Sunday, April 20, 2008



When the opportunity for me to teach a workshop arose, I jumped at the chance. So quickly in fact, that I didn't really think about how I was going to do it. So, not unlike the bear that went over the mountain, I went to the internet - to see what I could see.

Lucky for me, there are many people out there who enjoy writing about what they do - what they're good at. One web page I found had pretty much all the answers I needed. Actually, this site has a ton of helpful information I use all the time. (Check out Rena Klingenberg's web site for great tips on running a successful jewelry making business.)

My teaching space – tool kits, materials, inspiration in samples and magazines.


1. Do I like to teach, instruct, or stand up in front of a bunch of strangers (or even friends) and talk?

Okay, this is really public speaking, which let's face it, is the number one phobia in the world. I'm not a big fan of it BUT it is super easy when I know what I'm talking about. It's that simple. If I'm the expert, then I can talk about it all day long.

Here's a clue for you to know if you can speak in front of strangers: When you sell your creations, do you speak to potential customers about your work and how you are inspired and what materials you use? If the answer is 'yes' then you can teach a class of strangers.

And by the way, your students are not strangers for long. People come to a class like this on their own free will because they want to have fun - nobody's going to give you a hard time.

2. Do I have the patience to teach?

This is easy. You know if you do or if you don’t. I have two kids – yes, I have patience for miles.

3. Do I have the expertise to teach my craft?

Well, one might find it difficult to call oneself an expert, but consider this: Do you sell your jewelry? Do you get complimented on your techniques? Do other artists enjoy your work? Similar to patience, you know if you are an expert in what you are currently doing or not. That doesn’t mean you’re not still learning – how else are you going to grow as an artist?

4. Can I facilitate effectively?

I’m a planner. If I have a plan laid out in front of me that I can follow, then I know I can get back on track if the class gets side-tracked. And again, if I know what I’m talking about, then I know I can get my points across.


Here are some instructor pointers I picked up from my recent PMC class. I basically observed how my teacher was instructing and I was learning a new skill at the same time. Man, I should have paid her double!

Introduce yourself – explain how you got to where you are and what you enjoy about it.

Student intros – ask participants what level they’re at and why they decided to take your class.

Tool time – have a tool kit for each student and go over them all before you begin so they can handle them.

Inspiration – with so many design options, help students decide what to create by showing them examples and having magazines available for them to peruse.

Demo – show how step one is done and then let them do it, repeat with each step.

Room to move – give students a reason to get up and move around – artists need freedom!


After teaching a couple of classes, I picked up some of my own pointers. Teachers often say they learn from their students, and it’s true.

My two students, Mary Jane and Becky, proudly sporting their new creations!

Test all new materials – even if they look exactly like what you’ve used in the past.

Know what time it is – get a watch or a clock for your teaching space.

Be flexible – even though a plan is important, realize things may change in mid-stream.

Ask questions – find out your students’ expectations.

So that’s it. Through this article, I hope I’ve been able to assist another artist who wishes to teach a workshop!


Beat Black said...

hm, well I don't think I could ever teach, I cant even answer the first question correctly, lol. I like seeing how organized your teaching space is!

AlasMyDear said...

these are helpful tips! thanks so much. now if only i could find some way to pluck up the courage i need...