Artists and Crafters Unite!

Years ago, I joined a group of people who wanted to nurture their creative spirit. We all liked to “make stuff,” but our day jobs did not provide the opportunity to express our creativity. We started meeting weekly to discuss our projects, art exhibits we’d seen and anything else that fed our creativity. Sometimes we’d bring projects to share or get advice about. Sometimes we would get together to indulge in some creative activity or project. This group turned out to be one of the most satisfying connections I have ever made!

We are fortunate to have many creative people in our community – so we have a wonderful variety of arts and crafts groups that meet on a regular basis. Some groups focus on doing and learning while others focus on service, and still others are more social. Most groups have some combination of these qualities. Here is a directory of local arts and crafts groups that accept new members:

Topeka Community Arts & Crafts Groups

Felt painting created by Anna Walker at a Stitch in Public Day with Potwin Fiber Artisans.

Most groups are organized around a specific type of art/craft such as needlework or fiber art. Some groups have a good deal of variation within their chosen genre. Potwin Fiber Artisans (PFA) is a good example. PFA member Anna Walker said, “PFA is about educating others in the fiber arts, be it sewing, crocheting, knitting, felting, weaving or so many other techniques.”

The Topeka Needlework Guild meets monthly but special interest groups within the guild, such as Quilting and Stitchery, meet at a separate time.

Art in Common, organized by the library, was inspired by my original creative group. We get together each month to look at and discuss art, and we commonly have a hands-on project that is completely different each month. We have great fun learning about and experimenting with different media and techniques. The library provides the Art in Common supplies for free!

Members of Art in Common showing off the scarves they dyed using Shibori techniques.

Several local groups have a strong service commitment. A Good Yarn is a group focused entirely on service, but other groups work community service in with their other projects. Sticks and String, a group for anyone who likes to crochet or knit, and Country Quilters, a local quilt guild, both have several ongoing service projects. Most of the other groups have special meetings or events where they create service projects.

Photo courtesy of the Topeka Needlework Guild.

Members of all the groups really enjoy socializing as they work. Sharon Nixon of the Topeka Needlework Guild said, “I enjoy the social aspect of meeting with others who enjoy the same crafts as I do. We support each other not only in our craft, but also if someone is facing health issues or the loss of a loved one, we are there for them.”

Members of Art in Common, a library-based group, enjoy sharing their successes!

Have you ever wanted to learn something new, and it’s just too hard to figure it out from written instructions? Group members are usually happy to share their skills and experience with each other, so it’s a great way for those with less experience to learn. It’s also so much fun to share successes with each other.

I think just about everyone could benefit by joining some kind of creative group. Check out the directory and see if there is a group that is a fit for you!

Jill Mickel is a Public Services Specialist and a member of the Arts and Crafts team. Her passions are art and community, and she believes that art is for everyone! When she is not at the library or working in her studio, she can be found gardening, cooking, reading, or bird-watching.