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My HGTV - "That's Clever" Experience - 2½ Years in the Making

It all began with an email on a group forum in 2006, inviting artists to send in photos of "crafts" to be considered for the show because they were going to be in the Houston area to shoot the guest artists and the projects they chose.

I was fortunate enough to be chosen and they came to my home to shoot the segment in April of 2007.  I was told, after the shooting, that it wouldn't air until 2008 because they shoot that far in advance and since my project is a Halloween type project it would air in October. Talk about disappointment!!

When I first considered being on the show, I was very hesitant because I REALLY didn't want to be on TV but I knew the exposure could be worth it. At the time, Poly Clay Play was barely a year old. Even though they won't let you say the name of your business, I was able to have "Poly Clay Play" magnets in the background. It turns out they didn't show up very well.  Also, when I decided to submit my project, the HGTV website posted the instructions to each and every artist's project so I figured that would be great and worth getting over being shy and not wanting to look silly on TV!

In 2008 they stopped airing the show and no one would answer my emails. At that point I thought I would never get to see how they spliced 4 hours shooting time into my 10 minutes of fame. They started the show again in January of 2009 so I thought, "hmm, will this be the year?"! October came and went.

Fortunately, I knew the episode number. They had emailed that shortly after coming to my home so, my husband checked the HGTV website regularly to see if it showed up in their listing. Finally it was listed in January 2009 and it was supposed to show on October 22. Well, that was the original listing. I later found out it would air October 27, 2009 - 2½ years after it was shot. I thought it would actually show on that date because my cable listing also had the listing description and it said "a woman in Spring Texas shows...". That's me, a woman in Spring Texas!


I thought wrong! After sending emails to family and friends, bugging them one more time and looking like a wanna be TV star... NOT... they changed the date again. Oh, and this time they changed the time too. It finally showed on October 30, 2009 at 7:00 in the morning. I checked the date again several times, just in case!

I really enjoyed seeing how they edited it down and am happy with the way they did it.

Applying to be a "guest"...

As I said, it began with an email on a group forum inviting artists to send in photos of "crafts" to be considered for the show.  I sent an email and they sent an application Feb.16, 2007, which I filled out and sent back. They asked for pictures of projects that I thought they might like and a picture of me. I guess they want to make sure their guests don't have three heads or something else that might break the camera!

Next, they thought they might want to use one of my submissions so they gave me a call for a phone interview. I guess this was to make sure I could talk. All kidding aside, the producer I worked with was very nice and easy to talk to... for that matter, the producers and members of the crew that came to shoot the segment were all very nice too!

Then they let me know they were considering me and my project for the show.  March 22, 2007 - They sent a Materials form, a Checklist and a Final Pitch form.  (See below)

March 28, 2007

They sent all the release agreements to sign. In my case, we didn't own our home so we had to get permission
from the owner as well and the owner had to sign a form agreeing to let them come shoot the segment. I also had to sign a personal release and I signed an agreement stating "All designs, ideas and materials for my Ghost Filled Pumpkin were mine and that I agreed I would not be paid and that they had the right to take pictures, video etc. I also agreed I could not have any say in how they used the material. It also says I can't blame them if I am embarrassed by what they do with the material. So, in short, they can make a guest look silly and the guest can't do anything about it!

MATERIALS/STEPS (DELIVERABLES) FOR HGTV WEB SITE in other words the instructions for my project to be posted online were emailed back to them along with all the signed release forms.

Shooting Time Approaches

April 20, 2007 I received an email from Christine, one of the field producers, letting me know her phone number in case I needed to get in touch with her.

They came to my home the day before the actual shooting. This visit was to meet me, see and approve what I planned to wear and see what my studio looked like. They needed to see if the lights and cameras were going to fit and that it would be easy to shoot the segment. They liked what I was going to wear but I had to set up a card table and cover it with a table cloth to do the actual "claying" on so in the segment, my back is to what used to be my work table.

The next day, they came early in the afternoon. They covered the windows to my studio so the light from outside wouldn't interfere with their cameras and they set up their lights inside. While the crew was doing that, one of the producers shot the intro while the daylight was good. They wanted me to dress up in a costume and run around with my pumpkin but I declined so one of the producers wore a sheet over her head and you see her as the ghost running back and forth behind me. She is also the ghost that pops up during the segment every now and then.

Next, we went inside and while the other producer put blue tape on every bottle, box, tool etc. to cover up any company names we added a few Halloween/Fall themed items around the room, remember this is April, and I sat down to begin shooting.

The process was very calm and casual and they made it very easy. They look over your instructions and then together, we decided what to say, one line at a time. I would say the line and pretend to do the step. We would decide if that sounded and looked right, then they would turn on the camera and I would say the line again and actually do the step. Then we would go on and repeat the process for the next step in the project. When needed, I would bring out the next step-out (see Checklist below). They were very open to my suggestions and after the initial stage fright, it was very easy to do.

When the project was completed, they took a few more shots of other things I had made, shots of the pumpkin in baking in the oven and I sat down and talked about how I got started working with polymer clay and what inspired the project. I noticed they didn't use that in the segment. Probably because I wasn't prepared and I stuttered through it!

Then they took down the lights, gathered the original signed copies of everything I had given them earlier and they drove away, almost never to be heard from again... at least if felt that way!

A few days after that I got the email telling me what my episode number was and was told to check the website periodically to see when it was scheduled. I was very disappointed when I found out it would not be on in October of that year. Then even more disappointed in 2008 when it wasn't on and they didn't answer any emails about it. Here is a part of an email I received from the original production company that handled my segment.

About Future "That's Clever" shows... Information given to me about a year ago although as with everything to do with this experience... you don't believe it until it is so...

That's Clever is no longer "in production" meaning there are no new shows being produced. As far as if it's "over" airing on HGTV, that I cannot tell you, because I truly do not know. Basically, the network hires the production company to create these shows. They are delivered to HGTV. Producers assume that the shows booked will, in fact, air! They want them too! No one wants to go through all that time and trouble and never see the fruits of their labor! And, because the network spends so much time and money creating the shows, it is extremely rare that they will shoot shows and never air them. They can do so if they choose, but it is a big waste of money.

Final Thoughts about my experience "on" HGTV's - "That's Clever"

I enjoyed the experience. It was a once in a lifetime thing and I looked forward to seeing the results of a fun day. The producers from the beginning (phone and email) to the on the road producers and the crew were all fun people and made the day fun and easy and they are great at their job of making me, the "guest" on the show, relaxed and at ease. I am disappointed in HGTV and the powers that be there. They are not helpful and never responded to my emails. That was very discouraging. I figured the least they could do would answer questions since they do not even send a copy of the segment to the "guest". Oh well, I am still glad I did it and am happy to share the experience with you.



**NOTE TO ARTISTS: Please do NOT change the format, font, color, layout, etc. of this form.
Simply fill in your information next to what is currently on the form. Also, please do not add
photos or drawings to this form -- only text. Thank you!!
Artist’s Name – City, State
e-mail address (to be posted on HGTV web site)
web site address (to be posted on HGTV web site and please note, HGTV can only accept
registered/active sites)
Project Name
DESCRIPTION: (Will be inserted by HGTV, so artists, please skip)
MATERIALS: (in list format; please be as specific as possible and do not use brand names)
STEPS: (please number your steps and be sure you have not skipped any)



 PRESS INQUIRIES: Although we can appreciate your desire to contact the media about your
upcoming appearance on HGTV’s “That’s Clever!”, all efforts MUST be made AFTER an airdate
has been assigned to your segment. At that time, all press inquiries must be directed to our
HGTV Media Contact, address was here…
 Watch the show – it’s the best thing you can do to mentally prepare for your tape date. You can see
from the casual, lighthearted tone of the show that it’s not very formal – it’s more spontaneous and
has a “slice-of-life” feel.
 Practice speaking in the first person – “I” rather than “you” or “we”. When you watch the show, keep
an eye out for how the other artists do this.
 Make sure to have the completed project (referred to as the “hero”) totally ready in time for the
prep date (a day or two before taping).
 On top of the hero, you must have all the materials needed to make that exact item, including the stepouts
you discussed with your field producer. The step outs must be progressive and look like they are
part of the same finished piece – exact same size, color, shape, pattern, etc! This all needs to be
ready for the prep date, to prevent a last minute sleepless night of preparing – and not looking well
rested for the shoot! Plus, 5 or 6 hours is already enough time to have a TV crew in your home or
studio – and if you don’t have everything prepared properly, it will take much longer!!
 Get some rest the night before, and eat before the crew shows up so you’re totally relaxed and ready.
 Let your neighbors know about the taping, and that’s it important to you that they refrain from
blasting music, getting an extreme home makeover that day, etc.
 Prepare your workspace for the shoot – we want it to look natural, but it should be clear enough for
the crew to get into the spots where you need to be.
 Preparing the space might involve removing (temporarily) any décor that is political, suggestive,
controversial, or commercial in nature.
 We want you to be yourself, but we also want to make sure that your appearance does not detract
from your project. So, if you have any facial piercings or if you have tattoos that may be visible
during the shoot, please alert your field producer and be open to making some temporary minor
 The camera will be on your hands the majority of the time, so a manicure is a great idea (for guys
too!). Please keep any nail polish non-distracting.
 Have your mini-gallery of additional handmade items out and ready to be shot. We’d like 6-15
items to shoot -- this is your chance to show off what you can do!
 Have several wardrobe options ready; at least 3 different tops in different colors. Your producer
will help you decide on your final outfit. Please remember to avoid: solid black, red or white,
anything with a logo or name brand and small patterns. Ladies, please be careful that nothing is too
revealing, low cut or tight. Thanks!
 Most importantly, please be open! You don’t have to worry about the production end of things,
because your producer and director have it covered. Just do what you normally do, making your art
like you usually make it - while being open to suggestions, repeating things when needed, ad libbing,
maybe having fun with the camera now and then, and making eye contact with the camera. This is
your project and your segment, and you know the craft best - so be an active participant in making
suggestions for what you can say, and make sure your passion for the craft really comes through!


Final Pitch

DATE: 3/19/2007
NAME: Trish Hodgens
CRAFT: PC Ghost Filled Pumpkin
*Halloween Episode
Native Texan Trish Hodgens has done some type of craft ever since she can remember. As an adult, scrap-booking was her craft of choice until she took a polymer clay class. She loved the medium and over the years developed her skills until polymer clay became her number one craft. Today she heads a polymer clay club and runs the clubs website so she gets to play with clay all day!

Her PC Ghost Filled Pumpkin starts by putting a rubber band around a light bulb about 2 ½ inches from the threaded end. Using a permanent marker she draws a line around the light bulb using the rubber band as a guide. She removes the rubber band and then wraps orange polymer clay around the light bulb following the line she just made. This form she is creating will be the body of the pumpkin. Trish then uses a texture sheet to create a pattern on the surface of the clay. She then cuts out 3 triangles – creating 2 eyes and a nose. She uses a needle tool to make the mouth. Next she cuts out 10-20 small leaves out of another sheet of orange clay. The leaves are layered on to the surface of her  pumpkin. With green clay she hand forms a stem and presses it in place on top of the pumpkin. With even more green clay she rolls out thin vines and makes more leaves. These are also adhered to the pumpkin. The piece is baked and once it’s cooled she covers it with a towel and carefully breaks the light bulb so that she can remove it from the baked pumpkin form. From there it’s on to her ghosts. Using a combination of white and black clay she hand-forms two  ghosts and glues them inside the hollow pumpkin. Finally she rolls orange clay into a small ball. She uses a toothpick to draw lines down the sides and then adds a small green stem, a vine and a leaf. The mini pumpkin is glued inside the larger hollow pumpkin next to the ghosts.