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Fabric, Fibre & Thread. Until September 26th 2022. Part 1 The New Plymouth Embroiderers’ Guild.

The Guild members are sharing this exhibition with Louise Cook the Saori Weaver. In this post I want to explore more about what a Guild is and why they still matter to our community of makers and to our society in general.

Guilds have always been regulated groups of people who come together to practice some skill sets they have in common. When they originated in the Middle Ages they often held huge power in society as they had essential skills and the knowledge around those skills. Membership was fiercely guarded to maintain high standards and protect the reputations of the craftspeople. To an extent there are still modern guilds that focus on this exclusive recognition of skills and knowledge but there are also more modern examples.

I consider the New Plymouth Embroiderers’ Guild to be a more modern example. The emphasis has shifted to one of keeping knowledge but of sharing it with an inclusive approach to new members and also a gradual moving of the expression of the skills to more contemporary expressions. Old techniques and learnings are given new slants and purposes as well as materials. This guild is a place of growth and regeneration. What i love about this kind of Guild is that they hold the traditions in high regard and they endeavour to ensure the knowledge stays alive and is not lost.

Heather Lofthouse is a member of the NP Guild and has been my liaison person for this exhibition. I asked her a series of questions about their Guild and the answers are recorded below. If anyone of you are keen stitchers and would love to join a likeminded group to learn and grow your skills the FB page link is below.

Is there a digital platform for your group?

Yes, we have a Facebook page. promoting the guild and a members group enabling networking and sharing of ideas

Is there a logo or crest:

Yes, logo is:
Needles and threads in the shape of Taranaki Maunga.

Logo for The New Plymouth Embroiderers’ Guild.

How is your group affiliated in New Zealand:

We are affiliated to the Association of New Zealand Embroiderers’ Guilds

How is your group affiliated internationally:

We have a sister guild in California, America – called: Hanging by a Thread. Some of our members also belong to overseas groups.

What exactly is a Guild:

A Guild is an association of artisans who come together to support the development of their craft.

How are Guilds fit for purpose in 2022:

Our guild is fit for purpose in that it offers both traditional and contemporary embroidery and we encourage creativity and innovation. Our membership is from 7years to young girls in their 90s.

What activities do you run:

We meet weekly, explore new techniques, hold workshops using the talents and skills form within the group and invite tutors from other parts of New Zealand. and are known as one of the most active groups in the Embroiderers Guild in NZ.

How often do you meet:

On average twice a week, including day and evening meetings.

Apart from nurturing embroidery, what are the other benefits of belonging to your guild:

We are a network of friends with a common love of stitching, forming long lasting friendships whilst expanding our embroidery knowledge, skill and experience. The group is inclusive and welcoming providing opportunities for new members with a wide range of skill an ability – from those with little experience to those with advanced skills The guild cares and supports each of our members.

For you personally what do you enjoy most about the guild:

I love the camaraderie that exists within the group. The opportunity to get together regularly increases friendships and enables continual learning opportunities. We all share a love of stitching which crosses into other aspects of our lives forming lifelong friendships.