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Guilds, how to start them?

Has anyone ever started a guild or small scale orchid-like club for
realtime humans in your area. I went to a fiber guild meeting this
weekend and was inspired to try and start something like that for the
metalsmiths in my area. They were sharing technical show
retreat and workshop materials, taking turns giving
lectures and demos. If anyone has done this or is in a small metals
guild and would like to share on how it is done I would
appreciate it. One thing that I am interested in is space for the
meetings/demos. There is no college metals studio here, just a bunch
of small home studios. I thought if the group was small we could
switch studios monthly for demos, but that is somewhat confusing to
people who might want to get involved.


Well, you just do some research, find some people to help, and start

We founded the Chicago Metal Arts Guild in 2001. Our founder, Alix
Mikesell, called a meeting, interested people showed up, volunteered
to serve on the charter board and we were off.

Now we have a fabulous newsletter, ably edited by Orchid’s own Noel,
and a terrific selection of workshops, lectures and exhibitions each
year. Oh, and did I mention we’re hosting SNAG in 2006?

Basically, here are the steps:

-research incorporation and the facts about not for profits. You
may be able to get help from groups like Accountants for the Arts
and Lawyers for the Arts.

-line up the volunteer board. Don’t make it too small. You need
volunteers to do the work of the organization. The treasurer is
essential. Essential. Possibly your most important board member.
Choose carefully.

-do the incorporation paperwork and begin the process of applying
for your 501 © 3 status. (not for profit)

-start working!

I am not a lawyer, and this is only the barest outline.

It’s not hard to do; it helps if you can lead, yet be humble,and

Ours is a regular full service type of guild, but it doesn’t have to
be done that way. If you only want to do workshops, you can set it
up that way. Though I bet it would grow from there.

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

I am the founder of the Society for Midwest Metalsmiths. Created our
organization in 1994 as a not-for-profit group. If you contact me, I
will be happy to share any you might need to help you get
started. It has been a wonderful endeavor. It does take some paper
work and a group of dedicated artisans to help get it started. We are
very lucky to have two university affiliations together with a large
craft center where we have meetings, demonstrations, workshops, etc.
Good luck.

Razine M. Wenneker, Manager
Ellie Rose LINK-ABLE Designs, L.L.C.
P.O. Box 37003
St. Louis, MO 63141-9998
Email: @Razine_Wenneker1

Hi Tracey,

    Has anyone ever started a guild or small scale orchid-like
club for realtime humans in your area. 

There are local/regional metal arts societies in various localities
already and there may be one near you. I belong to the Metal Arts
Society of Southern California (MASSC) which you can read about
here: I imagine that if you used the
contact link on the site, you could get about other
societies/guilds, as well as on how to start such an
organization. SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) could be
another good resource:



What is your area?

You could start by asking around to see whether there is a state or
regional crafts guild that you can “piggyback” with. They may have
mailing lists or contacts that you could use to help you get
organized – or if there is a good guild like that in your area,
perhaps you can join that and form a subgroup focused on metalwork.
PA Guild of Craftsmen is the state guild, and Bucks County Guild of
Craftsmen is our local guild. Both have a significant number of
jewelry and metals folk, and are well-established and well organized
(although their web presences are very much “in the works.” The
state website is getting much
better… It may give you some
good ideas.

If there is no crafts guild in your area at all, then look to some
of the well organized guilds for models of how you might organize and
communicate. Spread the word about your new guild through
newsletters, press releases (free!) in newspapers and metals-oriented
magazines, through regional suppliers to the trade, etc.

For meeting space, you can start by seeing whether your local
library has a meeting room for public use. Other areas that might be
good starts would be local schools (classrooms or otherwise), Masonic
temples/Moose lodges/etc. Or even (if it’s a rural area) someone’s
lighted, heated barn. Our county guild meets in the local Boy Scout
hall, for example.

It’s always a good idea to have a “regular” meeting space, and then
treat field trips as special events. That way, people know where
they can always go, and you have the flexibility of treating the
field trips as things worthy of press releases (more free

Expect attendance to grow slowly but steadily over time, and get
people involved in its growth – have them actually DO things (don’t
try to do it all yourself). That way, it doesn’t become “the Tracey
show,” but rather something that each of them feels committed to and
involved in.

Consider planning a show with all guild members the first year –
even if it’s small and doesn’t make much money, it will give you all
something to work toward and add to the publicity, attracting new
members, and giving an incentive to those all-important Charter
Members to grow from.

Hope this helps a bit!
Karen Goeller

Hi Tracey, We have a larger and still growing group of artist that
make up the “Quiet Corner of Ct.” The group was in existence for
about 12 years when we all decided to make it a more organized group.
We host an open studio twice a year.,two weeks Nov. 27-28 and the
following weekend in Dec. We do huge amounts of publicity and have
our own web site for the group. We are now thinking about the
lectures workshops etc. for the group as well!

In order to accomplish the vast array of happenings we needed to
organize. Several of interested parties got together at one artists
home. We spent 3 meeting deciding on mission statement and then 4-5
more sessions putting together our by laws.We then put the laws out
to the entire population and elected officers for all the various
areas of concern. Whala!!! we are rockin and rolling. We seem to be
getting bigger and better every year. All offices are volunteer and
last two years.

We were very fortunate to have an artist in the ranks that set- up a
weaving guild up at the cape. She was very important in the process,
wording laws all that important stuff!!. So I would try to find
someone in the local area that will help in the beginning,lead you in
the right direction. Don’t forget to check on insurance, depending on
the activity of the group.

Best of luck.

I went to a fiber guild meeting this weekend and was inspired to try
and start something like that for the metalsmiths in my area.

Where is your area? Fellow Orchidians…if you make a request that
is area or region or country specific, PLEASE identify your location
so it will be easier for the rest of us to help you.

Hi Tracey,

There is the Florida Society of Goldsmiths (501c3 organization) …
Yes, we are located in Florida, but membership is open to all those
interested in the metal arts. You can be an “at large” member if you
live out of the state. Check out our web site We
offer lots of various workshops and classes in different parts of the
state during the course of the year as well as two different sessions
at Wildacres in 2005. We will be doing our regular annual workshop
in June and the Revere Academy East at the end of October. There is
also the Winter Workshop in New Smyrna Beach (Near Daytona) in
January of 2005. All week long classes are a wonderful way to learn
Metalsmithing with like minded students and exceptional instructors.

Beth Katz,
President Florida Society of Goldsmiths
Paste and Powder Solder for Jewelers and Metalsmiths


I live in southwestern New Mexico, in a small isolated artsy type
community. I asked around and found that New Mexico has a statewide
craft guild, but there is nothing local, because we are in the middle
o’ nowhere. This is why I want to take matters into my own hands, and
hopefully some other peoples hands as well. I am not sure if the
models of Chicago and California will work for such a tiny group, but
I think that the suggestion to piggyback on a regional group will
probably work out quite well and I am researching that option.

Thanks for your help,