Much like a utilitarian scrap quilt, our guild’s beginnings are linked together with the threads of friendship, a need, and the desire to comfort and share warmth.
Gainesville, Florida was not lacking a quilt guild; but like so many organizations, some of its members were becoming uncomfortable driving at night to attend evening meetings. Clare Jones and Carolyn Conrey were two such quilters.
There had been much hankering in community quilting circles for a day guild; one reason being to accommodate the mature quilter. Other reasons for the adventure were too many to list. One spring morning, Carolyn called Clare and asked, “Are you serious about starting a day guild?” Clare’s response was a resounding yes. Clare offered her home as a meeting place (or battleground) for the initial feasibility meetings. They made the decision to keep the first meetings small and short.
They decided to invite Gloria Comstock and Jean Rosell to the initial meeting due to their expertise, demonstrations of tireless work, love for the craft of quilting, and their reputations for an inability to say no. Clare invited Jean and Gloria to that first meeting on April 13, 2003, but chose not to tell them the purpose of the gathering. Carolyn did let the cat out of the bag with Gloria, but Jean was led to believe they were attending a sit-and-sew. After the two got past their initial surprise that their friends wanted to start a day guild, feasibility was bantered about, and they reached an agreement on a number of items.
The first was a name, and they all agreed it had to describe the mission, although Carolyn wanted something cute. The name was to be a blanket name, one that said to the quilting community,
“All are welcome to join.”
The name should not limit membership to residents of Gainesville, but be open to the large pool of quilters from the surrounding communities – quilters who needed an outlet for sharing their quilting and community service desires. It was important to make clear that this guild would meet during the day. As time went by, perhaps the name could be changed, maybe even to something cute.
In addition to the name, the Mission Statement should summarize the new guild’s goals:
The ladies decided the guild would be a separate entity, but a working companion with Gainesville’s Tree City Quilters’ Guild.
They agreed to have a couple of meetings to develop an administrative structure for a functioning quilt guild. They would then present their vision of the guild to the community, even if it was still slightly blurry.
They also decided to join the Sunshine State Quilt Association (SSQA). From this state guild, they could glean information that SSQA had collated for the sole purpose of suggesting ways for Floridians to start a local quilt guild. From this advice, they would develop a set of bylaws, policies and administrative documents needed to form the guild – all that unpleasant, but necessary, administrative work. Then they could relax and have fun.
Finally, they decided that EVERYTHING could be changed or tweaked later, as desired or necessary, to accommodate the needs of the fluid guild membership.
The next couple of weeks were spent much like making a quilt. There was the planning stage. Next, the tedious toil over words and phrases – the ripping and mending of the fabric of the text – so it would appear seamless. Marilyn DeLisle dropped into one of those planning meetings after months of being away, and added polish to the endeavor. Next followed bits of elation and pride as their handiwork began to take shape. Finally, they felt sufficiently confident to present their body of work, the guild product, to quilting buddies for their opinion and approval.
The first meeting was scheduled at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Meetings were set for the first Thursday of each month, commencing August 7, 2003. The meetings would start with social time at 9:30 a.m. The business meeting and program would begin at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at noon. While school was in session, the guild would move its meetings to Westside Recreation Center on the corner of NW 34th Street and 8th Avenue.
Like any new quilt project, this creation continues to evolve. The first pages of the guild’s forming journal are filled with hope and anxious anticipation. The parties who initiated this endeavor feel that the threads of friendship, need and comfort have yielded a utilitarian foundation on which their fledgling guild could thrive.