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Services for Local Guilds

Attention Guild Leaders! We Need You!

Kathi Briefer-Gose and Frances Bauer are updating the contact list for all the local guilds and polymer clay groups worldwide.  It's a tall order, and they would like your help to add your guild's contact information!

Frances writes, "As International rep for the IPCA, I am trying to construct an up-to-date list of non-US guilds ( Kathi has the pleasure of constructing the USA one!).  It is proving very difficult, as so much information is out of date. It has also become apparent that outside the US, there are few actual guilds but mainly groups of like-minded people who meet up to do polymer. There are several reasons for doing the list: firstly, it provides a contact point for anyone wishing to join a local guild; secondly, it provides people for Kathi and I to contact to disseminate important information from the IPCA, rather than relying on individuals to visit the website.  We are all short of web browsing time, and so important announcements can easily be missed.  On an international level, the IPCA would like to encourarge formation of new local guilds to promote polymer clay. If you are a non-US guild leader, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.."

 

Kathi writes, "About a month or so ago I sent out an email message to the guild contact people about Synergy and a call for proposals. Imagine my dismay when I got quite a few bounce-backs from bad email addresses. As your US guild liaison, I need to be able to contact one person in your guild with fun and exciting news like this. Not to mention that Frances (the International Liaison) and I have some ideas up our shirt sleeves that we think some (or all) guilds would like to take part in. Having said that, I would dearly love it if you folks can let me know contact information for your guild leaders, and I will make sure this is all updated.

Some of the ideas we have in our brains are guild swaps, sister guilds, international swaps and so on. I know my goal is to have more contact between the guilds, to make us an international family, so to speak.  I want to help make the IPCA what YOU want it to be. Communication is a key ingredient for this.  Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.."

Calling All Group Leaders!

earthimages.jpg Lenora Kandiner , National Liaison and Kylee Milner , International Liasion are calling all polymer clay group leaders to join the new IPCA Liaison Group on Yahoo.

The group has been established in order to support, promote and comunicate with all group leaders across the polymer clay world.

Make sure that your group is featured - join us now!

Project Ideas for Guild Meetings

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:

Swaps:

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 (www.sciplus.com) 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 http://www.bottlesofhope.org 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.

Program-planning:

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 www.Pcpolyzine.com 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)

Figurines/doll-making

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.

Jewelry:

Necklace design & construction

Bracelets

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

Starting and Running a Polymer Clay Guild

IPCA’'s relationship to local guilds:

Because polymer clay education & sharing is one of IPCA’s major goals, we encourage local guild development 100%. The job of the Guild Liaison is to provide help & support for local groups & to foster communication between them. The current guild liaison may be reached via e-mail . IPCA currently does not have any requirements or financial ties with local guilds. So if you want to start a guild, feel free! Keep us posted on your activities and new officers and we’ll help you connect with new and potential members.

Organizational style reflects the area, size and needs of individual groups. Guilds throughout the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Japan vary in size and formal organization, from large well-organized city guilds who sponsor major conferences, local retreats & formal exhibits to guilds in smaller towns who simply "get together to do clay" on a casual basis. There are many guilds that are mid-way between. Most important, there’s no set standard for structuring a guild. The key ingredient is that the ocal guild reflects the members’ interests & that the structure enables the group to enjoy, share & learn about polymer clay.

Now for the "how-to" part: These ideas are based on our experience here in Colorado and on ideas other guild leaders have shared.

Getting Started:

Finding a place to meet and the potential members are the first steps. Your meeting place depends on the size of your community & group size. Some guilds meet in members’ homes, others in public facilities such as libraries, school art rooms (ideal!) community centers, churches, business meeting rooms (banks, etc.). Don’t be concerned about finding a huge number of members. If you have two or three others interested in polymer clay, bring them together and get started! The "right and wrong" of guild organization is what works for the individual & group!

Getting the word out sometimes takes the form of friends telling friends & conversations w/ strangers in the supermarket check-out line who admire the polymer pin you’re wearing. Other effective methods include (but are certainly not limited to) posters on library, supermarket, community center bulletin boards; flyers distributed at art/craft stores (along w/ demos), libraries & other public places. A first name and phone # is usually adequate for contact information.

The IPCA website has space for folks to list information about new guilds & to post requests for people interested in joining or helping form a guild. Contact the webmaster.

Ongoing Search for Members:

Once your guild is up and running, having information available for potential members is good idea. Prepare a letter or leaflet describing your guild activities, goals, meeting time/place, dues, contact information etc. Even the simplest format is eyecatching and appealing if printed on astro-bright paper. You can list your guild on the IPCA website so you’ll receive inquiries from people living in your area, as well as a complimentary copy of the IPCA newsletter, the POLYinforMER.

Getting together – the When and Where:

Meeting time & frequency is also reflective of the group. During the first year, Denver members met with the Fort Collins folks (60 miles up I-25), but the next year decided to form a group closer to home. The second year we met in people’s homes for a bi-monthly meeting & program & scheduled quarterly claydays at a suburban church. The following year we opted for monthly claydays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the church. Because our members come from all parts of the Denver metro area & even towns nearly 100 miles away, we find this Saturday plan works much better. We feel we get more done & have more time to share and work on clay projects. The changes in meeting times/place reflected a growing membership.

Some ideas for meeting formats:

Getting acquainted is the first goal for most guilds. For the initial meeting, consider asking folks to bring some of their clay creations to display and devote time to having people tell about how they discovered p.c. & a bit about themselves. We included a brief "tell about yourself" form for new members, asking essential contact info like addresses, phone#, e-mail, and also what aspects of clay they were especially interested in, what they’d like to know more about, and what kinds of techniques they might be willing to demonstrate to the group. Nametags are also a help in remembering names & as the group gets large, you may want to have permanent nametags. (Making individual polymer nametags using a favorite technique & colorsis a good program idea.)

Consider setting up an "inspiration station" table at each meeting where members display their work. This always brings much admiration & gives folks an opportunity to informally share techniques. Set up regularly, it becomes an important question/answer/affirmation time. (I was fairly new to polymer clay when our guild started and was shy about displaying my work. However, I soon discovered several other people felt and same way. Our "best" artists were so supportive and encouraging, even beginners gained confidence. We all look forward to "show and tell" each meeting.

Programs:

Demos:

Programs … so many opportunities, so little time! A popular program is having members demo a technique. Many are willing to share polymer knowhow, especially with admiring guild friends. People who’ve attended conferences like Ravensdale or the Muse are usually eager to show and share what they learned. Some guilds get a quality video (like the Tory Hughes’ Game Plan/Art Ranch series) and actually work together through the tape which is designed to be used as workshop instruction. Other groups use the tape for viewing and discussion. If you’re interested in the list of topics we’ve covered, please let me know and I’ll send it. Topics like "How to Market Your Work" are often well-received & usually people who are professionals are willing to share their trials, triumphs & knowhow.

Videotapes and Projects:

Some guilds are taping polymer clay segments from the craft shows on HGTV, Discovery or DYI.net. We recently used the "Wild Women Pins" segment from the Carol Duvall Show. The HGTV & DYI.net websites have printed instructions which can be shared along with the demo. Projects can also form an on-going program. A number of guilds are doing the "Bottles of Hope" project initiated by the Connecticut guild. One of our members demo’d steps in covering a bottle; we brought old canes & scrap clay to complete bottles to be distributed to patients at cancer treatment centers. We tagged the bottles w/ our guild name & website. Some individuals plan to include a favorite quote or kind personal note in each bottle. We purchased bottles inexpensively from a scientific supply website but there are free sources from hospital, medical or veterinary offices.

Swaps:

Another good programming event is to have a simple swap. Our first one involved making black and white beads. We specified a size range but not style & allowed use of metallic leaf. Our "Swapmeister" had a sign-up sheet & deadline so we knew two months ahead of time how many beads we needed to make. The day of the swap, we each turned our plastic bags of beads to the Swapmeister who arranged the exchange. We asked people to bring one extra bead for the bead string – a project which, quite frankly, we’ve never followed through on! (Check out the San Diego Guild website to view their impressive bead strings. It’s a great way to build a guild history.)

Swap Savvy:

One thing we did find out about swaps: if each person makes identical items, the exchange is easy. However, if people (like me) prefer to create a variety of designs, structuring the actual swap is a good idea. (We learned this the hard way!) This is how we handled a recent pendant swap. There were 20 folks signed up; at least half made 20 different designs. The Swapmeister & assistant collected the bags of pendants & put each set in a small open container (larger recycled meat trays work well). The containers were numbered 1-20 & arranged in rows on a large table. We each drew a number l-20 & lined up according to their #’s then moved around the table once, each making a first choice. After that, we just continued moving around the table until we’d each chosen nineteen pendants. The extra pendants were put into our stash to be used later at the Silent Auction.

Dues and money-making:

Many groups don’t want to fuss w/ dues or money-making projects & unless there’s a reason, such as paying for a meeting place, it’s not necessary. Most guilds find, however, that eventually they want some funds for an ongoing goal like building a video library, moving to a larger meeting room, buying treats for the meeting, bringing in a guest artist, etc. Again, money reflects group needs.

Since we pay $2/person/meeting for our church meeting space, we originally set $20 annual dues (to cover newsletter & incidentals) & each paid $2 per clayday when we attended. When we began meeting at the church monthly, we raised our dues to cover the meeting place so we could avoid the hassle of collecting the $2. By then our newsletter was established & we needed funds to cover printing and postage as well as our website "rent" from IPCA.

Money-raising is something many people shy away from, especially if it involves time selling something to friends & family! However, having a guild video library has proved to be a real benefit to our members & was one of our first major goals. To finance this we established a traditional Silent Auction each January as part of our "Holiday Recovery Party". (We don’t have a December meeting.) It’s very simple. We each bring things related to polymer clay – not necessarily new – put them out on large tables w/ a paper/pencil beside each. (The sheet beside each item has space for writing the name of the item, donor & a set of numbered lines.) We announce a time when bidding will stop. Throughout the day, members write their name & bid on the bid sheets for items they’re interested in buying. However, at any time another member may cross out that bid & replaced it with a higher amount. Excitement mounts when the SA leader announces "Five more minutes … and a countdown … ‘One more minute", etc. At the appointed time, the bidding is closed & winners claim their treasures & turn in their totaled slip(s) with payment to the cashier. There are always several highly desired items & it’s amazing fun to see how the bids mount with on-going friendly competition & joking between contenders!

Several guilds do a monthly raffle. Members contribute items & tickets are sold (example: $1 each, 6/$5). In smaller towns, a local craft store may contribute raffle items. ( Chain stores often have a policy prohibiting such practice.) Several years ago, Mike Buesseler sent our guild one of his landscape pins in lieu of dues. We were proud to list him on our membership roster & raffled the pin for a sum much greater than our dues! The next year he was a featured artist-instructor at our autumn retreat.

Guild Library:

We established a video/book library during our first year in Denver with a few purchases and several contributions from members. However, we were very lax about the check-out/return policies &maintenance of a library inventory. What we found was that things tended to "drift", get lost in closets, etc. & that our hard-earned collection wasn’t regularly available to members. The second year we allocated all Silent Auction proceeds to the library & got a wonderfully organized librarian. We voted to rent each video for $3.00 a month, Books $2 or 3 for $5. Members wishing to rent a video write a $25 check to the Guild, which isn’t cashed unless the video is not returned. (This has seldom happened.) The librarian sends out e-mail reminders the week prior to Clayday & we urge people to get their tapes back on time! Because the tapes are now circulating, our library is self-supporting & we have money coming in to buy new tapes as they’re produced. We found that the how-to books are not much in demand, so are currently buying only new videos & duplicate copies of the most popular. The books we’re buying are Dover clip-art books & other design or reference books. Most of our members purchase the specific polymer clay books for their own personal libraries.

What to do with the library collection is often a challenge, especially as the collection grows. The first year, our librarian hauled the materials back & forth. If she was absent, the library didn’t function. Fortunately, the church where we meet gave us closet space & we bought a rolling cart in which to store materials. Some guilds who don’t have storage space where they meet list the library collection on their website or in their membership directory & members call or e-mail their request to the librarian the week prior to the meeting. The Arizona guild’s website automatically sends a member’s requests directly to the librarian. Keeping the list updated is important, of course, regardless where the collection is kept. We list new acquisitions in the quarterly newsletter as well as on our website.

A nearly "free" way to begin a library is to have someone tape polymer clay demo segments airing on craft TV programs, such as Carol Duvall (HGTV), Home Matters (Discovery) & Crafts (DIY). We each contributed taped segments & one of our members edits & combines them onto tapes. Currently, we have twelve tapes full different demos! Our librarian even made a directory of each tape’s contents to be pasted on the cover. For some of the tapes we have notebooks with the instructions copied from the website.

Reminders and Newsletters:

My experience is that we all need & appreciate reminders about meeting times/places/events even if they happen regularly. About two weeks prior to Clay Day, we send an e-mail reminder about the up-coming meeting, the demo topic or event, & what to bring. For members not connected via e-mail, we send a postcard. People tell us that they enjoy getting the reminders because it’s like receiving a special invitation. Some groups use a phone-tree to remind others of meetings or to share event news. Once the tree is designed, each person is only responsible for making one or two phone calls. Small groups often have someone in charge of phoning everyone.

Newsletters - Many guilds put out a newsletter that includes a variety of information and reminders. Members may "volunteer" to write reviews of new polymer clay books or videos they’ve discovered. Tips or brief steps for a new technique are very popular. Of course events and meeting news is included. For a new group, I’d say a newsletter is "nice but not essential." It’s something that can be added at any time once you find someone willing to take on the challenge & members willing to contribute content. Meantime, the IPCA POLYinforMER is one of the best perks for national membership! (Local guilds who send in their contact information are currently being sent a complimentary copy.)

Many guilds find it easier and more cost-effective to convey newsletter information via e-mail or include it on their website. The advantages of electronic communication is the ease of including photos taken at meetings and special events along with an easily up-dated gallery of members’ work.

By-Laws:

People often debate the usefulness of By-Laws. Our guild has a set that has been rewritten once to better reflect the changes that evolved during the Guild’s first four years. Several well-functioning guilds have confessed to making a conscious decision to avoid a lot of red tape, subscribing to the "K.I.S.S." ("Keep It Sweet & Simple") method of organization. By-Laws are often daunting because of the formal wording. Their main purpose is to structure how things are done so that in the future leadership can be passed on with an assurance of continuity and that decisions can be fairly made. Most people feel comfortable with a simple list of guidelines that include frequency of meetings, dues structure, officers/duties, timelines, and a stated way in which things can be changed to assure that members are included in decision-making.

Some states require a "tax-free non-profit" application for groups with a designated amount of money in the treasury. By-Laws are often required as part of the application process.

Formal leadership:

Officers’ duties need not be unwieldy or overly time-consuming. Ideally, and often in real life, polymer clay guilds operate simply because members just want to get together and "do clay." Someone needs to be in charge of the basics & to see that decisions are carried out. My experience has been that delegating small tasks & involving everyone in ways each feels most comfortable creates a well-functioning, successful guild. A number of groups have foundered when the one and only "leader" has relinquinshed their role of "doing it all". Again, the important thing what works best for members.

I didn’t intend to write such a long, ponderous essay on "guild development" nor hold MHPCG up as a glowing example! However, a lot of thoughts occurred to me after I began. Last but not least: don’t be overwhelmed! Guilds have a way of emerging out of common interests & the group need not be overly concerned with all the extras right at first.

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