Embroiderers' Guild of America: Taking Education to Heart

Rissa Peace Root 2006

   
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The Embroiderers' Guild of America, Inc. (EGA) is a non-profit educational organization with chapters all over the country. Their stated goal is to "foster the art of needlework and associated arts." Several years ago, I became interested in EGA and really wanted to join. When I could not find a local chapter, I organized the first one in Mississippi.  Shortly thereafter, I discovered and joined EGA's online chapter known as CyberStitchers. I serve as an officer in both chapters and have invested a lot of my time, money and energy into EGA. I have made wonderful friends through both chapters and I became a Life Member during the 2005 National Seminar. 


"Gracie, an EGA Stumpwork GCC, stitched by the author

One of the reasons I was so interested in EGA was the Independent (ICC) and Group Correspondence Courses (GCC) that they offer. In addition to the quarterly magazine Needle Arts, EGA produces an Education Catalog and a national seminar brochure every year.  All of these publications are mailed to every member, including Members at Large.  If you are not a member but are interested, information about their educational offerings and the 2006 national seminar can be found on their website (http://www.egausa.org).  As a member, I have participated in a half dozen Group Correspondence Courses and several seminars, where I have learned new techniques and enhanced my existing repertoire of needlework skills.  I have also completed and taught many Petite Projects with my chapters and shared my knowledge with others by leading classes.


"Raised Work Hedgehog", an EGA Petite Project, stitched by the author

The beauty of the Independent and Group Correspondence Courses is that you can submit your completed work to the instructor for evaluation.  If you are looking to improve your skills, this type of critique can be invaluable.  Participants get approximately six months to complete each class and so far I have not been as good at finishing my coursework as I would like. Now that I am starting on my Master Craftsman Program, I am much more interested in instructor evaluation.  There are a wide of variety classes available, including a GCC for Crazy Quilting, called "Crazy Patch Adventure" by Kathleen Herman.  At the moment, I am participating several GCC classes; "Casalguidi and Lavender", "Fantasy Remembered" and "Silk and Metal Embroidery" with CyberStitchers and "Crewel Confidence" with my local chapter. I have also signed up for "Finishing with Flair" a notebook class from Marion Scoular.  These classes are available to all EGA members, some are even offered through Needle Arts Magazine and online through national.  Local chapters also offer GCCs periodically, but the CyberStitchers Chapter offered over a dozen classes this year alone. 


"Boutis Bib and Booties", from an EGA National Seminar Class, stitched by the author

EGA also offers needlework classes through regional and national seminars, held all around the country.  There are a great variety of classes available, from nationally and internationally renowned needlework artists and teachers.  There are classes to cover historical needlework, cutting edge techniques, and classes to accommodate every stitching skill level.  I am taking a class at the Tennessee Valley Regional Seminar that incorporates drawn work with surface embroidery, but there were a wide variety of other classes offered.  Although I do not know which classes I will get at national in Richmond, they are offering everything including 17th Century Whitework, multiple Stumpwork Classes, multiple beading technique classes, multiple canvas classes, design and dyeing classes and even some crazy quilted projects.  The seminar features a variety of one, two and four day classes. 


EGA Logo for the South Central Region Traveling Exhibit, stitched by the author

EGA also offers Master Craftsman Programs in a variety of techniques; including Surface Embroidery, Crewel Embroidery, Quilting, Counted Thread Embroidery, Beading, Canvas Embroidery, Color for Needlework, Design for Needlework, Plain and Fancy Needlework, Silk and Metal Thread Embroidery, and Smocking.  I am currently involved in two of these programs, but have not yet turned in my first step.  It is just one more way for EGA to help embroiderers grow their skills.

I have discovered that for as much as I have invested into the Embroiderers' Guild of America, I have received even more in return. 

Resources:

The Embroiderers' Guild of America, http://www.egausa.org
CyberStitchers Chapter, http://www.cyberstitchers.org

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