Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Blog Question of the Day: Do you like your Guild?

Back in the 80's when I first started quilting I couldn't find a guild to join. I didn't have a quilt store nearby so there was no connecting with other quilters. Eventually through a series of forgettable events I found one to join. It just so happened that their show was about to happen and they were BEGGING the membership for entries. I know you have been there.
I had a surplus of finished work that had not been seen outside my sewing room so I asked for entry blanks and began filling them out on the spot. (this was before I fused, mind you)
On my 11th one, a member asked me if I wasn't being a little greedy?

Red Flashing Light!!!
When the appropriate time for the drop off arrived, I loaded my little truck with every quilt I had entered, rods included, found the show site and began unloading. Apparently they had hung the show earlier, without my work and I was left with my husband to scrounge up any empty available spots .
Red Flashing Light!!!
A few of my larger works became bleacher drapes and some never got hung, since there really weren't any more open bays.
On the day of the show I had garnered several ribbons including a Judges Choice, which was hung in the middle of the room in the best lit spot. I was delighted as you can imagine.
Some of the members tried to let me know that I was some sort of upstart usurper and being a newcomer, I took it all in stride. I was so crazy about quilting and having the opportunity to show my work that I ignored the cold shoulder I was getting.
I stayed in that guild and eventually made a few friends, but the support for my work never really materialized. At show and tell I always had something new to show. We met once a month, for heaven's sake, and I had a full time job, while the majority of the members were retirees.
Towards the end of my time with them, I was walking up to take my turn at showing my quilt, when a nearly deaf woman remarked to her similarly afflicted friend:
"Wonder what weird thing she's made this time?"
I guess it finally dawned on me that I needed to find different friends. It was just about that time that I was asked to join an art quilt critique group and another textile art guild. While these were much more stimulating and art centered, they still weren't the fun group where I could be happiest. Several of us felt the same way and decided to form our own group. It would be all about the art, and networking with other art quilters/garment makers and be fun. NO business meetings, no officers, only a newsletter and monthly meetings. It would have an open door policy and be for the encouragement and professionalism of its members. Even if you weren't a professional at the time, but wanted to be, this would be the group for you. We found a free place to meet not far from the interstate, with good lighting, a stage and a microphone. We had a list of about 100 folks that were invited to our first meeting and we did brainstorming and polled the audience for suggestions, as to what kind of group they wanted to be.
We ate lunch after the meeting and laughed and shared and it felt right.
That was ten years ago, January 1995. We call ourselves the Professional Art Quilt Alliance.
Our members travel from the surrounding states of Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin, and we have an offshoot called PAQA South which one of our members, Lyric Kinard started when she moved back to Cary NC.
At PAQA Nobody is in charge, but our newsletter person has all the addresses and emails our newsletter to over 80 members. Our treasurer takes our money and keeps it safe and this year we are spending it to bring over our Japanese friends Keiko Goke and Mariko Akizuki.
Most of the members are hoping to make it as art quilters and some are making a living doing it. We help our 'wannabes' get to the goals they want to reach. We don't have workshops because we all think we know everything, so we expect those members who seek particular in depth information will find it at other spots like Quilt Surface Design Symposium, Arrowmont, Asilomar or other places like that.
Mostly we want to see the work that we are all doing. That connects us to each other and helps develop deeper relationships. And of course there is STILL the best part, LUNCH.


  1. That sounds so great Melody. I wish I could get up there for your meetings. Can I still join and get a newsletter. I could maybe come to a meeting someday to get the real flavor of it all???

  2. No, I don't like my guild! This is why I left it and try to find other ways in the community to connect with like-minded quilters. Your group sounds truly wonderful!

  3. I've decided I NEED to find a local group like PAQA. I just haven't figured out how. I have a guild that is feeling less and less supportive; a needlearts guild that is supportive but not "involved" enough. And I finally sent in my application to SAQA.

    I can't figure out how to find a crit./art group that supports what I do and gives me good feedback. And forget completely about the lunch thing...

  4. Even though I have only attended one meeting, I like PAQA. Even if you don't join, you can go to the show and tells. There was NO pressure and someone is bound to find your work fabulous. It was the most enriching experience I've had with my art work in decades.

  5. I definitely need a new group. The guild I belong to puts the "fun" in disfunctional.

  6. I tried two different local guilds and finally gave up on both of them after consistently receiving comments like "doesn't working with that shade of orange hurt your eyes, dear?", or "that Deb always does things a little *differently*, doesn't she?", or (said with a sniff, to the quilter beside her, not to me) "that's machine quilted...that's cheating".

    So, ok...never mind. (said in my best Emily Latella voice) I'll stick with my online "guilds", thanks.

  7. Hi Melody. I'm in Rockford, IL and must confess that I'm a knitter, not a quilter. HOWEVER, my sister is a quilter and not quite the internet junkie I am, so I read your site and report back to her. I absolutely love your work. The color and movement are like magic. Thanks for all you share.

  8. Ok...so all of you who don't have a group but like the sound of PAQA but are too far away.....join PAQA and start your own branch! Post notices at your local fabric stores, sewing stores, in the paper and on line!!


  9. WooHoo! I am so happy to be a member of PAQA, espcially after reading about all these dreadful guilds and oppressive people. It really is wonderful and fun and joyful. Melody - just wait - Pat and I wrote songs to share at Keiko day. I even wrote a rap song and you're in it!


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