Guilds in the News - Part One

sigasl-sinoviz-5.jpgWhat is the definition of a guild?  In medieval times, it referred to an association of merchants or craftsmen.  In later times it evolved more simply into an association of people with similar interests or pursuits, quite often of an artistic nature.

Guilds offer a way for artists to share their work and knowledge, to provide encouragement and support to others with the same interests.  Guilds are most often regional - drawing from the local community and surrounding areas for participants.  But there are also "virtual" guilds; on-line forums or groups that often host a worldwide membership.  Members of virtual guilds may not always have the ability to meet in person, but they provide an environment to learn and share as well, and can be especially beneficial for those in isolated geographies.

In addition to regional and virtual guilds, there are those that are a mix of both.  This first of a series of guild articles will focus on one such guild - the Israeli Polymer Clay Guild.

For years, Israeli polymer devotees lurked on general craft forums to catch wind of new polymer work.  Tired of lurking and interested in forming a polymer-specific organization, friends Naama Zamir and Sharon Amir created the "Polymer Clay Tapuz Forum" in 2006.  While not formalized with officer elections and regular meetings, members participate in swaps and activities that bring them together at least twice a year, such as hosting workshops with international instructors Donna Kato, Marie Segal, Sarah Shriver and Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg. 

Guild members have sponsored programs that have charitable and patriotic meaning as well. Mira Krispil came up with the idea of decorating a wall of the children's oncology ward in the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.  With the theme of "animals we can hang on a wall", many members sent in creations to help lift the spirits of the children.  Sharon Amir initiated project "REGESH" to raise public awareness for the absence of three kidnapped soldiers.  The word, which translates to "feeling", contains initials of each of the soldiers. Participating members created small polymer items in the blue and white colors of the Israeli flag, stamped them with "REGESH", and handed them out for remembrance.

The guild even contains a couple of "bloggers" - both Naama and Iris Mishly, author of Polymeri Online, are instrumental in featuring polymer artists and artwork via their blogs.  Iris also traveled to the US in February to attend the 2008 Synergy Conference and attendees had the pleasure of meeting her in person.

It's obvious that the members of the guild are talented, dedicated and passionate about polymer.  Just take a look at some of their art showcased at the Israeli Museum of Creative Arts, part of a spring challenge in honor of their two-year anniversary.  Over 100 members came together from all over the country to share in demos, gift-giving and fun.  Impressive, indeed.

Hats off to the members of the Israeli Tapuz Forum/Polymer Clay Guild, and belated birthday wishes from the NPCG!

- Photo Artwork by Sigal Simovich