The July meeting was held at a different place than usual.  This month we met at Shalom House off Ngong Road, a place we have often used in the past for workshops by visiting and local teachers.  We had a very nice turn-out and most people agreed that the venue was convenient and comfortable.  We had scheduled the room for the entire day so that some of our members could stay on to work on raffle quilts for upcoming exhibitions.

The meeting began with a few administrative announcements by Chairman Neela Shah, as well as recognition of several visitors and guests.  There was a call for those who wish to sell their quilts, and another call for volunteers to serve with Pauline Mang’ana who is chairing the Exhibitions Subcommittee.  Pauline needs plenty of help to organize all the details and arrangements for our next Guild exhibition.  Then, we had a wonderful show-and-tell session as we enjoyed seeing new finished pieces by our members.

Our speaker for the meeting was Dena Crain who presented an hour-long program on “Critique.”  Displaying works-in-progress brought in by several of our group, Dena conducted formal critiques on each one.

The messages in her comments and those of us who participated actively had not only to do with the works under discussion, but also explored the meaning, purpose and conduct of critiques in the design and sewing phases of quilt making.  Dena taught us to keep our comments focused on the work at hand, not on the quilt maker as a person, and to ensure that all remarks were tactfully phrased.

One trick for accomplishing this is to turn a statement such as “I don’t think this part of your quilt is working very well” into a question such as “How do you think this part of your quilt is working?”  Several of the members committed gaffs on this count, giving much rise to laughter and fun!

We all learned not to fear critique, but to seek it out when we need help with design problems or how to improve the craftsmanship of our quilt making.  Thanks to Dena for a great session and many lessons learned!

Following Dena’s presentation, there were further discussions about the need to produce African quilts for our 2013 trip to London, Canada, for the London International Quilt Festival.  Our African Challenge Quilts are due at the September meeting, so this will get us off to a good start!

We also discussed the need to curtail losses from our library.  Several books and magazines have gone missing in recent months, and the Executive Council, following suggestions from the group present at the July meeting, will develop a new set of policies for how our library will operate in future.

When the meeting adjourned, more than a dozen members enjoyed lunch at L’Arena Pizzeria, right next door to our meeting room in Shalom House.  After lunch, they returned to the meeting room and began working on a couple of raffle quilts.  We expect many more such workshop sessions to be held in coming months, and will let you know through our emailed meeting notices of those special events.  We need all the help we can get, as we plan and prepare for our next exhibition, tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2012.