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Operation Demonstration Preparation !!

By abigail, Jul 13 2017 04:37PM

Last Saturday I did my first demonstration day at Crafters Companion's flagship store in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. I had a great day and thought I would share my experiences with you in my blog. However, once I started writing about the lead up to the day I realised that the preparation for such an event is as important, and certainly takes up more time, than the event itself. So I have split the blog into two - Preparation for the day and The Day itself.

Carry on reading to hear about all the preparation needed to run an hour and a half demonstration.

Operation Demonstration Preparation!!

This demo day was booked a couple of months ago - I was to run three, 1½ hour demonstration sessions throughout the day to introduce people to Powertex, what it is and what you can do with it. Exactly what I chose to do in those sessions was up to me.

After confirming I could do the demonstration and arranging a date I set to thinking about what I was going to do and what needed to be done before the day. Having done a number of demonstrations before I know that to deliver something practical that comes across as professional and organised takes some serious preparation. For this demo day I have split the preparation I did into five key stages.

1. Visit the Store

The store had been open for about 9 months, and although it is less than 10 miles from where I live I had, shamefully, never actually been there (I am a lazy online shopper wherever possible). So the first thing to do was to go on a recce.

Primarily this was to check out the space where I would be demonstrating, but I also wanted to meet some of the staff (including the lovely store manager, Amy Rodger) and have look around the products that they sold to see what I could incorporate into my demonstrations.

Well, the space is fantastic - a purpose built 'Education Area' in the centre of the store, perfectly designed for running demonstrations and workshops. The staff were all so lovely and helpful and there was so much great stuff on the shelves that I got quite distracted from the objective of my visit.

Education Area at Crafters Companion, Newton Aycliffe
Education Area at Crafters Companion, Newton Aycliffe

2. Decide What to Demonstrate

This was one of the most important decisions to make, and the following factors were important considerations when choosing which demonstrations to do:

Start with the basics - As an art/craft medium, Powertex is still relatively unknown in the North East so it was important to start from the beginning and not assume knowledge.

Keep it simple but effective - The aim of my demonstrations was to make people want to have a go. So they needed to see how easy it is to master the basic techniques and how simply you can create something that looks amazing.

Keep it interesting/varied - This isn't too difficult as Powertex is so versatile and can do so much. But it is a fine line between showing enough of the different things you can do without overwhelming people and losing their attention.

Fill the time, but not be rushed - Experience gives you a natural feel for how long demonstrations will take, but you can never accurately judge how much audience participation there will be. So I always make sure I have more projects than I think I will need, just in case there is some bonus time at the end. On this occasion I had two core projects that demonstrated the techniques I wanted and a third project that combined the techniques (I only got as far as the two core projects in each of the three sessions, with a very quick talk through of the third at the end).

Link with products for sale - It is no good demonstrating such fabulous projects, getting people all inspired and then just walking away. So at the end of all my demonstrations and workshops I have a small range of kits and products available to buy. It was important therefore, that the projects demonstrated linked to the kits and products available so people could go away and emulate what they saw being created.

Be enjoyable - when demonstrating a project it always helps if it is a technique and a project that you enjoy, especially if you are going to be repeating it three times in one day!

So, what projects did I demonstrate? These are the three I chose:

Bottle wrap - simple fabric sculpting technique - can be made with just the fabric sculpting starter kit (plus the bottle wrap kit if you don't already have fabric and suitable embellishments)

Fabric Sculpting Demonstration Example
Fabric Sculpting Demonstration Example

Stone art pencil pot - uses three techniques; stone art for stone effects, stone art clay and fabric sculpting - can be done on a wide variety of bases using just the stone art starter kit.

Stone Art Demonstration Example
Stone Art Demonstration Example

Highland Cow - combines stone art clay and fabric sculpting - can be made by combining the two starter kits (and with the extra Highland Cow kit if needed).

Highland Cow Example
Highland Cow Example

3. Make Samples of Projects

Once I had decided which projects I wanted to demonstrate the next step was to make some finished examples as well as some good old 'here's one I prepared earlier' pieces to skip the more lengthy stages.

4. Decide what Extra Examples to Take

Not content with just the projects I was going to demonstrate, I wanted to really wow those who came along and get them inspired to play with Powertex. So I thought about what other finished pieces I could take along.

I made sure I chose examples of both the techniques I was going to demonstrate as well as a few others to show the versatility of Powertex. They included pieces in different colours and using different fabrics so I could refer to them throughout my demonstrations. And, of course, they were all projects that I run as workshops so that people didn't have to wonder how they were created, they could come along and find out.

Here are the pieces I chose:

Powertex Projects - Workshop Examples
Powertex Projects - Workshop Examples

5. Write Checklists

To say I am a list person is an understatement. I write lists for everything and have even been known to include 'make a list of/for...' on my to do list. Lists are my way of getting everything out of my head and into some semblance of order and priority. So you won't be surprised that lists featured heavily in my preparation for the demo day.

The key list for demos and workshops is always a checklist of all of the things I need to take with me. I have honed this list over time and can now be confident that everything I might need is on there, plus a few extra bits that can be handy.

Confident that I had done all I could to prepare for the day, all that was left was to pack everything up, head down to the store and enjoy the day...

Watch out for Part 2 of my Crafters Companion Demonstration blog to hear about how the day went.

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Welcome to my blog, I hope you will enjoy reading about what I have been doing and that you will find some inspiraton in my projects and ideas.

I am also a member of the Powertex Design Team 2019 - you can read the blogs I have written as part of the design team here...