Years ago, I taught myself to weave fabric and rugs on a loom. Some of the pieces I made were constructed of yarn I had spun myself from wool my dad had given me from his sheep. It was so gratifying. Anyone who has made something with their hands will agree that it is one of the most exciting, satisfying things you can do.
Then, I had the misfortune of joining a weaving guild. Michigan has a long history of producing famous weavers, but I decided early on that they were the weaving police, and if I really wanted to have fun I needed to avoid them like the plague. One experience revolved around a woman who picked up a rug I had woven like it had poop on it and stated in front of the rest of the guild members that it wasn’t going to be allowed in their booth at the Michigan League of Handweavers conference that year because it wasn’t black and white, the colors they had chosen for their projects. It was natural wool colors, greys, whites, etc. Anyway, I fought for the right to show the !@#$%^&* rug and it appeared in the display. I quit the guild after that show.
The experience has made me gun shy of joining professional groups of any kind. As a nurse, I shunned the group who oversaw the Operating Room nurses…half the time they talked politics and I didn’t understand what they were saying. Today I read something that reminded me why I don’t like groups. I joined a writer’s group, paid the dues, and low and behold, the first communication I got was this abridged statement;
“Hi I’m ***** and the reason I’ve joined the Alliance is that I feel that
there are far too many poorly written indie publlished books out there and
an organisation such as this can only raise the….”
The misspellings were the author’s. All I could think was huh? Have I joined a group of writing police? Another group I’m a member of in Linked IN has a few males that will take exception to what I write no matter what it is. If I agree with someone, they disagree with me. If I disagree and state my case, they double disagree. At age sixty-one, I no longer walk away and shut my mouth. My friend Betty, got me a pin that says “The older I get, the more everyone can kiss my as s.” (I have to put that space in A S S because for some reason, my computer won’t allow me to swear.) Anyway, who the hell are these people who can criticize others work? I don’t care if it’s a piece of art or a poem or a hair cut.Raising the level of quality in a group should revolve around helping people achieve excellence, not insulting them or criticizing them.
Whew. Now I can get off my soapbox.
PS. The only guild that really helped me become a better craftsperson besides the one I currently belong to; The Lakeshore Fiber Arts Guild, was the South Jersey Guild of Handweavers and Spinners. What a fabulous group of generous, kind, and encouraging women and a few men.