Okay. Can that smile be any bigger? This is me at the 2013 IGMA Guild School, and this is the look of pure, unfeigned joy. The International Guild of Miniature Artisans has been hosting the Guild School for over thirty years in Castine, Maine. This was my first year attending. From checking in to the dorm rooms of the Maine Maritime Academy through the completion of my week-long class with Nancy Summers, I felt every emotion of a freshman arriving on campus for the first time (and I’m convinced I put at least a 5 lb. dent in my “freshman 15” eating that amazing cafeteria food).
Guild School is nothing short of a mini fan’s dream. In its purest form, it is a week-long retreat away from the cares of the world with 200 plus people, and you never have to explain your mini obsession. Everyone has been infected with the same bug. Beautiful. I was not fully prepared for all that I would experience, but I drank it in just the same. A campus tour kicked everything off and helped me get my bearings…sort of. Daily classes started immediately. I intentionally took one 12-hour class so that I would have time to meet attendees and share Smallisimo. And since this was essentially a “working” trip for me, I had really forgotten before I left Atlanta that my usual mini hysteria was about to come upon me.
I managed to contain my excitement (I think) as Nancy handed out the sofa frames and supplies for the leather tufted sofa I had signed up for. It looked so luxurious and complicated. When I selected the class, I was not really convinced that I would be able to do it, but Nancy made it oh-so-easy that even I could handle it. (Definitely more a tribute to her skill as an artisan and instructor than my ability.) Day after day I could not wait until class started. I even stayed after for several of them because I did not want to stop. I could have been there all day.
To my surprise, there were also seminars and open houses to attend. Like a kid in a candy store, I went from one classroom to another marveling at the amazingness that I beheld. How do people think of this stuff? What happens in the brain that makes a person want to cut all those tiny pieces? There must be something seriously wrong (and very right) with their thinking.
Daily silent auctions led up to the Lobster Cookout (we were in Maine after all) and Live Auction Tuesday night. When we started the night, sitting at our table was Marisa Gauss, a college-aged Guild School scholarship recipient. She is an architectural student who astounds her classmates by making mini furniture for her scale model assignments just because she has always loved to build things. I asked if she sold her minis, and she shrugged as if she had never thought of doing that. One of my favorite memories is of her at the end of the night after witnessing the bidding war for two 1:12 pieces that ultimately sold for $6500 and $7000. I asked, “Do you sell your minis now?” The look on her face and the stutter were priceless.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, we also had a chance to view exhibits of minis and to buy minis from the instructors at the Thursday night Munchies & More event. Sensory overload aside, I left Castine with a resolve to return and take Jon Almeda’s pottery class next year, a leather tufted sofa made by my own hands (I keep threatening to put a chain on it and wear it around my neck), and a certificate that proves I’m a real miniaturist now (at least that’s my story). I have even recruited two more Admirers to come back with me. If I were you, I would get my 2014 Guild School fund started immediately!
Featured image and Nancy Summers photo by Heather Almeda of One Love Photo.