Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Amateur Quilt Show Judge

please respect the rights of the quiltmakers and do not copy these pictures.... Part of the Innovative Quilts category at the Suwannee River Quilt Show 10/08

Although I do have 26 years of experience with making quilts and teaching quiltmaking, I have described myself as an "amateur quilt show judge" because I do not have NQA certification.
Much work and training goes into the certification process, and the best judges also take additional classes to keep updated on changes in the world of quilting. When they do a critique, you are getting some qualified feed back.

In the Summer issue of Professional Quilter magazine, Scott Murkin (NQA certified) wrote a great article about judging. He mentions that it is not a judge's job to teach, but to comment on the quilt at hand.

Being a professional teacher, when I was asked to judge the Suwannee River Quilt Show last week I had a slightly different idea about my task. Instead of a detailed form with a rating system, as used in most shows, I came up with a format I thought would be both fair and helpful.
What a delight to give first place in Group Quilts: Small/Medium to the
Children's Library Quilt from Starke, FL (entered by Dorothy Bartlett)

Listening to quilters talk over the years, they seem to have a fear of being judged. It's hard to separate your self from your work, after pouring so many hours into it.
But isn't it also good to have someone knowledgeable point out how you could make your work even better?

I decided to keep things simple and made a two-comment form.
After a note thanking the quilter for taking part in the show, the first statement was "Something really good about your quilt is..." and then came "Something you may want to think about is..."
So far, four days after the show, I have received no death-threats, so maybe I managed to come up with a good idea.

Each quilt has a story, and the fact that it is hanging in a show means the maker had something to share. We have been so trained to modesty, and so quick to point out faults before someone else can beat us to them, that it's often hard to admit to real pleasure in seeing our work on display.

I truly enjoyed commenting on one thing that I thought was good about each quilt. I hope the things I chose were ones that the quilter liked, too.

This is one of my Judge's Choice awards...a very simple scrappy quilt made fabulous by the vibrant turquoise sashing! Untitled by Marcia Wallace of Starke, FL.

For the "thing to think about", I just wanted to nudge the maker to consider learning a new technique or taking time to do better work. I am pretty sure that everyone knows what they really need to improve upon. I also am sure they did the quality of work entered because that's just what they pulled off for that particular quilt. The scribe wrote on her own entry's form "finished is good"...not the nice things I did say!
I know the thing I often think is "Well, that's as much time as I feel like putting into this quilt!" and off I go onto the next one. My choice is to make more quilts, as opposed to making the Best of Show quilt.**
So I'm hoping my "think about" comments were met with just that...and the thought could well be "I meant to do it that way!"

**oh, please don't even get me started on those wonderful quilters who manage to make both the Best of Show and lots more! I will just continue to stay out of their way and admire them!

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