How to Start a Craft or Beading Group

comments (0) August 3rd, 2008     

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susanstars Susan Beal, contributor
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A craft group in action!
Dianes craft table at the Craft PDX event—recycled water bottle bracelets.
A meeting of the Los Angeles Church of Craft.
A craft group in action!

A craft group in action!

Photo: Diane Gilleland

Diane Gilleland is a crafty organizer extraordinaire: She runs DIY Alert, a Portland, Oregon-based events and announcements site covering all things crafty, and organized the local Church of Craft chapter for five years as well. I asked for her advice for forming and sustaining a craft circle or beading group, and she had plenty of ideas to share!

Any general tips for starting a new craft group?

When you want to start a craft group, the simplest approach is to start with your friends. Ask everyone you know—even casual acquaintances—if they'd be interested in attending. And ask each of them to ask their friends. You can often build a good-sized group just from your own network.

If you want to put the word out to the general public, is an excellent website where it's free to post notices of your meetings, and it's available in a great many cities. Check to see if your local newspapers offer free online classifieds, too. You can also make some simple flyers and ask your local craft stores to put them out for their customers.

If you're inviting friends, then you can meet in someone's home. If you're inviting the general public, then a public space like a coffeehouse would be a better location. Make sure your meeting place has plenty of seating, bright light, and plenty of table space—as well as a restroom!

What's a good game plan for a craft group meeting?

If you prefer a more relaxed group, you can just invite everyone to bring a project they're working on. Or, if the group wants to explore a particular technique together, you might all agree to bring a specific set of findings or beads and any books people might have on the subject. Then, you can all help each other learn.

One really fun group project is a Beading Bee. Have each person bring 50 assorted beads, plus an assortment of findings. Then, everyone piles up all those beads in a large dish. Each person picks 50 new beads out of the dish, and then proceeds to make a piece of jewelry (or two) from what they've selected. It's so much fun to see what people create!

Any suggestions on whether each person should bring their own tools/supplies or if there's a system that works relatively well for groups you've been part of?

I like to have everyone bring his or her own tools if they can—at least a pair of needle-nose pliers and some wire cutters. Usually, people are willing to share. These group meetings are also excellent places to swap extra beads and findings from your stash. Stuff you haven't managed to use in years might be just the thing for someone else's project.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Building a good craft group takes persistence. You may have a few meetings where too few people show up, but keep meeting and keep putting the word out. Sometimes, it takes people a while to overcome their social anxieties and visit a new group. Give yourself at least three months' worth of meetings before you decide to call it quits.



posted in: beading, community, craft groups, craft circles

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