started each class after my intro spiel: "select two light-colored cubes and two darkers ones", e.g., or for the larger bears "take one large ball (generally gray or brown) and one small light-colored cube" (muzzle and ears). The only advice I have here is that pre-measuring the amounts will save a *lot* of trouble later!!..also they tend to use a lot of clay if not limited.
....I also gave them clear acrylic work surfaces with rubber drawer liner and paper measuring tapes underneath so that I could tell them, for example, to roll to 6", then cut at each inch to get 6 equal pieces. We generally did the preparatory steps together, one at a time, then I let them loose to their individual muses with at least one step. That's the way that worked best for me anyway.
....Most of the things in polymer can be done by kids at 4th grade level, though some of the techniques may have to be very constrained. I'll send an attachment of the Kids/Beginners file that I haven't organized too well or uploaded yet to Glass Attic with this e-mail. Maybe you can get some ideas there? Diane B.
As an art teacher, I've presented polymer clay techniques for several years to other art teachers at our state convention. The classes usually run between 25-35. To teach the clay, I provide very thourough hand-outs that cover the basics: conditioning, baking, work surfaces, tools, storage, finishing. . . . . For a large number of students, you don't need a pasta machine. Instead buy a couple of lengths of 1" PVC pipe and cut them into 10" lengths. Then use waxed paper to roll the clay between. If they pat the clay into a little pancake, it will roll out easily. The students can either pay for the roller in a basic tool kit or just ask for a class fee that will cover the cost. You can make a pin tool by using scrap clay and a long heavy needle point needle. Patty B.
of the best lessons you can teach with the clay is color mixing,
so only the three primaries plus black and white is really necessary. I would
suggest buying Premo Christmas red, cadmium yellow, and cobalt blue. If you order
from Polymer Clay Express, you can buy the pound blocks for $8.75 a pound. Once
you know how many students you are going to have, you can figure about 2-3 ounces
of white per student and 2 ounces of the primaries and black. They can mix tints,
tones and shades to suit themselves. This could be included in a class fee or
bought from you.
.......Basic canes are excellent to teach and the idea of working in groups is also good. Give each group an assignment such as all warm colors or all cool colors or only monochromatic using only tints, tones, and shades of their chosen hue.
They can then make beads to exchange with everyone to make a 'memory necklace/bracelet'. And of course covering Bic roundstic pens is a good way to use up cane ends and personalize an item, as are 'collage' pins with the addition of some silver or gold leaf or a little PearlEx powder rubbed on to highlight a 'found' object impressed design. Also, try to get them to think in miniature and have each person make an item of food... you can predetermine the meal: picnic, exotic dinner, your favorite comfort meal, etc. This way they can also make the tiny plates, platters, and bowls to put their food in. Patty Barnes
Ok, take a deep breath it will be alright. I've been on a clay teaching tour for two months now and have been teaching classes in Arkansas, Georgia, Texas and am on my way to Florida. I have "starter packages" that ClayAlley distributes for me. There's about 8 left. They have two ounce blocks of the three primary colors, black, white, translucent and pearl. They have four clay shaper tools, a cone shaped one in size 1 and three different tips in size 0, since I work with miniaturists for the most part. They go for about $30 including shipping, the tools alone are $15. I've been sending them to the hostesses who are putting me up in their homes and providing me with transportation. But I'm sure that if you wanted to purchase one of these starter packs Karen will sell them to you. http://www.clayalley.com
~What else, oh I took the primary colors and black and white and did "sampler" cards. The background is black and I start out with the clay straight out of the pack and lay down a strip. Then mix it with equal parts of white. Then I mix the color with equal parts of the other primary colors to get secondary colors. Then I mix them with grey, like equal parts of yellow and blue make green, mix that with an equal portion of grey and you have olives for your mini martinis, that sort of thing. Mix primary and secondary colors with pearl, I'm in love with those mixes.
I also took the metal colors and mixed them with primary and secondary colors. Yellow and blue for green, the equal parts of that green with pearl and then a half portion of gold...very pretty. Crimson with pearl...one part to two parts, very pretty also. Make a skinner blend with them and fold them zig zag and make a lace cane with a surround of the two mixes mixed with equal portion of silver and you have ABALONE...very realistic.
Mix your colors ahead of time and that will take your students at least an hour to do one sampler card. Then I show them finished canes starting with bullseyes. All canes are made of snakes or sheets and the bullseye taken to lace cane is immediately satisfying. Have them take their scraps and do a chop and toss and make mirror image pendants and pins. Check out my website, http://www.norajean.com…. Help yourself to pictures of how to make malachite which is not a surface technique. Help yourself to the tutorial on making pinch pots or animal skin canes like leopard, tiger or zebra.
Oh honey, you're going to have a stone gas teaching. Please feel free to print out pictures from my albums to help get some visual aids for your students. Have fun with it, make canes ahead of time to show them the reducing properties of polymer clay. Even the claymates who have been with me for years online are stunned with how easy making complex mini canes, like for the mini sushi started out SO BIG and then got reduced. Tell them they can Future finish items straight out of the oven so their items can be handled, and worn in one half hour. It's a God Send for short classes.
I'm not weird about other teachers using my tutorials, that's why they are up there for public view. If they can be useful to you I gift them to you with my blessings and I'm confident that you're going to have just too much fun. NoraJean http://www.norajean.com
...Since I have the most experience, I'm the regular monthly teacher for the (new) Victoria guild. It has been a great experience for me: I've learned from my students, gained new friends, and made polymer clay a viable art medium in South Texas! Patty B.
Having done a demo for my guild already
on using Miracle Mold (two-part silicone molding material), I can share
some of what I did if you would like. :-) First and most important, let your enthusiasm
for the product show through! :-) That's the best endorsement you can give it.
One thing I found went over well was I brought all the molds I had made, and some
clay. Then I let several people at random use the mold with the lay while I talked
about the mold material. Especially popular were some of the more "unusual"
molds I had made - ones that showed what great detail you can pick up with
the mold material, and the ones that showed the great flexibility of the stuff.
I have a mold I made from a small seashell where I covered almost the whole
shell. I had baked some clay in it before the meeting, and then I showed them
how easy it was to remove the clay shell from the mold, and what great detail
was transferred to the clay.. I had also baked some colored liquid sculpey in
some of the molds before the meeting and showed them the results. That was a big
hit too.And I did make a small mold during the demo to show them how easy and
fool proof it is. And how quickly it sets up...... I had made up about 16 small
1 ounce samplers for people to buy after the demo. I sold out quickly
and could probably have sold twice that amount easily. Oh, I also printed out
a couple copies of Leigh's review and the info from Linda's page for people to
look over. That was a help. It answered some of their questions Kimba
...A suggestion to anybody who does Miracle Mold demoing. Have a variety of things you haven't yet molded so that when you demo, you don't make duplicates of things you already have. LOL! I didn't catch on to this basic principle for a few shows and ended up making several molds of the same thing. Wasteful. I gave away or traded the duplicates. . . . Oh, and when I demo, I do real detailed pieces to show off the sharp imaging and use black clay and something like supercopper pearlex to highlight the details on the clay. Linda G.
I teach my button class at a store that also teaches quilting. It is a wonderful extension of the craft.... Jennifer Patterson who does quilted canes travels the country selling her jewelry at big quilt shows. Her website is: www.ruralacces.net/users/jpatter/default.htm Trina
I prepared handouts for my classes which are available in pdf format on my site: http://www.thepolyparrot.com/greatstarts.html
I've found that if I bake at least one piece for each before they leave, it serves better to get them to attend the next class. Patty B.
Teaching at Stores
PolymerClayInstructorsfirstname.lastname@example.org. . . a yahoogroup mailing list group for craft store instructors ("Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Pat Catans, Hobby Lobby, AC Moore (and any other) to discuss their ideas for classes at their local Michaels craft store. If you are not an instructor, and would like to be, this is a good place to start.”
Guys the demo (at Michaels) went great. . .thanks to all who gave input as to what to do! I ended up teaching adults how to make a rose (not cane) or a checker board cane and the kids made a snake or snail after marbelizing the clay. . .you'd think I was giving out free food. . .good food at that! It was like a feeding frenzy for hours! I usually had four different people at different stages of the task at different tasks! My dh had to send in my daughter to ask how much longer I'd be. . .looked at my watch and it was 4:30 already. . .I was schedualed til 4:00.
I have two things to add to the list for preparing
for demos First find out which isle the item you are demoing is in. . .just set
up did not even walk through. . .a customer came back to tell me. But the biggest
thing of all is......................................
DO NOT BRING YOUR ENTIRE COLLECTION OF CANES WITH YOU! Over one hundred canes. . .three years worth of work. . .gone. . .stolen. . .hum
You would think I would be really upset. . .I am quite bummed. . . I liked the case. . .I am annoyed at the money that bought all that clay. . .but having to make new canes. . .I have a project that has been nagging me. . .good excuse as any!
People kept asking me if I taught there and I said no. .. I am here for. . .but if you ask the manager I might be able to come and teach here. He came over, he sent the events co-ordinator over. . .they were out of Sculpey and low on premo. So I had a ball! Dawn
You know, I NEVER had a store turn me down... except one that I contacted by phone first. After that... I just went in and asked to speak to the manager right up front. I took a nice array of samples to give them a sampling of the sort of display I'd set up... and the samples won them over every single time! If someone was reluctant to get the manager, I just flashed the samples... and that was all they wrote! All they have to do is hang signs and set the table up! Once I did the first demo, they were HOOKED... they loved me! <grin>
Nope.. my main problem was GETTING them to hang the signs when they were supposed to... and getting the table up on time. For the signs what I did was leave each manager a folder with a few blank signs in it, that they could stash right in thier filing cabinet. That way they could never say they didn't HAVE any. Then, at each demo, I'd make arrangements for the next one & leave them the signs for it... all written up and filled in. I kept a day book calendar... and I marked in it when a sign should be going up in a given store... and I'd call them to remind them to put it up... Remind them that the demo WILL have to be cancelled if it doesn't go up in time... the company doesn't leave you any choice in that. You might also run out a handout reminding them of that... and clip it to the signs you leave behind.
As far as tables go... they were almost never up when I arrived. Make sure you get there at LEAST a half an hour early. One thing I did was call ahead about an hour before I'd be getting there to remind them that the day had arrived and that I'd be on my way soon... that I wanted to make sure they had time to set the table up. They almost never do, but they're embarrassed about it when you get there and get it up really fast at that point. <grin> I did have one store, a Walmart, that I had trouble with getting set up on time over & over. I dropped them from my schedule for a while.
What I did about scheduling? Firstly, I only did weekends for Grand Openings or Special Events... you may do it differently. But... I went into the stores, initially, with the plan that it WOULD be a monthly thing. I set up my first demo at each store on the ASSUMPTION that it would be an ongoing thing, until they might change thier minds later. I designated a day of the month for each store... one store was the first Tuesday of every month... one was the 4th Friday of every month... and so on. This was helpful, cuz I could set up my schedule calendar MONTHS in advance once I had a store committed to it's day. It was good for them too, because they could advertise in flyers and handouts that go out early. AND... while you're doing the demo, you can repeatedly tell people you'll be back every month on such and such a day. You'll get lots of return people if they KNOW you'll be there!
So... in the beginning, I approached new stores as if it was a great opportunity for them! They could PICK the day... close to paydays was good! If they didn't want to commit to a day every month, that was fine... but the choices would be more limited later. If a store was in a mall.. I always tried to schedule them for a Friday night... 4 to 8. Most other stores I scheduled for 12 - 4. I only did one a day though (although I might have CLASSES scheduled the same day, at the same store I was demoing at)... that way there was no hurry, I was rested... and if there was a crowd at the end of the demo, I could hang around a bit longer and talk with them. They LOVE that & it makes them feel really good about the experience. Joanie
If you are doing (a demo) for a club, for example, you need to have several things to show, but if you are in a store you just want to do one thing over and over - and if possible something VERY quick - people won't stand for more than two minutes watching unless you draw them in and facinate them, so a two-minute repeated demo is what you want. Or two or three, so you can alternate and go a bit less mad.
If you are in a store, bring ALL your tools and LOTS of finished items, but expect them to provide the clay (unless you've agreed otherwise). Don't use any materials they don't sell, e.g. if they don't sell pearlex don't show using it. Be prepared to show how to do anything claywise, in case someone asks! Or just say 'sorry, I'm not showing that today, it is too long a process'.
If you're at a club or other meeting demoing to a group, try to take several kinds of clay, let them feel them right out of the packed and kneaded, and take some clay that you are prepared to let them buy from you. Start simple, and work your way up. Do it all at least once at home, to time it, so you don't run out of time to finish something. Take an oven if you can, so people can see how easy to bake it is. Crafty Owl
I wish I had known. . .That there would come so many kids i would have brought more kids projects!!
Or I wish I had brought more. . .scrapclay to let people feel the clay it self it is a shame to use new clay all the time!!!
or If I had only known. . . That i also could sell my stuff there i would have brought more dragons!!!and make good money :) LOL…Ria The Tease
Teaching at MICHAELS
Michaels can be rather schizo..
. . The corporate directives tell the stores to push and support classes, but
the store managers and staff are not given the resources and tools to carry out
those directives. The class rooms are usually too small to fit more than
5-6 people, the rooms are hidden and classes are not advertised well. Between
that and the fact that the stores are so cluttered making nearly impossible
to see announcements, most people, around here anyway, don't even know Michaels
offers classes. If it weren't for their monthly "class previews/demos" people
wouldn't know at all. Plus, most of the promoting is on your shoulders.
....Some of the newer stores are constructing or reconstructing to put more emphasis on classes. Some of the stores are even moving the classrooms to the front of the store so customers can actually see that classes are being offered. . .
....I've found each store's coordinator is different in how they promote classes, though most of them don't have the time to do anything at all. In addition, you may or may not get paid, and if you do, they have a very convoluted process to pay instructors. . . . Michaels staff has a very high turnover rate. So no class coordinator will probably be there long. Neither will the manager. . . . or you might want to try a different Michaels. Desiree
After having taught at Michaels here in
South Texas for over 2 years, there are both good and bad things about
...Not so good is when the event coordinator doesn't post your classes on the calendar ...or set up the registration sheet.
....Also, the paper work is a little complicated ... and not having it completed correctly will delay payment.
...Michaels has started a new policy where you are an actual employee and must complete a rather lengthy "honesty" questionaire.....since you are no longer a contract employee, they will also take taxes out from your class fee and class time, as well as their 10% off the top of your class fee.
Some good things are
that your work can be showcased (safely, if you have a good
rapport with the store displayer), and posted on the monthly calendar
... you set the class fee, the project, the supply list, and exposure to fellow clayers.
...since I've been teaching, the added contacts have provided me with a whole new circle of friends & even 2 new guilds being formed.
classes run supposedly for three hours but I try to get there 1/2 hour
early to set up and seldom leave until an hour after the class.
My last class had 9 people and we did mokume gane with paints (Genesis, Luminaire & Golden acrylics) & covered hinged plastic Easter eggs.
I had all levels of students...first timers and some well skilled clayers as well as some inbetweeners. We had a great time and everybody got at least 2 eggs made. More than 10 in a class would be difficult because of all the different skill levels.
I would like to have the classes as beginners and then more advanced, but it is hard to have that set up. Besides, everybody helps the newbies and the experienced ones remind you to tell them about such and such that you may have overlooked.
Also, some classrooms are very small. With clay tool boxes, pasta machines and an oven, things get croweded pretty quickly!
.... If you can write out a step by step process, that you can photocopy, that will help them remember the steps when they go home.
All in all, try it. If you don't like it, you can always quit. Patty B.
I've taught at Michaels. I have a feeling
that every Michaels is different and how the management views art and
artists is a major factor.
....First of all, pre-determine the minimum in your class to make it worth your time.
...Second, the store will want you to display items to promote the class. This is where the trouble comes in. (When I did the above classes, everything was okay and went off without a hitch.) It was when I agreed to teach polymer that it all went bad.... when I took the samples in, I stipulated that they were to be displayed in a protected spot (such as a display case or on shelving behind cashiers) and they assured me they would be... iInstead, they were out in the open in the little area when you exit!! Not only did pieces come up missing, but most of the remaining pieces were broken. Kids play in that area waiting for moms and I think curious hands were at work. (see below for more on theft).
Also, while in the
classroom filling out papers with the manager, I admired a watercolor on the
wall from the teacher of another class. The manager told me to go ahead and take
it because the classes were done and the artist would never know!! ( I guess that
was a big clue that I didn't heed) I never did the class and that was
my last ! But, like I said, my experience was based on how the store was managed.
....Also, they have a hard time keeping teachers, so you might want to check into that at your Michaels, as it might be a good indicator.
to sum up:
...find out how they promote your class,
...how they display your items
...what kind of a relationship you will have with management
Hope this helps and I don't mean to discourage you, just give you a heads up. Pat
event coordinator at our Michaels store and we have an excellent clay teacher....her
classes are 2 hours, and she has 2 per week right now...she has a good following.
...Our store provides a pasta machine, an oven, and most of the tools needed.
...If you want to make your class samples at the store (and it would be their property later) you can do them at the store and get paid for your time. If you want to keep them, you'd make them at home and provide all the supplies (clay) yourself.
....You do get paid to do your class promo demos too.
....Our teacher has set up a new project idea for each week, but some of the students do their own thing with her help.
....faux ivory, jade, etc. small gingerbread house, santa, ornaments, tons of beads ...cant list them all. Pam
have two separate stores I work at .... it is a so-so experience.
.... My biggest problem is getting them to put out the example so that I draw in students. I tell people everywhere I go, but the only way you will draw in students, is if it is one of the store's priorities to do so.
.... I have some loyal followers and they have all suggested that I just start doing a monthly class out of my home and say 'C YA!' to Michaels. I am seriously giving it some thought, but my goal when I started was to get some teaching experience and develop a base of class takers, so, I suppose it is okay.
Unless you are in an area where polymer is a hot hobby (it is getting more so that way here), I wouldn't suggest that money be your primary goal! That said, my holiday ornament classes pulled in 13 students @ $10/class for 2 hours. I took away $117 of that - for 2 hours work, you can't beat that with a stick!!! Alecia
I didn't get paid for the first 7 classes I taught because of a paperwork
issue. Still a little ticked off about that one….learned my lesson, for
sure - I didn't make copies of the paperwork
and they magically lost it... I make copies
teach at 2 different Michaels in different cities. I've taught there for over
4 1/2 years and I've seen class coordinators and managers come and
go. In one store, there were 4 coordinators in a year's time and none of them
knew anything about how to work with outside teachers.
...You are basically responsible for preparing the class sample, syllabus, and registration page and keeping the coordinator informed. Luckily, I've managed to build enough of a following that the managers and coordinators leave me alone.
...When I first approached Michaels, I stressed how teaching polymer clay would increase their cross merchandising. I showed them votive glasses, paper mache, PearlEx, rubber stamped, jewelry findings, wood and metal containers and other items, used with polymer clay, all from the stores shelves. They saw the potential for sales in other than clay and let me in.
...Since I first started working for them, they have gone from using outside "contract" teachers, to making all teachers an employee of the store. Since I work at 2 different stores in different cities, I had to declare one of them my "home" store where my check is sent.
...You set your own price knowing that they will take 10% off the top and also take out state and federal taxes. I don't make a lot unless I have a big class of 10 people, my classes usually run about 6 people.
...All of my classes are project oriented. In other words, they will learn a specific technique and how to use it and usually take home a project nearly complete.
...I'm retired from teaching and my state doesn't take social security from teacher's paychecks, so to get my 10 quarters I need to be able to draw SS retirement, Michaels is worth doing.
...Also, because of my contacts at the stores, I've helped start 3 guilds in the area where I live and met many wonderful clayers that I consider great friends.
... for anyone who wants to know what I presently charge, or other specifics they might need, contact me at email@example.com . . . Patty B.
An alternate to Michaels, is Hobby Lobby. Most of them have a classroom and don't charge for individuals holding classes in them. In fact 2 guilds I'm in, use them for our meetings. Patty B.
A lot will depend on who
you work with at the local level. I have taught a few classes at the local
one near me this past year. The event coordinator that I deal with is very nice
and will bend over backwards if needed.
....The classroom at the closest store is puny! but there is another one nearby that is nice and large and bright. So you have to check on what you will be working with. ...I demo at both stores but have only chosen to teach at the small one, because of location to my home.
...I bring all of my own supplies, including oven, but that also depends on the store you work with. They may have an oven for you to use.
...Don't count on the students doing any preparation for class.... sometimes they just come in and get the supplies on their way to class.
... My supply list usually includes a box to carry their creations home, but that isn't a big deal. We work around it. tlc
THE MAIN problem is the way
Michaels does their accounting!!! ...
They now require you to become an employee and when each class is taught you get paid an hourly rate and a bonus. They take the length of time that you are there, pay you an hourly rate and then figure out how much is owed still to total the 90% tuition and then pay that to you as a 'bonus' (oh, yeah and because they have to take out withholding taxes they have to increase the supposed earnings there too). You still end up with the 90% of tuition give or take a few cents. So instead of treating you as an independant contractor which you really are, they treat you as an employee. That is supposedly done so that they can be more prompt in paying their teachers, but I HATE it. I just got done doing my taxes and instead of getting a 1099 like the other companies I deal with, Michaels sends me a w-2 form. This is a pain because it does not get worked into my self employment figures but instead gets bunched up with my husbands employment stuff!!! I really am an independant contractor at michaels! I do not like how THEIR accounting makes me into something I am not.
Needless to say -- I will no longer be teaching at Michaels!..tlc
.....Well actually, I think they do it that way now so that teachers can count on getting paid at LEAST for the hours they spend there, including set up & break down..... For instance, if you only get one sign up, it's not worth the time to come in if you know you're paid *by the student*.
////Many teachers will now hold a class with a smaller minimum requirement, many even for just one. It's not good PR to close a class down, that person may not sign up again, whereas, if you give the one person class, that person will be delighted, sign up again... and bring friends.
.... IF you have the class worked into your schedule and NO one signs up... you can now still get paid for than time, by coming in and doing a demo instead of a class. That will hopefully generate more interest in your classes as well.... and you get at least an hourly wage. You have to set that up with your class coordinator of course.
I can see why this could be an annoyance in your circumstances, but for many people it's what makes or breaks the teaching experience at Michaels. Joanie
......Joanie, That is not how things are done here..... If I only have 2 students, I still only get paid 90% of the tuition. So for $15 class, thats $27 no matter how long I am there setting up, teaching or cleaning up.
........Example: 2 hr class, at $7.00/hr pay means $14.00 in wages my bonus will be $7.00 (of course the numbers are juggled around a bit more because of withholding taxes) but I will be mailed a check for $27.00 I don't know what would happen for just one student at a 2 hour class. I'm sorry but it is not worth my time to do a 2 hour class for $13.50 (we won't go into the at-home prep it requires and samples for display, and displacing my family schedule as well) I don't want to belittle my worth either.
........When I do demos at the store I am paid by AMACO as an independant contractor, not by Michaels.This all goes to show that each person needs to do their homework and know what they are getting into and just what works for them, or doesn't. tlc
...Laurie, No the final payment is 90% but they have to finagle the books in order to break down that 90% total to be an hourly wage, bonus, and withholdings. It just isn't right for them to do that. I want my business to be handled properly. I am a self-employed polymer clay artist. When I teach, demo, sell at fairs or galleries, I am still that self-employed business entity. Michaels takes that and warps it and makes me employed.
.........So my business can no longer count the teaching that I do at Michaels the same way as the teaching that I do at conferences or other stores. When calculating whether my business shows a profit or not, the Michaels payment will not come into play... it is treated as not being part of my 'business'. tlc
.......You get 90% of a full class, yes. BUT they manipulate the numbers.... so the hourly they pay you is subtracted from the 90%... IF the 90% adds up to MORE than the hourly wage does. Essentially, you get 90%... OR the hourly wage.... whichever is larger.... and they take the taxes out now.
--- 90% of a large class, MINUS the hourly wage = bonus pay
--- Bonus pay + hourly wage = 90% of a large class (what you get paid)
--- If 90% of a SMALL class is LESS than the hourly wage would be... you get the hourly wage only. It's a minimum pay guarantee.
You're gonna pay taxes on it regardless of how you file for it... but for someone running their own business, it's a pain in the neck this way. If you don't mind it, it can work out better for you. The only thing THEN is to decide if you get enough signups, consistently enough, to make it worthwhile. Working for the hourly wage only is NOT, to my mind. It doesn't take into account all the time you put in at home for it. BUT, it's better than losing that time alltogether. Both tlc & I came to the same conclusions about working for Michaels. But it IS a good learning/confidence building thing.... so don't let us sour you on it! Joanie
You're allowed a half
hour before & after for cleanup
..... and you have to explain if the class runs longer than projected, but they'll still pay you for it. Joanie
I also had the problem with
breakage/loss at Michaels. They have shadow boxes in the framing section.
I made a board that fit into one of those... WIRED everything to the board...
and made them install it in one of those, behind plexi.... AND made them hang
it higher, on the wall, than children could easily reach.
I gave up the Michaels classes as less than lucrative too. It wasn't dependable. They could rarely get the minimal signups.... but YOU have to devote the day to the possibility that they will. They get cancellations & don't notify you. Generally just a mess. BUT... the classes themselves were fun & it's good experience if you feel worried about teaching. Joanie
day of my class, in the morning, I called to see if anyone signed up. The girl
on the phone said NO. So, I said, "well, let's cancel it.." So,
the next day, the class manager called to see how the class went. I told her no
one signed up so i cancelled it. Well, turns out, two people had signed up for
it, but the girl on the phone gave
me the wrong information. So I lost out on about $60, and my reputation
probably didn't look too good that night.
....My advice, ONLY deal with the Class Room Manager....they seem to care enough to know what's going on. Don't deal with a cashier who answers the phone. Polydoly
of samples . . . ...about stealing: you can put your samples in a shadowbox
frame. That way, people can see but can't touch. And see if the coordinator
will put the frame on the wall or sample area in such a way that the frame is
wired to whatever supports are available. That way you don't lose your work! I
had to learn this the hard way--at my first class, when people had stolen two
pairs of earrings and a necklace from my sample display. Catherien
...(from above)... I had stipulated that they were to be displayed in a protected spot (such as a display case or on shelving behind cashiers) and they assured me they would be. Instead, they were out in the open in the little area when you exit! Pat
...we tried something similar. The girl who sets up the classes put them in a clear acrylic box, and glued the box to a shelf. Somehow, at THREE different times, the customers or employees pryed (spell?) the box off of the shelf and took the items. Someone actually took the box with the clay in it. Unbelievable.. . . . I like the way they do the classes at Joanns..all of the samples, are nicely arranged high up on a wall. The regional managers of Michaels in Westland don't really give much space for the samples for classes. I wish I could talk to them and show them the importance of having a nice class sample display. People love to take classes! Polydoly
A much more lucrative course, for me, was contacting
church & other groups and .... offered half-day workshops
in my home, and charged $15 a person... had a minimum of 8 to
make it a go... usually got 10-20 people
... they brought their clay & a paperlined baking pan...and I brought the tools & the know-how. Joanie
...For a year I think I taught a grand total of 5 classes and all but two of those were 2 people, so II quit Michaels and created a class schedule of my own. ...my kitchen table comfortably seats 6, so I decided my max # per class would be 5
... I created a class log book with 5 slots for signups. I take it with me wherever I am doing clay.... say they want to learn and voila! I whip out the ole class book, show pics of each class project and tell them it is $ 12 per person, per class, with seats limited to 5.Alecia
TEACHING at Michaels (are some of these duplicates of the above???)
Sep 00 -- I've been teaching at Michael's in Boulder for about 3 years now. I always provide my own materials for my students, because I cannot count on them being stocked on the shelves. During the class, we go to the shelves on a "shopping expedition", where I can help them find substitutes (where possible) for what I had them use in class. The clay is always half-empty. Not much way to substitute for Premo metallics!
On the brighter side, Michaels recently changed their corporate policy toward instructors. I'm now officially an employee, and get paid an hourly wage for doing demos and teaching classes, and get an employee discount. They encourage frequent demos, trying hard to get a good classroom program developed, where people actually take the classes! Now I sit at a table in the front, play with clay, answer questions, (show off a little), get more students for my classes, and get paid! Cool! Kleebug
I taught classes at Michaels for about a year. The way they worked it then, the instructors set the class fees, and Michaels took 10%. They gave instructors 25% off on materials in the store. They like projects that can be taught in classes that last an hour or two, no longer. In my area, the Michaels stores are very poorly managed. Some of the problems I encountered were: materials needed for classes not being ordered so that students were not always able to get what they needed for a specific class (even though my materials list was submitted several months in advance), no real advertisement of classes, class samples not being displayed where customers can see them (and hopefully be intrigued enough to sign up for classes) and just a general lack of organization on management's part. On the other hand, the students made teaching a wonderful experience. It's just frustrating when there is that lack of organization. Makes it difficult for you to give the students a good experience with your class. Unfortunately, I have heard from people all across the US with similar experiences with their local Michaels so it seems to be a widespread problem with this company. My advice would be to make sure that these issues are addressed (ordering of supplies for classes, advertising for classes, etc.) I would also advise you to try one class and see how it goes. Your experience may be quite different. I enjoyed the students so much that I continued with Michaels for a year - despite the frustrations. So try it - you might like it!!!!! Ginny
events co-ordinator told me that I could get whatever I needed and charge it to
the store... I don't know if that is how she's supposed to handle my supplies,
but it's been great because I've gotten to play with some things I would ordinarily
never buy (like rubber stamps on the clay and those totally awesome pearl-ex powders).
BUT, the stuff I got belongs to Michael's, not me. ;) At least I get to play!
I already responded in email, but Ginny raises some valid points I didn't really address, so here goes:
.... I try to make a really nice display piece.. it's your only real attention getter.
- You can volunteer to make your own display sign & you can jazz it up however you want to.
- Go in beforehand to make sure the display is up..& that the class time & day are clearly posted.
- Make sure the class is on the class calendar correctly...& that it appears in the store handout.
- You have no control over ordering supplies.
So what I do is try to identify the items that are likely to be unavailable and
make sure I have extras for purchase during the class. You don't want anybody
to leave the class frustrated. I put a notation on my student supply list that
they should let me know if they have trouble locating something specific for the
class, so that I can try to supply it myself.
You have to charge whatever they would pay for it in the store... even if you got it cheaper mailorder... you don't want to set yourself up in competition with the store. I usually just trade them clay in the color they want, for clay in a color they could get, even steven.
- I bring a food processor and several pasta machines
to the class for student use
- I supply an in-class work-kit for each student, including a placemat to work on... 2 dental tools... a needle tool... one wooden tool... 3 polished stones... and a tissue blade.
- If there is a tool that I KNOW they can't get locally, I'll order for them.
- I have a handout that gives them every bit of info I cover in the class... with my phone number on it. If YOU are organized enough, you can make up for any disorganization within the store.
The main problem is getting people to sign up
for the class..... many are cancelled due to no sign-ups. ... so if you want
to do it for fun, go for it... but don't expect to make a living at it.
It IS fun... and even if you go in for only ONE person... you still get to play clay with someone, right?? I've been enjoying it very much.... Kraftey
I have taught at Michael's. It was not a peak life experience. I don't know how they work it at your Michael's, but at mine they did practically nothing to advertise the classes. Unless I rustled up the students from other places, I would be lucky to find one or two people signed up for a class--which in other places would easily draw 20! If there were 3 or 4 signed up they marvelled at how successful it was.
The teacher was responsible for bringing all the materials for the class. They supplied nothing but a couple of tables, some chairs, an electrical outlet, and a small sink. Usually the tiny classroom was cluttered with other junk. If they HAD attracted a lot of students there would have been no where to put them!
The teacher set the prices, and Michael's kept 10% of the fee. The rest was the teacher's pay. So theoretically if you had more students you could make a decent amount, but in reality you made very little unless you brought in your own students (in which case it was more profitable to hold your own class somewhere else!)--and then there wouldn't be room for more than a few.
Teaching there did entitle me to a 25% discount on regular priced items, but they never got around to making up a teacher's id card and I could only get the discount if I checked out at the framing desk, and it was altogether a pain in the neck. I only took advantage of the discount a couple of times. I could save more when they had good sales or coupons.
was my experience with Michael's. Despite all that, it was nice to be able say
that I taught at Michael's. Nuchi
This was my experience exactly. I forgot to mention a couple of these problems. In spite of my encouragement, they never managed to display class samples decently. I tried to coordinate with the store manager to be sure materials would be in stock--unsuccessfully. The manager was impressed, though. She had never had a teacher in the store who had brought up the subject before!
I even had my students go on "scavenger hunts" around the store to see how many items they could find which would be applicable to their projects (to encourage their creative use of materials and increase sales for the store)! The employees had never seen anything like it--LOL!
I also taught there for over year and enjoyed it in spite of all the problems. I just like teaching crafts and enjoy introducing people to new materials. But it was definitely not the optimum teaching environment
Do you think it would be
ok if I did some of my own advertising-handouts, postcards etc.? I will probably
do it for a while at least.
That's what I did. It's the only way to get a decent-sized class at Michael's.
I was just thoroughly unimpressed with the orginization of the classes and the lack of advertising there, too. When I asked if she would like a polymer instructor, the creative director person ( who does not know a thing about me) asked, "Could you teach silk ribbon embroidery or rubber stamping instead?" She didn't even know if I could teach something, or if I knew how to do it. Anyway, I said I'd teach one of her silk ribbon classes for her if she still needed someone. I'd call myself just barely qualified to do that.
I'm also going to offer two clay classes a month at Michaels. I'm setting it up as an ongoing workshop. Limited to 6. Students pick thier own brand of clay AND thier project... and take classes as they need guidance, depending on the difficulty of their project. And hopefully they'll learn from others have chosen to work on as well. We'll see how it goes & I'll be sure to let you know! Joanie
Developing a "mailing list"
group for students you've had will help with both the development of
a guild (and also promoting and continuing interest in your classes). Patty B.
....check out Yahoogroups for one large service which offers these mailing lists
http://groups.yahoo.com .... (you must be or become a member of general Yahoo first, then they'll ask you to select the category there which best describes your group's topics, give it a name and a description, and finish creating your group --everything is free)
for teaching kids
or adults from (your kids' or grandkids' school) or at home,
etc. (then word of mouth:
(see also Shows > Home Shows, Start a Business > "Parties" or Demos at homes, or offices, etc., Kids/Beginners > Working with and Teaching Kids)
.…retirement or nursing homes or senior centers
….working with physically/mentally/emotionally disabled people, groups, hospitals, or
….any kind of club or group! Diane B.
I quit Michaels and created a class schedule
of my own. My kitchen table comfortably seats 6 so I decided my max # per
class would be 5 (cuz I need a place to sit too!!!) I decided which lessons I
wanted to teach. And I created a class log book with 5 slots for signups.
I take this book with me wherever I am doing clay. (Shows and when
I know people will be watching - like when I am waiting to pick up my son from
school.) They get all excited seeing me do it and say they want to learn and voila!
I whip out the ole class book, show pics of each class project and tell;
them it is twelve dollars per person per class and seats are limited to
. . . I either get the money and I sign them up or I get the "I have to check my calendar" excuse. I give the latter my card and write the info down (including the # of slots lef t in the classes) and tell them if they are really interested to check and give me a call. If I still have a slot open, they can have it.
... I have also added a sign up to receive class schedules via mail or email sheet so I have a constant base for classes in the future. So far I have had 2 classes and had 4 in the first one and 6 in the second!!! Alecia
Have you given any thought to making a few extra dollars
by giving classes? That can be reasonably lucrative if you're a good
explainer and a bit organized, and you can find some people to
....Teaching in craft stores are one possibility, but doing them yourself (in your home, or wherever the participants are, if possible) are more satisfying and better paid. .
. . .Oftentimes, once a student gets an inkling of what can be done with clay, they will return for class after class
. . .Don't overlook kids either... good places to get your name and classes out there are private schools, parent participation schools, scouts, etc.... anywhere parents are happy to keep their kids stimulated with extracurricular activities (and can afford it). . . .those can also lead to more classes as those students want to try more and more things! Diane B.
I teach a private "art class" to kids who are homeschooled, and a couple of weeks agao we did artsy paper dolls. Lizboid
(see more ideas for seniors, disabilities, etc., in Kids, and in Disabilities)
on how various polymer teachers do their classes, what they teach,
working with any of these groups, there could be a theme that relates to
the group or something that’s explored…for example:
--quilting patterns or tiny-quilt ornament for quilt groups
--mini-books, notebook covers for book clubs
--stamping activities with rubberstamp groups, or even
……making pins or other items with postage stamps for philatelist groups (perhaps using transfers so as not to use the actual stamp…perhaps covering something with transfer of a grouping of stamps
--making a bowl, clock or other item with a theme…e.g. for bridge players, golfers, sports afficionados, religious groups,
--making figures and/or scenes for play therapy, or traumatized adult patients
--favorite-memory-from-childhood for seniors or Alzheimers patients
--claying to music (many patients who’ve had brain damage surprisingly have totally functional musical areas of the brain and can often do things to music or through singing they can’t do otherwise).
--fingerpainting with clay for the disabled, etc., Diane B.
When I was in that teaching mode, I found the most lucrative classes I had were with church groups. Just call the churches in your area... tell them that you'd like to offer classes to their parishioners. They LOVE to have those kind of things to offer. They supply the workplace... you just show up & teach. The smallest church group I had was 15... and sometimes I had to limit the class number or be overwhelmed. Sometimes the ladies will schedule side classes in thier homes too. I required a minimum of 6 people when I taught a class. Check with your local YMCA's too. Joanie :o}
Local Recreation Departments and esp. Adult Education Programs in towns and cities are good places to talk with about teaching. If you go with a few items you've made, it shows them that you have the expertise. You can bring a project, displayed nicely, showing the steps you teach, and/or your class syllabus, pictures, etc..If you have a website you can show them. They mail class schedules to everyone in town/city (good publicity) and usually only keep a small registration fee and let you set your fee & number you'll accept as a minimum/maximum. They are usually looking for new and different offerings for their community.Kay
much more lucrative course, for me, (than teaching at stores) was contacting church
groups and such.... offered half-day workshops. Charged $15 a person...
had a minimum of 8 to make it a go... they brought thier clay & a paperlined
baking pan, I brought the tools & the know-how. Usually I got between 10 &
20 people at a workshop. Joanie
…the continuing ed dept. at (our College of Art) pays 16 dollars an hour for regular classes and 100 for a 3 hour workshop. I'm thinking about charging 25 dollars for a three week workshop at my store (3 three hour classes). That's probably pretty low, but I really want some folks to get started in this city and it means more sales for the store. obirtasil
for teaching at colleges, some colleges actually advertise for people to
teach the evening education classes. Such ads are often put in their evening
education brochures. Probably a good way to go would be to contact the “Director
of Continuing Education.” The title, undoubtedly, varies from school to school.
After talking to the “Director,” or her representative, I'm sure an interview would have to take place. And examples of one's work would be a prerequisite. Maybe putting photos of ones creations on a CD would be a good way to go. You could even add music and a voice track. Certainly, color prints protected in a "viewing sheet" would do the trick. Royce3
I think the biggest problem in doing a CD is that whole Mac/PC (compatibility) thing…It is doable, just... not EASY, exactly. Nae
if you have a technical school/college in your town, but the one we have here has a department called Continuing Education and years ago when I first got into jewelry making, I started out with Sculpey and taught several classes (I did say earlier I am a novice) in clay, just basic things and I was paid....this was 13 years ago and I was paid over 12 dollars an hour and my classes were 3 hours. Charlotte
An alternate to Michaels, is Hobby Lobby. Most of them have a classroom and don't charge for individuals holding classes in them. In fact 2 guilds I'm in, use them for our meetings. Patty B.
(see Finding People and Creating
Interest for more on finding students)
(see Business for business card ideas to advertise classes, and much more)
teaching on CRUISES
Teaching on a cruise is a good gig! .... it's fun because
everyone is happy!!....
...Last March I got a week's free cruise on that same Carnival itinerary out of Tampa for teaching 3 basket weaving classes for a woman sponsoring a local craft cruise here in Florida.
....I only taught while the ship was at sea so all the port excursions were my own time.
... A cruise like that is easy to organize and you only need about 20-25 students going to get your cruise, and your instructor cruises for free
... Also there are booking agents for people wanting to teach on the cruise ships leaving out of Florida ports. Here is the name and address of one booking agent I talked to that represents several cruise lines, and her email. She is not the only agent though. Sixth Star Entertainment & Marketing 21 NW 5th Street Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 or call (954) 462- 6760 Fax: (954) 462-0737 http://www.sixthstar.com She will send you the details on what they can do for you... Karen Woods
(see also: Shows for more on doing demos)
A (product) demo shows off a product, quick and repetitive, for passersby in a show or store. The company that sells the product to the store provides the demonstration. A class is paid for by the students, or by a special interest group... such as when a Guild pays to have a guest teacher, or a retirement community pays a teacher to come in and provide instruction. You can hold classes in stores, art clubs, libraries, schools, churches and your own house. The students either pay you for supplies or they purchase your "supply list" on their own. Elizabeth
Demos could also take the form of a Make and Take It, where people actually sit down with you, make a small and quick project and take it with them. In all these cases the clay manufacturer provides you with the supplies you need for the demo. Heather
Classes & Teachers
(to learn polymer clay)
Some places to check out if you're looking for a class or instructor:
...most local polymer clay guilds give classes and demos to their members
........also some members of local guilds may be willing to do a class or classes (for one person or more), generally for a fee... contact the guild and ask if they know of members who might be interested, or if they can ask for you at the next meeting
...some bead stores (classes)
...some craft stores and art supply stores (classes or demos)
......Michaels will soon have classes only for the special Donna Dewberry program with the Studio by Sculpey clay, but perhaps Hobby Lobby, A.C. Moore, etc., or even Joanns
...some community centers may have classes
There are also lists of polymer
teachers who've put their names at various sites and magazines to advertise
...Polymer Clay Central website http://polymerclaycentral.com/teacherindex.html
...National Polymer Clay Guild website (only NPCG members who teach) http://www.npcg.org/index.php?option=com_directory&page=viewcat&catid=48&Itemid=30
.............or go to http://www.npcg.org , then click on WebLink Directory, then click on "Teachers")
...PolymerCafe magazine... (only for "ads"?) http://www.polymercafe.com/advertising.html
are also lots of free online lessons (text-only, links to photos-text,
and links to videos) at websites like GlassAttic and others --search for
the word lesson on any page at glassattic.com, or look around any site
for links to their "tutorials," etc.)
...also online free at blogs, and at YouTube, etc. (videos, photos-text, etc.)
...also online free webcam demos
(There are also beginning to be some downloadable lessons for a fee offered by individual teacher's sites)
For videos, etc, see Books & Videos > Online Video Lessons--Free ...TV Shows ...Videos & DVD's ...Borrowing & Renting Videos)
For blogs and webcam demos, see Groups-Online > Blogs ...Webcam Demos