Bead Magazine Tutorials vs Web Video Lessons. Which Do You Prefer?

Pillow Bead Pinching Technique

And… Who Do You Turn To When Questions Come Up?

I love spending time immersed in the pages of all kinds of beads, beading and jewelry magazines or books. They are great for inspiration and for keeping up to date with current events and new product information.

However, I have also seen many beginners and even intermediate clayers, experience frustration after trying to learn new techniques from written tutorials in magazines and books. The problem is that important steps are often left out.

For example, one tutorial that I read recently, took the reader from opening a package of package of clay to wearing a finished piece of jewelry, in less than 2 nicely laid out pages of information. Now the project was fine for an experienced clayer. But for a beginner it was disastrous.

Why, you may ask? Every step seemed to be explained well enough. And the overall project didn’t really look all that difficult. So why wouldn’t a beginner have good luck making the project?

Well, let me see. What if one package of your packages of clay is all crumbly and the other is mushy? Is there something wrong with the clay? Or is it something you did… or didn’t do? The instructions said the clay needed to be conditioned. But how do you know how long to condition polymer clay? Is it the same for every brand?

The tutorial said to bake according to the instructions on the clay packaging. But your piece was smoking before the time was up. And the room smelled terrible! Did you put the clay in too long? Was the temperature too hot? Or did it have something to do with that metal pan? Many projects get wrecked because of confusion about the finer points on how to bake polymer clay.

Then there’s the sanding… with all the grits. And polishing with your high speed, table mounted buffing machine. But what if you don’t have one of those? Making the bracelet is starting to look more and more complicated, even though the pictures made it look so easy. Maybe you aren’t as handy as you thought and you should go back to buying beads!

Sound familiar?

Now don’t get me wrong, its usually not the fault of the person writing the tutorial. They are trying their best to give you the best possible information in the limited space they have available to them. But far too often, they are also trying to teach too much at once. As a result, the step by step plan is not nearly as detailed as it should be for someone just starting out.

The reason I’m writing this, is that if you have ever bought a magazine with the intention of doing a polymer clay project you saw, and then got frustrated by all the mistakes you made, you are not alone! It’s not your fault and there is a solution!

As most of you know by now, my solution to this problem is video. Well thought out, and well produced multimedia tutorials… taught in a way that shows you both what TO do… as well as what NOT to do.

And then just as important is the follow up support that is provided when issues come up along the way.

You probably don’t realize it, but there are over 4260 comments, questions and answers here at this Polymer Clay Tutor Blog (so far). There are also 425 informative articles and 103 full motion tutorial videos. Check back tomorrow and these numbers will be even larger.

I’d be thrilled if you would join me by exploring everything this site has to offer :)

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Sue, 28 April, 2009

    I know I’m going to be in the minority — or the singularity! — given the site that I’m posting this comment on, but since the title of this topic asks “Which Do You Prefer?”, I thought I’d put my $0.02 in.

    I have a strong preference for written tutorials. But on the web!

    On the web because of the accessibility that online publishing provides. You can easily search for the kind of information you want: no “Where would I find…”, “I know I saw it somewhere”, or “I wonder where I put that magazine”.

    Written because that lets the student absorb material at their own pace (which for me is usually much faster than video), jump around instantly *and* precisely, pick out the relevant or interesting bits without having to sit through other stuff, and compare multiple sections of articles side-by-side. Even as a total novice with polymer clay I spent most of the time for most of the video tutorials I saw (from many different sources) going “yes, yes, that’s obvious/logical/clear enough now, get on with it already!” And I’ve never had any disasters despite my clear lack of patience! :D

    Another advantage with written tutorials is that they are easier to have right there in your workshop where you’re experimenting. I am lucky enough to have net access everywhere in my house, but not everyone does. You can also easily add your own notes and comments where they are most relevant… not so easy to do that with video!

    I would also say that the effectiveness of both written and video tutorials largely depends on how the content is structured and presented. I’ve seen awful written tutorials and brilliant written tutorials; I’ve seen awful video tutorials and brilliant video tutorials. It’s the message more than the medium.

    Finally, there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution. Anybody publishing material of any kind needs to consider their target audience and then tailor their presentation accordingly, selecting the most appropriate medium. In many cases and for many people video works well; but not for everybody.

    I’ll crawl back into my hole now… ;)

  2. Cindy Lietz, 28 April, 2009

    Hi Sue… please don’t “…crawl back into your hole.” I love it that you took the time to share your opinion. If we lived in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ world, things would get pretty boring :)

    I think you nailed it when you said, “…the effectiveness of both written and video tutorials largely depends on how the content is structured and presented.”

    And another of your points that I particularly like is this one: “Anybody publishing material of any kind needs to consider their target audience and then tailor their presentation accordingly, selecting the most appropriate medium.”

    So who else has something to say? I’d love to see this topic expand into full out discussion :)

  3. Ken H., 28 April, 2009

    I can see the point about online publishing, because you’re not as tied to the size of the article as one would be in print and can be updated as the author discovers new ways to get the message across. You can break the steps down into as many steps as is needed to get the point across, but some directions that seem clear enough to the author may come across as clear as mud to the reader. I just recently subscribed to the videos offered by Cindy, and think that while written instructions are good IF they go into enough detail to make things clear sone visual directions are really helpful (ex. the directions for joining the edges of the pillow beads). Sometimes, if a student doesn’t understand something explained in one fashion, as an instructoryou may need to try a different approach to get the lesson across. Both methods are valid but I prefer video as I can “see” how something is done.

  4. Ken H., 28 April, 2009


    You can also add new segments if an inspiration occurs and discovers a new, easer way of doing a step.

  5. Louise, 28 April, 2009

    I agree videos are better.
    Add to your comment people who don’t understand english (I know a lot) that well and bingo you know that a picture talks clearer .
    All of you who make those videos help so many who want to learn . Bravo! and keep on the good work.

  6. Anna Sabina, 28 April, 2009

    What’s great about Cindy’s videos is that she presents one technique in detail and at just the right pace. I also like that she shows us different angles of the beads which you cannot see in a photo. Some other U-tube videos present too much information, too fast, and I find myself always having to rewind and forward to get to the right spot.

  7. Debbie McLelland, 28 April, 2009

    I discovered Cindy on line one night, not realizing what good fortune I discovered at the time. Cindy offers “anything” and “everything” you could possibly want to learn about Polymer clay. Plus, if for some reason you need a little more info on something . . . just email her, she will answer you right back. It’s amazing how dedicated she is to all of us.

    Her videos are well done. I agree, her videos show you close ups, at the right angle, and at a good speed with great detail. I also enjoy magazines and “good” well done instructional books, I have a vast collection on many art mediums. Written materials provide me with inspiration; I enjoy seeing what everyone else is accomplishing.

    I have found great joy in having my laptop in my studio. My large desktop computer stays in my main office, but my 12″ Apple laptop takes very little room on my work table. I can look at printed PDF’s, or DVD’s, or enjoy Cindy’s web site. Everything is at my finger tips.

    Great question Cindy, as per usual. Thanks again!

  8. Freda, 29 April, 2009

    I love the videos, but Sue made one point I like and that is that you can take the printed copy to your studio to follow. I have started a project thinking I knew how to do it and had to stop and come back to my computer to watch the video again. However, another point that I have found with printed tutorials is that there might be one point I don’t understand. With the video, I just watch it again and can pick up the point I missed before.

  9. Silverleaf, 01 May, 2009

    I like the videos, but then again I like written/printed stuff too.

    I find that the videos are great for giving me an overview of how something works and providing me with a few ideas, but I don’t use them while I’m actually claying.

    Mostly because I don’t have a computer in my studio to access videos, but also because when I’m up to my elbows in a project I don’t want to be messing about pausing and fast forwarding a video. A printout pinned to the wall is much easier so I can just glance at it when I need to.


  10. Jamie H, 01 May, 2009

    Im a show me kinda gal and thoroughly enjoy watching Cindy’s tutorials. But I do agree with some comments made. Like not having a computer handy to my work area until recently. Videos had to be watched and then I had to come back if I had a question. Thats why I started taking notes and making little thumbnail sketches from videos. So I could take that with me to my clay table to refer back to. But I find with Cindy’s videos that she covers a topic so completely and in simple steps I hardly ever have questions or have to rewatch them in order to have success in the first try. I did work from books with some success for a long time before there was internet and videos to be had. But there were lots of mistakes made and questions unanswered with just using that approach. I have to say I like the video much better. But I do still use both sources for inspiration,ideas and new techniques. And I get lots of both right here from Cindy! XOXO Jamie

  11. Cindy Lietz, 01 May, 2009

    These are excellent points you all make! There are so many ways to learn aren’t there! I will do my best to offer information in as many forms as possible, for you all.

    Thank you so much everyone for your thoughts on this!

    Does anyone else have something that they’d like to add to the discussion?

  12. MJ, 05 June, 2009


    I have commented about your presentations before, but one point that I believe has been missed is the verbal aspect of learning which your videos provide. Very important for those who learn more easily by hearing.


  13. Cindy Lietz, 09 June, 2009

    You’re right about that MJ! So many people learn by listening. I like to talk and add tips while I’m working on the project. As long as you can understand English, the Audio is a very important part of the learning experience.

  14. ashlyn, 13 July, 2009

    Although I am a member for the video library, I must admit I’ve never watched one all the way through. The first one I tried I was put off by all the ums and ahhs, which you don’t get with written communication of course. I have sort of an version to videos on the web, and I much prefer written tutorials (with pictures though!) For example Cindy, I just came across your tutorial for image transfers on a totally different site and I thought it was great, well written and very well documented.

    I can stare at a picture or written instructions as long as it takes to figure it out, but rewinding video, dealing with load times and the unprintability of video tutorials is frustrating, especially these which aren’t even savable. I totally understand the reasoning behind it, but it’s still an extra barrier.

  15. Cindy Lietz, 13 July, 2009

    Thanks Ashlyn for sharing your opinion. I appreciate it. Your point about it being easier to access specific information in written tutorials, is probably the most common argument presented by people with a non-video bias, such as yourself.

    That’s actually one of the main reason’s why I keep my videos short and to the point in the 6-12 minute range. Before I started producing my own videos, I too got pretty frustrated with having to sit through clips that often lasted 30, 40 and 50 minutes. Videos that really could have / should have been presented in 10 minutes or less.

    Another point I’d like to make is that my videos are shown in a player that has a “grabable” scroll bar which allows you to manually review all the frames as quickly OR as slowly AND as often as you desire… just like how you would use the vertical scroll bar on any web page presenting a long copy, written-picture tutorial.

    By the way, thanks for your kind words about my image transfer, tutorial document. For anyone interested in it, you can click on the “Photo Transfer Beads” link by my name above.

    Now one last question for you Ashlyn, if I may. You have made it quite clear that videos-on-the-web are not really your cup of tea. Can you please tell me what it was that prompted you to become a member of my video library site? You’ve got me really curious about this.

  16. Karen A. Scofield, 13 July, 2009

    Not which but both.

    In written tutorials, I can see the correct spelling of products, sites, and other specifics I might not catch in videos. The written medium enables me to, at my own pace, refer to yet more resources to answer any unanswered questions that the written tutorial may not have anticipated, since I often adopt a technique into a unique project of my own design.

    In the videos, well, a video is worth more than a thousand words.

    When I refer to both written and video tutorials then my initial attempts are usually more than a little successful. Referring to both beforehand allows me to mentally rehearse a project (highly valuable) thoroughly before actually laying hands on any materials.

  17. ashlyn, 13 July, 2009

    I Subscribed because I like your blog and wanted to support you and the site, so when you had the special deal on at the beginning of summer I signed up :) I’m sure the videos are super handy, I’m just always doing a dozen things at once and don’t take the time to sit and watch them. I’ll have to remember them the next time I have some clay to condition or whatever, I’m pretty much incapable of watching any sort of video over a minute long without something to do with my hands!

  18. Kim, 13 July, 2009

    I LOVE the videos!!! Please don’t stop! I have learned SO much and I am a visual learner so the videos are great! You inspire me to be neat too. Your workspace seems so clean.

    **PHOTOS ADDED: The following link will take you to a Spotlight Article featuring some pictures of Kim’s beautiful work: Kim’s Polymer Clay Beads

  19. Cindy Lietz, 14 July, 2009

    @Karen: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I agree, there is something to be learned form both kinds of information.

    @ashlyn: Thank you for answering my question. I appreciate your support!

    @Kim: Thank you Kim, you made my day! That is so cute you are inspired by my clean workspace… that workspace is my ‘set’ where I film the segments. My ‘real’ workspace is very chaotic! Maybe I should get inspired by that clean space myself! LOL :-)

  20. Laquita Carter, 11 October, 2009

    Hi Cindy,

    I am really enjoying your video’s and learning a lot. It’s much easier to learn when you visually see what one is making.

    I was wondering if you would ever make a video on how to make a face cane?

    Keep up the great work. So nice of you to take time and teach others.

    Sincere Regards, Laquita
    Louisville, KY

  21. Cindy Lietz, 11 October, 2009

    Hi Laquita – So glad to hear you are enjoying the videos. And thank you for the kind words.

    There are no face cane videos in the library yet, but I will put your suggestion on the list.

    Surrey, BC, CANADA

  22. Karen R, 19 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    I absolutely loved your Polymer Clay Beginners Course. Every single video. Just as others have said, I say it too: I wish I would have found your site earlier on in my clay making and experimenting journey. It would have saved me a lot of headaches, and would have made my product better from the get-go. But…I have you and your videos as a resource now and am very grateful!

    Here are a few things I love:
    1. You are clear in your directions and you go at an even pace (not too fast, not too slow).

    2. You explain *each* step and *why* you do something a certain way.

    3. The course followed logical advancement (i.e. doing basics first, then canes, etc)

    4. It was *thorough*!! You covered a lot of territory!!

    5. I have watched some of the videos several times, and will continue to do so with all of them. It’s nice to watch it and know when it’s time to actually go do it I have something to look back to as a reference.

    6. I learned more in this course than I have reading through books and books and books at Barnes and Noble.

    7. I can clearly see what you’re doing.

    I don’t really have any critiques or suggestions on improvement. I know it is equally as helpful but I just don’t have any for this course! It was so amazingly fantastic!

    Thanks for all of your hard work, Cindy. You do an incredible job with all of it!!

  23. Cindy Lietz, 20 January, 2013

    OK Karen… you get the “made-my-day-award” for today :-) Thank you so much for taking the time to write those very kind words. Sharing feedback like this really gives others great insight about what they can expect from the video tutorials. I truly appreciate your help.

    Very much looking forward to hearing more about how your beads and jewelry projects are coming along.

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