Virtual Guild Meetings - Introduction
(The Journal Editorial Committee holding their April committee meeting via Zoom)
Over the past few months we’ve all had to get used to seeing each other via screens. Many Guilds have been carrying on their regular meetings, but the longer the current period of physical distancing carries on the harder it’s going to be to remain connected to each other and to try and carry on with more normal guild activities.
We know that many guilds use the Guild Highlights section of The Journal for ideas for future programme planning, but our long production schedule (the magazine you’ll be receiving in the autumn was planned earlier this spring), means it’s hard for us to use that space to pass on ideas for ways that guilds can carry on meeting virtually.
Over the coming weeks we hope to use this space to share lots of different ideas for meeting virtually in our own homes, allowing your guild to keep a sense of community. We’re soliciting ideas from any guild who has had a successful workshop, the more detailed the information the better. We want to create a resource bank of ideas that other guilds can put in to practise with as little extra work as possible… there’s no point in us all trying to reinvent the wheel!
Most Guilds have been meeting online using some form of video calling. There are lots available, they all work in more or less the same way. Zoom is very popular right now, but unless a guild member has a paid account your meeting will be limited to 40 minutes. WhatsApp has the capacity to do Video Calling, but is limited to mobile devices only. Skype feels like it’s been around forever, but is still very much alive and kicking, and more importantly will work on mobile, tablets and desktops. Another option to consider is Google Hangouts.
If you have members who struggle with technology then consider having a trial run before the meeting so you can get everyone connected in a low-pressure one-on-one call before the scheduled meeting. The resources in this “Learn my Way” tutorial may help get members set up for video calling.
When creating ideas for video call workshops it’s important to remember that video quality can end up being pretty low, particularly for members in more rural areas. If you want anyone to see fine detail then it’s best to prepare materials in advance and share them using the chat/document transfer settings in your video calling app. (From personal experience at Montgomeryshire Guild we have members who can only join calls as audio only).
Conversations via video chat are also really tiring. Far more so than in-person meetings. Keep chatter sessions short and break them up with opportunities for people to step away from the screen. Show members how to mute their microphones when not speaking or designate a person in charge of the call to do it for everyone. It’s not censorship, it just removes the background noise, and allows everyone to clearly hear what the person speaking is saying. This is particularly important if you have members with hearing impairments.
Consider setting up some sort of structure to the meeting, free-for-all chatter doesn’t work well with 12 people (or more!) on the call. If one member takes responsibility for chairing the meeting they can ensure then everyone gets to have a say. If you have a large guild then maybe have sub-groups.
If you’re having a meeting that requires specific materials consider how best to distribute them to members. Working from stash is ideal, but not always possible. In order to make things easy, consider having one person order the required supplies, then divide them up and post them out to members. This often has the benefit of the price reductions that can be obtained from purchasing in bulk. Remember that the postal service is operating more slowly than usual and give yourselves plenty of time. The postage costs for large letter size parcels are much lower than those for parcels, so think about how to package things. You’d be amazed what you can fit in to an A5 size cardboard large letter box. This has the added bonus of fitting in many post boxes, so minimises the need to step in a Post Office if you use Royal Mail’s online postage.
Finally, what about guild members who aren’t connected to the internet? There aren’t many, but it’s important that they don’t get left behind. Many modern phones now have the ability to set up group calls including ones to landlines. Or why not write to members sharing what you’ve been doing, and maybe print out photos of the things that have been produced in your workshops. You might also be able to pass on the resources from the workshop you held virtually and will have the pleasure of sharing them all in person when you do all get to meet up. It’s not perfect, but we’re all having to be more adaptable, and be forgiving of ourselves and others when we try our best but acknowledge that the solution isn’t ideal.
Listed below are a list of resources that members may find helpful to stay engaged in their weaving, spinning and dyeing over future months. Maybe you could form a sub-group to work through a particular area of interest?
Jane Stafford Online Weaving Guild (paid course) https://janestaffordtextiles.com/online-guild/
Yarnworker School of Weaving (some paid courses, but the monthly weave-alongs are free of charge) https://yarnworker.com/school/
And a list of free-low cost resources compiled by Yarnworker- https://yarnworker.com/keep-calm-and-weave-on-weaving-101-and-other-no-cost-resources/
Stash Busting & Scarf Weave-Along (free) https://www.warpandweave.com/classes/stash-weave-along/
Tapestry Weaving basics created by DoveCot Studios (free)- https://dovecotstudios.com/tapestry-studio/projects/weaving-from-home/
Society of Dyers and Colourists have a series of videos on dyeing different fibres using different dyes (free)- https://colour.network/online-courses/?_sft_product_cat=short-courses
If you find any resources that you think others would like to know about please get in touch
We’d also recommend giving The Journal a follow on our social media channels.
We’re using our Twitter account to highlight articles, spin-alongs, weave-alongs, virtual exhibitions, interesting articles, and beautiful textiles. Find us as @journalwsd
On Instagram we’re highlighting articles in our current issues, looking back at highlights from previous issues, and sharing the work that members are creating. Find us as @journal_wsd and please share your work with us using the #virtualguild
Our Facebook Page highlights the best textile articles from around the web, and highlights articles in our current issue as well as sharing some of the many wonderful articles that have been published in The Journal over the past few years. Find us as @journalwsd
This series of blogposts will only be was useful as you make it, we really want to hear what your guild has been doing, in as much detail as you possibly can. We want Guilds to come out of this period in a healthy state, with members who are passionate about working with textiles, and with increased knowledge of our crafts.by