Monday, January 10, 2011

Joining a Quilt Guild

Attending your first guild meeting can be intimidating especially if you decide to go alone. You may feel like everyone knows everyone else and you are sticking out like a sore thumb. I can assure you that except for very, very small guilds NO ONE knows everyone else in a guild.  It is great if a new member participates in the monthly activities, goes to a workshop, joins a bee or volunteers to help in the guild. Doing any of those things is a great ice breaker, it gives members new and old a connection and subject to talk about and an opportunity to get to know one another.  But, since by and large it is intimidating to jump in to that sort of thing and people tend to be shy and doubt their skill level it is not the norm for this to happen.
I am a firm believer in the guild members needing to be friendly and welcoming to a new person. The newcomer shouldn't feel like they are auditioning, that burden should fall on the existing members and officers.  At a busy meeting even the most organized of guilds can miss a new person but the object is to have a greeting system in place to keep this from happening as much as possible.
At my first meeting not one person spoke to me, if I had let that first meeting define quilt guilds for me I would never have gone back. I did however go back, determined that I would give it another chance and this time put myself out there as well by talking to people, participating and signing up for things etc... Here is the project for the first workshop I attended:
I joined the guild that night, (in for a penny in for a pound) and as it happened... I was the 100th member so I got a special welcome prize....Everyone knew my name now and I learned some names that night too!
The rest as they say is history...In a few short months I volunteered to be one of the program chairs (the person who books the speaker), that position was followed by a year as membership chair and now the Vice Presidency! Who would have thought? 
As a member I make it a point to remember as many people as I can and "make the connection" with visitors so that they feel welcome and hopefully become active members who both enjoy the guild and contribute to the guild's success. I still remember how my first meeting went and how I nearly didn't come back.
I can't promise everyone's guild experiences will be what mine were of course but, I do think that it is worth giving it a try. 
(fabric designed by Stephanie Brandenburg)
A good guild will feed your creative appetite, inspire you, teach you and challenge you.  If you don't have a guild near you or if your local guild is not what you need it to be I would strongly encourage you to start your own!   There is a lot of information online about starting a guild and chances are you'll very quickly find others just like yourself who are looking for the very same thing.

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