"R" -- National Guild Focus Groups

"R" -- National Guild Focus Groups

Post by Sherry Bail » Fri, 20 Sep 1996 04:00:00

(Oh, boy, the last Ravensdale thread from me -- I think!)

The National Guild, largely represented by Ellen Marshall our President, had
four focus group sessions (not too well attended, I fear) on issues of
conceern to the National Guild as represented by the Board. Each focus group
is expected to come up with a proposal for the National Guild to vote on, and
these should appear in the POLYinforMER in January or thereabouts. (The next
issue is already wrapped, and they couldn't get in it.)

Health Issues -- moderated by Nan Roche
Nan has talked to chemists in the business, and works in med tech herself, so
this is an area where her expertise is about as good as it currently gets. She
talked about the need for industry research (stuff we cannot do) as well as
for sensible precautions. At the same time, we all were reminded that we live
in a plastic world, and that we don't know what the plasticizer in new car
seats and carpeting is doing to us any more than in clay.

A lot of research, both chemistry related and involving professionals and
industry, and more "curiosity" motivated and aesthetic is seen as a need. The
focus group agreed that the National should coordinate the research being done
by independants (like Elise Winters and her rock tumbler experiments) and by
local or regional guilds collectively through several steps. First, trying to
get copies of all the data anybody has gathered in any reasonably "scientific"
way so far as baseline material. Then to have a team of coordinators who will
establish research protocols and evaluate and interpret the results of
research. Then getting interested Guild volunteers to try whatever experiments
are part of that research project in an organized way so the results make
some sense. (If you have been working on anything, it would be great if you
could get it together in a coherent form and be ready to submit it to the
National when there is someone to send it to! This material might go to the
Guild Library so people who are interested in sharing research projects,
splitting upt or repeating the work, can all see what is already known.
(One example of a topic is glues: what does and what does not work, what kind
of durability is expected, are ANY of them really permanent or do the
plasticizers eventully  break the bond, etc...)

A concern exists about the quality of teaching in communities out there. Some
are worried that rank beginners buy a how-to book and then immediately go out
to teach polymer clay crafts without any expertise in the material, safety and
health issues, or even teaching skills. This can be detrimental to the medium
of polymer clay as a whole. One concept from the focus group is a "teach the
teachers" program, meaning that the national want's to make some education
available to anyone who wants to teach polymer clay "out there". (Teaching the
SCHOOL teachers and developing a suggested school projects curriculum in
polymer clay is a longer term goal.) To teach the teachers, the suggestion was
made to develop a home study program with a written scanner-scored final exam
followed by a practical classroom observation by a National Guild rep in your
area. The teacher would pay for the home study course (which can be a
much-needed fundraiser for the national) and would receive a Certificate on
completion which would convey National Guild certification for
teaching. Although this is obviously not NECESSARY in order to teach, we hoped
that it would convey a certain status and credibility now lacking, and that
people would find it useful in advertising classes etc. (A certain amount of
non-paid public education presentations or talks would probably be expected to
be certified, and continuing education units would be developed to keep up
with changes in the field.) At some point farily soon, Guild members who have
handouts or other materials they have developed for teaching might be
requested to submit them to contribute to the development of the home study
program. We are interested in learnign what exactly people teach, how they do
it, and what skills need to be there for effectiveness.

This focus group was mostly about the communications between the National
Guild and it's membership and regional guilds. The exchange of newsletters was
mentioned, so if you have anything to do with a local guild newsletter, it
would be great to send a copy to Louise Belcher the Secretary of the National
Gild, and to any other regional guilds you can as well. The suggestion of
having a column in the POLYinforMER (which will be in a new format soon!!!)
on regional guils news came up. Also, the idea of each local guild selecting a
liaison person for the National, preferably one with an e-mail account, was
discussed a length. This might be the regional guild president (the current
informal contact) or else a separate person who is willing to interact. This
contact person is CURRENTLY not actually used, but as things develope, having
a fast way to get information out (from the liaison person to the phone tree
or whatever for the regional, for example) may be really helpful when sudden
situations arise. Also, this person can obviously realy information FROM the
local back to the National as well. People reading this might take the concept
to their next guild meetings to discuss prior to the officil word getting out
in POLYinforMER!

These are really sketchy summaries, so I hope people will add on and talk
about these issues. Even if you aren't IN the National Guild (yet!), the whole
polymer clay family can only benefit when the National does things right, and
that is something that takes a lot of input!



"R" -- National Guild Focus Groups

Post by Rebecca Triplett No » Sat, 21 Sep 1996 04:00:00


>(Oh, boy, the last Ravensdale thread from me -- I think!)


I am so grateful for the generous job you've done to bring "R" back
to us that if you'll e-mail me your address, I like to send you an
extra pendant that I made for my swap.  I know I don't have to do
this, and its certainly no great compensation for the time you've
spent (it's just a cane slice) but it would be a token of
appreciation that I would like to share.  I have appreciated all
the info everyone has posted.  I guess I wished that someone would
be able to came back and feed all of us non-"R"s but you provided a


Thanks for the time and generousity,


"R" -- National Guild Focus Groups

Post by Samantha McPherso » Sun, 22 Sep 1996 04:00:00


>I am so grateful for the generous job you've done to bring "R" back
>to us that if you'll e-mail me your address, I like to send you an
>extra pendant that I made for my swap.  I know I don't have to do
>this, and its certainly no great compensation for the time you've
>spent (it's just a cane slice) but it would be a token of
>appreciation that I would like to share.  I have appreciated all
>the info everyone has posted.  I guess I wished that someone would
>be able to came back and feed all of us non-"R"s but you provided a

>Thanks for the time and generousity,

What a wonderfully nice thing to do Rebecca.  And Sherry, I'd like to also thank
you with all my heart.  I eagerly get on line everyday to read what you've posted
about 'R'.  

I nominate Sherry as news club historian.


"R" -- National Guild Focus Groups

Post by Sherry Bail » Wed, 25 Sep 1996 04:00:00

Gosh, just flinging chocolate or cash would be enough, really!!! ;^) (Just
kidding, unless you happen to HAVE some chocolate to fling nearby, of

Really, guys -- it's my pleasure -- and I'm sure everyone who posts does it
because they hope someone cares about what they say. Although I seldom turn
down the offer of bribes, er, GIFTS ;^), I do think more posting from
everybody is a more net appropriate reward -- more new things prople are
trying, more reviews of products you tried (including ones that DON'T work so
we can benefit from you experiments) and whatever else is going on!  Keep the
newsgroup vital and busy! We are too far-flung to get together physically very
often, so this is IT!

(I mean, just because I blab a lot, don't imagine I don't have tons to learn
-- why not from YOU!)



"R" -- National Guild Focus Groups

Post by Elise Swo » Fri, 27 Sep 1996 04:00:00

Howdy Folk,
        I wanted to add to the excellent descriptions which Sherry has
posted over the past week or so.  My experience at Ravensdale was a bit
different, as (In addition to my morning studio) I took mostly
presentation/ seminars rather than technique workshops.  Many of the
presentations I went to emphasized the process of becoming (or evolving
as) an artist, exploring new ways to use the media, taking techniques we
learned in different directions, and finding one's own voice and ways of
        One of the great things about being at Ravensdale was seeing all
the different ways poly clay is being used.  There was some truely
inspirational work on display (at the expo, in the store, and on the
tables next-door).
        There are clearly many applications for poly clay beyond canework!
Some concern was expressed by several of the presentors about the
cheapening of the media when the market is flooded with derivative work,
and/or cheepie things that people make for a quick buck.
        I know that Sherry touched on some of these ideas in an earlier
post..but I wanted to add emphasis here.  When the question was posed
about reporting on workshops, the response was to disseminate and share
the information presented, BUT, be sure to credit the originator of the
idea or technique, and encourage others to find new ways of using it
rather than replicating someone else's style (or actual product).