I became an Art Teacher in the NYC Public School System because when I got in front of a classroom and saw that I could stimulate imaginations and encourage creativity, that sparked something in me; something that is hard to define, but that I knew felt wonderful. I love Teaching, but also found that when I came home from a day of classes, I rarely had the energy left to pursue my own artistic expression. Since I incorporated RG Clay Creations in 2006, I have been making functional ceramics and more recently, a ceramic jewelry line that continues to evolve and never leaves me wanting for new ideas to experiment with.
However, actually creating an income making ceramic objects is, as any potter will tell you, a huge challenge. Unless you start mass producing using molds (which is not the way I like to work) the amount of time that goes into making our pieces makes it difficult. So one of the things I do to supplement my income is to organize workshops and classes. Any of us on the Hudson Valley Etsy Team who enjoy teaching can easily do this. All it takes is an appropriate space, multiple tools, a slightly larger inventory of supplies, and the ability to reach people who might be interested in attending them (advertising, word of mouth, social media networking).
Occasionally people contact me about the prospect of teaching classes. This happened with the person who every year in my community arranges for a group of Foreign Exchange students to come from Europe for a few weeks, staying with local host families. She organizes activities for them and visiting my studio was one of these. The Exchange Students (usually in a group of about 20) get a tour my studio, learn about the process I go through piece of jewelry themselves.
For other workshops I have applied to the persons in charge of organizing Educational programs. This happened with the Youth Coordinator at the Greenwood Lake Public Library where I have done workshops. And I have taught several at the Albert Wisner Public Library in Warwick as well. The fees are usually negotiated individually depending on the number of hours and size of the groups. At other times, a few individuals have hired me to do workshops with people they have gotten together to do a different, fun activity on an evening out. I even participated in a Team Building Activity for the Whole Foods/Whole Body Paramus Team, who drove up to Warwick to do a workshop here, and of course got to take in the beauty of the Hudson Valley on their drive up.
I used to fear that people would learn all my “secrets” and start creating RG Look Alike items, but have come to realize that the possibilities of creativity are so limitless, that the works people create in my studio may be based on techniques I show them, but are always uniquely their own. For many, it can be an experience they will not forget, whether the participants are 6 or 60 years old. And it just might spark a new passion for them, a greater appreciation of handmade items, and that is sheer joy.
Roberta - RG Clay Designs