Jenny from Eden Dreams shares some insights on how to run a successful workshop. She shares her skills, unique style and design flair with her clients with the objective of helping each student leave with one or 2 special pieces that they have designed and completed on the day. Her advice below is a valuable resource for anyone considering running workshops for any art or craft medium
Jenny is the driving force behind Eden Dreams – an amalgamation of the things she loves – nature and the beach…ideas and creativity. These are subjects she has explored artistically in various mediums since she was a child. Her love of nature shines through in her artwork and it amazes me that you can walk away from one of her workshops with a truly unique piece of wearable art. All of the images within this post are examples of her students work!
I’m Jenny from Eden Dreams Jewellery. I run one-day PMC (Precious Metal Clay) jewellery workshops. I have been running workshops for a year.
I would like to say that working with PMC is pretty precarious to a newbie so of course my job is to make sure the whole thing ran smoothly, errors, or potential, were identified before they happened, plan ‘B’s put into place if need be all whilst maintain a calm and relaxed demeanor. I want my ladies to have fun, which basically means I run about like a very clam looking headless chook keeping an eye on things ‘behind the scenes’ so that their day is fun!
Finding a Venue:
I spend quite a while trying to find a good venue… I wanted somewhere close to home (I would have held them at home if it wasn’t for my 2 year old) so that if I forgot something important, hubs could come to the rescue with it!
I booked a room at my local council offices which had an adjoining kitchen (important if people are there all day and want to cool drinks/food etc. with tea facilities etc). Also I needed access to hot water for my workshop for the finishing stages where patinas etc. are applied.
I ensured there was parking and easy access (wheelchairs included). A very important point here was insurance and my classes were covered by the council (on a casual basis I could run 12 a year before the insurance issue became my own problem!) so that was great.
This took a lot of planning and even roping some friends into doing tests runs at my house on 2 occasions for cost price of materials! I wrote down comprehensive lists on timings of the class & content and then a further equipment checklist.
The timings I ran through with my friends, when booking a venue and potentially having other people in the room straight after you, you cannot overrun!! My class bookings were for 7.5 hours and his included half hour either end to set up and pack away. I also made notes at each timing point reminding me of important things that I couldn’t forget to add to ensure smooth running and no hiccups.
My checklist of equipment runs into 3 pages of A4 and is comprehensive and has never failed me! I provide all tools, equipment, chemicals, jewellery making parts (apart from the PMC). I also take a board that I pin my own designs to and have print outs of other designs which they can either correctly copy or get ideas from. I think seeing the pieces in person gives a good insight into ways of finishing a piece, different styles, different ways you can attach ‘things’ to ‘other things’!
I start the day by giving a talk on PMC, what it is and how it works and then a run through of how the day will proceed so everyone knows what to expect at different stages. I give demonstrations, show my designs so students can see what can be made and to start the creative juices flowing! I also provide some yummy biscuits to help with this.
I take this really seriously and made sure I am careful to explain everything I can think of for students to use the equipment safely, e.g. safety glasses for torch firing, disposable gloves for handling chemicals. I give a group talk before torches are used on those and have a second one there for when the first one becomes hot so we can sway torches to let the first one cool down. I also give practical demos.
I wrote up a disclaimer too and have each participant sign this before we start. It basically says that I will not be liable for any miss-haps and they undertake the course at their own risk etc. I also state that things can and do go wrong so it’s not ‘guaranteed’ that they will take home one complete piece (this hasn’t happened but I’m just covering myself!) and also if they feel they don’t want to take part or feel a certain bit of the class is dangerous then to notify me immediately. Sorry if this seems a little intense but in today’s society with law suits etc., unfortunately I do take this very seriously because you never know!!
I don’t get return business as what I teach can be furthered at home but I certainly get word of mouth bookings. I might at some point offer more advanced courses but it starts to get complicated and would have to be run over several weeks etc. so I’m not going down that route. Maybe in the future.
Amount of people:
I only have 4 ideally but a maximum of 5 people. This ensures I have enough time to watch over everyone and prevent hiccups before they happen – PMC is very temperamental! Also because there is a big design element to it and also turning the PMC into a finished piece of jewellery, this takes time to work out how that can be achieved and that’s very much where my knowledge and ‘expertise’ comes in!
The best place to publicise your course is while at markets because people are there, they can see the sort of things they can make and get a deposit out of them there and then! Also a good one for free advertising is on Gumtree – they have a section just for community hobbies/classes etc. and I get a lot of enquiries through there. I also add heaps of pictures of the type of things they can expect to make. I also got free/cheap postcards etc. from Vista advertising the courses which I put into customer bags etc. or pinned on local noticeboards.
Facebook is another good one.
Behind the scenes:
There is a lot of organisation going on whilst it might seem like ‘a good days wage’ when you work out the figures, this doesn’t take into account the huge amount of organisation that goes on. Room bookings, collecting keys, paying deposits, answering enquiries, ordering stock, checking payments coming in etc.
I have 3 Word document for each stage of an enquiry/booking which I send out. The first one is a comprehensive guide to the day, what ‘it’s about, cost, venue, pictures etc.
If someone then goes on to want to book I send out another standard email with bank details etc.
The final confirms their booking, date time, how much paid and further details for the day and also I attach the disclaimer.
At the end of the day, my main thing is to make sure my clients have a great time and a successful day. They are parting with a ‘reasonable’ amount of money and I would hate for anyone to leave disappointed. As it is my ladies have always left on a high, proud of what they have learned and achieved and ready to tell anyone who will listen what a great time they have had with me and that’s what I want.
Jenny will be running workshops again in 2013.
CONTACT JENNY at EDEN DREAMS: