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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but here goes. Roxy or any other moderator, feel free to move it if you need...

I've been pondering setting up a class within my neighborhood for the older kids on how to Stolloween-style pumpkins. Has anyone tried this? I'm kinda tired of being the one "Halloween-house" and would like to spur on others to "compete".

My concerns are

Time: These pumpkins are obviously not a single-day projects. I figure I'd have to schedule a few consectutive weekends for a couple hours a day.
Storage: The pumpkins, at least in the very early phases, are best left unmoved. I'd have to store them away from the weather.
Cost: The students would have to bring some of the materials themselves, ie newspaper, bags, etc., but I really don't want a fair number of people mixing their own paste at the house and have to transport the leftovers back with them. To solve this, I would prepare a large batch to have it on hand. One solution is to charge per session a nominal amount, with all that is involved.
Advertising: Have to get the word out somehow, through maybe flyers in mailboxes or a classified ad in the local paper. The second option I'd like to avoid, mostly I want to keep this within the neighborhood, but I have to real objection to teaching anyone who is interested.
Help: If I get a good turn out, I can imagine it would be difficult to manage all of it alone. My kids can help some, but they are no experts themselves.

Any input would be appreciated.
 

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Player of Paste
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When I teach papier mache workshops I find that four, three hour sessions over the course of two weeks works best. Twelve hours for a beginner to do a papier mache pumpkin is adequate and allows ample time to teach techniques as well as create the piece.

The class schedule was as follows:

Tuesday (3 hours)…Students get an introduction to papier mache then create the pumpkin armature (stuffed trash bag) and cover it with three or four layers of strip mache. During this first session students learned how to mix their own paste, learn about armatures, tear paper and actually mache the pumpkin armature.

Thursday (3 hours)..Students design the jack o'lantern face, draw design on pumpkin, cut the face from the dried mache shell, add dimension to the face and sculpt with the initial layer of paper clay. Students learned about paper clays, how to make clay, how to work with clay. The second session ended with the pumpkin having the basic design worked out in clay..it's still rough but once dry will allow final detailing and sculpting. Note that the stuffing is still in the trash bag which supplies needed support when the clay is added.

Tuesday (3 hours) Students now have the chance to finish sculpting with paper clay, adding details, adding textures. The trash bag was emptied before the final layer of paper clay.

Thursday (3 hours) Students learn different painting techniques and paint the pumpkin.

This schedule may seem like a lot of time but there was no downtime, you really need to have time to explain and show the techniques, plus people work at different speeds. The first couple of workshops I held were nine hours total and were very rushed and when time constraints come into play it's no fun.

For the workshops I mixed all the paste and clay for the students, I used a five gallon bucket with a paint mix attachment on a power drill. One idea would be for the students to bring the supplies to class and you mix the materials for the students.

One other note is that I supplied all the tools as well...bowls, aprons, hot glue guns, scissors, razor blades, markers, paint brushes, etc...this can be a challenge once you get twelve people together each needing a complete set of tools.

Here are some photos from past workshops:
Pumpkins
http://www.stolloween.com/?page_id=2918
Gargoyles
http://www.stolloween.com/?page_id=2886
Frogs
http://www.stolloween.com/?page_id=2851
Dragons
http://www.stolloween.com/?page_id=2813
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Awesome, thanks Scott. You (and your site) are the main reason I've been successful with paper mache over the last couple of years...

A couple of question: How much do change for your classes? And also, it sounds like you put the layers of strip paper all in one sitting. For some reason, I'd gotten the impression that I should be letting a single layer dry before adding the next. Doing several layers at a time sure sounds like a time saver! :D
 

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Are you thinking of teaching them at your home? I was toying with the idea of doing an instructional class too. I was thinking of contacting the local park district to see about being added to their schedules for random classes and such.
 

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Player of Paste
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A couple of question: How much do change for your classes? And also, it sounds like you put the layers of strip paper all in one sitting. For some reason, I'd gotten the impression that I should be letting a single layer dry before adding the next. Doing several layers at a time sure sounds like a time saver! :D
When doing strip mache I add all the layers necessary in one sitting..for pumpkins usually four or five for a medium size pumpkin...more layers for larger...of course adding more layers increases dry time but yes you can do multiple layers.

Classes averaged about $100 per person...the price included all tools and materials plus instruction.

My classes were held at a local art studio so they got a cut of the tuition in exchange for use of their facilities.

The studio also did all marketing and bookings for the classes so it was a nice arrangement...the environment was bright and modern and they worked to fill the classes.

The downfall was that in the end I didn't make that much money but each class was a fun experience and I made some new friends from the classes.
 

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Player of Paste
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One other thing about teaching classes is the importance of calculating how much time you will spend prepping the class. When I was asked to do a papier mache frog workshop I had never made a frog so I had to start developing the class about 3 months before they were offered.

First I had to create a method to make the frogs that would fit into the four, three-hour sessions. Typically I create at least three finished products just to make sure the procedures work plus show how they can each be unique even though everyone will be using the same techniques. For the frogs I created templates so everyone was on the same page. The frogs were done about 2 months before the class so that they could be photographed for marketing and the pieces could be displayed at the studio so students would know exactly what they would be making.

During class nights I typically arrived one hour early to set up the studio and get everything prepped (run extension cords for hot glue guns, put down table covers, do name tags, etc.). After the class ended it took me about another hour to pack everything up and do cleanup.

One of the biggest challenges when working off site was packing all the materials and transporting them to the studio...here's look at what it took each time.

http://stolloween.blogspot.com/search?q=classes

Here are a few things I learned.

1. Make your students responsible for clean up..it was discussed at the beginning of class that each person was responsible for cleaning their workspace and tools.

2. Adhere to your methods. In every class I would have people that wanted to do something different than the way I had the class planned. Of course you don't want to squelch creativity but I had the classes planned to the minute and there wasn't time to add arms and hands to your pumpkin. Explain that they are learning the basic techniques and they can build their version on their own time.

3. Be super organized and limit your class to a manageable size...my ideal group is about six but most classes had twelve.

4. Have fun and most importantly keep it fun.
 
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