Certificates of Excellence Revised Handbooks
by Sandra L. Swarbrick
The Handweavers Guild of America, Inc., periodically reviews requirements, procedures, and evaluation criteria of the different Certificate of Excellence programs and makes revisions when appropriate. In 1998, Mary Ann Jackson, then Member Services Chair responsible for the COE programs, began the process of reviewing the Certificate of Excellence in Dyeing Handbook. She formed a committee consisting of Sandra Hutton, another HGA Board member and recipient of HGA’s Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving Level I, Doramay Keasbey, the mentorfor the COE in Handweaving examination and recipient of HGA’s Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving, Levels I and II, and Janet Stollnitz, host guild chair for the COE in Handweaving examination in fall 2000. As they began their review process they decided to expand it to include all of the handbooks. During the revision process the COE Handbook Revision Committee sought the advice of authorities in each field, including Michele Wipplinger and Karren Brito for dyeing, Patsy Ann Zawistoski and Sammy Eber for handspinning, and Flo Hoppe, Deb Curtis, and Diane Dixon for basketmaking. Efforts were made to address comments directed to the mentors from prior COE applicants. The Committee elected to standardize the language concerning the procedures governing the program for all the handbooks. Instructions for labeling and assembling the materials for submission were clarified where appropriate. In some cases, requirements in the handbooks were expanded or modified.
The Committee also developed Administrative Guidelines for the program and revised and expanded existing forms. When handbook revisions occur between scheduled examinations, each applicant may choose to use either the immediately prior handbook or the newly revised version. In no case may a handbook two or more revisions back be used. Each version has its own evaluation criteria and procedures. By selecting a particular version of the handbook, the applicant selects the scoring procedure associated with that version. Because every handbook in the COE program was affected by the current revision process, the examinations for dyeing and handweaving in 2000, and examinations for basketmaking and handspinning in 2001 will use the newly revised version and the immediately prior handbook with their associated scoring systems. When no handbook revision occurs between scheduled examinations, only the most recent handbook will be acceptable. Applicants are advised to check the Update section of each issue of Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot for any announcements or explanations about the COE program after the publication date of any handbook.
Applicants who acquired a handbook more than two years prior to a scheduled examination should verify with the HGA office that the forms and handbook edition they are using are appropriate for that examination. Anyone applying for an examination in 2001 who purchased a handbook prior to January 2000 should contact the HGA office and obtain the proper forms before registering, since the required forms are different from those they received when they purchased their handbook.
Changes That Affect All Handbooks
Each handbook now contains a detailed table of contents that should allow the applicant to easily find information contained in the handbook. Level I in all of the newly revised handbooks consists of three parts. The first two parts deal with design principles, color theory, etc., and equipment used in that field. These parts usually require written work, illustrations, photographs, and perhaps some samples. Criteria for the evaluation of Parts 1 and 2 are clearly stated in each handbook. The third part deals with the technical aspects in each field and requires the production of samples of work. Criteria for the evaluation of these technical requirements is stated in each handbook.
A significant change in all the newly revised handbooks is that an applicant may no longer submit Level I and Level II work simultaneously for examination. Now work for Level I must be submitted and examined, and the Certificate of Excellence in Technical Skills be awarded before outlines for Level II work may be submitted for review. Work for Level II must be submitted for a subsequent examination after the Certificate of Excellence in Technical Skills for Level I has been awarded.
The outline review process for a Level II submission no longer requires the reviewers’ approval for the applicant to go ahead with his or her study topic. The applicant is still required to submit outlines which are reviewed by three reviewers. The reviewers provide only counsel and support on the feasibility of the study. The comments of the reviewers should, as always, be seriously considered before continuing with the study.
The criteria for the evaluation of Level II work has been expanded in all of the newly revised handbooks. However, the requirements for the specialized study have not changed.
Changes to Individual Handbooks
In the newly revised Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving Handbook there are now three parts instead of two. In the immediately prior handbook, Level I contained Part I, Color and Design, and Part II, Basic Weaving Requirements. In the newly revised handbook, Level I consists of Part 1: Design Elements and Principles; Part 2: Equipment; and Part 3: Handweaving Techniques. Part 1 now contains the same requirements as the Part I in the previous handbook, with the addition of brief definitions of seven design terms. Part 2: Equipment is completely new. The purpose of Part 2 is to demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of typical handweaving mechanisms and specialized tools. This part requires written work. Part 3 remains the same as the Part II in the previous handbook. The wording of some of the directions has been changed to help clarify the instructions, but the weaving requirements and number of samples required remain the same.
In the newly revised Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning Handbook, Level I still has three parts, but the content of the three parts has changed. In the immediately prior handbook, Level I contained Section 1: Fiber Study; Section 2: Use of Tools; and Section 3: Yarn Design. In the newly revised handbook these sections are organized into three parts: Part 1: Design; Part 2: Equipment and Fibers; and Part 3: Handspinning Techniques. Part 1 now is completely new. The purpose of Part 1: Design is to demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of design principles. This part requires written material with illustrations or photographs and four small handspun samples. Part 2: Equipment and Fibers expands Section 2 from the previous handbook. Brief descriptions of the procedures for using specified fiber-preparation equipment are now required. Five skeins spun using specified spinning equipment are still required. There are also four new fiber tables that require completion. Table I is for Sheep’s Wool, Table II is for Protein Fibers, Table III is for Cellulose Fibers, and Table IV is for Man-Made Fibers. Part 3: Handspinning Techniques combines Sections 1 and 3 from the previous handbook with some changes. The purpose of Part 3 is to demonstrate the applicant’s knowledge and skill in producing a variety of yarns based on specified elements. This part requires written work, thirty-five handspun skeins, and seven swatches.
The Certificate of Excellence in Dyeing Handbook has received the most extensive revision and reorganization. Instructions have been simplified and clarified. In the newly revised handbook, Level I has three parts instead of two. In the immediately prior handbook, Level I contained Part I: Theory, Equipment and Safety and Part II: Dyeing Techniques. In the newly revised handbook, Level I consists of Part 1: Procedures and Theory; Part 2: Design; and Part 3: Dyeing Techniques. The purpose of Part 1: Procedures and Theory is to demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of dyeing safety, equipment, and theory. This part requires written information and eight or more photographs. The purpose of Part2: Design is to demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of basic design principles and terminology. This part requires twelve graduated sets of dyed samples and the construction of a color wheel of ten or more dyed segments. The completion of two tables, one for synthetic dyes and the other for natural dyes, is also required. Many of the requirements in Parts 1 and 2 are similar to those in Part I of the previous handbook. Part 3: Dyeing Techniques places emphasis on skills, execution, and understanding of dyes and dyeing. The applicant must demonstrate a knowledge of the fundamentals of dyeing by submitting appropriately dyed samples as specified. This part requires fifteen individual dyed samples or sets of dyed samples.
For the Certificate of Excellence in Basketweaving Handbook, the term “Basketweaving” has been changed to “Basketmaking.” Successful applicants will receive either a Certificate of Excellence, Level I: Technical Skills in Basketmaking or a Certificate of Excellence, Level II: Master in Basketmaking with Specialized Study. In the newly revised handbook, Level I still contains three parts; however, they have been renamed and reorganized. In the immediately prior handbook, Level I contained Part I: Design and Color Application; Part II: Technical Skill in Basketweaving, and Part III: Written Research of Basketweaving Materials. In the newly revised handbook, Level I consists of Part 1: Design; Part 2: Natural Basketmaking Materials; and Part 3: Basketmaking Techniques. In the newly revised handbook, Part 1 corresponds to the previous Part I with minor changes; Part 2 corresponds to the previous Part III with minor changes; and Part 3 corresponds to the previous Part II with some changes to clarify the wording of the instructions. The number and type of sample starts and completed baskets required for Part 3 remains the same.
The responses that we have received from individuals who have reviewed the newly revised handbooks have been very positive. People have felt that the handbooks are easier to understand and to use. HGA is very committed to maintaining the level of excellence required from applicants who participate in the Certificate of Excellence program. We hope that by improving the handbooks, which set forth the requirements of the certification program, we will encourage more people to accept the challenge of participation.
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 1998.
For more information about the Certificates of Excellence, please contact: