Certificates of Excellence
by Sandra L. Swarbrick
The Handweavers Guild of America, Inc. (HGA)
provides a certification program for members of the HGA in four categories:
handweaving, handspinning, dyeing, and basketmaking. The HGA has prepared a
handbook of assigned activities leading to examination for certification in
each category. Successful applicants demonstrate expertise by working through
these activities culminating in certification at either one or both levels:
(1) Certificate of Excellence, Level I: Technical Skills or (2) Certificate
of Excellence, Level II: Master with Specialized Study. Responsibility for,
and authority over, the Certificate of Excellence program rests with HGA Certificate
of Excellence Program (COE) Chair as representative of the HGA Board of Directors.
Specific aims of the program
- 1. To assist the individual
by providing guidelines for evaluating his or her skills.
- 2. To help guilds, study groups,
and teachers by offering an educational program for study.
3. To assist institutions and individuals to identify and locate
technically qualified fiber artists.
4. To encourage applicants to assemble materials that are useful
in teaching the fiber arts and as references for further exploration.
Examinations are held every
two years in each category. In even-numbered years the COE examination
for Dyeing is in the spring and the COE examination for Handweaving
is in the fall. In odd-numbered years the COE examination for
Basketmaking is in the spring and the COE examination for Handspinning
is in the fall. Information concerning scheduled examinations
may be found in the "Update" section of each issue of
Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot. This information will include
the name of the hosting guild, host guild chair, registrar, mentor,
application deadlines, and handbook edition being used for examination.
Each applicant is responsible for obtaining and using the proper
handbook and appropriate forms for the examination. Both may be
verified and obtained from the HGA office.
A mentor is provided for each
category to aid applicants. The mentor is a knowledgeable volunteer
whose role is advisory only. All persons working toward the COE
requirements, as well as those considering the program, are encouraged
to consult the appropriate mentor when questions arise in interpreting
directions, requirements, or terminology. Applicants and prospective
applicants may accept or disregard the mentor's counsel. Since
the mentor is not involved in the evaluation process, an inquiry
will not effect the evaluation of the applicant's work in any
way. The acceptance or rejection of work submitted for certification
will be made only during the scheduled examination.
The certification program is
not a competition. Mere completion of all the requirements does
not constitute excellence. Each applicant's materials are evaluated
according to accepted standards of superior quality. An applicant
must receive a score of 85% or greater to receive the Certificate
of Excellence for Level I. Scoring for Level II is pass/fail.
Any member of the Handweavers
Guild of America, Inc., may apply for certification. All work
must be done independently by the applicant without supervision.
Applicants may take classes during the time that work for certification
is under way as long as the applicant's work is independent of
classes and/or instructors. For the basketmaking certification,
baskets made from kits or from commercial patterns are not acceptable.
General Outline of the Program
Each handbook is arranged in
a logical order to facilitate the applicant's progress and application
of knowledge gained. Level I deals with technical skills for each
category. In each handbook Level I is divided into three (3) parts.
Parts 1 and 2 are designed to demonstrate the applicant's understanding
of design principles and knowledge of materials and equipment
and its use in the specified category. Part 3 is designed to demonstrate
the applicant's knowledge and skill in producing a variety of
samples based on specific requirements in the specified category.
The purpose of Level II is to emphasize individual development
and study in the particular category and to demonstrate that the
applicant knows how to research and develop an idea and bring
it to fruition. Work for Level I and Level II may not be submitted
for the same examination and Level I must be achieved before work
for Level II will be examined.
Level I in Handweaving
- Part 1: Design Elements and
Principles requires written material and construction of 7 examples
of proportion, 1 color wheel, 10 examples of color schemes, and
2 sets of examples of color interaction.
Part 2: Equipment requires written work demonstrating an applicant's
understanding of typical handweaving mechanisms and specialized
Part 3: Handweaving Techniques requires written work and 40 woven
Level I in Handspinning
- Part 1: Design requires written
material with illustrations or photographs and 4 small handspun
Part 2: Equipment and Fibers requires written work with illustrations
or photographs, 5 handspun skeins, and four completed tables.
Part 3: Handspinning Techniques requires written work, 35 handspun
samples, and 7 swatches.
Level I in Dyeing
- Part 1: Procedures and Theory
requires written work and eight or more photographs.
Part 2: Design requires written work, twelve graduated sets of
dyed samples, the construction of a color wheel of ten or more
dyed segments, and two completed tables.
Part 3: Dyeing Techniques requires written work and fifteen individual
or sets of dyed samples.
Level I in Basketmaking
- Part 1: Design requires written
work, illustrations, 10 samples of color schemes, a hue/value
chart, and a color wheel.
Part 2: Natural Basketmaking Materials requires five short essays
with illustrations or photographs.
Part 3: Basketmaking Techniques requires written materials, illustrations,
and 24 sample starts or completed baskets.
Level II: Specialized Study
for all Categories
Each applicant is required to
present an in-depth study in an area of his or her own particular
interest in any aspect of the selected category. Work for the
specialized study must demonstrate research in considerable depth.
Requirements for the specialized study include written materials,
illustrations where pertinent, and samples culminating in major
Four copies of a descriptive
outline of the proposed research topic must be sent to the appropriate
registrar for review after the initial fee payment but no later
than the date the final fee is due to the HGA office. It is strongly
recommended that the applicant allow sufficient time after the
submission of the outlines to benefit from reviewer's comments
and for completion of all work associated with an in-depth study.
The registrar will distribute the outline to three reviewers who
will provide counsel on its feasibility, suggesting modifications
if advisable. The identity of the applicant will be unknown to
the reviewers. Reviewers' comments are intended to aid the applicant
in shaping a viable study of suitable scope for the COE program.
To retain anonymity and confidentiality,
each applicant is assigned a number by the HGA office staff unique
to that particular examination. All materials, including correspondence,
application blanks, inquires, and submitted entries, are identified
with this number only.
Submissions for Examination
All written work must be submitted
in English. All written materials of more than a sentence in length
must be typewritten or computer generated. The applicant may neatly
hand print information on record sheets, drafts, and labels. Each
handbook contains detailed information concerning the presentation
and organization of all materials for submission. Instructions
for submission of materials for examination are provided after
registration for the program.
The HGA COE Program
appoints two qualified people to act as examiners for each examination.
Information concerning scheduled examinations may be found in
the "Update" section of each issue of Shuttle Spindle
& Dyepot. Written materials, samples, and photographs/slides
submitted by the applicant will be assembled by the registrar
for evaluation by the examiners. Throughout the examination procedure
the anonymity of the applicant is maintained by the use of the
assigned number. The names of successful certificate recipients
will be published in Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot.
The HGA regards this undertaking
as a service to its members and to the field of fiber arts. Every
effort is made to keep the cost to applicants consistent with
the cost of administering the program. These costs include printing,
mailing, insurance, storage, handling of materials, and the costs
incurred to assemble the examiners. The current cost of submitting
work for either Level I or Level II is $200, due in two equal
payments of $100 each.
Applicants whose work did not
meet the standards set for the requirements may resubmit to a
future examination. Work for either certificate that is below
standard must be resubmitted in its entirety. Not all of the work
needs to be redone-only those pieces the applicant chooses to
redo. The resubmitted work must, however, follow the format and
requirements of the handbook being used for that examination.
If the applicant is reapplying
for the Level II certificate, an outline of the topic to be studied
must be submitted for review. The applicant may propose a previously
submitted Level II topic or choose a different one.
Recipients of the Certificate
of Excellence, Level II: Master with Specialized Study in a specific
category may apply for an additional COE in that same category
in a different area of specialization. It will be necessary to
register for the examination of the new work for Level II and
to submit an outline of the new in-depth study, but work for Level
I need not be resubmitted.
Important Things to Remember
Applicants preparing work for
submission should verify that they are using the proper handbook
edition for the desired examination and confirm that they are
using the appropriate forms to register for that examination.
Applicants should carefully read through the handbook before beginning,
contact the Mentor with any questions they might have, and remember
to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS detailed in the handbook.
Sandra L. Swarbrick, of Bothell, Washington, oversees HGA's
Certificate of Excellence, Teaching and Learning through Correspondence,
and the Learning Exchange programs. She has been a member of HGA
for ten years and a member of the HGA Board of Directors since
Order the newly revised
COE Handbook packets.
View the revised
For more information about the
Certificates of Excellence, please contact:
Handweavers Guild of America, Inc.
1255 Buford Highway, Suite 211
Suwanee, GA 30024
Telephone: (678) 730-0010