Explore Fiber is a collaborative website showcasing and exploring fiber as a fine art material.
I became President of the Dallas Handweavers & Spinners Guild, my local weaving and spinning guild, this year. I have been involved in it for almost 40 years, and the members of my guild are some of my most cherished friends. This article written by Susan E. Horton on the Interweave blog is a wonderful compilation of More Than 10 Reasons to Join a Local Weaving or Spinning Guild.
I took my time before I decided to join a guild. Something about the word put me off. It sounded too “historical” and maybe, at the risk of being ageist, too “old lady” for me. Finally, one Saturday morning I went to the Handweavers’ Guild of Connecticut, and for once in my life, I fit right in. I could talk about yarn, twill, and sett, and nobody rolled their eyes or glanced at their watch. (This was pre–cell phones.)
We are all busy and with so many opportunities to take advantage of, making a commitment to a guild can seem like a big step! But your participation in organizations like this can be tailored to fit your needs and experience! Perhaps some readers of this blog already belong to a local guild; if so, bookmark Susan’s article and share this information with someone who might be on the fence about joining.
There’s another reason guilds can be important: for art educators, students or fiber artists, these organizations can be a valuable resource. Local guilds are chock full of people passionate to keep their fiber art alive! They have masters in their midst and many times have the time and the resources to help mentor people beginning in their area of fiber art expression. Many times they have libraries with wonderful books that are now out of print, and membership can give you access to this information. They also have hands on activities to help interested parties learn new processes and techniques. The Explore Fiber website has a growing list of guilds across the U.S. on our resource page, Fiber Organizations. Check out our list for your area – if you know there is an organization not on our list, just Contact Us and we’ll add it!
If you are an art educator, you are constantly dealing with budget issues and constraints. This is another reason guilds are super beneficial: many of the members have stashes of materials collected over decades and are willing to part with some of their stash to support a growing program! Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, coined this word in a robotics article: Obtainium: something that can be had for little or no cost! Once you embrace the concept of Obtainium, you will be amazed at the things that will come your way! I put out an SOS to our faculty at the beginning of each school year for Obtainium, and it started a recycling program that was amazing! I trained my colleagues to think twice about ditching an object or material; they would give me a shout to see if I was interested, and 9 times out of 10, I was! Fiber people are some of the nicest people you will ever meet! When they find out about your needs, they will more often than not spring into action to help you out. So make connections with your local fiber guilds and see how they can help you grow as a fiber artist or as an educator of fiber art processes & techniques!