For a long time, polymer clay enthusiasts have wished that more people knew about our beloved medium. It’s finally happened! Due to the earring trend and the pandemic, polymer clay has become wildly popular. So popular, in fact, that supplies of polymer clay often sell out due to the demand. This is wonderful! But this also means that there are many new users (newbies) flooding the Facebook groups, looking for information. Here are some tips for helping those new makers get connected with accurate information that can help them grow.
First and foremost, as experienced clayers and leaders, we need to be encouraging these newbies as much as possible. Their enthusiasm is refreshing! But it’s easy to feel insecure when you’re new at something and we’d hate to squelch their growing interest. Make sure to avoid any hint of admonishment or chastising tones. Avoid using strident language, all-caps, or multiple exclamation points (which is felt as shouting). Be gentle and supportive.
Some good language to use is:
- How frustrating for you! Luckily there are solutions. Check this article:
- Yes, it’s a confusing topic. A good source of clarity is here:
- Oh no, that’s disappointing. Here is some info on what to do next time:
- It’s easy to assume that. But we’ve found that there’s more to the subject. Check here:
- Yes, you sure can do that. Here’s how:
- I’d hate for you to have bad results, so you might want to go here to learn more:
- I’m not sure of the answer, but if you’ll do a search here, you’ll find more info:
Connect Them to Resources
Optimally, it would be very nice if you could post the URL to the article that contains their answer. To do this, go to my website, do a search to find the article that you’re looking for, grab the URL and then paste that URL into your comment, along with some encouraging words.
For more general referrals, here are some pages that will be super helpful to new makers:
- Get Started with Polymer Clay
- Make a Polymer Clay Starter Kit
- Baking Polymer Clay
- Is Polymer Clay Safe?
- The Earring Portal
- Beginner Articles
- Sealers, Glazes, and Varnishes
Please don’t tag me in your response. New makers have no idea who “Ginger” is and doing this merely links them to my personal FB profile. It doesn’t get them any closer to their answers. Additionally, doing this gives me a notification and takes me away from doing my work.
And there are lots of other good resources out there, but refrain from giving general directions to platforms, such as “go to YouTube”. That doesn’t help anyone find solid answers!
My website is HUGE. There are hundreds of articles. If you send someone to the website, with no further direction, they’ll often have no idea how to find what they need to know and just get discouraged. Suggest that they use the search box, perhaps even giving them the keywords they should use in their search. This encourages self-directed learning. Here’s an example:
Great question! To get good answers, do a search for “earring findings” at www.thebluebottletree.com.
Ask for Clarification
Often, new makers don’t know enough to even formulate their question clearly. If you’re not sure what they mean, ask them! It can save a lot of frustration for everyone if we don’t jump to a conclusion about what they are asking.
Allow People to Be Wrong
Some people need to figure things out for themselves, and when you tell them what to think, they dig in their heels. Point people in the right direction and then let them process it. Nobody will be convinced by “beating them with a truth stick.” And please don’t use my name or website to admonish people! Everyone is on their own journey, and respecting that is kind and compassionate. They’ll get there, eventually. It took me 10 years to realize that I was underbaking my polymer clay!
Please don’t go on and on. Brief answers are best. The best answer is often just a link to the article where their answer is.
Humans learn best by doing. Even when people expect quick answers and absolutes, we help them best by empowering their creative problem-solving abilities. Try asking them, “What happens when you…” And encourage them to try things for themselves.
Point Them to Tutorials
While the hundreds of articles on my website, my social media channels, and the dozens of hours each week that I spend answering questions are all free, I still need to make a living. This is my profession, and tutorial sales are how the lights stay on. Please suggest my paid tutorials when they’re relevant to a person’s questions. That would help me SO MUCH!
About the Science Thing
While I do have a science education (molecular biology) and I do work hard to be accurate and present the information clearly, I do not scientifically test everything that I write about. I’m constantly learning and I update my articles often as I gather new information. Also, I can be as wrong as anyone! I’m certainly not infallible.
And finally, I want to thank you for your support. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without caring, helpful, supportive people like you. You make the world a better place!