Online Classes - Frequently Asked Questions
It’s hard to imagine how one can learn hand papermaking online as it is a very watery and physical activity.
My goal is to partner with you to prove that it can be done! In fact, I was recently able to confirm this with the Kozo Contemporary papermaking class I taught on behalf of the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute in Nov/Dec 2020.
I had great trepidation at first but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was possible to share papermaking information and techniques while also learning from others around the globe. (The best part about teaching is seeing things through the eyes of one's students.) It is a wonderful experience.
Now, I’m excited to be able to bring a similar course to a broader audience.
Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will hopefully help clarify more about how it will work. I’m also hoping this will spur new questions so please don’t hesitate to email me!
How are the teaching materials presented?
All workshop materials are presented in an online classroom. Every few days, several modules are posted that include informative slide presentations [in PDF format] with lots of detailed photos to illustrate each step of the process. These are further reinforced by a series of videos that you’ll be able to view over and over again. As well, there will be step-by-step print instructions for you to download to use as a guide in the studio. Each module is different in length, with new materials made available each week, paced out in a way that is appropriate for the process.
Does the class actually meet?
Live streamed class meetings are held for 2 hours on Tuesday evenings [6-8 PM Eastern Standard Time] and again as optional check-in meetings for those with questions. My goal is to be available to you no matter which time zone you're in. I can be flexible and will consider making an adjustment to these times based on the needs of the students and their geographic location.
During the live meetings, we will review the material, which allows me to answer questions and possibly do some very short demonstrations or discussions on topics folks may be having trouble with or needing more clarification. [including making more short videos and/or lessons based on feedback from the class.]
Between meeting times, the online platform/classroom provides an active interface as students post comments, questions and photographs as they progress through the materials – creating a vibrant learning experience while also expanding the papermaking community.
The format is really up to you: some students like to log in and follow along with the conversations, and some don’t use the online interface at all, preferring to work through the materials on their own, in their own way. They simply login each week to view the modules, download the PDFs and work from the teaching material.
What about materials?
One drawback of an online class is that students need to gather all of their own materials.
The good news: you will probably find that you have most items already. I’ve also put together a few handouts/tutorials on how to make some of the tools yourself with tips on how to repurpose household items for papermaking. These will be made available to you upon registration.
Because some items may be difficult to purchase due to current problems with global supply/demand, the list is organized into essential and non-essential items. With that said, there are specific tools and materials you will definitely need but even some of those can be substituted. For many of the items, I suggest a source or vendor most of which are in the U.S. but I am also developing a list of sources for locations outside the US as well. I also provide visual examples so that you can find an appropriate substitute from your area.
Where do I get the fiber ?
As you can imagine, the fiber is the most important aspect of this process and, just like cooking--quality ingredients are essential. I provide a list of papermaking fiber suppliers in North America and a few other locations abroad. For the Japanese papermaking class, I have a limited supply of unscraped kozo bark available for purchase here. If you are planning to take the class. Once you decide to attend the class, it's important to order the bark and related chemistry [soda ash and formation aid] as soon as possible. Shipping is taking about one week in the United States and several weeks abroad [expresss shipping is possible but much more expensive.
Will the entire class be posted all at once?
No, lessons and materials are sequentially released every few days, based on an appropriate time line [related to the process] – instead of posting everything all at once.
Can I use a mobile device to access the class materials?
Yes. Tablets/ ipads work should work well. Some students use phones to access the teaching materials, which is fine but it is a little small and limiting to get most benefit from the pictures. Note: You will need a good internet connection in order to be able to stream the videos.
I’m going to be away for part of this class; will this still work?
Yes. You have access to the online classroom for several weeks after the class.
Lots of time to catch up on anything you’ve missed! [If for any reason I need to switch the classroom platform, you will have a month’s notice to watch everything again and download any materials you think you’ll need. For longer classes [stay tuned for news on that], my plan is to include extra studio time, a week or so between modules to catch up, take a break or work with the materials more deeply. If you need to be away or you miss something, you will still have extra time to explore the materials and processes.
Do I need to be available or online at particular times?
No. You can work entirely at your own pace. While there are drawbacks related to an online class, the flexibility is one of the positive aspects. Some folks actually prefer online classes because there is no time pressure; you can choose when and for how long you want to work on something, and even have time to repeat the activity/process and ask more questions. It also allows one to revisit aspects – which is very different from seeing demonstrations in a traditional in-person class and trying to remember it or interpret scribbled notes.
I live many time zones away from the USA, can I take this class?
Yes indeed! People from all over the world can attend. My recent online class represented numerous time zones, with up to a 21 hour difference between students! And it worked beautifully. This format allows you to take your time and work at a time and pace that best suits you. This format also allows me to carefully review your work and/or questions and offer feedback in a more meaningful way. It’s a rich and comprehensive learning environment.
What teaching materials do I get to keep after the class?
You will have the full color, step by step PDF instructions. They are yours. You can print them but I do ask that you refrain from sharing them. They represent hundreds of hours of work, and a major portion of my income! You have paid for these instructions; thank you for respecting and valuing them.
How long do I have access to the online classroom?
My goal is to make these materials to you for up to six months.
You can login to the online classroom at any time to review comments and extra instruction, as well as the videos and access the PDFs. If for any reason, I need to switch to a different platform, you will have one month’s notice to review and download any of the materials.
What is your response time?
I will check in with the online classrooms three times a week – which provides timely answers to your questions and also allows me to do my own studio work and go fishing with my husband when conditions are right! You can count on me to make myself as fully available as possible, responding to questions, and offering feedback and advice in a timely manner. There may be times when you need answers right away and we will talk about how to manage that as well.
How do I pay for the class?
The online learning platform I use is only set up to accept fees in US dollars; class fees are adjusted to this currency. Right now, the class registration is set up to accept payments through PayPal. I am also able to accept Venmo payments but you will need to contact me directly for logistics.
How often will these classes be held?
I plan on teaching the Japanese papermaking class twice a year with a Sculptural papermaking class later this spring, or early summer so stay tuned.~