In all honesty, this article was supposed to be something completely different. In combination with our National Creativity Day social media kit, I thought it’d be nice to provide an activity to go along with the kit that would be easy to reproduce in store. That’s what we do here at Art Dog!
The original project idea was to use Paper Mache Letters and Acrylic Mediums like the Marabu Acryl Mousse, Golden’s Pumice Gel or Clear Bead Gel, and geometric wood appliques to create dimensionality on an object that could then be painted with acrylic or spray paint. I intended to use the Paper Mache Letters as the basis for an abstract “self portrait” of sorts. Something tactile that would be simple for young artists while providing enough sophistication for an adult artist who needs to branch out for an afternoon and celebrate creativity, all while introducing attendees to supplies they may not have experienced or purchased in the past.
However, when I sat down to turn this grand scheme into a reality, the activity felt totally overwhelming. If I can feel that in my home studio on a Saturday afternoon, then there is absolutely no way it was reasonable to suggest to a retail store as a simple demo. Frankly, I wasn’t feeling very creative at all. Not the ideal state to be in while writing up a demo for Creativity Day.
I needed to find inspiration.
The Power of Puttering
I took a break to organize my studio (which only happens when I am procrastinating instead of creating something) and found the answer in my miscellaneous bin. Enter Pom Poms… yep, those cheap craft supplies so often used for kids’ projects. I find a lot of inspiration on my Instagram feed, since I follow a variety of fiber artists and weavers; I gave myself the challenge to “weave” with Pom Poms for a few minutes to see if something could come alive out of that.
I had to determine which surface I would “weave” onto (later I found that painting was a better term for what I was doing) and how I would attach the Pom Poms to the surface. Easy solution: cardboard. Harder solution: adhesives. Ah-hah! There’s the educational opportunity, a way to get up close and personal with tools commonly used for creative projects. An exploration that might be helpful for our readers.
Underlying Theme: A Teaching Moment for Adhesives
Everyone is capable of being creative, but creativity is hard to access without the right tools. Adhesives are obviously an important section of your store but it is an area that can be overwhelming to navigate as a new staff member, or to navigate as an artist. The infinite iterations of “I need to attach X to X… what do I use…?” were frequent in my days of retail. Thistothat.com is a life saver, but getting quality information from a staff member is a meaningful experience that will keep customers coming back to your store. Try having examples of glued objects on display throughout your adhesive department.
Right now is a good time to audit your adhesives section and ensure that if a customer wants to glue fabric to metal, or wood to metal, or plastic to paper, you have a solution. Do you feel confident that members of your staff could educate a customer on every adhesive in your section? If not, add it to the next staff meeting agenda!
Pom Pom “Painting”
This workshop can be structured as a drop-in class, or structured class: the choice is yours.
Advertise “a new way of painting” with hints to the materials that will be used in the workshop in the weeks leading up to National Creativity Day. This activity is appropriate for all ages, abilities and styles. It also gives you an opportunity to provide helpful educational information about adhesives.
- Pre-made Pom Poms, or provide yarn and a Pom Pom maker.
- Substrates to attach Pom Poms to such as paper, wood panels, pieces of metal (watch for sharp edges if you go this route), glass panels, fabric, etc. I used small cardboard boxes from a monthly beauty subscription to re-purpose as funky gift boxes.
- Adhesives appropriate for your materials (provide a variety to talk about the different properties of each).
- Small easels for displaying or adhesive backs for wall hanging.
- Audit your adhesives section. Determine if you have glues that work to combine the following materials: paper, plastic, metal, fabric, wood, foam.
- Research the adhesives you have on your shelf and determine which adhesives you’d like to demonstrate to your customers.
- Order all supplies, and ensure that if a customer wants to purchase something from the workshop that you have ample inventory on hand.
An Hour Beforehand
- Cover table with protective paper or a plastic tablecloth.
- Set up all materials in an attractive display on the workshop tables.
- Include several examples for inspiration.
- Take photos to document.
(5-10 minutes) Greet your guests and have a small “nice to meet you” activity where everyone introduces themselves and shares what kind of work they do.
Teaching the Workshop
- (5 minutes) Introduce the activity. Pom Pom Painting! On the workshop table, provide examples of Folk Art, images of landscapes, and photographs of famous paintings to inspire your attendees.
- (10 minutes) Determine a color palette for your project and determine a general direction for your Pom Pom painting. Going purely abstract is 100% okay. If someone wants to get detailed and create an homage to a landscape or full recreation of a Klimt painting, they can do that as well.
3. (15-20 minutes) Design your piece by laying out the Pom Poms on a flat surface.
4. (15-20 minutes) Transfer Pom Poms lines one at a time using appropriate adhesive, to your chosen surface. This portion of the workshop is a great time to talk about safety equipment, VOCs, drying times, and any other adhesive related facts you may want to share. Because the “design element” is done, this is the social part of the event.
5. (5 minutes) Choose a display method and attach hangers using adhesives, or use an easel (attaching permanently to easel is optional and a good way to talk about wood glues).
Why I think this project is a winner:
- This is not going to revolutionize the way your customers work, but it is going to give them the opportunity to be a little silly and associate your store with a feeling of fun.
- Leaving a workshop with something that is ready to display or giftable is ideal. When your attendees get home, they are going to get lost again in their everyday life! If they have an unfinished project it’s likely to stay that way. Coming home and taking the time to display something is much more exciting; they’ll be reminded of your store when they look at the project. Do you want them to see something unfinished that they have to work on, or something that is finished and fun?
- It takes very little planning and is relatively inexpensive to produce!
- Class fee: charging $5-$10 would be appropriate.
Download & Share!
We invite members of our community to download these instructions to share with your customers or post on your websites, blogs or newsletters.