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.


11 thoughts on “Packing for Class

    • You’ll see the details of what I’m teaching on tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) blog, but the upshot is that I’ll be doing exercises to help them start writing creatively in their journals, without huge prompts, just their own ideas.

    • I’d love to have a box for each class topic I teach. Instead, I have a “teaching box” that has items most likely to be used. Even more, I’d like to have a shipping container instead of using cardboard boxes from the grocery store to ship art supplies.

  1. I use red rosin paper, taped down, on my table for painting and such. It also doubles as a really cheap journal paper. Comes in a huge roll for $13, and I’m still working on my roll of 4 years. Not great for hauling or shipping, so maybe not for classes, but for anyone at home?

    • Rosin paper is a popular material for journaling–both as paper and as a table covering. For me the rolls are huge and heavy– awkward to carry on my roll-around (or a hand-truck). Although I just looked them up at Home Depot and they are lighter and cheaper than I remember. When you teach at retreats or have to ship your materials to a town you don’t know, you don’t have a lot of set-up time. And often, there are individual tables, which take a long time to set up. I have two large canvas drop cloths, which worked fine for group tables. but once I started working with inks and water, the canvas needed its own bag to come home in–it was wet and stained and the day I put the drop cloth on a drop cloth to keep the car clean, I needed a better idea!

  2. Love the ideas in your post! These tips would work well in organizing my studio which tends to get out of control on occasion. I’m pretty good at keeping different items in plastic shoe boxes that go on a shelf in a closet, but the idea of putting the paper pieces in plastic bags is great. I like to keep different categories separate and have been using large envelopes. But, I think I’ll switch to plastic bags so I have a view of what they contain and know what colours are in each bag. Thank you Quinn!

    • As much as I don’t like plastic, being able to see through and identify what’s inside is faster and clearer (sorry for the pun) than labels. And having the papers in one place means you can have more space in the other box for supplies that would damage the papers. Glad I could help, Ruthie!

  3. Thanks for the shower curtain idea! I’m teaching an art class for kids in a co-op in the fall and was thinking I’d get some of those vinyl tablecloths to protect the table, but cheap shower curtains is a much less expensive idea.

  4. Great tips! I will definitely use some of them.

    I find a large garbage bag, cut into a square, makes a great table cover. A little bit of masking tape keeps it in place.

    You can also use a plastic garbage bag as an apron, if you forgot yours. Just do the raincoat trick and cut out the head and arm spaces.

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