Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Moving Forward

In the months to come, you'll see changes to CraftEdu.com. It's been a lot of work, too much thinking (my head hurts!) but it will be worthwhile. We're focused on you - how to make navigation simpler, how to make it easier to find the classes you want and changes include a student dashboard (much easier for you to locate your classes!).

The first big change is our name. As of today, we're CraftArtEdu. I like the change, it better reflects who we are and our goals moving forward. We hope you agree.

We're adding new, exciting teachers who are working hard on their classes. Our goal is to spread our love of art and craft to you, to connect with you regardless of how far apart and distant we might physically be. The world is shrinking, computers make it possible to reach out and meet you anytime and in any place.

Thank you for your support. It's been a long road and we're moving along apace.

Have a great and glorious holiday season. May you be safe, secure, happy and content moving into 2012!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Reach Out!

As a teacher, it's my goal to take my students and give them the tools to make a jump up in their work - that's the goal of my in person workshops. Working on CraftEdu, that goal remains. You see, the vacuum in instruction doesn't really occur in beginning instruction - that you can find all over the net, and we have beginning instruction ourselves - but in the type of instruction that challenges our students and delves into details that one really only gets in those in person workshops. I can't be everywhere, none of our instructors can be everywhere in person, but we can reach those students seeking upper level instruction via CraftEdu. We can replicate our in person workshops online but it's even better than that - our students get us at our best. They get the rested us. They get the organized us. They get exactly what we feel is important to convey through images and our voice. They get us on our best days standing before them in person. And, they get the best seat in the house.

After more than 1 year online, we're still the "new kids". There are still questions about the platform, the most common is how to access the pdf handout that accompanies each workshop. So, for the record, here's how! Login to your class then move the cursor to the bottom of the screen to reveal the navigation bar. Slide the cursor to the right to the white up arrow and a menu appears. The attachment is in that menu and all you have to do is click on it. A pop up window appears and you can print from there.

This email came as a response to a query about just that issue but Terry went on to make a comment about Maggie Meister's "Mosaic Chain Cuff Bracelet" that hits the heart of our goal. Terry totally gets it!

"Thank You Donna for the quick info. Just wanted to tell you that I started the bracelet last night. The instructions are impeccable and it is so nice to hear a Maggie's voice. This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us who are not able to attend those far away classes. I am an advanced beader and find this to be perfect."

There is a very old tv commercial that sings "reach out, reach out and touch someone" and that's exactly what Maggie did when she touched Terry.

Donna Kato is one of the founders of CraftEdu, has her own brand of polymer clay (Kato Polyclay by Van Aken, Int.), is an author and teacher - on the road and online at CraftEdu.com.

Workshops at CraftEdu
Upcoming Events

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Today, I am thinking of my Dad - he was the greatest! My very first memory is of dad. I was 2 years old in my crib - it was either very early in the morning or late (it was dark) when the door opened. I remember his silhouette in the doorway - daddy... He walked in the room, bent over my crib and said "Donna, you want to go fishing?"

I thought I had dreamt that for the longest time, until I told Mom, who told me, "yes, Daddy used to take you fishing all the time. He'd get you dressed, pack a lunch and leave a note on the fridge 'Mom, took Donna fishing'". And off we'd go.

Dad always loved fish and loved to fish. He subscribed to two publications that he read cover to cover - Field & Stream and National Geographic (he killed us in the geography category of Trivial Pursuit). My brother Mark was a "bonus baby" - a full 20 years younger than I. Mom, Dad and Mark must have circled the Great Lakes 3 times on their camping vacations. Always looking for the one that couldn't get away. Setting up the huge, blue and white striped circus tent in the woods. I don't know if dad knew it was blue and white - he was color blind - but I think it must have always been the only one in a campground, maybe the state.

Most of the time they got those fish but on one particular day, they got skunked. Mark, as luck would have it, was the only one who caught anything - his first fish - all 3" of it. He was a headstrong child and insisted that he keep his very first fish so dad relented - the only time I can remember he ever broke the law. When they returned to the dock, Mark insisted that dad clean his fish. Okay, let's teach the kid how it's done.

The way you clean a fish is simple but involves a few steps - after step one, Mark decided he didn't really want any part of it, promptly abandoned Dad (and his precious first fish) and ran off to make some new friends. Dad, never one to shirk a task, continued, alone, to clean that minnow. Scales off, head off, cut the belly, remove the guts, wash it and you're done. It just seemed wrong to toss the minnow in the trash as anyone else would have done but not my Dad - once he started something, he finished it.

People are so wonderful, so sympathetic, the "plight" of my family did not go unnoticed. How terrible that those people have only that minnow to eat! So, that night 3 people searched the campground for my folks - bringing fish for my family to eat! People can be so compassionate.

Dad was not only a fisherman, he was an artist. Not the conventional artist - no smock, no paint palette. His art was the restoration of crashed up cars - he was a body and fender man and he was a great one. He loved his work, he talked about the tolerance of metal, just how much you could stress it before it would give. He talked about what a really good paint job was. He appreciated art and craftsmanship and always supported our efforts.

Of all the gifts my dad gave me, perhaps the very best gift was the peace he left behind. No words unspoken, no turmoil between we children, no wondering if he loved us, no wondering if we'd disappointed him. He was an exceptional father, he was an exceptional man, he was gentle, loving and kind, he was our rock and our example and you know, he still is. We sure miss you, Pop.

Happy Father's Day! If you're lucky enough to have your Dad, give him a great big hug from me!

Donna Kato is one of the founders of CraftEdu, has her own brand of polymer clay (Kato Polyclay by Van Aken, Int.), is an author and teacher - on the road and online.

Workshops at CraftEdu
Upcoming Events

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Flag Cake - Create-Celebrate-Explore

Click here and 10 cents will be donated to troops to call home program A Flag Cake - Create-Celebrate-Explore

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kinder Canes with Heather Campbell

Join artist/teacher Heather Campbell in her first class at CraftEdu! In this class, you'll learn how to make what she calls "Kinder Canes". If you've wanted to try your hand at caning, this beginner class is just what you've needed to give you a firm foundation in the popular technique.

We will Bazinga this class on Monday so mark your calendar so you don't miss out on the 25% discount for two days. This class will be Bazinga priced at 15.00 (will be 20.00)

To see the Preview of Kinder Canes with Heather Campbell, click on the thumbnail below.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Artist, Sylvie Peraud's wonderful 3 part class: "Different Techniques in Polymer Clay Mosaics" is posted in 2 languages (so be careful). The Bazinga price (25% discount) of both classes for the next 2 days is 27 (will be 36) so take advantage of this pricing and learn about polymer clay mosaics! The Bazinga ends on Friday at noon Mountain Time!

English: http://bit.ly/is1xXT
French: http://bit.ly/jR9UvY

Thursday, May 19, 2011

3-D Mixed Media Art Card

I had so much fun creating this mixed media art card. I used a dog stamp from Viva Las VegaStamps to create the 3-D angel dog.
 click to enlarge
a close-up of the wings

To create this mixed media artwork card, I stamped the dog image on white watercolor paper and shaded it with Copic markers. I punched a 2" circle of white paper, cut it in half, folded it and used a corner stamp to punch the design. I combined the dog and wings on three layers of handmade paper.

I painted dots around the circle with gold metallic acrylic. Then I added beads and metallic threads along one side.

stamp - 

Bichon With Bow 2 x 2 1/4 Item 11156 Plate 1165 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tiny White Chair

Today, a technical lesson! This little chair is going to be part of a larger project - for that project, I covered it with clay. CraftEdu instructor Kent Perdue makes these wonderful little chair rings of wood (his specialty). For the project, I didn't have to cover it with clay, but I wanted to.

Wood is a tricky material to cover in polymer. It expands and contracts more than polymer and that can present problems after curing. For this reason, the polymer clay you choose must be strong enough not to crack when the wood expands.

Wood is also textured, it isn't stock smooth like glass and textures don't (in my experience) grab the clay like a smooth surface. For this reason, a wood piece should be sanded with fine grit paper - let's make it smoother. Dry sand it well, then brush off the dust - don't wet the piece or else you may have to wait a few days for it to dry out again.

There are so many woods - of so many qualities so if you can, choose a hardwood, with no knots (the sap will seep out - another resist agent - when you heat the piece). The seeping may well also lead to cracking in the wood itself and that may lead to problems with the clay covering it.

Before sheeting a piece with clay, apply a coat of PolyPaste and cure it. The PolyPaste will fill whatever remains of the texture and provide a nice, smooth, polymer surface on which to attach the sheet. When covering a chair like this - it's all angles (except for the round holes) sheet each plane of the chair, don't drape a sheet over. Draped sheets end up with rounder corners and that's not what I wanted!

Because of the issue of expansion, contraction, texture, make that sheet of at least a medium thickness. You may save clay with a thin sheet but it will be more difficult to manage and may even crack after curing. This medium sheet is stronger and offers the capability of sanding and sanding and not exposing the wood beneath it.

I used to cover really big wooden pieces with clay but the level of difficulty of covering larger forms increases with the size so begin with a small piece, then move on to larger items.

Donna Kato is one of the founders of CraftEdu, has her own brand of polymer clay (Kato Polyclay by Van Aken, Int.), is an author and teacher - on the road and online at CraftEdu.com.

Workshops at CraftEdu
Upcoming Events

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother's Day

Today's blog is dedicated to my Mother and Mothers the world over. Where would we be without them? I adore my mom.

I owe so much to my mom. The care and feeding, the comforting and scolding, teaching right from wrong - not an easy job. When I was small, my parents friends used to say of my brother and I "if they both survive", which says a lot about the chaos the two of us created in the house. Thankfully, we both did survive and are great friends today. But getting through those formative years placed a huge burden on Mom, Dad and baby sister, Tina, who used to hide when we started up. We were Hurricane Katrina roaring through our home in San Jose.

Somehow, with all of that to deal with (it was a lot), my mom managed to make our clothes, knit our sweaters, even provide Tina's beloved Barbie dolls with the best wardrobe on the block and make jam. Tiny brocade dresses with mink collars. Smashing! Watching her at the sewing machine or sitting with a ball of yarn and needles, clicking away, was magic to me. That little piece of fabric turned into that dress, that yarn turned into a sweater. Absolute magic.

So, when I was old enough (about 8) Mom taught me how to make magic of my own. She taught me to knit (my first sweater being a jaunty orange sailor collar sweater for Tina's Skipper doll - one ply on pick up sticks), crochet, embroider and then bought me all those issues of "1,000 Great Christmas Ideas" at the local grocery check out. I pored over those magazines. I made ornaments of ribbon, styrofoam snowmen and pipe cleaner anythings.

Through my Mother's instruction and support, I learned the most valuable lesson of my life. I can do, I can make, I am not totally dependent on a store or anyone else for what I need. If I set my mind to something, there's a good chance I can do it. That confidence allowed me to go further, to dare to try to make my life in the art and craft world. I rarely think "I can't do that", I always think of how I might do it myself.

When I began in polymer clay, Mom told my husband Vernon, "I'm scared, how is Donna going to make a living with clay???" Vernon replied, "I know, I'm scared, too". The important thing here is that I didn't know they were concerned - they didn't tell me until years after. If I had known they were so concerned, I might not have pursued this dream.

So, Mom, thank you for the many gifts you have given to me and to everyone who is lucky enough to know you. More than anyone else, you set me on this road, you opened the door, supported and encouraged and let me try what you at one time thought totally improbable.

Donna Kato is one of the founders of CraftEdu, has her own brand of polymer clay (Kato Polyclay by Van Aken, Int.), is an author and teacher - on the road and online.

Workshops at CraftEdu
Upcoming Events

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Open Door

After 3 weeks on the road I'm almost back in the swing of things. Emails, welcoming our new members, catching up on laundry and paying extra attention to Doc, Zoe and Dulce - who were quite certain I'd abandoned them. That alone is quite a job, but someone has to do it!

So, I posted some pix on facebook, of my wonderful trip and the kind and generous new friends I'd made. That's the best thing about traveling, I think, and my travels have led me to the conclusion that no matter where we live, what language we speak, we are more similar than we are different.

In the comments of one album came a surprise - gasp - the great craft museum in New York, The American Craft Museum - had been renamed. It's now the Museum of Art and Design which doesn't even make sense to me. The reason? Craft is now a dirty word. Really? It seems there are those who would very much like to erase the word from Webster's Dictionary.

Crafting is a room with its doors swung open wide. It's an invitation to everyone to find whatever degree of creativity that may reside within. It's about fulfilling the inside more than what others may think of what you have made. It's about encouraging people who think they have not an ounce of creativity in their bodies to discover that they do. It's democratic and it's not steeped in the judgement and criticism of others. I love it because it makes my world a better place to live and it enriches the lives of others.

I love "Craft" and crafting...I hope some folks figure out what it really means.

Donna Kato is one of the founders of CraftEdu, has her own brand of polymer clay (Kato Polyclay by Van Aken, Int.), is an author and teacher - on the road and online.

Workshops at CraftEdu
Upcoming Events

The image is from leadershipfreak.wordpress.com, which is a really wonderful blog!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nathalie Kalbach

Hi my name is Nathalie Kalbach, and I live in Hamburg, Germany. Since February 2011 I am a full time self employed artist.
Wow- it feels so wonderful yet so weird to write this down for the first time in a bio. See...it has been a long journey until this.

My family is musical and some of my family members love to draw and paint. Lot’s of my ancestors had a real obsession with photography; we have a lot of wonderful heritage photos in our possession and photos fascinated me as long as I remember. It was always the question about the person behind the picture, the moment, the emotions.

I had art in school and had a wonderful time with a very young enthusiastic art teacher who let us just be very experimental and having fun doing art. We would paint eyes and eyes and eyes with acrylic paints, then looking for our favorite piece there, we would do chalk paintings of our projected profile Dias on packing paper and if there were parts to dark, we would just fill in the missing parts with trees or whatever we imagined made us strong to get out of the shadow. It was my favorite subject in school, until…he left. Until the new teacher let us draw what we saw with pencils- our pencil holder, the eraser, a table. I thought my drawing weren’t too bad…she told me I had absolutely no talent – I should better not think I’m creative – art is not my subject.

I believed her that I’m really not a creative person, have no talent for art. I did photo books- not knowing that there is something like Scrapbooking out there in the world, since this hobby was until a couple years ago not known in Germany. I liked visiting museums and look at art. I was interested in design. But I studied law, I became a paralegal, because I was a head-person…not an artsy person. Don’t get me wrong, I was very good in my job – I have been in the highest position in this field that you can concur, I managed at the end an office with five lawyers, doing accounting, taxes and working on my own files. But it wasn’t as if I had the dream job.

In 2004 I married my wonderful friend Jim. He has always been very creative and when I wasn’t sure of what to do with our wedding photos he told me, I should do something called Scrapbooking. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I figured it out and soon I was also drawn into Mixed Media Art and the techniques that are used there. It didn’t take much time for me to combine those two fields – lot’s of people thought that was bold and wrong back then. I didn’t care – I really like what I was doing, I poured my emotions and thoughts out in those techniques and the journaling, making the pieces meaningful for me- but also colorful and …well- that is something you can argue over – beautiful for the viewer. I held on to my style and a couple months later I had my first publication in an American Magazine called Simple Scrapbooking – which is kind of funny, cause my style is so not simple ;) . From there it just rolled over me – I got published as a featured artist in Somerset Memories, now writing a regular column in the Magazine called “Nathalie’s Studio”, since then I have been published in numerous magazine, idea books and eZines.
I had my own product line: papers and stamps and transparencies called eMOTions with a French Manufacturer.
I have been working with several manufacturers in a design team, right now with Tattered Angels who manufactures wonderful Spraypaints and other Paintmedia, also Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L and Vintage Street Market – a gorgeous company that manufactures vintage themed Scrapbooking and gift wrapping papers, embellishments and tapes.

I soon realized that I love to teach. My first teaching gig was in Berlin in 2007 – and I remember how excited and stoked I was, but also scared. But I loved loved loved it so much. I loved showing the students what they could do, make a project that doesn’t look like mine, but is a piece of it’s own, to learn techniques and to just try to be creative and not being scared of trying things. Now that I write this down, I somehow see the connection to my experiences with my art teachers in school. I do not want to limit my students, I want them to have a good time and experience and enjoy the process- there is no right or wrong!

The last couple months I realized that I basically was doing two full jobs – one as a paralegal and one as an artist/workshop teacher and it started to be really exhausting and I had to ask myself what I really want. Doing the art/workshop part felt so right, so what I wanted, that I decided to take the risk and give up my well-paid full time job. If I wouldn’t do it, I would never know, right? I would always wonder if I could have been successful with something I am passionate about, something that makes me feel good, something that is releasing my creativity.

So here I am – Nathalie Kalbach, an artist and workshop teacher.

I have been teaching in several different countries like Germany, the U.S., Spain, The Netherlands, France, Norway, Greece, Denmark, Israel, Austria, Belgium and soon I will do a teaching road trip called the Creative Journey in Australia. I’m a member of the wonderful craftedu.com faculty and it makes me happy to be in the same group as a lot of teachers and artists that share the same passion of showing people how to create.

You can find my Layered Background Workshop on CraftEdu here….
A new class will be released in the next couple days ☺
Join my classroom
If you want to read more about me and see more of my work visit my blog: www.scrapbook-trends.com

We are proud to have the wonderful Nathalie Kalbach teaching here at CraftEdu! To watch the preview of her "Layered Backgrounds" workshop, simply click on the text.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gordon Uyehara

Gordon is one of the most respected metal clay artists in the world. His work sets a new standard in the metal clay arts and he is a sought after instructor for both the depth of his technical expertise and his esthetic. If you know metal clay, then you know Gordon Uyehara.

But, really, how much do we know about anyone? I know Gordon, but I had no idea how he came to art and metal clay so I decided to find out. Now, you will also know a bit of his history and his journey to master artist.

Poor Gordon, he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii! All those brutal winters! But, I jest, none of us decide where we land and he was just lucky to land in paradise. He also hails from a family of artists – his sister is a fine artist doing small scale wood sculptures, after retiring, his Dad returned to the university and earned his Masters in sculpture. Art “runs in the family”.

Gordon’s journey began with pencil and paper. He says he liked to draw and even today, he sketches out his pieces before he makes them.

Gordon attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he received his Bachelor of Science in ICS. That’s Information and Computer Science so we know he knows his way around when it comes to what we sometimes call the “magic box”. Gordon actually understands the magic in the box. He worked for the university doing web support, but found the environment a bit staid, a bit restricting – as he says “another concession in a list of compromises of a yawn inducing life” (good words!) and he was badly in need of a change.

By late April of ’02, Gordon had his big wake up moment. Literally, it was 2 am and he woke up and wrote his resignation announcement. It was both liberating and disconcerting – he took the big first step on a path of uncertainty.

That summer, the next big turn came in the form of a little advertisement in the Honolulu Weekly about silver clay being taught at a local bead store. I think this is probably the best reason I’ve ever heard for protecting print newspapers! He called and signed up.

It was in that class taught by Sally Yoshida, that silver clay caught his interest – it was intriguing and it challenged him. Gordon invested a lot of time and money in his exploration of the medium and it paid off. He figured it out and now he’s an Art Clay Silver Senior Instructor.

Because we can do, does not automatically mean we can teach, When a local instructor at a bead store decided to take a break, Gordon was invited to try teaching. He stepped out again, met that challenge, discovered he is a teacher and he still teaches at this very same bead shop today.

Gordon is inspired by nature, science fiction, by other artists and smart, creative people, in general. I asked him where his art comes from and he said “Art comes from the need to express yourself”. It sure does.

We are honored and pleased to offer workshops by the one and only Gordon Uyehara at CraftEdu.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Teresa Sullivan

As a shy, intense kid, I drew almost constantly, created cartoons, and listened to a lot of music. My Dad knew he could keep me happy with scratch paper and felt pens when I visited his office and my Mom knew she could keep getting me to go to church if I got to sing. Since grade school, art and music along with biking and hiking, was a life saver as my family life turned chaotic.

I was a late-blooming rebel, maintaing a grade A average while discovering punk rock and more diverse art. In college I started playing electric bass guitar, co-founding a band called Living Eyes which self-released a 45rpm single in 1989 and still plays live. Although my artwork mostly centered on the band’s show flyers for a time, around 1991 a combination of forces led me to re-embrace art through the medium of beads.

I lived walking distance from a bead store; after having my ears pierced I began making earrings to wear. Then our drummer gave me a box of beads a roommate left behind, and I received a bag of raw earthenware from the tile factory where I worked. I began making beads out of the clay, trading them at the local bead store, and joined the Portland (Oregon) Bead Society.

I fell in love with trade beads, their history, and the challenges of designing with them. Then Joyce Scott’s expressive artwork fired up my interest in seed bead weaving. I realized I could do a lot more than make pleasant things with beads. I began expressing my love of the surreal and the irreverent. The first seed-bead artwork I made is a three-dimensional eyeball with trailing optic nerve.

Inspired by Joyce’s example and that of renowned glass artist Paul Stankard, I slowly but surely transitioned from punching a time clock to a living derived from making and teaching.

I have held workshops since 1997 in Alaska, up and down the West Coast, and from Chicago to Dallas. Exhibiting since 1995, my artwork has been seen in Tokyo, Washington, D.C., and New York City. My first museum solo exhibit, “Station Identification”, debuted at Mesa Arts Center in 2010.

My work has been featured in Ornament, Beadwork and Fiberarts magazines; Lark Books’ 500 Beaded Objects, Kate McKinnon’s The Jewelry Architect, extremecraft.com author Garth Johnson’s 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse, and TV program AM Northwest. Visit www.teresasullivanstudio.com to see me create a 3-dimensional head, to see me on TV, and to view more artwork.

I have found that whether you want to create art for fun, for a living, or just to stay sane, it brings out your special magic.

Teresa Sullivan creates intricate and monumental sculpture and sculptural jewelry from humble materials using the ancient technique of beadweaving, revealing her love of the surreal and the irreverent.

Her work has been shown since 1995 across the US and abroad, including a Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art invitational in 2008, and a solo exhibit, “Station Identification”, at Mesa Arts Center in 2010. Her work was featured in Vol. 33, No. 3 (April 2010) issue of Ornament magazine.

Teresa Sullivan’s work is also found in 500 Beaded Objects, 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse, The Jewelry Architect; and Beadwork, CRAFT, and Fiberarts magazines.

We are pleased and honored to have classes by Teresa Sullivan at CraftEdu.com.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Classes, why take them?

When I began in polymer clay, there were very few opportunities in person and virtually none online available to me. I had Nan’s book The New Clay and a few little pamphlet type books but that was pretty much it. Craft sites were very few and far between and Vernon's Prairie Craft was the first online polymer clay selling resource in existence.

What I learned, came from hours of study in my studio. I don’t even think we had a guild in the Chicago area when I began – they started popping up after. Lindly and Nan had started the National guild but, remember, the only way to find out about this was through word of mouth, phone calls and letters, posted letters. There was no google, no facebook.

The polymer community took to the internet pretty fast. There is a connection between polymer clay and science and math and email caught on like wildfire. With email and the net, suddenly information could be shared and passed on quickly and efficiently.

Today, of course, information shoots around the globe at the speed of light (almost) and sometimes there is too much information – it can get confusing and one needs good internal filters to separate and file away all this new input.

So, with all that is available on the net, why would anyone take a class? Well, from my perspective, workshops take information and make sense of it. Workshops filter and prioritize information which can be most helpful when one is just starting in a medium.

Workshops can also push a student to the next level. We begin by crawling, then we walk, then we run. In my experience, the in person workshops I teach, help my students walk and run. This is what most of them need – they have obtained information by crawling around, you have to stand up to see what’s off the floor.

I’ve done videos and I’ve written books but none of those avenues made it as easy for me to take my students to the next level as CraftEdu. Videos are great – but we don’t use teleprompters and staring into the black hole that is the lens frequently turns the presenter into a mass if insecurity. Think – deer in the headlights. Turn the cameras off and it’s “I wish I had said this or that!”

Books are great – but there are space considerations and most of the time no space for information that will help students not paint themselves into a corner. We offer steps to an end, we try to give all the hints and tips but frequently, there is no physical space for them.

So, that’s why I love CraftEdu and the platform on which our classes are made. My goal is not just to teach you the steps to make the spinner rings or the hearts, it’s to make you think. It’s not only about the “how” but about the “why “ and the “what if”. It’s about the depth of information - not just what’s on the surface but what lies beneath. It’s about helping you solve problems and if I can do that, then I’ve succeeded for that is ultimately what I’m after – total understanding of the medium we work in. With the platform I have the ability to make absolutely certain that what I tell you is what I mean to, I know you’ll hear every word I mean to say. Of all the teaching formats I have used, it is most like my in person workshops.

Here, at CraftEdu, we present comprehensive workshops on your own time, with a pdf handout. Classes are easy to navigate and you can ask questions and get answers of your instructors. It feels like an online video workshop and some instructors will have video segments, but it ultimately isn’t video in the conventional sense.

There are many sites featuring instruction through pdf handouts and video and I wouldn’t say a bad word about any of them. We learn in different ways and some will find one preferable to another. Some, you check in to a specific time and that works for some students. Ultimately, it’s up to you as to whether you even take workshops and if you do, what format makes you the most comfortable.

In any case, workshops will push you further along your creative journey and that’s the goal of all of them.

Donna Kato is an artist, author (The Art of Polymer Clay - 1997, The Art of Polymer Clay - Surface Effects - 2008, The Art of Polymer Clay - Millefiori - 2009) and instructor teaching at Craft Edu and around the world.

Friday, February 11, 2011

So you want to publish a book

Judith Bertoglio-Giffin’s excellent blog on self publishing answers many questions about self publishing and anyone interest in the same should be able to proceed. I have never self-published a book and I found it very enlightening. Having plugged myself into traditional publishing, my perspective is a bit different and so here is information for anyone who wishes to pursue this publishing avenue.

There are many publishers available to you. So, how do you know which publisher is a good fit for you. As a new author, you’ll have limited control over how your work will be presented.

The best way to determine a good fit in terms of presentation of your work is a simple process of examining your own art and craft books or sitting yourself down at Border’s or Barnes and Noble and spending time in the Art and Craft area of the store. What you see is, most likely what you will get. Is the color good, is the paper a high quality, is the basic layout pleasing to you?

Books by Watson-Guptill (my publisher) will share a look or sensibility and even organization of material (not that all titles will have the same look - much depends on the theme, books with fun and funky material should have a different look). If you look at Judy Belcher’s book, Lindly Haunani’s book and my books, you can see what they have in common. The design is “clean” and uncluttered. There is an overall consistency in the way they look. I have a book by another publisher that gives me a headache. Each project and its step outs has been shot on a different color background – primary colors, primarily –now, this was the decision of the author but my publisher would probably not have stood for this. Others might not be bothered by this but the experience of learning out of a book benefits from consistency – consistency of background of step outs, of the backgrounds in a gallery. The consistency of presentation isn’t something that most people will verbalize, but they will feel it and it eases or troubles the sub conscious mind.

A book, published many years ago, even referred to polymer clay as a material that could be heated or “air dried” to cure. Air Dry? Really? Polymer clay? This was not the author’s fault, That information did not come from her written text but from someone with the company who decided that that was the case and they didn’t send it to her before they printed it on 8,000 copies. So, publishers vary in terms of the level of their core understanding of what you do and how well they communicate with you.

Look at books you own - are they well written? Did you find typo after typo? Very rarely is a book perfect and everyone and every publisher may make an error or two but errors should be just that, rare. After my first book, I received many compliments on my writing. As I had written very little of the finished text, my reply to this was “I’ll thank my editor for you – she wrote it!” I write more of my own text these days but my editor is still the one who puts the final touches on, makes sure that the text is clear and the grammar is correct.

Once you have determined which publisher you’d like to work with, write an outline of what your book will contain. Publishers usually request a sample chapter, too.

Next, is the contact phase of the process. If you can attend a trade show (CHA or CHA Summer) this would be the best time to approach the publisher in person. Editors attend these shows and they are looking for potential authors. You aren’t bothering anyone, you represent an opportunity, for them. Be prepared with your outline and sample chapter, pictures of your work and wear something you’ve made that represents what you will do in the book.

When I began, it was taboo to contact more than one publisher at a time. In other words, don’t pass the same information to 10 publishers at the same time. Make the contact you want, wait for their answer and move to the next. If you are denied by one publisher, don’t take it personally because 99% of the time, it simply isn’t. There are frequently internal decisions that you aren’t a part of.

Contracts are pretty much the same but are not identical. You will always receive an advance on your book but that amount will be taken back after your book begins to sell. It’s an advance against your royalties, not a gift. So, that amount has never much mattered to me. These funds are for you to pay for photography or any expenses related to the book. Some publishers will offer an additional set photography fee and that is paid to the photographer

Some publishers may offer a one time payment, instead of, or as an alternative to royalty payments. I’ve never done this and I don’t even know if Watson Guptill (Random House) even offers this option. Many years ago, I attended a publisher roundtable. One publisher related that they don’t expect a book to sell more than 8,000 copies. 8,000 copies! I nearly fell out of my chair - had I even heard that, I might never have written a book. Most likely, your book will sell more than that but none of us can expect Tom Clancy sales figures.

New authors have little to no say about anything. Yes, it’s true, you won’t have much, if any, say about what appears on the cover. You also won’t have the freedom to put as many images in a book as you’d like so take it from me, you don’t want to shoot 800 images when the publisher limits you to 144. Yup, Vernon shot 800 images for my first book that allowed for 144. He still loves me, sometimes, I wonder why.

Finally, the issue of content should be discussed. There are so many books on the market today. Many of them are essentially the same information offered by different authors and if you have one of them, you don’t need all of them. This is why it is critical to you and your book’s success that the majority of the information is the result of your technical innovation. What you have created. Yes, you can certainly have information that you did not innovate but if that’s the case, you must also give credit to the originator. This is simply being honest.

It took me 10 years to feel I had enough new and unique information to fill a book – 10 years. My publisher did press me to write more books but stopped when they realized that the continual “book a year” didn’t serve them or me very well. It takes time to innovate and re hashing the same information over and over is a waste of energy, paper and ultimately results in too many books that don’t earn as well as one good book. I value my time more than that – it takes at least a year out of your life to write a book.

Make sure that you are happy with the content of your book because you simply cannot take it back and once it’s in print, it’s there for everyone to see and judge. If you’re lucky enough to have an “honest broker” in your life, ask them for their assessment – not for what they think you want to hear, but their honest opinion. If they and you believe you are ready for a publishing adventure, go full tilt boogie and get your creativity in print!

Donna Kato is a polymer clay artist, author (The Art of Polymer Clay, The Art of Polymer Clay - Surface Effects, The Art of Polymer Clay - Millefiori Techniques) and teacher. She teaches many online polymer clay art and craft classes at www.CraftEdu.com.

When not busy in studio, she happily resides in the mountains of Colorado with husband Vernon, 5 horses, 2 dogs and a new kitty, Dulce.

Monday, January 24, 2011

So You Want To...Self-publish a Book

Ten years ago I self-published my first book, Bead Crochet Ropes. I had to use a traditional printer and order 5,000 copies of it. This month I self-published my third book, Triangular Bead Crochet Ropes, and used an internet print-on-demand service. What a difference ten years makes in technology.

Anyone can be an author and have a published title for very little cost today. It's not the printing, but the content that makes an attractive book. You can provide great craft ideas, however it takes a good editor and layout stylist to put those ideas into a professional format. My layout stylist didn't know anything about bead crochet. She did have a good idea of how people processed information and rearranged my information to fit that model. She also made sure I had standard structure and left lots of margin space. My editor checked grammar, spelling and standard usage. If beads were called out as 11/0, then the text needed to be 11/0 throughout the book. I could have edited my own work, but I tend to see what I think is there and another pair of eyes sees what is really there on a page.

Starting at the very beginning, you will need clear, clean photos at 300 dpi. They need to be sized for the space they are to occupy. Photoshop, or other photo editing software, can fix small things, but the original photo has to be sharply in focus. Graphics and/or illustrations should be created in a software package that will also give you a 300 dpi result. You want smooth lines, not jagged, pixilated illustrations. I use CorelDRAW, but there are other layout programs that will give you good results. Just remember that the final product will only be as good as all of the small pieces.

The last part is Adobe Acrobat or native layout software that can transfer all of your pages into a 300 dpi PDF format. Print-on-demand services need standard files that they can print from. What you upload to the service is exactly what gets printed. The ones that I investigated did have additional services that you could purchase to help with cover layouts or content. I spent 20 years in the printing industry, had a working knowledge of what I was doing, and didn't feel the need to pay for extra help.

My research narrowed print-on-demand services to two; Amazon & Lulu. Both pay decent royalties and appear to be relatively easy to use. You can order one or any number of your own book(s) at cost. You could set up a discount code for a craft store to order copies at wholesale. They really do print only the copies that a customer buys. The only reason I chose Amazon was that I already had 2 books with them and could take advantage of their huge customer base.

Judith Bertoglio-Giffin, international author, artist, designer, and teacher has been beading for over 25 years. She teaches beading workshops nationwide and online workshops with CraftEdu that include advanced bead crochet techniques. She emphasizes many of the creative approaches to the craft. Judith’s other beading passions are free-form peyote and bead embroidery.
“The journey of creation is as important as the finished piece.”

Online Workshops by Judith Bertoglio Giffin

Monday, January 17, 2011

Discovering the Treasure in Failure

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
-Scott Adams

As a creator, I’ve learned a lot about destroying. In order to create, we must destroy. It is a part of the creation process. Destroying makes the space for new creation.

We destroy a hank of beads so that we may order its pieces into a necklace. We destroy old ideas to make way for new. We destroy empty space to fill it with a new painting. We destroy a design that doesn’t work in order to create a new one that, hopefully, works.

I was faced with this last dilemma recently. Off and on, for the past 8 months I’ve been working on an intricate piece. I’d made prototypes out of rope that indicated that my idea would work and I was so excited. However, to see if it actually worked, I had to weave it together. After 60+ hours I realized that what I had created would not work like the vision I had in my mind’s eye. So I had to rip it apart. Did I mention it was 60+ hours of work over 8 months time?

I’ve come to realize that destroying is as much a part of creating as the act of creation. I used to resent having to destroy my failed beadwork, regarding those precious hours spent making it as squandered and meaningless because they lead to failure. I saw it as a waste of time. As I’ve matured, I realize that time is only wasted if I refuse to learn from the errors I filled it with.

When possible I save my beaded failures to refer back to what made them fail. In this case, I’d woven together a costly amount of beads that I needed to un-weave so I could use them. I spent hours pulling apart lovingly crafted rows of weaving.

For the first time in my 20+ years of beading, the destruction process fascinated rather than frustrated me. I felt I was watching portions of my life in rewind. As I unravelled, I relived the hours spent weaving while watching a Frank Zappa concert DVD with my husband. Then came memories of my trip to San Diego as I tore out loops made during the summer. Backwards I wove through the section of rows completed in July when we lost our Greyhound. Then the part I’d made during the last weeks of our Dalmatian’s life in March. I deconstructed the parts that I’d shared over lunch with two bead artist friends at a French restaurant. And finally, the very first rows I’d made (while my head spun with excitement) became shreds of thread and loose homeless beads.

As I ripped, cut, and pulled, I experienced–in the most tactile way–my methods of ensuring my work for posterity. I also cursed them. Overkill here and there, as I sawed apart six and seven passes of thread through one bead.

From this destruction emerged not only the space for my revised design, but also (and this came as a surprise) a more compassionate view of myself. Unwinding months of my life captured in thread and glass offered me a broader perspective of myself. As if watching a film, I saw a woman – in between the mundane and sublime moments of her life, the peaks and valleys, the joys and losses – quietly, methodically building something of beauty. Small and striking. Maybe not a masterpiece, but a creation that would mean something to her, and hopefully to others. I saw someone wanting, from the depth of her heart, to create beauty: beauty that will last and adorn and inspire others to create more beauty. Each fragment of thread and released bead illuminated that part of me that thrives on inspiring beauty, creativity, and excellence in the world.

It was an enlightening time of destruction. And at the end of it I felt wiser, more confident, and more excited about rebuilding my vision in a new way. Not a moment has been wasted.

Artist, designer, and color expert Margie Deeb is the author of several beading books, including the popular The Beader’s Guide to Color and The Beader’s Color Palette. Her color palette book was named the Best Craft How-To Book of 2009 by the prestigious Library Journal.

Her articles regularly appear in Bead & Button and Beadwork magazines, and she writes regular columns for websites and magazines. She has appeared on the PBS show “Beads, Baubles, and Jewels.” Visit
Margie’s website for her books, jewelry, and more. She teaches color and design courses for artists, interior designers, and bead artists all over the U.S. Her color and beading classes are available online at CraftEdu.

About Margie Deeb

Margie Deeb's Online Workshops

Monday, January 10, 2011

Starting With Needle Felting

Somewhere you may have seen some cute little needle felted figure and thought to yourself: “I can do that!” Yes, you can!! Needle felting is fun and it is easy for even a beginner to have very successful results!

Needle felting is the process of using the barbs on the needles to force fibers together so that they can felt. The more you poke the fibers with the needles the denser and more firmly felted the fibers will become. Easy!!

So where do you start and what do you need?
The basic tools and materials you will need are felting needles, fiber and a work surface

• Felting needles are a unique tool that comes in different sizes and with different numbers of barbs. For a beginner, the most useful of available needles would be the #38 star needle. While most felting needles have triangular tips with barbs on the three edges, star needles have four edges. The more edges and barbs the faster the felting!
The #38 star is not the perfect needle for all needle felting tasks, but it is by far one of the most useful and all you really need to begin needle felting.

• There are so many types of fiber available for felting that it really would take a long time to discuss them all. I’m sure you don’t wish to endure the confusion of all that information, so let’s stick to the basics and discuss the most commonly used fiber for felting: wool. Even with wool there is a great deal of variety. Every breed of sheep produces wool that has unique characteristics and I’m sure I could confuse you just detailing all those varieties, but that really is more than a beginner needs to know. The two most commonly used wool fibers used for needle felting are Merino and Corriedale. These are named for the sheep breeds. Merino is extremely fine and soft to the touch. It is my preferred fiber. Merino fiber when needle felted produces a very smooth surface. Merino requires more effort to needle felt than does Corriedale. Corriedale is not as fine as Merino, but it felts beautifully. For the beginning needle felter, Corriedale is a wonderful choice! Both Merino and Corriedale are available in a lot of colors!

• You must have a work surface, something that will allow you to thrust your needles through the fiber and not hit your table or, worse, your hand. Most beginning needle felters use a thick, dense foam pad for their first work surface. Such pads are readily available at fabric and craft stores and will certainly do the job needed. If you really enjoy needle felting and plan on doing more, it is worthwhile to invest in a Clover Brush Mat.

Other tools and materials that you may find useful are:
• Scissors – while you rarely actually cut the fiber that you needle felt, when finishing a piece, scissors can trim those flyaway fibers that just never seemed to felt down.
• Needle and thread – these can be used to define a mouth, secure beads for eyes, create divisions in paws to give the look of toes.
• Beads – to be used as eyes or embellishments.
• Chenille sticks can be used for beginning projects to make legs strong enough to support the weight of the figure. If you continue with needle felting and like using an armature, you should eventually switch from chenille sticks to stainless steel or aluminum wire.
• Long straight pins are useful for pinning portions of your felted creature together so that you can firmly felt the pieces together.

With these tools and materials you can create just about anything!! While beginning needle felting is not particularly difficult there is a lot to be learned about controlling the density of your fiber and using the needles to best results. I have numerous crafting classes available now for beginners, intermediates and advanced students and will be adding more! Every one of my craft tutorials will teach you skills that you will be able to use in whatever project you decide to make! Come join me and learn this exciting, versatile and fun craft! Watch my craft video on making basic shapes on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHuKwm-Z8Hk

Harlan is an artist, instructor and the author of “Needle Felting – to the Point”. She lives in the woods of Michigan with her husband Jack and son Jackson and their menagerie of cats and dogs.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Polymer Clay Toolbox

I’m frequently asked by beginners to supply a basic polymer clay toolbox! What do I need, just the basics, to begin working with polymer clay? It can be confusing – after all, it seems like we can use pretty much everything in our toolbox but before investing in every tool, let's go over the most basic toolbox.

  • A work surface – This protects your work surface and provides a good flat working surface. Ceramic tile, marble, tempered glass, formica – all of these are good surfaces. I prefer formica. It is very lightly textured so the clay will be easily lifted off of it without sticking and stretching. Some very soft clays will benefit from the coolness of marble. If you live in Arizona and it’s 90 degrees, marble is a very good choice!

  • Blades - A long, flat blade is a definite necessity. Not a craft knife or a wallpaper scraper blade, but a razor sharp blade for cutting is what you’ll need. Many manufacturers sell these blades now (we were the first to market them!) in the polymer clay section of most any craft and hobby store. My preferred blade is the Nublade – it’s rigid and sharp.

  • Acrylic rod – I pre flatten my clay with my acrylic rod. The clay I use is stiff and if I pre flatten clay from the package – before I run the clay through the pasta machine - conditioning is not only much faster but it also saves wear and tear on that pasta machine.

  • Pasta Machine – I consider the pasta machine to be a necessary tool in this basic toolbox. I cannot imagine working without one! Conditioning the clay, rolling flat sheets, it’s such a time saver, and makes so many tasks so much easier and faster. It lowers that frustration level! The best machines can be quite expensive so you may decide to make a small investment in a less expensive machine (use a coupon at Michaels or Hobby Lobby). This investment can be as low as 20$. If you catch the polymer clay bug, you’ll invest in a better machine.

  • Needle Tools – For drilling holes in beads or even cutting shapes, you will need a sharp needle tool. My preference is the Kemper Pro Tool. The needle comes straight out of the handle so you will drill straight through any mass of clay.

  • Scalpel or Craft knife – This is what you’ll use to cut out shapes from a flat sheet of clay and for fine trimming.

  • Curing – I have a dedicated oven but that’s not what you’ll want right off the bat. Buy an aluminum pan, fill it with baking soda or polyester batting and slide it into an oven roasting bag. This is a curing chamber that you will slide right into your home oven and will keep outgassing from collecting on the sides of your oven (it will collect in the bag!)

  • Polymer Clay – There are many brands of clay out there to choose from. I won’t say “don’t use this” absolutely because your choice depends on what you intend to do with the clay. Ideally, you will try them all! I would recommend a consistently durable clay – Kato Polyclay, Fimo, Fimo Soft. Certain Premo colors are very durable but others seem to be weak (white, translucent) so bear that in mind. Sculpey III is the most fragile of all polymer clays so, generally speaking, it's not one I recommend. Cernit is very strong but the colors are translucent, not opaque, and without adjustment may not yield the best canes. Whatever you choose, buy colors in the same brand to begin with. If you cane, you’ll want clays of the same texture and feel (as much as possible) and clays that cure at the same temperature. You don’t need to buy all the colors, remember that you can mix colors – Magenta and Blue make Violet (not red and blue!) Yellow and Blue make Green. Red and Yellow make orange. So, you could begin with as few as 3 colors, and black and white.

For just about any beginner project, this is all you should need - it’s a basic toolbox. So, if you’ve always wanted to know what you need to start that journey in polyclay, here’s a good start. All you need now is to put those tools to good use. Hope to see you in an online class soon.

Donna Kato is a polymer clay artist, instructor and author who has written 3 books – The Art of Polymer Clay, The Art of Polymer Clay, Surface Effects and The Art of Polymer Clay, Millefiori Techniques. With Van Aken, International, she has released a polymer clay that bears her name, Kato Polyclay. She is a founder of CraftEdu.

Donna lives in Florissant, Colorado with husband Vernon, a Border Collie (Zoe), an Aussie (Doc), Ditto the Cat, and 6 horses.

Pictured: Hollow Pendant