I know, I have totally lost any small amount of sanity I may have left but I have purchased the materials for the Certificate of Excellence and am seriously thinking about doing this.  Anyone else out there considering investing time and energy into getting the COE in Weaving?  Anyone want to talk me into or out of it?  I have spoken to a couple of people who are Master Weavers and they are learned a great deal by going through the process.

Care to join me?  The bibliography alone is incredible.  




Karren K. Brito

Getting a COE is a structured way to learn but it is a big investment of time and funds.  I would estimate a full time  involvement for 2 years and that may just get you part I.  Many people have a book nearly written when they finish part II.  Not much time for Weavolution and I think that the kind of help you can get is very restricted but  I haven't seen the  COE since the internet has been a resource.

Cathie Beckman, a member of Weavolution, did the COE in weaving, I'm sure she would share the amount of work required.




BonniePearl (not verified)

I attended Robyn Spady's seminar on the COE at Convergence. At the beginning I was all fired up, for the same reason you mention: it looks like a great structure for really building a solid and broad range of skill and knowledge in weaving. Robyn shared with her us her tremendous files (from Part I). They are truly impressive. But when she got to the part about the sacrifice that would be required of our families....that's when I decided that this was not for me. We would basically be in absentia for two years, according to her. I've been down that path before, in pursuit of another credential. It's a very large sacrifice to make. She also made a big point of saying that the credential has no "market value"; its biggest value is just in self-satisfaction. Not that that's not a worthy goal.  

Good luck with your decision!

lkautio (not verified)

I put the time into getting a master certificate through Hill Institute (4 years in class, 2 solid years of independent weaving) and found it very worthwhile.  It filled in gaps, pushed me in new directions, and gave formal credentials for teaching.  The programs are mostly designed to encourage breadth and flexibility rather than depth (even the COE part II is not a lot of depth).  Think about why you want to do a certification program before deciding on whether and which one. 

There are a lot of options for getting a master certificate, many or most of them originally based on the Weavers Guild of Boston requirements.  Many of these are entirely by mail and have wonderful reading lists, too. Look them over and see which one suits your personality and goals.

Weavers Guild of Boston ratings started in 1953.  WGB recently updated the requirements (one of a number of updates over the years) to be in line with more modern expectations.  It differs from the COE in several ways, though the scope is similar.  One major difference is that finished pieces are needed for many of the requirements, which some find more satisfying.  It is done in three or four parts (apprentice, journeyman, master, and master plus).  You can read about it here:


Ontario Handweavers and Spinners has a very different format:


In your area, WGGBaltimore has a good ratings program:


Talk to as many people about different programs as you can.  My feeling is that doing one will not make you a master weaver just by passing, but can put you well on the way to becoming one.

Laurie Autio



Joanne Hall

Hi Claudia,

Maybe you could make the study one that relates to your interests.  Betty Davenport did all her work on a rigid heddle loom. 


tien (not verified)

...and actually started work on it, but decided after a few weeks that tapestry and weaver-controlled weaves were really not my "bag", and since they comprise half the COE, I wasn't motivated enough to continue.

I think it's important to ask yourself why you're doing the COE, and whether you need the certification or whether you're just doing it yourself, for the learning experience and the feedback.  There are other ways to the same goal that are a little less intensive, but just as worthwhile.  The Canadian guilds have a Master Weaver certification that is also said (by holders of the certification) to be a rich learning experience, and because it is in somewhat smaller chunks/has more levels than the COE, it is more approachable.

I'd still like to do the COE someday, but at the moment, I'm more interested in other stuff...

Claudia Segal (not verified)

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.  I am still considering it and now have other options to consider.  Tien, the Canadian option sounds worth looking into, I just assumed because I am in the US it was not something I could do.  I'm more interested in the experience than getting a certificate.  I have enough formal degrees and am not really concerned about adding Master Weaver to the mix.


Judith (not verified)

I am presently working on the first level of this program. It is available to U.S. Weavers, you need to join the Guild. I would love to hear from anyone that is also working on the test requirements.


Foreigners are welcome to work on the GCW certificate program.  One US weaver achieved master level a few years ago and others are working on it.  Even a weaver in Germany has done at least one level that I know about. 

Even if you don't wish to submit you can download the problems from the GCW website and use it as a self-study program.



Robyn (not verified)

Successfully completing the COE is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life . . . in fact, I think it ranks #2 on my list.  It was an ominous journey.  I have compared it to Dante's "Divine Comedy" . . . the journey from Hell to Purgatory to Heaven . . . except the COE forces one to journey back-and-forth between these areas . . . even in a period of less than an hour.

IMHO, the only reason to do the COE is for personal fulfillment . . . and for me, it was so worth it!  I'm a better person and a better weaver because I successfully completed the COE.

The structure and discipline of working on the COE worked for me and it was an invaluable experience . . . and I love and appreciate what my husband endured through times while I was focused, obsessed, joyous, insane, regretful, euphoric, numb, angry, psychotic, melancholy, etc.  (I know, it sounds like an extended period of menopause!).

Regardless of whether one commits to HGA's COE, the Canadian program, a guild-specific program, etc., it requires more work and dedication than one can imagine.

JudyW (not verified)

Hi Claudia,

I am also considering the commitment to do the COE Level I - Weaving. I've joined HGA, purchased the COE Handbook and started looking for books & articles in the bibliography. It's nice to find someone else doing the same thing! There is a Weavezine podcast about the COE, and someone who's been through it said to just keep working steadily on it and when you get close to the end, send in your application and fees. Some people can do it in 2 years, but lots of people take longer. That's how I'm going to approach it. I think the learning experience will definitely be worthwhile! Let me know if you decide to pursue it.


I'm so pleased that several people are considering doing a certificate program! The HGA COE is dear to my heart so that's what I'll address. The journey took me 6 years. four for the first Level and two years for the second. Both levels can no longer be submitted the same year for examination , so a minimum of 4 years is required. My days for level one were like this. Weaving an actual sample, designing the next sample, and finishing the previous sample with paper work and mounting. If I wasn't done by Friday I worked the weekends. I had three small children so I wasn't working all day. However the last two years I had a schedule and it took a lot of discipline to get the Level one done. Level 2 was an incredible in depth study. Over 50 samples, a lot of writing, and three major pieces. I definitely had enough material to write a book, however who wants a book onMuticolored Three Block Damask?!!!! I will say the whole process was one of the most exciting things ihave done. It is a commitment of a lot of time, but I thought it was worth it.


Forgot to mention that the HGA office in Atlanta houses copies of the COE Level 2 work. Call first, but if serious, it's definitely worth the visit. Also since it's been 14 years since receiving the COE level 2, I forgot the exact wording of my specialization. It should read Multicolored 3Block 5 Shaft Damask. Memory loss already, geez.....

Karren K. Brito

It used to be that if a book didn't appeal to enough people to justify the up front cost of printing it, the publishing houses weren't interested.  E-books have a much smaller up front cost so can serve small audiences, much like Waddington's "Andean Pebble Weave". Digital photography has also allows so many more photos to be used,great for us who want to see how its done.  Maybe its time for an e-book on "Multicolored 3Block 5 Shaft Damask or a sexier titled version".


I see that it's been a couple of years since anyone has posted on this subject. Just curious if those working on the COE are still plugging away. I got the booklet and am sort of looking at this as a learning experience. Haven't decided if I want to go all the way yet.



I have the COE handbook as well. I have also registered for the UK Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild's Certificate of Achievement. The CoA is similar to the COE, but based on the Bradford Diploma that used to be offeredn in the UK. I have found a wonderful mentor for this program and am very pleased with what I have learned so far. I think if you look at it as a Weaving Syllabus and set your own goals for what you want to achieve learn then you will be satisfied no matter if you go on to complete the entire Syllabus.

This is the approach I'm taking with the CoA and it has taken a lot of stress out of the process already. I think given your previosu involvement with teaching on Weavolution the standard that achieving a CoE offers within the weaving community is worth the time. The other advise I would give has already been eloquently stated by others, so I will leave you here.

Best of luck,



Lorjacks3212, last year I gave a presentation on the COE there are a few points which I didn't mention above.  There is nothing wrong about working on it for several years before commiting by registering and having the "deadline". Many people do this, learn a great deal, and decide whether it's a fit for their lifestyle. I did this, of couse it turned into a 6 year process for me. I also know people who have turned the COE into a study group, meeting once a month , just for the learning experience. I don't know where you live . If I had lived near an institution where an Masters in Fiber Arts was offered I probably would have done that. However, the COE was a way I could study with small children so it worked out for me. My suggestion, start at the beginning and see how you like it, without committing yet.

Cally (not verified)

I did the Bradford course which Erica mentions and it (a) nearly killed me and (b) accelerated my weaving skills by several orders of magnitude. It was definitely worth it - afterwards, when I could look back and see how far I had travelled! In my circumstances (I was working full-time) I don't think I could have sustained the pace required without regular deadlines from the college; I might have started on something like the CoE (or CoA over here) but would have been unlikely to finish it without that external prodding.

If any UK/European weavers are reading this, I have heard that the Bradford course is being relaunched this summer. I don't have any details, however, so can only suggest contacting the college to enquire.


SallyE (not verified)

have mentioned that these programs "accelerated my weaving skills by several orders of magnitude."   I can well believe this, but am having trouble understanding exactly WHAT it means.   What can you do now that you didn't know how to do before?   What did it change about the way you weave or what you weave?   How did it change your approach to weaving? 

I guess I'm looking for something more specific than has been mentioned so far.   Thanks in advance.



Sally, you've asked some great questions! Level 1 broke me away from recipe weaving and exposed me to weave structures(40) some of which I wouldn't have bothered with. But it was through Level ll, I think I truly developed. I took one well defined area of study and studied everyway I knew possible. What became exciting, were the failures which caused me to become more analytical and pushing the boundaries over and over again in my own work. In other words I became more comfortable with being uncomfortable , which I think is part of the artistic process. It has been about 17 years since I achieved the COE , I have not kept up with the structure part. So I'm a little rusty. But I know how to design! But now,most importantly I'm a risk taker, a hard worker, a what if-er, I work for the break through, It changed my process in every artistic pursuit I undertake. Of course I learned my subject, but that to me seems secondary to the life lesson.

SallyE (not verified)

Your description makes it sound very interesting.  The curious thing is, when I was doing my MFA, they pushed me in the opposite direction.   They tried to get me to STOP experimenting, to stop coming up with new things.   I think that's part of the "gallery issue."   A gallery owner wants to be able to recognize work as being done by such and such an artist - and doesn't want to bother figuring it out.   If your work doesn't look sort of all the same, they think you haven't "found your voice."  

Maybe I should have been working on a COE instead of an MFA.   The market value is about the same. . . .    LOL!


LOL too, couldn't agree more about the market value!


I do want to add to those who may be following this thread that I do tell people who are considering the COE certificate not to do it for " fame or fortune" but for the journey. Certainly, after the Level ll , there would be ample material for teaching within one's speciality at any level, I imagine if one stayed within HGA, or the " weaver's workshop" realm. However in my experience, work has not translated over to a MFA program for instance and is not well known outside out of the weavers world. I still stand behind the program and am very glad that I embarked on that path and stuck with it to completion. I am trying to give as many sides to the story as I can.

lkautio (not verified)

After doing the master rating program through Hill Institute (4 years spent in class weaving about 35 long samplers, 2 more years independent weaving of 30-40 finished pieces plus more samples):

What can you do now that you didn't know how to do before?   On the simplest level, I tried some new structures, learned 10-50 treadling techniques for structures (both ones I knew and didn't know) that I had no idea existed, color interaction, etc.  On a larger and more important scale, I learned a great deal about how structures work, how to push them, and how different structures relate to each other.  I also learned more about design.

What did it change about the way you weave or what you weave? I happily combine ideas from vastly different sources, and play with structure in unconventional or less conventional ways. I also learned alternate ways of doing many simple weaving tasks, from more efficient beating patterns and ways to hold a shuttle to dealing with a variety of cranky looms on the fly in a classroom setting.

How did it change your approach to weaving? I have a much freer and more playful approach to both design and structure than I had before doing the program. I'm not sure that I am a better weaver in terms of productivity or throwing a shuttle or woven pieces, but I am a different weaver, with a deeper understanding of structure and design.

Laurie Autio


One more question... in Part I, what do they mean by "Define briefly". I have a degree in history, so to me briefly means half of an exam booklet, :) Do they mean a regular paragraph, 200 words or less, a page? Thank you for any info

Joanne Hall

Yes, Cathie, it is the journey. 

I was the chair for the Certificates of Excellence for 5 years, about 30 years ago.  It has changed a little over the years, mainly adding certificates in areas other than weaving.  There was a weaver in our guild in the early years who did the whole program on her own, just to do it.  She did not submit it for jurying. 

Some comment about the expense and time involved.  But if you enroll in a university program, you will have more expense and maybe even more time invested. 

If you combine your independent COE study with a few carefully chosen workshops with instructors you admire, you will enhance your knowledge in your favorite areas of weaving.



Yes lorjacks3212! I really struggled with this myself. I'm convinced after reading mine the word " briefly" was introduced, LOL! I do not have the handbook in front of me, regardless I don't want to steer you wrong since I've never been an Examiner. This a question for Susan Wilson the Mentor for the COE-W this year. You can call or e-mail her whether you're enrolled or not, I believe. You can find her info in SS&D each month under COE. I did mine sooooo long ago I really did write a lot about the subjects. That's obviously not what they want now.Perhaps someone whose done there's more recently could help too. I think Robyn Spady is on Weavolution too. Sorry to be so waffly, I would approach Susan first, as it's her job so to speak.

Robyn (not verified)

The COE is definitely a personal journey.  For me, I did it because I felt after 30 years of weaving that I had woven myself into a rut and wanted to expand my weaving horizons.  I have compared completing the COE to Dante's Divine Comedy . . . A journey from hell through purgatory to paradise . . . but, the difference is you usually start in paradise and then spend the remainder of your time working on the COE cycling through all of these destinations . . . even in a single hour.

Cathie has posted many comments about the COE that echo my experience practically word-for-word.  I'm extremely proud of completing the COE program.  What I learned by doing it still boggles my mind.  Yes, I tackled things I'm not crazy about . . . but, a funny thing happened on the way to COE . . . I learned to appreciate many things I previously avoided (and even embrace a few).  I learned some things I never expected about weaving and myself.  Plus, my habits and routine took dramatic steps forward, such as improving how I document while I work on a project and not try to write something up months later based on my foggy recollection.

The COE is not for everyone.  It was harder than college (including graduate school), but far more satisfying.  And, like college, I'm glad it's in my rearview mirror.  I know how hard it was . . . but, it was soooo worth it!

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