Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why you should take a class from Traci Otte

In the beading world I am relatively new and virtually unknown.  As such, my classes don't fill up like the ones taught by the big names.  Many times I have few or no students.  I market a lot (such as the list I wrote up on Monday), but it doesn't seem to be working.  There are a few reasons why that could be: my designs are boring, I'm a bad teacher, people aren't interested in stitching, or people are reluctant to take a class from someone who is "virtually unknown".  I understand stitching is at a lull right now, but there are many stitching classes that are selling out.  I know that my designs are interesting and that I'm a good teacher based on what people who are not family have told me.

So that leaves the last one.  Why would someone spend their hard-earned money to take a class from some woman named Traci Otte?  Yes, I'm speaking of myself in the third person right now so you don't forget which teacher you'll look up when this is all done.  :)

Let's start with introductions.  Hi, I'm Traci.  I have always been creative.  I started with latch hook rugs when I was little and worked my way up to cross stitch, crocheting, jewelry making, and knitting.  I joined the Loose Bead Society after moving to Milwaukee in 2008, and after I saw what the "big kids" were doing, I learned how to stitch.  After I left a computer programming job and determined that due to health reasons I couldn't continue in that career, I started my own business.  I now sell finished jewelry, teach, and sell kits and tutorials of my designs.

Now, why would you want to take a class from me?  Let's make a list.  I love lists!
  • I'm a good teacher.  Yeah, everyone would say that, but it has to be said, otherwise you get to the end of the list and think, "But is she a good teacher?  She never said."  I truly do my best to make sure everyone in my classes understands the material and is happy.  I also like to think I'm easy to talk to and that I foster a comfortable, fun class environment.
  • I give lots of tips.  If I discover something that makes the project easier to do, I'm going to pass that information on!
  • I make mistakes so you don't have to.  I've done everything from choosing colors with not enough contrast to forgetting to put the key inside the tube I've just started stitching up.  (If you're fond of train wrecks, check out my Mistakes and how I make them blog post.  There's a lot about knitting and crocheting in there, but it's a fun read.)  Whenever possible, I use that information in my tutorials and in my classes so you will hopefully avoid the heartaches I've had to endure.
  • Most of my designs are easily accessible by beginners.  I have a few that are intermediate, but the lion's share of them can be picked up by anyone who's never picked up a needle.  However, they still have appeal to experienced stitchers.
  • I give extras when I can.  If my design is for a bracelet, I frequently will include instructions for making matching earrings.
  • I'm international.  Last year at the Bead&Button Show's Meet the Teachers reception, a nice lady from Japan purchased the tutorial and kit of one of my designs, and recently someone from Sweden purchased a digital download of one of my designs on Etsy.  I feel so honored!
  • My designs have been published a few times, and one is in the works.  I'm not announcing that one until the ink is dry on the magazine so I don't jinx it.  For a list of where I've been published, check out the About page of my website.
  • For the last few years I've had a presence - teaching and/or having a booth - at three prominent bead shows:  the Milwaukee Bead Show hosted by Knot Just Beads in October, the Madison Art Glass and Bead Show in March, and the Meet the Teachers reception at the Bead&Button Show in June.  For a list of where I'll be at any point in time, check out my website.
  • I'm thorough (as you can tell from this list).  :)
Now that you know me better, I'd like to talk about my tutorials and kits for those classes where I'm providing the materials.

  • Because I started designing shortly after I started stitching, my tutorials pay attention to every step so a beginner can easily follow along.
  • Related to that, I take notes as I design and make the first sample.  I make the second sample following those notes and make notes to the notes as adjustments are needed.
  • While making the second sample, I take photos of each step (called process shots) and annotate many of them with arrows and instructions.  The tutorials are printed in color so you can easily see what's supposed to go where.
  • In the back of each tutorial I include spots where you can keep track of everything surrounding the project you just made so you don't wonder, "Now, what color did I use there?"
  • The last page is lined for notes and has my full business card printed on it so you always have my information handy.  E-mail me or call me (preferably not in the middle of the night) if you have any questions!
  • I sometimes include goofy pictures or clip art.

    This is my "lawn chicken", Kirby, modeling my "StarLite Dots" necklace.
  • Most importantly, each design passes the "husband test".  My husband, Steve, is an associate editor for Model Railroader magazine.  He's used to step-by-step projects but doesn't know how to stitch.  If he says, "I could do that!" then the tutorial is good to go!  It also doesn't hurt that he's a whiz at grammar.  Between the two of us, nothing gets through.

And finally...

  • If I'm providing a kit for a class or for sale outside of class, you get everything but the scissors.  There's a needle and Fireline in every kit, and I include my business card so you know how to contact me if you need to.
  • With very few exceptions, I sell my kits separately from my tutorials, so if you want an extra kit from a class you've taken, you don't have the extra cost of another set of instructions.
  • I do my best to keep my kit prices reasonable.  I shop around for my materials to save me money, and I pass the savings on to you!
  • I provide enough materials to fit my "mutantly large" wrists and then some, so you should never have to worry about running out before you're finished with the project.  If you do, you have my phone number!
  • I provide a range of colors to choose from.

That last point leads me to today's project.  I've heard that classes with fire are pretty popular.  I can understand that - I've had fun with torches myself.  Unfortunately, though, I can't incorporate fire into my stitching designs.

Or can I?  For two of my designs, "It's Got Legs" that I'm teaching in Madison this March and "Cobblestone Path" that I'm teaching at the Bead&Button Show this June, I have a "fire" colorway.  Today I sat down with my leftover kit supplies and used every last one of my Rizos for that colorway to stitch this bracelet that is far too small for me, but it should fit a normal, slender person just fine:

So, are you "fired up" (sorry for the pun, but I had to) now to take a class with me?  You have many opportunities!

Since I want this post to be good for longer than the next 4 months, I'm not going to list all of my classes here.  Please check out my website for a complete list of every class I'm teaching and everywhere I'm going to be, and if you have any questions, please contact me at

I know this was long - I guess there's a lot more to me than I think!  Thank you for spending your time with me, and I look forward to seeing you in my classes and at my shows!  If you would like be added to my mailing list so you're kept in the loop, please sign up below:

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