Guild n. 1) An association of persons of the same trade or pursuits, formed to protect mutual interests and maintain standards. 2) A similar association, as of merchants or artisans, in medieval times.
If the Medieval craft guilds of history provided a way to organize work through a system of apprenticeship and journeymanship, the craft guilds of today provide a way to organize creative energy, fun, friendships, and a shared passion. A Google search brings up thousands of guilds active today around the country dedicated to many types of media. Just about every form of creative expression is represented by guilds: there are guilds for lovers of basketry, fiber arts, quilting, lace making, carpentry, carving, knitting, ceramics and pottery, toys, leather, jewelry, millinery, stone carving, beading, candle making and bookbinding, to name but a few. Craft guilds differ from each other in some ways, but all of them have this in common: an admiration for the handmade object.
Guilds today are often primarily social organizations. However, they take their role as educators seriously. Their activities often include workshops, led by outside teachers, in which members hone their skills and learn new forms and techniques. Education of the public about their work is also part of their collective mission. Local guilds are constantly called upon by other organizations to provide demonstrations and workshops about what they do. Guilds also provide the important function of producing works commemorating community events or people or art for public buildings. More often than not, guilds also reach out to the public through charitable works. They donate the goods they make to hospitals, shelters, and individuals in need. They provide a generous and important function in communities across the country.
Craft guilds are usually organized in layers. Members pay dues and attend meetings of local guilds. Local guilds are often members or affiliates with state or regional guilds, who are, in turn, members or affiliates of national guilds. Membership in craft guilds is counted in the tens of thousands in the United States today.
This year at the Great Lakes Folk Festival, we salute the creative energy, passion and commitment of craft guilds in our community. Representing local craft guilds at this year's GLFF are:
Capitol Area Lace Makers
Capitol City Quilt Guild
Greater Lansing Weavers Guild
Crossroad Basketmakers Guild
Mid-Michigan Knitters Guild
Many will have demonstrations and items for sale at GLFF Saturday, 12 noon - 8 p.m. and Sunday, 12 noon - 6 p.m.
Traditional Craft Guilds and Schools
Traditional arts are those expressive skills and knowledge that are acquired within and have meaning for members of groups that share strong and often overlapping commonalities, such as language, ethnicity, occupation, religion, or region. Expert skills and knowledge associated with a particular art are often acquired through long practice and experience under the guidance of other practitioners within these communities.
Some crafts are learned within schools, guilds, clubs, and associations that form a community of artists who share a love of learning and knowledge about a particular craft. These contexts for learning provide master teachers, set standards of excellence and systems for judging work, and foster connections between artist and materials. Equally as important, they serve as locales for an array of other traditions as members gather, engage in rituals and ceremonies associated with their organizations, and share food and stories.
Capital Area Lace Makers
East Lansing, Mich.
The Capital Area Lace Makers (CALM) got its start in the early 1980s when the wife of a visiting MSU professor from Holland offered lace classes through the East Lansing Arts and Recreation Program. After she left, a number of her students formed the Capital Area Lace makers (CALM) to teach lace making to each other and to other beginners through the sponsorship of workshops and classes. CALM has since grown in number to over 25 members who meet twice a month to make lace. CALM has organized several public exhibitions of their work and has brought many teachers from Europe and other parts of the United States to East Lansing to conduct workshops on different types of lace making, including English, Belgian, Dutch and French style lacework.
Many members of the group have become particularly interested in Withof lace, a style based on classic Flemish and Dutch Duchesse and one of a variety of new styles of laces developed in the 20th century. Three CALM members-Kathy Mullins, Leslie Saari, and Kelly Yoakam-have been awarded a certificate of expertise in recognition of their level of mastery of Withof lace. Only one other certificate in Withof lace has been awarded in the United States.
In addition to a learning environment, CALM provides a social network. As one member says, "each of us gets something different from the group. There is, of course, the pleasure of working with our hands and working with fibers. But most of us also benefit from the personal interactions with the other people in the group. We have become very close and very supportive of each other. You get as excited by watching someone else learn a skill, as by learning it yourself." For more information about the Capitol Area Lace Makers, contact Selma Appel at 517-337-1859.
-- Lynne Swanson, fieldworker
Capitol City Quilt Guild
The Capitol City Quilt Guild (CCQG) held its first meeting in April of 1984 with 30 members. By 2006 its membership has grown to over 220 and represents a diverse group of people brought together by their love of quiltmaking. CCQG meets once a month at the Faith Church in Lansing. Members participate in special activities to celebrate National Quilting Day in March, attend workshops sponsored by the guild, and take bus trips to quilt shows in Chicago. Many guild members also belong to smaller groups that meet separately to share projects and companionship.
Annual dues provide members with a newsletter six times a year, guest speakers, and a large library. The guild demonstrates quiltmaking annually at Fenner Arboretum, Woldemar Nature Center and the East Lansing Arts Festival and periodically at the Great Lakes Folk Festival. The work of guild members is displayed every other year at their "Going to Pieces Quilt Show" held at various locations in the Lansing area.
The guild is extremely active in charitable activities. They have donated over 1000 quilts to area hospital neo-natal intensive care units in addition to quilts for Haven House, MSU Safe House, McKree House, Ele's Place, Katrina victims, Wisconsin tornado victims and National Guard soldiers. The guild has also made many raffle quilts whose recipients have included the Lansing Dog Park, Habitat for Humanity, and the Michigan Quilt Project at the Michigan State University Museum.
Those interested in joining the guild should contact Linda Ziegenhagen, P.O. Box 26022, Lansing, MI 48909. -- Lynne Swanson, fieldworker
Crossroad Weavers Guild
This large and active guild began in 1991 and now has over seventy members, some from as far away as Indiana and Wisconsin. The guild meets twice monthly, September through August, and once monthly throughout the summer at the historic Aurelius Township Hall located south of Mason. Annual dues-paying members receive a monthly newsletter and the opportunity to make lots of interesting and challenging baskets while enjoying friendship with other weavers of all skill levels. Most of the members are self-taught, though the guild does organize workshops and brings in teachers from across the region to teach different techniques and forms. Every February, Crossroad Weavers make an annual getaway to Okemos for the weekend to, as 2006 guild president Carol Zeller, describes, "weave our little fingers to the bone. We have 'make-it, take-it' classes. We never see daylight until we leave on Sunday."
Guild members participate in the Association of Michigan Basketmakers annual conventions, as well as in other activities and functions designed to educate the public about baskets and basket weaving. The guild is also active in charitable giving, including filling handmade baskets with cosmetics and personal gifts to donate to women's shelters throughout Lansing, DeWitt, Battle Creek, and Jackson.
If you are interested in joining the Crossroad Weavers Guild or would like more info contact president Carol Zeller at 269-964-1831. -- Lynne Swanson, fieldworker
Greater Lansing Weavers Guild
The Greater Lansing Weavers Guild (GLWG) began in February 1955. Meetings were first held in members' homes, and then moved to the Women's Club in Lansing. Today the guild, numbering forty members, meets at an East Lansing church, the second Tuesday of each month. The guild's purpose is to stimulate interest in weaving and related arts; to achieve the highest standard of excellence; to promote exhibitions and sales of articles made by its members; and to help and encourage all persons interested in weaving. GLWG is a member of the Michigan League of Handweavers (MLH), the statewide guild.
The guild's activities include organizing programs and workshops with well-known speakers, holding an annual November show and sale, supporting two study groups, demonstrating at the annual East Lansing Arts Festival and at Michigan State University Museum's Great Lakes Folk Festival, participating in (and often winning prizes) guild exhibits at the annual MLH conference, coordinating a loom-lending service to members, and maintaining an extensive library. Charitable activities figure prominently in the guild's work. Each year the guild matches the monetary contribution its members provide to a chosen charity and makes and donates blankets and other woven items to MSU Safe Place and other shelters and hospitals. For more information, contact the GLWG at firstname.lastname@example.org. --
Lynne Swanson, fieldworker
It's a girlfriend thing…. when Joyce Savage was asked about the camaraderie within the guild. Joyce Savage is the president of the Lansing Clippers, a second-generation member, who was encouraged to join by her mother, Elaine Newton.
The Lansing Clippers is a sewing guild, chartered in 1991. Their 150 members come from throughout the Lansing area, as far away as Midland and Brighton, and the age range is from the 30s to the 80s. The Lansing Clippers are the Lansing Chapter of the American Sewing Guild (ASG), a national non-profit organization that was founded in 1978. The guild embraces the mission of the American Sewing Guild, "advancing sewing as an art and life skill". ASG promotes the following activities:
1)Promoting and supporting strong chapter and membership vitality within the organization.
2)Publicizing, promoting, and stimulating interest in sewing activities and the ASG.
3)Collaborating and/or forming partnerships with other organizations for programs that are mutually beneficial.
4)Expanding ASG Community Service efforts
5)Maintaining ASG as a financially viable organization.
The Lansing Clippers hold a charity/community sewing project every year for local and national charities. Recent past projects include the creation of quilts for national guard troops serving in Iraq and teddy bears for their children, examining gowns for a local youth shelter, Angel House, clothing for Saint Vincent's Home for Children, and teddy bears dressed in police uniforms for the Victims' Advocacy Program, sponsored by the Lansing Police Department. The guild has a quarterly newsletter in which local sewing-related retailers advertise and the Lansing Clippers take great pride in annually recognizing them at a retailer awareness and recognition evening.
The guild meets the second Monday of every month at Local 652 Union Hall in Lansing. They maintain a sewing library, which is open for use at the beginning of each meeting. Each meeting features a speaker or hands-on workshop, drawing on the talent of national speakers, local retailers, or members. Speaker topics cover a range of sewing techniques and topics, including vintage sewing, embellishments, garment construction, quilted jackets, smocking, Japanese method of gift wrapping with fabric, papermaking, pattern fitting, the making of tree skirts, scarves, hats, or purses. The guild named 2007 "The Year of the Jacket," so all their programming is around jackets. The year will culminate with a jacket style show at their annual meeting in September.
The guild also sponsors sewing retreats to relaxing destinations where members get together to sew, shop, eat and enjoy the camaraderie of it all. Recent retreats were held at Shipshewana, the Hankerd Inn in Pleasant Lake, and Higgins Lake. They also make an annual bus trip to the Novi Sewing Expo.
The Lansing Clippers seek and encourage new members. For more information contact Joyce Savage by email -- email@example.com
Mid-Michigan Knitter's Guild
The Mid-Michigan Knitter's Guild is a self-described "close-knit" group of knitters from around the Greater Lansing area. They have weekly get-togethers, or "knit-ins" every Tuesday from September to May. They also arrange and sponsor field trips and workshops for their members. Members pay dues and receive a monthly newsletter, also available on their web site. The group gets together for holiday celebrations, swap meets - most recently a bag exchange - show and tells, and they hold sales for their members to market their products. Members attend an annual retreat with classes and workshops. The MMKG also work on many charity projects, including knitting chemo caps for local hospitals and holding a charity knitting contest for their members. MMKG members believe knitters are great people. They invite new and returning members to join to improve their skills or just come to socialize. For more information, check out their very informative website at http://mmkg.typepad.com/
Mid-Mitten Basketmakers Guild
East Lansing, Mich.
The Mid-Mitten Basketmakers Guild was founded in October 1989 in East Lansing by a small group of women interested in basketry. The guild, an affiliate of the Association of Michigan Basketmakers (AMB), holds meetings at members' homes on the second Tuesday of each month, September through May.
The Mid-Mitten Basketmakers Guild share the goals of their parent organization the AMB, which are:
to perpetuate the art of basketry through education,
to stimulate interest and knowledge in all phases of basketry,
and to promote public enthusiasm for its value to the community.
To fulfill these goals, the guild demonstrates basketmaking and displays baskets at the East Lansing Arts Festival and the Michigan State University Museum's Great Lakes Folk Festival; volunteers in a variety of ways at the annual AMB convention; and engages in a number of charitable activities in the community. These include making and donating baskets filled with personal necessities to homeless mothers and, one year, making a basket tree for the Lansing's Festival of Trees.
The guild provides an important forum in which members can learn new skills and cultivate friendships. "I enjoy the camaraderie of our guild. We share life experiences as well as making baskets. I learn from our members and they learn from me," comments Marlene Cosgrove, a guild member.
In March 2007, the Mid-Mitten Basketmakers Guild will host the AMB-sponsored "Spring Event" at the MSU Museum. This event will provide workshops on a number of basketry techniques to members and will also coincide with the opening of the exhibition Weaving Traditions: A Basket Heritage Project, a collaboration between the MSU Museum and the Association of Michigan Basketmakers, on view at the MSU Museum from March 25 - October 28, 2007.
For more information about the Mid-Mitten Basketmakers, contact Marlene Cosgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org. -- Lynne Swanson, fieldworker
The Spinner's Flock
The Spinner's Flock, a group of more than 200 Michigan spinners and fiber artists, started in Ann Arbor 25 years ago. The group meets in Chelsea the second Saturday of each month at Beech Middle School. The guild is comprised of handspinners of various ages and both genders, but they also welcome members who are interested in other fiber arts. At each monthly meeting the group discusses some aspect of wool/fiber production, such as spinning from angora rabbits, skirting fleeces or making rugs from roving. Twice a year the group hosts the Spinner's Flock Sale where the public may purchase everything from raw wool to roving to handspun yarns. They also sell spinning wheels, looms and knitting needles. Several members of the Spinner's Flock raise sheep, Angora rabbits, Angora goats or other livestock, including some very rare breeds, for their wool or hair. Group members use these fibers to do wet and needle felting, spinning and knitting projects. Their finished products range from scarves & ponchos to wallhangings, coin purses and comforter batts.
The guild has an active educational mission. Past presenters at Spinner's Flock meetings have come from as far away as Mongolia and New Zealand to discuss issues such as the establishment of small rural fiber cooperatives and building replicas of antique, hand operated sock-knitting machines.
The guild also sponsors members to attend classes, who then teach the rest of the membership what they have learned. There is a learner's circle at every meeting where members teach beginners to spin yarn. Many members participate in the annual Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan and the sheep breeders' annual meeting in Lansing.
Spinner's Flock members donate their knitted items, hats, gloves, socks, baby blankets, yarn, and felted animals to people in need in rest homes, hospitals, and women's shelters.
The Spinner's Flock is committed to improving and teaching the craft of handspinning and using Michigan fibers for all types of clothing and crafts. Visitors of all experience levels welcome and are welcome to join the spinners learning circle or knit, needle felt or just watch, as something will surely pique your interest. For more information: email@example.com.