LEARN | Debunking the Myth: What the Guild School Is and Is Not

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Reprinted by Permission from The Cube Magazine, Volume XXXIV, Number 2, by the International Guild of Miniature Artisans

By Barbara Davis

Myth #1:  I’m not good enough to go to the Guild School.

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

Students of all abilities attend the Guild School. Each class has a detailed description and a suggested skill level. For those interested in gauging their level using power tools, there is an extensive explanation of the range of levels. The number of years attending school does not necessarily align with skill level. We have a twenty-seven-year  student who reminds me each year not to forget “us beginners.”

Myth #2:  There are cliques. I will be left out.

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

Every first-year student has a balloon on their name tag, and they wear it proudly. Everyone was a first-year student once, and they remember how inclusive their classmates were of them. We go out of our way to acknowledge and invite new or experienced students to join in-whether it’s stopping by a room in the dorm, sharing a chat at coffee break, or sitting together in the dining hall. That said, many students have formed deep friendships over the years (“Same Time Next Year”) and seek the comfort of friends at the end of a hard-working day, but not to the exclusion of others.  Groups that started as one or two people have now expanded to eight or ten. Many times that one special connection is made and that is enough. Students can be as fun-loving and partying as they want to be or as reserved and solitary as they desire.

Myth #3:  The Guild School costs too much money.

Not quite Pants on Fire, but close. This is relative. Everyone has different fiscal resources, obligations and priorities. Proof of this lies in the number of scholarship students who continue to attend school. They have shifted priorities and diligently saved to make this happen for them year after year. Consider this–the tuition, currently $1375, includes 36 hours (6 hours a day per day for 6 days) of instruction, accommodations for 7 nights with housekeeping (that’s $45 per night), ALL meals and breaks, and events happening in the evening. It is quite a bargain when you consider that most times when you have the opportunity to take classes, you pay hotel costs and meals; you find your own entertainment (and pay for it) in the evenings; and you are in a chain hotel in a city, not in a beautiful coastal village. Also, if you want to travel with a spouse, relative, or friend, he or she can attend as a non-participating guest for $590 for the week, which includes a shared room and all meals. There is golfing, tennis, hiking, biking, antiquing, and just sightseeing–or helping as a volunteer in the many jobs that need attention.

Myth #4:  I have some mobility challenges. I won’t be able to get around.

Again, almost Pants on Fire. The campus of the Maine Maritime Academy is on a hill. The classes take place in different buildings. It can be a challenge. We have worked to accommodate students having difficulties. First, every building has an elevator. Second, if you drive and bring your own handicapped sign, you can park near the buildings in special lots. We have Iggy, our retired golf cart, to help transport people to and from classes.  We have had students arrive with electric chairs and scooters, even a Segway.

Myth #5:  Castine is in the middle of nowhere and very hard to get to.

This is true, not really a myth at all, except that Castine is a wonderful reward at the end of a hard journey–no pain, no gain. It is a negative that can be a positive. Once you have been there, you know how truly special the place is, and you figure out manageable and inventive ways to make it happen. We have an average of 50 students who come from countries other than the US, including Europe, South Africa, Australia, and Japan. California vies for first place for the highest number of students, me included, from one state. People connect and drive up together, sightseeing along the way.  Others from long distances plan to visit friends or relatives before or after school, or stop by museums or miniatures shops in transit. Miniaturists are quite a daring bunch, and we are proud of our adventures getting to Castine. Also, a fact you may not know about, Bangor International Airport is about 45 minutes from Castine, and the Guild School provides an airport shuttle service. Castine is also a five-hour drive from Boston.

Pre-register for the 2014 IGMA Guild School by November 1st to be sure to get your favorite classes!

Barbara Davis is the Guild School Director.  She is also an IGMA Artisan and miniature furniture maker.

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