The Challenge of an Open-Ended Workshop

I totally forgot to promote it here on my blog, but my most recent doll event at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys was on Saturday.  This time instead of a presentation or education event, we did a workshop, making backdrops for doll photography.  Part of the goal was to also provide some coaching on doll photography techniques, but rather than giving a presentation, I prepared a handout and helped people individually as they finished their backdrops.

The event went really well, and for the most part I think people really enjoyed themselves.  We had a variety of supplies available and people had the opportunity to just make whatever they wanted, whether that was walls of a room or an outdoor scene.

Our participants ranged widely in age, with the youngest being 9, there with her mom.  I found it interesting that while several of the older participants had a hard time figuring out what to do when they didn't know what was expected of them, our youngest participant dove right in with the easy confidence of kids.  Once it was explained that she could make whatever she wanted, she did exactly that, constructing a bed out of cardboard, fabric, and lace, in addition to wallpapering her presentation board.  In fact, as she and her mom were leaving, taking supplies with them to finish at home (mom was so busy helping that she didn't get a chance to make her own), she announced to her mom that she wanted to make a chair too.

Of course, kids are given a lot of open-ended craft projects in school and child care, so that probably explains how comfortable she was with the "assignment."  A lot of workshops for adults, on the other hand, are pre-assembled kits or come with more precise instructions.  The adults were definitely more hesitant and I got more queries of "But what do we do?" from them.

I'm glad I did it the way I did, though.  Once they realized they could make literally whatever they wanted with the available supplies, everyone got into the spirit of the project.  It was amazing to see the variety in what everyone came up with.  Most people had brought a doll, and made something that went with that doll in some way: a beach scene for a Hawaiian doll, an outdoor backdrop for a wedding doll, a very Victorian combination of wallpapers for a bisque doll in a Victorian outfit.  One participant painstakingly pieced together separate pieces of wallpaper for perfectly matched seams.  Everyone did their own thing, and did it well, and I loved seeing their creations.

Without further ado, here are the amazing creations from our workshop!  If you're local and you missed out this time around, don't worry.  We are planning to do this workshop again next year!



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