Saturday, November 16, 2013

How to Make a Prize Winning Quilt?
p.s.  I haven't a clue....   :)

I have won awards on quilts that I thought were outstanding, and I have won an award on at least one quilt that I wasn't even sure if it deserved to be juried into the show.  It often feels like a lottery to me, but you can't play if you don't enter!  There is no telling how wonderful your competition will be, nor who your judges will be or what will appeal to them.  I love winning prizes, but I also love to have my soul filled with inspiration of seeing the quilts.  And, my favorites are not necessarily the ones that win a prize.  So, I appreciate everyone who makes and enters their work!

1.  Work from your heart.  There is work that needs to be made.  Listen to your heart, it will tell you what to do.  It is impossible to second guess a quilt judge, so don't go there.  If your work makes YOUR heart sing, you are well on your way.  And, regardless if you win a prize or not, you will be doing what you need to do. 

2.  Pay attention to your craftsmanship.  Do the best quality work that you can.  Improve your skills. If you need to rip out a quilting line and do it again, YES, do that!  This is not a race, so take your time.  I have had MANY comments from judges about being able to see the stops and starts of my quilting lines.  This has NEVER been listed as a feature to be judged (see #3 below) on any judge's critique form.  But, apparently, it really bothers, a LOT of judges.  So, one year, I took the extra time, to make my stops and starts practically invisible.  I left long tails of thread on every beginning and ending of quilting lines and then used a needle to bury them in the quilt.  It was time consuming, tedious, and sucked the joy out of the construction of the quilt. That quilt won a first place! It was probably not the only reason the quilt won, but I believe it was the extra step that made it an appealing choice to the judges.

3.  Find out what the show is asking the Judges to score. What are the criteria for a winning quilt?  And, most shows will NOT publish this or tell you.  But you can find out.  If you ever enter a quilt, and you receive back the judges comments, then you will know!  Or you can ask a friend who has entered, they will have a list of the judge's critique form.  For IQA, this is it:
1:  Visual Impact
2:  Original in design
3.  Execution of chosen construction techniques
4.  Appropriateness of quilting design
5.  Execution of quilting technique
6.  Use of color
7.  Balance of design
8.  Integration of all design elements
9.  Overall appearance
And, what I don't know is if this is the list for ALL quilts at the show, or just the ART quilts?

4. Try not to have false hopes.  Sometimes the list above gets changed.  You will not know about the changes until AFTER the show.  Also, even though the judges are highly skilled, they are people.  They react to different people's work differently.  They try to be as objective as possible and defer to the list above, but they are also subjective.  It was fairly obvious between the two extremes in scores, that one judge loved the stuffings out of my quilt, and it made the other judge puke and gag to be in the same room with it.   ;)   My work does not have to appeal to everyone for me to be okay with it. I really like this quilt.

5.  This brings me to my next point.  All the judges are different.  You don't get to pick the judge.  You only get to pick what you make.  If you make the best that you can, and hopefully it appeals to the judges, you might win a prize. 

I love winning prizes at quilt shows.  It is so validating to have my work esteemed so greatly that someone is willing to give me a ribbon or a monetary prize. It is a tremendous honor.  Respectfully, I have disagreed with the judges choices many times.  It dilutes the validity of their assessment of my work.  I think that is the greatest gift of all, to value my own voice in my work.  And it has taken many years to get to this place.  I always critique my own work, and rather harshly.  I am usually surprised when the judges don't point out all the flaws in my work, maybe they just don't have that much time??  ha! 

I usually pick something of value to me to work on to improve for the next quilt, and it is rarely the kind of things that annoy the quilt judges.  This year they were particularly annoyed with the knots of embroidery floss on the back of my quilt.  I have a choice to either change that style of construction, or work on something else.  And I am sorry to say that knots on the backs of art quilts has a pretty low priority for me.  And you will notice that it is NOT listed on the critique form, but it is one of those "hidden" craftsmanship traditions that still lingers (like starts and stops!) in the transition of accepting art quilts as ART, and no longer a quilt for a bed.  If you are planning to enter a work into a quilting venue, you must consider these long standing traditions. 

Also, I have met quite a few top winners at Houston who told me that this was their FIRST time to enter a quilt to Houston.  It is important to value your own work!  It can be especially intimidating to have the courage to finally enter a quilt to Houston and get a rejection from the jurors.  And a rejection can mean so many different things.  It could mean that your work isn't up to quality standards (yet), or it can also mean that it didn't appeal to the jurors (for unknown reasons), or the juror was tired by the time they got to your entry, or that in the process of putting together a cohesive show, your work didn't fit with the other works.  This means your work is very original! Why not pat yourself on the back and enter it somewhere else? Sometimes work rejected from Houston is accepted to other esteemed shows and even wins a prize, so summon up the courage to enter, and don't jump to conclusions about what a rejection means.
Bridge, a multiple rejected quilt...
Last, if any of my tips make your sewing experience less joyful, Please Don't Listen to Me!  Sewing and quilting should be above all things JOYFUL!
Happy Sewing!

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Thank you a zillion times for such a wonderful post!!!