After another competition quilter revealed her judging comments last week, it got me thinking. I have a well-reasoned opinion on judging, for me. These are my thoughts about my quilts being judged. I think they might be useful, or at least entertaining for you.
I don’t have a lot of interesting photos about judging, so I am going to include photos of my yard this spring😊
Let me set the stage:
– I like to have a quilt hanging in the show if I am teaching there.
– I actually don’t care that much about ribbons. Really. I don’t even have any hanging in my studio (not even the Runner Up, Best of Show ribbon for Pacific Int’l Quilt Festival!).
– I am almost 100% correct in my assessment of whether my quilt will jury in.
– I know I am not up for a ribbon in any major show. Maybe, maybe with a future quilt, a low hanging ribbon. Nothing I have now is a ribbon winner. I know this.
– I do like to have my quilts judged. Rarely are their comments a surprise.
– Quilts that ribbon now have far more work in them than I am willing to put in. Their ribbons are well deserved.
The way all this works in major shows, a mere handful of quilts ribbon. The rest of the quilts fill out the show and make it a delight to the eye. I am going to call the non-ribbon quilts “filler”. I do not mean that in any disrespectful way. My quilts are filler.
So, I pay my fee, pay to have it shipped and back and don’t expect a ribbon. My desire is to show the beauty of what I create with the rest of the world. We as quilters have the privilege of giving joy to others by showing the fruit of our hands. And that is why I show.
And I have some very interesting judging history. The first time I was judged, it was for a Wearable Art challenge at my local guild. At that time, we had 4 BERNINA Designers, a very prestigious honor, the best of the best. I was blissfully unaware of how that might affect my entry. I made this jacket. I was so proud. Needle felting machines had just come out and I felted all that awful yarn onto my jacket. It was very well constructed and finished.
And butt ugly.
But I didn’t know that at the time. The judge made very sure I did. Her comments were extremely harsh and unforgiving. She all but told me to find a new hobby. She just ground me to dirt. I cried for a short time and then realized that her comments, although unnecessarily harsh, were true. I learned a lot from that experience.
Since that time, I don’t think I’ve ever been totally surprised by the judge’s comments. Some shows give more feedback than others. I don’t fault shows that give less feedback, it’s the decision of the organizers. The Houston show gives a lot of feedback which I appreciate. All (?) judges give at least one positive comment and one “needs improvement” type of comment.
Judges have a tough road. They usually get 3 minutes a quilt! In that short span of time, they have to assess quality, design, color, and skill. They may not always get it right. If your quilt is up for a ribbon, more time is taken so that they can decide who ribbons and what place they get. I don’t envy the judges trying to make these decisions.
My latest quilt to be judged was Much in Common at Paducah. My category there was ridiculously rich with insane talent. It was a no-brainer: I was not going ribbon. By the same token though, my quilt definitely deserved to jury in. Here are the comments:
Although comments will not be a surprise, it can be enlightening what the judges chose to comment on. As you can see, it was a top-notch group of judges, every one for whom I have deep respect: Susan Cleveland, Sue Nickels and Ricky Tims.
Here is where my “Judging Philosophy” comes in. When I get comments back, I have a decision to make: do I care?
Here’s the deal. There are some legitimate things that judges might comment on that I am just not going to fix. For me, edge treatments that take 2 months, nearly perfect stitch length across the quilt – these are things that would suck the joy right out of quilting for me.
In some cases, I chose not to change. How do I feel about the backtracking issue mentioned by the judges? That comment was well taken on my part.
I really didn’t notice how much the backtracking showed in some parts of the quilt. Yeah, I’ll fix that next time. In this case, I will change. But if I need to have even stitch length throughout the entire quilt? Nope. Life’s too short for that.
So there you go – you get to see my spring yard and my thoughts on judging. This is just my overview of judging. There is so much more to judging than what I’ve written here. If you really want to know more, assist in judging at your local quilt show or sit in on a public judging like sometimes happens at County Fairs and the like.
No matter what, I am the Quilt Skipper and I skip because quilting gives me joy. If it doesn’t give joy, I’m out.
I’ll share at: