Peachtree Handspinners Guild History

The idea for the guild began as a spinners study group in the Fall of 1984, and blossomed into this guild in 1985.By May we had 23 members. This first year started with traditions that have been part of the guild's philosophy throughout its history. We spent time learning about the fibers we spin, participating in public demonstrations at folk festivals and holding workshops with our own homegrown talent. Our social spinning times included visiting, learning, shopping and of course . . . food. In the early years of the guild we started celebrating Distaff Day with a party, holding Retreats for fun and companionship and ending the year with a Holiday Social. We continued our public demonstrations, expanding into a large commitment in 1987 to work at the Georgia Renaissance Festival which continues into 2002.

In 1988, our guild hit a great growth spurt and it was during that year that we held a contest to pick a logo. Claire Gregorcyk designed our logo and won a fleece. In the next year we kept spinning, and were a very big part of the very first Sheep to Shawl held at the Tullie Smith Farm at the Atlanta History Center. We grew to nearly 80 members.

The 90's saw the guild growing and working. Each year filled with activities for the members, retreats, workshops and exciting programs to share with new and old members alike. In 1991, we held an exhibit at Underground Atlanta that began a tradition of bigger and better exhibits. In 1994 we held our second exhibit at the Rockdale/Conyers Art Council Gallery in Conyers. In 1995 we hosted the Fiber Forum Conference, which was a rousing success and the programs through out the year showed an expanding interest by our members for netting, basketry, texture in yarn and our projects. We invited nationally known spinners, weavers, beaders and knitters to help us perfect our skills. The guild always looks to not only our own talented members, but also to the great selection of outside workshop leaders that can aid the group in its journey through the craft.

1997 found the guild growing and breaking attendance records. By the February meeting we had 66 members and some of those were new or returning members. Our guild exhibit was held in Cartersville, and again we made ourselves proud of the workmanship and talent of our members. During the next several years leading up to 2000, the guild continued the now-time proven practice of electing co-presidents to serve together with the terms alternating. With two people with equal power, the guild continued the exciting growth and continued to discover how much fun our time together can be. The retreats, workshops and programs as well as our continued presence in public demonstrations kept the guild in the public eye. In addition to organized public appearances, our members were and are active in their home counties and communities, demonstrating, instructing and sharing their love for fiber.

Our guild made a big move for our group in 1999; we moved our meetings to the Hamilton Community Center in Scottdale. The Georgia National Fair offered a new division in the Fine Arts Competition and Peachtree's membership had the best showing in the new Spinning and Weaving Division, ensuring the continuing support of the Fair for this craft. The officers for 2001 were ready to bring our group into the new millennium.. Using our home-grown talent and having Margaret Heathman at the helm, our Plying the Arts was the largest it had ever been. We had a weekend of classes and shopping that rivaled Fiber Forum.

Our largest and most proud accomplishment in 2001 was the guild exhibit "Skilled Hands: The Art, Craft and Technology of Fiber" which was held during the summer at the Emory University's Library Schatten Gallery. With more than 200 pieces, including equipment, yarns and special exhibits, from 45 of our members, it was the biggest exhibit to date from this group. The staff at the gallery worked hard and displayed the pieces with a professionalism that took our breath away. Opening speaker, Rebecca Stone Miller, and the opening reception made the exhibit a class act. We had members spinning and weaving during the exhibit and have been invited back for an encore exhibit in 2004.

As we watch the guild continue to grow and remain vital, we enjoy the companionship the meetings provide and the support the group gives to its members. Over the years we have watched friends grow and change, children have grown and married, grandchildren have been born. Experienced spinners have expanded their knowledge and abilities, while beginning spinners have blossomed into talented and able mentors. We have members who raise sheep, angora goats, llamas and alpacas and angora rabbits. Our members include teachers, authors, people of all ages and walks of life. Our members knit, crochet and weave with their handspun; there are members who make baskets, paper, quilts and rugs. We have members who build their own equipment and are innovators in the field of beading, sewing, ceramics and wood. Our members are men and women, young and old. We have members who provide retail services to those of us who are demanding and informed shoppers. We have members who share their knowledge freely and are wonderful ambassadors for the guild, bringing visitors who become part of our group. As we meet new friends and cultivate old friendships let's continue to make this guild one of the best in the Southeast!

Copyright 2002 Peachtree Handspinners Guild. All Rights Reserved