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How do I do a Swap?
For those of you interested in "How to do a Swap", or just need some information, Samantha McPherson has written the FAQ.
What's a swap and how do I join?
There's a recent phenomena happening in the on-line world called "swapping".
In the polymer clay community people from around the country (and the world!)
make polymer clay items to "swap" for items made by other people. The person
hosting the swap (called the swapmeister) sets the rules of the swap. He or
she will decide how many people they want in the swap, what everyone will
make, and when the deadline for mailing is. To join a swap all you have to
do is email the swapmeister with your request. The swapmeister will let you
know how many people are in the swap and the number of items you will make
(which is equal to the total number of swappers). When the deadline for
mailing the swaps draws near, you box up your items and mail them to the
swapmeister. Everyone else in the swap does the same. The swapmeister then
divides the swaps equally between all the swappers. And soon you will
receive your box full of wonderful items made by other polymer clay people!
The number of items you receive is always equal to the number of items you
send. These are things that you get to keep! The whole point to all this is
mostly to have fun. But it's a great way to discover new techniques and see
firsthand what others are doing with polymer clay. Plus it's just exciting
to get a box full of goodies in the mail!
How do I host a swap?
Here's an example of a new swap that you might post to the polymer clay
newsgroup (the theme of the swap is entirely up to you and only limited by
your imagination and what everyone else is willing to make): "Flower bead
swap. This swap will be limited to 20 participants and each person will make
and send 20 beads that somehow incorporate flowers in the design. The beads
can be round, cane slices, or sculpted, as long as they are no larger than 1
inch and no smaller than 3/4 inch. There's no color restrictions. The beads
need to have a hole through them for stringing on a necklace, and the hole
should be vertical to the design (i.e. top to bottom). Package each bead
separately in a small plastic bag or envelope with you name and any info you
would like the other swappers to know (personal bio, technique description,
address, etc). Put the beads into a reusable package (small sturdy box),
along with 3 dollars for return Priority postage (or a Priority stamp), and a
self-addressed mailing label. Mail them to me by May 5th." (The due date is
usually about 2 months from the date the swap was announced.) -The theme and
"rules" for the swap are the swapmeister's call. You can limit the number of
participants to as many or as few as you like. Just keep in mind that some
things take more time and clay to make, so keep the group small if your theme
is something difficult like boxes or picture frames. Once you've received
all the swaps, divide them up among all the swappers. Each person will get
one of everyone else's swaps. So what happens is everyone will get back the
same number of items that they send. Reseal the boxes, apply the address
labels, and use the money to pay for Priority postage to mail each box back
to it's owner. Postage is typically 3 dollars US because that's the cost of
Priority mail (2 lbs and under). (International swappers will naturally need
to send more for postage.) You need to consider the cost of postage when
deciding on the size of your swap group. Thirty picture frames are going to
weigh a lot more than 30 beads! (Provided you can find that many people
willing to make that many frames!) As swapmeister it's important that you
stay in contact with your swappers. Email them occasionally to remind them
of the due date and keep them informed about changes, like drop-outs or last
minute add-ons (which will change the number of swaps they have to make).
What's a multi-group swap?
Let's suppose you're swapmeister for a bead swap you've limited to 20
participants. Chances are you'll get a lot more people wanting to
participate in the swap than the 20 spaces you have to fill. You can start a
waiting list of people to fill spots left by swappers who might drop out.
Some swapmeisters decide to have a multi-group swap so they can sign up as
many swappers as possible and not leave anyone out. (It's no fun to be told
the swap is full and you can't participate!) All you do is sign up enough
people to make up 2 or 3 different groups of 20 people each (or whatever you
limit the group size to). (Beads are fairly easy even for beginners, so 20
isn't a huge number for any person to make. Something like pendants or pins
should probably have less swappers per group because those are more difficult
to make.) Now you have 60 people signed up and you can divide them into 3
groups of 20 swappers each. Each swapper will make 20 beads and get 20 beads
in return. How you divide up the groups is up to you. Some swapmeisters do
it on a first come first serve basis as the packages arrive, or randomly
divide the list of names up beforehand, or whatever. Each person will get a
bead from everyone who gets one of theirs. It helps a lot to keep each group
of boxes separate from the others when it comes time to divide the beads up.
And only do one group at a time to eliminate the chance of accidentally
getting the groups mixed up!
What's an inter-group swap?
There are several "swap-addicts" out there who want to get as many different
swaps from other people as they can! So when you host a multi-group swap you
have the option of also doing an inter-group swap to fill the "needs" of
these hard-core swappers. Suppose you're hosting a multi-group bead swap
with 3 groups of 20 swappers each. Let all the swappers know via email that
you intend to have an inter-group swap if anyone is interested in joining.
Let's say that 3 people from group A want to participate, and 2 people from
group B and 4 people from group C. The 3 inter-group swappers in group A
will need to make the 20 beads for their group as well as 6 extra beads for
the inter-group swappers from groups B and C (since there's a total of 6
inter-group swappers in those groups: 2 from B and 4 from C). The
inter-group swappers from group B will make 20 beads plus 7 extras for the
inter-group swappers from the other groups (3 from group A and 4 from group
C). And the inter-group swappers in group C will make 5 extra beads for the
inter-group swappers from groups A and B. The inter-group swappers do not
swap with the other inter-group swappers in their own group, because they'll
already be getting one of these people's beads in the regular group. This
adds a "slight" degree of difficulty when it comes time to divide the swaps
up. But with a little planning beforehand (and a lot of floor space for the
boxes!) it's really not that much of a hassle. It helps a lot to list each
group on a separate sheet of paper and put a star or mark next to each name
that is participating in the inter-group swap. As you divide the swaps check
off each name from the list so you're sure of which swaps you've divvied up
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