Monday, December 15, 2008
The Crafternoon: An afternoon of teaching and sharing craft ideas
I recently held a Crafternoon at my house to make cards and wrapping paper for the holidays. We had three 12 year old girls, one 8 year old boy and two grown-ups. Here are some tips I followed to make it a success. (I also learned a few on the way.):
Keep it simple
It’s best to have one or two activities and maybe a 3rd one for a backup. That way you can really focus on the project at hand; discover its pitfalls and possibilities. I think it’s better to spend more time on a quality product than spread yourselves thin on several activities. Think success. At the end of our afternoon, everyone walked away with beautiful greeting cards and wrapping paper.
In terms of the projects themselves, you want to keep it simple. For the cards, we focused on collage. I had magazine cuttings, ribbons, feathers to put on the cards. I also had some holiday rubber stamps, crazy scissors and glue. The kids started on their cards right away. As they progressed, they started sharing ideas and materials. When the action started to slow down, I added a few pointers. I showed the girls how to make a fairly simple pop-up card and they used the basic ideas to create their collages in 3-D.
For our second activity, we put butcher paper on the floor and had the kids use stamps and pens to make wrapping paper. We could use some of the same materials for this project, including the magazines for collage.
Know your audience
The Crafternoon can take many forms depending on the skill level of the crafters. The cards and wrapping paper could be done with very young children. Projects that involve glue guns, tools, exacto knives would be more appropriate for an older crowd. Crafternoons don’t have to be for kids--a grown-up crafting event could be just what the doctor ordered!
Know your subject
Doing a craft and teaching a craft are two different things. I find it’s better to teach something I know really well, as I have had a chance to make LOTS of mistakes and find the pitfalls at each stage of the project. I usually spend some time doing the project and thinking it out step by step as I go. I might also include examples of various stages of the craft. For example, in teaching how to make gift bags, I have a bag before it’s glued, another with the sides only glued and then a completed bag. It’s important for me to show how I got there. A little rehearsal can go a long way when you are teaching a craft.
One point I missed in my last Crafternoon, was making sure that people knew how to use the materials. For the kids, safety may be involved. How do you use the paper cutter or wield the exacto knife? How do take care of the stamp pads or the paper crimper? You also need to include the expectations you have for the use of materials or equipment , such as: “We only use the red scissors for fabric. All the other scissors can be used for paper.”
For my Crafternoon, I set out my grandmother’s dining room table with all the leaves extended to create a spacious work area. Since we were going to be gluing and stamping, I put down vinyl tablecloths. I set up a couple of stations of materials which included scissors, rulers, glue, pens, hole punches. I tried to spread out the collages materials to keep them accessible. This keeps passing back and forth and reaching over each other’s projects to a minimum.
Having done a lot of paper crafts, I know how many scraps can get thrown around in the process of a project. I had three bins ready : recycling, reusable scraps, and garbage.
Don’t forget to plan for the occasional emergency. I put down the vinyl tablecloth for the cards, but if we had been using paint, I might have to protect the floor also. You’ll be more relaxed for the whole experience if you cover your bases.
Definitely plan some time for clean-up. It will be easier if you do some clean-up between projects rather than wait until the end. If you’ve done a good job preparing it will be easier to rein it all in. I had bins for scissors, glue, and rulers set up on the table so that the items had a home at the end of the day. For kids, it’s a good time to review taking care of your materials. Put the caps on the glue sticks, put the lids on the stamp pads, etc.
Also, to prepare crafts to be taken home, you might need bags, boxes, or envelopes on hand. I had the kids put their names on big envelopes to take their cards home in. I also had rubber bands at the ready for securing the rolled up wrapping paper.
If you’ve done all your homework, it should be a very successful Crafternoon! Play some music, have some simple snacks available, take time to admire each other’s work. Have a show-and-tell after everything is cleaned up.
Plan for next time
The joy of the Crafternoon is sharing ideas and getting new ones. Have someone different host the crafter noon each time, so that everyone can benefit from new ideas. You could do a “Craft-of the Month Club” . and rotate hosting. You’ll add some tools to your bag of tricks and spark new ideas in everyone. I don’t think you’ll run out of things to do…