Fimo y Mexico

On Sunday we’ll be taking a dozen people from our church to help missionaries in the state of Zacatecas, which is in North-Central Mexico.  It’s located on a high mountain plateau, about 8,000 feet above sea level.  The state is known for it’s rich silver deposits and colonial architecture.

For the  two weeks we’re there, we’ll be helping to build a room onto a church, create a portable puppet stage, help deliver a donation of food and small gifts, participate with their VBS, and teach beginner polymer clay classes.

I’m excited about it– it’s going to be the first time I’ll teach through an interpreter.  I’m working on my notes for the class, and preparing about 30-45 minutes of actual instruction, for a class that will be approximately 90 minutes long.

The students will learn how to make round beads with cane slices, make barrel-shaped texture beads, and coin-shaped swirly beads.  We’ll put them all together into a stretch bracelet for them to wear as a sample of the work they did.

We’re hoping to have as many as 60 people participate in the classes, with about 20 people per class.  I’m working on the handouts for the instructions, and the interpreter will translate them for me.  Is that cool, or what?

The goal for doing the class is to help people to discover the value of polymer clay as an artists’ and jewelry-maker’s medium, and to help supplement family budgets by making and selling their polymer clay artwork.

One of Zacatecas’ main economic supports is tourism.  The capitol city of the state is also named Zacatecas (sort of like, New York, New York), which is a tourist destination and has many shops with local handicrafts.  The organizer of the classes is planning to open a bead shop in the city, and we’re both hoping that she will find polymer clay to be a versatile and valuable addition to the handmade products she’ll be offering.

I’m looking forward to seeing polymer clay through their eyes.  I imagine once the versatility of the medium catches their imaginations, they will begin exploring with it in ways I would never have thought of.  And so we learn from each other.  That’s my favorite part of teaching.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathi
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 10:37:44

    oh Goobersnot, that is going to be an amazing adventure. I know your classes will be awesome because you are beyond anal about that. Stay safe my friend and don’t drink the water. hugs


    • Cat
      Jul 20, 2010 @ 10:44:29

      LOL, thanks! Yeah it’s going to be an adventure! It’s so cool to know we’ll be able to learn alot from the people we’ll meet, make new friends, and learn about the Huichol Indian culture. It’s going to be a trip of a lifetime.


  2. KT Did Clay
    Jul 24, 2010 @ 10:49:14

    Cat the trip sounds awesome. It is amazing that you will be teaching them to make beads. You will have to tell me how you arranged that one. I was hoping to go on a mission trip to Peru, but taking my daughter to college trumpt it. Maybe next time!! God BLess you all. I will keep the travel and all in my prayers!
    PS I love the CHA CHA story too!


    • Cat
      Jul 25, 2010 @ 06:32:59

      Thanks, Tina! We are leaving tonight and there is still SOOOOO much to do. I’m hoping i can have some time to post about the last couple of days. It’s been crazy – a son got married, we went to a ren faire, and we leave in just under 18 hours. Clock’s a-tickin’!
      You asked about how I arranged to teach polymer clay beadmaking. I think it’s one of those things where you know what you are supposed to do… that one of your purposes in life is do do a certain thing. There’s a lot of paying forward that goes into it for me. I’m not charging anyone for the classes, and I’m donating all of the supplies. The reason is because I want to enable and empower people to see polymer clay as a way to supplement their family’s income, like it does for me. I’m not saying everyone who picks up a lump of clay will be able to pay for their groceries in under 30 days. But I think there will be some, who have the God-given talent and instinct for it, who will be able to use the clay to help make a contribution to their monthly budget. It’s those people that I do this for. I’m just passing along to others what was freely given to me.


  3. Laura Fesser
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 00:45:34

    Hi Cat, We met at the B&B show, IPCA info booth. I just found your blog from face book. This sounds like it was an amazing trip! What kind of colors did the students use? I am curious how culture plays into those choices.
    I can only imagine the harvest you’ll get from this seed! I’m sure that’s not why you did it, but harvest is promised!
    Any plans to do this again next year?


    • Cat
      Aug 18, 2010 @ 07:06:57

      Hi Laura!
      How cool that you remember me from the IPCA booth at Bead & Button! Speaking of the show, I’m planning on coming back next year, so make sure to stop by the IPCA and say hello!
      For the polymer clay classes I taught in Mexico, I brought a bunch of supplies to donate to them. So I had a pound each of black, white, red, yellow, and blue. They had these primary colors to work with when they made their beads, but I would imagine they also liked the colors, because I found that bright primaries and pastels are very common color choices, not only for traditional clothing but also for their homes. And you’re right, I didn’t do it for any kind of recognition. I did it because I’m called to do it, to give back some of what I have been given. Most of what I’ve learned about polymer clay was free — either by friends helping me along, or by reading and asking questions at Polymer Clay Central, or printing off whole sections at Glass Attic. I’ve even had an aha moment a time or two. I’ve had a growing desire to pay it forward, particularly in conjunction with missions, and that has motivated me to start taking these kinds of steps. The lady I talked about, the one who wants to open a bead store, whose husband is starting his own church in September — I’m spending a year helping her to learn how to use the clay, and to teach basic classes, so that she can help her business to grow. Do I plan on doing it again next year? Yes. I don’t think we’re going back to Zacatecas until 2012, but I do plan on going on another missions trip with Allen. We’re starting to save a little money each month that will be designated for missions trips together, and it will include teaching free classes, I hope. I think the next trip will be to Santarem, Brazil. I’ve been talking with the missionaries there, and they are very interested in learning how to use polymer clay. So I’m not sure if that’s the next trip, but I think so.


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