Projects Bottles of Hope Individual Meeting Ideas

Personalized nametags:

Devote one meeting for members to create their permanent nametags, designed to be worn as a pendant (buna cord works well). Tags can reflect favorite colors or pc technique. The design should incorporate their name in letters large enough to be read easily. (Tiny rubber stamps can be used or tape added after baking which can be written on with indelible ink.) To ensure that people always have their nametags, tags can be kept by the membership chair or pres, or a small fine collected from people who forget. Money can go into a "treat" fund for goodies shared at meetings.

Nametag exchange:

Names are drawn & people create a nametag for the person whose name they have drawn. This can be done at a meeting or as an "at home" assignment. Provide a list of members' names, addresses, phone numbers & birthdays (not year!). These can eventually be included in a year-book that also includes meeting dates, programs, library collection, etc.

Plan a project:


Although they take some advance planning, swaps are a good way to get everyone involved!

  1. Select a theme, technique & item to be swapped. Examples: black/white beads, pendants using photocopies, or useful items such as pens.

  2. Appoint a swapmeister. Decide & announce the parameters of the swap, for example: bead size/colors/techniques, finishes (satin finish, shiny finish or either); pendant size limits, stringing not necessary; pens may be an open anything-goes artist's choice. Also decide how items should be packaged for the swap & if artists' names should be included. Note: small plastic bags work well.

  3. Announce the meeting at which the swap will take place. Usually people appreciate at least two months to prepare, but this depends on how many items they need to make.

  4. Option: devote one meeting (program) to demo-ing the technique or techniques useful for the swap e.g. black/white mokume gane, photocopy techniques, how to cover a pen in different ways, including Donna Kato's "stubby/chubby pen".

  5. Reminders: e-mails or postcards sent by Swapmeister at least two weeks prior to Swap meeting. Let people know (again) the theme, technique and numbers of items. Emphasize: "if you signed up, be there or see that your items get there for sure!!!"

  6. At the Swap: The Swapmeister can simply see that each person receives a bag from each of the other participants or arrange the items on the table & let the participants take one of each.

  7. On a pendant, pin or pen swap, people may not want to make them all the same. In fact, often a swap encouraging different interpretations of the theme may be appealing. In this case, the Swapmeister may want to provide separate flat boxes (meat trays work well) for each participant to display their items in. These boxes can be put out in rows on a large table. Allow plenty of time for people to admire, examine and informally talk about their creations.

  8. Just before the exchange, the Swapmeister can have participants draw #'s & line up in front of the tray corresponding to their #. The Swapmeister says, "GO!" & each person selects an item from the tray in front of them. The participants then move around the table, selecting an item from each of the other trays.

You can ask people to bring one extra item to be kept for a Silent Auction or guild bead strand or creative project archive.

Bottles of Hope

This community-outreach project is happening in guilds throughout the U.S. You can read about it on the Connecticut guild website. The project involves guild members covering and decorating the tiny bottles & making them available at local cancer treatment centers. The bottles can be purchased cheaply from American Science & Surplus ( 847-982-0870. The bottles are listed on catalog p. 16 under "containers". (5 & 7 ML). They can also be recycled from medical or veterinary clinics. A contact needs to be made with the cancer treatment center people or someone working w/ cancer patients (nurse, physical therapist. etc.) so that the bottles will have a distribution source. The project can be launched at a meeting. Techniques in covering bottles can be demo-ed. Members can be encouraged to bring scrap clay & canes & the evening (day) can be spent getting started & sharing ideas. Subsequent meetings can be devoted to the project or members can cover bottles at home & bring them to the next meeting for collection. Details for distribution can be worked out by the steering committee. Packaging each bottle in a small plastic ziplock bag protects it from damage and can also hold a business card w/ guild name, contact info & a message such as:

"Bottle of Hope" made for you by the ____ Clay Guild , phone # or website. Some participants include a quote or simple message.)

Visit for more information.

Individual meeting ideas:

  • Ask a member to tape the polymer clay segments from one of the TV cable craft shows. (The Carol Duvall Show is a popular choice because there are detailed instructions on the HGTV website.) Let members know ahead of time what materials to bring. View the segment (they're usually about 10 minutes long) and work on the technique.

  • Use the workshop videos put out by Mindstorm Productions or Gameplan-Art Ranch in the same way. For an evening meeting, selecting one section is probably enough because of time constraints. (Some guilds meet in members' homes & find that viewing a video is a welcome program.)

  • Use how-to articles from Bead & Button or Jewelry Crafts as a basis for a hands-on meeting. You'll need a "leader" to organize & lead members through the steps & people will need to be alerted as to what specific clay/tools to bring.

  • Have the members who 'surf' the p.c. websites compile some of the instructions; choose from these for demos or project ideas. (If you need some sources, let me know and I'll share some of my favorites.) Or ask your web-experts to talk about the sites & what they have to offer. Having a web-site list for handout would be helpful.


If your group is fairly small (fewer than 20), you might devote one meeting to exploring program ideas. Conduct a brainstorming session & list the ideas on large sheets of paper; then have people check or mark their preferences & indicate w/ their name what they'd be willing to demo. You may want to divide people into groups of 5 or 6, have them brainstorm & list their ideas on large paper & then "report" to the total group. The "voting" can then be conducted in the same manner. Suggestions can be referred to a program committee for follow-up planning. Larger guilds often put out a questionnaire, listing possible programs with space for individuals to indicate preferences & note which topics they could demo. This is usually done once every year or two, depending on how many ideas & demo-volunteers are found.

Have a cane-exchange:

Encourage everyone to bring "old" canes for trading or sharing. The format can be the same as a "cookie exchange". You may want to designate an approximate length for canes, ex: 2-3 inches.

Explore "cane manipulation" techniques - ways to cut/squash/recombine canes into new designs. Even the ugliest or simplest canes markedly improve when handled in this way.

Arrange a program exchange

Arrange a program exchange with a local Bead Society or other art guild. We do this annual w/ the Denver Bead Society. Last fall our guild provided a program on making polymer clay masks. In the Spring five of their members came in to share their lampwork beads & talk about that process.

Invite a Girl Scout, Brownie or 4-H group in for an evening of hands-on introduction to polymer clay. Sherri Haab's books for children, Kris Richard's video or the pamphlet books available at craft stores are good sources of project information. Or, simply demonstrate conditioning clay & have students make a simple cane applied to a feature bead & two smaller beads. Bake the beads & provide material for stringing a simple necklace. The beads could also embellish purchased key rings. The children-created canes could be cut up & shared so that each participant could take home several different ones. Your members may enjoy teaming up w/ one or two children, working along w/ them on the projects. (This would provide more canes to share & give the children whatever individual help might be needed.)

Other Ideas

  • Plan a meeting to share members' ideas for "using scrap clay". Offer a prize for each person who brings in an idea. At the meeting ask each person to show their idea and tell how they came up w/ it. Offer a "grand prize" for the person having the most unusual idea.

  • Use on-line issues of the for ideas & how-to info. One member prepares demo of a selected technique. If done at a Clay Day, members can experiment with the technique throughout the day. Surf the other guild websites for program and organization ideas.

  • If your group has evening meetings, you may let people know ahead of a discussion topic: bring their creative journal or tell about how they collect ideas & inspiration; share ideas on topics such as "If I had only 3 p.c. tools, what would they be"; most useful book about polymer clay. Have some book-talks about new p.c. publications. Discuss the ideal p.c. magazine; compile & send the ideas to current pc magazine editors. If you can locate a person doing precious metal clay, invite them in to talk about this new medium. Ask one of the "surfers" to talk about favorite p.c. websites & bring a handout listing favorite urls. Share on-line ordering sources for clay, tools, and related supplies.

  • Establish a monthly raffle. Often craft or art stores will contribute items or members can be asked to provide a piece of their work. It's fun to have the raffle items a "mystery" - contained in a brown bag & revealed by the winner. Raffle tickets can be nominal , i.e. $1.00 or 6 for $5.00. This is a way to build a treasury with money going to establishing a video library or used for meeting treats.

  • If your guild doesn't really need the $, establish a monthly drawing using work contributed by members. To get started, the person in charge collects the donated work & stores them in a box, using one piece for each month's drawing. At each meeting, every member writes their name on a slip of paper & deposits it in a small box. The drawing is held before everyone leaves. Our guild has found this lots of fun & it adds a nice opportunity for us to share our work.

Have a special event:

Silent Auction. Although most guilds find this is a great money-maker for their library, it is a fun way to get rid of unwanted tools, books, or even polymer clay creations. Here's one way it can be set up:

  1. Announce the event well ahead of time. If you haven't done this before, assure people that "one person's trash is another person's treasure" and that anything related to polymer clay may be put in the auction. Items need not be new. People can contribute something they've made out of clay. (idea list follows)

  2. At the Silent Auction Meeting, members put out their treasurers on tables & the SA committee places long slip of paper & a pencil w/ each item. It's a good idea to be sure the name of the item is at the top. (Preparing these slips ahead of time via computer makes for a smooth-running auction.)

  3. At a signal, members can walk around & bid by putting a price on the individual item lists, along with their name.. Be sure that bids are written one under the other, because the idea is to "up" the previous bid. Designating acceptable raise minimums (example 10 cents) is a good idea.

  4. Depending on # of items & people, set a time limit & announce when the bidding will stop. If you combine this SA w/ another event, such as an appetizer potluck, people can eat while the auction is going on. This allows people to move away from the auctioned items & perhaps someone to sneak in to raise a bid on a much-desired item. Competition between bidders adds excitement and fun to the event!

  5. When the bidding ends, the committee delivers the items to victorious bidders, along w/ the slip listing the highest bid. The treasurer sets up a "check-out" where people pay for their treasures.

  6. Some ideas for SA items: polymer tools w/ polymer handles (needle tools, #19 Exacto blades, small drill bits), used books, magazines; plastic bags full of texturing items - sets of coarse grit sandpaper, pieces of drywall sanding metal, lace/burlap, etc., decorative buttons good for mold-making, packages of odds/ends of beads or findings, polymer clay blade holders, "old" commercial polymer clay items (face molds, clay guns, etc.) pins/pendants/earrings/home dec polymer creations (especially desirable if made by one of the guild's outstanding artists), small plastic zip-locks holding "samples" of pearl-x powder, embossing power or similar inclusions, used plastic storage boxes, Plexiglas work surfaces or small squares for bi-cone bead rolling.

Host a "Holiday Recovery Party" for the January meeting. Have a 'gift exchange' of polymer related or other items. Set a price limit. At the party, put chairs in a circle, put the gifts in the center & give each member a number. The person w/ #1 gets to choose a wrapped gift & open it. #2 may take #1's opened gift, or select one from the pile. Continue until everyone has had a turn. At the end, you may announce that #1 can have a final turn to choose any gift from anyone. This is fun because some gifts are very popular and are 'taken' a number of times.

"Clay Days". If your guild meets in the evenings, hold an all-day Saturday event. Encourage members to bring clay & tools & spend the day working on individual projects. It's a good time to use a video segment as a professional demo w/ time to work on the technique. Add a potluck lunch or guild-sponsored bagels/cream cheese treat to make the event even more special. You can designate a "theme" activity, such as 'Color-mixing Marathon' and plan a day for members to create color swatches. People can work individually or in groups. Using simple ratio recipes, it's possible to produce a grand collection of color samples within a few hours. Set up three demos as "stations" and have members spend a designate amount of time at each one, then shift to the next.

Note: we've found that at all-day Clay Days, designating a specific time for demos to begin is helpful to members who are unable to attend the entire day. Currently, Clay Days begin at 8:30 w/ a board meeting (to which everyone is invited). Members usually begin arriving about 9:30 and we begin demos at 11:00. Any business items & announcements are handled either prior to or between demos.

Theme of the month. Plan monthly themes. These should be open ended & allow lots of room for personal interpretation. Share the list with members. At each meeting, members bring an item they've created that reflects the theme. Possible themes: over the rainbow, water magic, big and small, moon, sun and stars, easy does it, surprise!, inside-out.

Variation #1: Items can be brought in brown bags & exchanged in grab bag drawing. Items can be displayed & artists' identities kept secret. Members guess who made what. A small prize can be given the person with the most correct - or - that person could have first pick.

Variation #2: Simply display the items and enjoy the various interpretation of the theme.

General program topic ideas:

Texturing - members bring their favorite texturing items (sandpaper, plastic sheets, burlap, etc. etc. etc.) Items are shared as members create a sampler pendant.

Mold Making Madness - members bring things for molds (buttons, old jewelry, rubber stamps, etc.) Items are shared & members make molds to take home for their own use. Scrap clay can be used for the molds, or the guild could purchase one of the new mold-making materials so that everyone can try it.

The Many Faces of Mokume Gane - demos using Lindly Haunani's, Nan Roche's, Tory Hughes's techniques. (This would be a good "round-robin" station activity.)

Simple cane-making, Complex cane-making, Manipulation of ugly canes (Cynthia Toop's technique), Flower canes using Fimo Transparent (Donna Kato's pansy; chrysanthemum cane)

Bead designs - T. Hughes' video is a good source of information

Picture Frames

Boxes (altoid containers, cardboard boxes) - cover with canes, mokume gane, etc.

Rock Box Pendants (info on web)

Free-form box construction (info on C. Duvall show index)


Favorite polymer tools - a show & share; humorous prizes for "most original", "most expensive", "most (or least) useful", etc.

Book talks - individuals show & review new or favorite polymer books

Findings for earrings, necklaces, etc. Necklace hooks made out of polymer clay.


Necklace design & construction


Liquid Sculpey techniques - Jody Bishel's video is an excellent resource

Photocopy transfers: black/white, colored t-shirt transfer paper,Lazertran

Faux anything: jade, turquoise, amber, coral, ivory, wood etc. etc. T. Hughes videos are excellent resources

Leaf print pins using Pearl-X and other mica powders

Petroglyphs - using rubber stamps, carved/back-filled designs, liquid sculpey, antiquing (a work-along session using Klew's petroglyph cane video)

* Many of the above techniques can be applied to a variety of jewelry items - pins, earrings, pendants; picture frames, boxes, light switch covers, etc.

Miniature Book Making

Multi-media techniques with polymer clay

IPCA2016 Horiz

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