Packing for Class

In a few weeks, I’ll be teaching One Sentence Journaling at the Great American Scrapbook Convention. It’s a bit of a stretch, teaching journaling at a scrapbooking convention. But I believe that some scrapbookers are hungry to try more creative work, more individually-designed pages.

I had to pack the materials for both classes, Arlington (TX) and Chantilly (VA) and had a class locally today. My head began to feel like an art roller-coaster: what was going to be packed for what class held where?

And I had an idea. I’ve never taught classes so close together that I had to pack three class boxes at once. And for years, I’ve been teaching classes with my own studio equipment. That wasn’t going to work anymore.

So I made a material list for each class I teach. I put them in separate Word documents, then used the Track Changes tool to compare one to the other. That shows me what each has in common, and I may need to duplicate, and what needs to go in each box for shipping.

That out of the way, I also had to purchase duplicates for the material that was shipped to the show and that I needed to teach today. Here’s what I learned:

Student brushes work well with glue application in small spaces.

1. Buy small student paint brushes for glue brushes. Then throw them away at the end of class. Equipment gets hard use in class, and cleaning up afterwards is part of the time invested in teaching. Anything you can do to lower that cost is worthwhile. Since student brushes are inexpensive and my time isn’t, it’s easier to throw them away than clean them. I’m not a fan of glue sticks, as the never work for me, and melt in the car in the summer. Double stick tape? OK, but I hate seeing the visible lines when tape is sandwiched between two pieces of paper.

Your ink bottles stay clean when you transfer the ink into plastic containers.

2. I put the ink in small, easy-to-use spray bottles and drip bottles, then label them with permanent markers in big type. This makes the colors easy to read and it keeps the lids attached to the bottle. No more crawling on the floor, searching for the tiny ink bottle lid. No more having the green ink lid on the yellow ink bottle, leaching green ink into the yellow ink.

3. I bring my own table covers. Not all locations cover the tables. I don’t want to pack big pieces of canvas, don’t want to wash them. So I buy cheap shower curtains from the Dollar Store, and cut them into individual pieces to drape over the table. I also buy pre-formed aluminum foil cookie trays for wet ink work. that keeps the wet mess in one place. Participants happily wipe or rinse out the tray and keep more of the table dry for other work. Trays can be stacked, taken to the studio, and rinsed out with a hose before re-using.

4. I save catalogs and magazines. They provide a smooth surface for cutting or stamping and are perfect to use for gluing. Throw away after class.

5. Sometimes paper towels are a good idea, sometimes not. It’s easy to over-use paper towels in class, and it’s not eco-smart. Instead of putting out several rolls,  I give each student a bar towel for wiping gluey or inky hands and small clean ups. Saves on paper towels. The towels get put in a plastic bag, and when I arrive home, are put in the washing machine before I get all the way into the house.

6. Scissors get hard use in class–they are used to cut through wet glue, paint and ink. I substitute a craft knife whenever possible (change blades at the end of class) and spend time cleaning the scissors carefully each time. Scissors are expensive, and cleaning beats replacing. And cheap scissors are awful.

7. Pack ephemera in a separate container. Separate damaged pieces (and throw out) while packing. Easier to pack all those papers, labels, tickets in a clean, dry box.

8. Keep a ziplock bag for all items that need to be cleaned, inspected, or tested before your next use. That allows you to store most of your materials for the next class, and attend to all repairs or cleaning at once. Saves your memory, too.

I was pleased how fast I cleaned up and packed up after a materials-intense class.

Quinn McDonald teaches art journaling with a dollop of creativity coaching. She prefers to clean up by herself after class.