Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Golden Splendor and Guild Meetings

There is still time to get the Golden Splendor box - but not for long - they're almost all gone - if you've been "thinking it over" - don't miss your chance!  But for right now, you can still go to our site and click on the "buy" button!  (If you don't live in the US, please email us to find out shipping costs).

Something a lot of you know already is that we really started our business because we have enjoyed the creativity required to make up table favors for guild parties and meetings - we LOVE themed parties, especially, and have gathered together a number of ideas here for putting on themed guild events.  When we were planning guild meetings, sometimes we wracked our brains, so thought you'd like to take a look through some of these ideas to see if there's anything you can adapt!
Some of the favors we make through the company for guild events.

Does your guild or sampler group ever have a hard time thinking of ideas for meetings?  Often the subjects have been done before, but it's been awhile, and there is always more or updated information.  Put a new spin on it by expanding it and including supporting materials to bring the topic to life!

Pick a country, a state or grouping of needlework that you wish to learn more about.  Be sure to include as many people in the planning and fact-finding as possible. Getting more members involved will offer a broader range of information to share and make for less work for each person.  It's also fun for everyone - and a great way for the "shy ones" to participate without having to feel like they are carrying a whole program.  

If you are picking a country you may have several styles of samplers that can be studied and the information brought to share with the group.  The more visuals you can share the more interesting it will be. If you have the ability to put it on a PowerPoint presentation, a slide show or even just having photocopies to share will help everyone see what is being discussed.  We needlework lovers are such visual learners it seems. 

Scottish sampler detail 

Do you have historic samplers or reproductions of these types of samplers you can bring to share with the group. Nothing is better than seeing it up close and personal.  Do you have clothing or costumes from perhaps your family's history that relate or other pieces of needlework from the area being discussed?  Do you have other pieces of artwork or craft items that are from the period or location? The more there is to see and share the better your program will be.  

Are there local museums or historical societies that have pieces from the area you are discussing? Possibly they have a room where you can hold your meeting so that those pieces can be incorporated or you might have enough information and outside sources that you do two meetings so that you can include a field trip in one of the meetings to add to the enrichment of the experience. 

When looking at the needlework from the area of interest to be discussed, what questions might you find answers to?

How does this grouping of needlework relate? 
Do they have the same alphabets, borders, motifs, bands?
Are they laid out in a similar fashion? 
Are they of similar size? 
Use the same colors?
What types of materials were used, how did they get those materials?
What significant motifs are found in samplers from the area you are discussing? 
Do they have meanings that can be found?
How many motifs are popular to the area and do they relate to other material culture from the area?
Why are these styles of samplers significant for this area? 
Were these samplers or types of needlework taught in schools? 
What schools were they and who were the teachers?
What years were important to these groupings of needlework?

You can see this is only a start of some of the questions to ask yourself about the area of needlework you are researching to present.  There are many more that might be important to the area you will be presenting as well as general information to share.

Many museum collections are now being put online, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, so we can view them and study them as a resource.  Many books are in our collections that I know I have yet to truly read, what a great excuse to pull them out and enjoy them with a cup of tea as you prepare information to share with your friends of like mind.

Maybe bring in information about other crafts or material culture relates to the needlework can be interesting.  Many times the same motifs and symbols from samplers are found in various clothing and costume decoration as well as in woodwork designs, pottery decoration and other objects.  Support your information on sampler design through material found on these pieces and their significance. Much of this information can be found through searches online, making our studies more and more easy to do from the comfort of our homes,but don't forget the fabulous libraries full of historical supporting information.

Stylized carnation motifs on Ottoman cushion cover

Have someone research the history of the area during the time period of the needlework being discussed. Sharing what life was like for the women at the time they created the needlework rounds out the picture.  Some of the special facts and stories from the area will give your members a better view of that country, state or area. Possibly share pictures of the State or Country flag, flower, or other important symbols which can also relate to the work you are looking at.  Is there a national song or verse that might lend itself to future or past needlework? 

Albanian National Flag

Telling of the special folklore or myths from the area can be enjoyable. I have found the youth section of the library can be very helpful for this information.  We are never too old for a fairy tale or two. There might be a folk tale or myth that relates to motifs that are found on the needlework you are studying. For Becky, the mermaid is a favorite motif and there are many stories from various countries regarding mermaids.

For instance, if you were to study Irish Samplers and possibly found a mermaid motif, hummm can't think if I have seen one, but if so you could include stories on the merrows and creatures that are seal and human---the silkies, banshees and keening.

Of course food is always a fun way to explore a culture, whether it be foreign or from your own country. There are special foods that relate to the area and often are special to the time period as well.  You could enjoy a group potluck of foods from the location being studied or if that isn't possible maybe a cookie or treat to go with your coffee that ties into the theme.  You can find recipe books from various cultures at your local library or online. With the ability to search the web these days it makes finding so much of this information right at our desk.

Here is one idea for an area of study. Mexican samplers: have a taco salad bar or a fajita bar.  Maybe you add some Spanish rice or Mexican cornbread for the sides. Top it off with Mexican Wedding cookies and flan for dessert. You could also offer Mexican hot chocolate if you are in the winter months or some of the special Mexican juice drinks. Maybe have a hot pepper tasting.  Or what about a Scottish sampler program, yummy shortbread I think, or German samplers with brats, possibly Moravian samplers and some wonderful Sugar Cake or maybe go for an Asian theme with noodles and mochi and tea! 

Aztec stitch on Mexican embroidery

There are so many ways to involve members and make it an enjoyable experience and bring many aspects into the study of an area of interest.  You can see how the ideas are limitless and fun to create.  Involving more and more members to make the meetings more interactive can refresh our groups in many ways.

What ideas can you think of for subjects and supporting materials?  What would you like to learn more about? Maybe we will create a blog out of some of your ideas as we go through the upcoming months.  Share with us on the blog in the comments area - sharing is a great way to spread the wealth with your needlework friends far and wide.


  1. Wow--great ideas! YOU should come and present!

  2. There's some great ideas here. I only wish I had a group to belong to!

  3. Jo - have you ever thought about The Sampler Guild? There are members there from all over England and they move their get-togethers around so everyone can be included!

    We're members from here - and get their great quarterly newsletter!



We love to get discussions going - please let us know what you're thinking!

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