Friday, October 24, 2008

Judging or Judgemental?

please respect the rights of the quiltmakers and do not copy these photos

When you enter a judged quilt show, you will receive some sort of feedback. You may agree or disagree, but the comments are about your quilt, not you as a human being.
However, that seems to be the biggest fear quilters express when it comes to showing their quilts..."I don't want to be judged!"

Kimono 2 by Beverly Hilton of Gainesville, FL has many different techniques done well!

Recently I read this statement in an article on leadership from Kevin Eikenberry's site: "When giving feedback are your statements largely observational or judgmental? If you try to pass judgement off as fact you risk being wrong and setting a stage for defensiveness, resistance or worse. "
I thought this got to the matter I was trying to address by choosing a two-comment form. I simply wanted to share my observations with the quilters. If I suggested they "might want to think about binding technique" it was because the corners could have been mitered, or the edge of the quilt could have filled up the binding, or the binding stitches could have been tighter.
Did any of that ruin the quilt? No.

Did I expect anyone to go back and "fix" that quilt? No.
The idea was to give the quilter a chance to think of doing things differently the next time...or not! Each quilt you make is yours to make your way.

Cornucopia by Mary Kostewicz, Gainesville, FL. There two other quilts in the show using the same pattern. Colors and quilting made them all different.

Judging is not an easy task. Many times when you receive a comment that seems petty or picky, it's because your work was so good that the comments came down to small details. A picky point means you are doing quite well.
You can decide if you want to push your work on to an even "higher" level.
Or, like me, you may just want to get it done and rush on to the next one!
Whatever the judge says is just an observation about that particular quilt, in the minute or two it was being looked at.

Sara's Garden by Lee Starr of Lake City, FL. A simple but very well pieced quilt can do very well when compared to ones who missed the corners.

Usually the judge finishes the job and then leaves town.
I was also giving two lectures, so I overheard a few questions about the judging....often from people who had no idea I was the judge!
I told a few people, with a straight face, that the judge was blind.
In the course of hanging the ribbons, it became a humorous situation when we had to move some of the ribbons so they would show up against a different part of the quilt. The blue ribbons were on blue quilts, the red ones on red quilts, and the white or yellow third places seemed to be matching their quilts!
Of course, I also offered this as the "method" the judge used for deciding which quilts got ribbons!
Then I would have a nice discussion about what might make one quilt an award winner when another quilt seemed just as good. Many people are so taken with the quilt's appearance they never really consider the minor details...and that's what the difference comes down to between two fabulous quilts!

The Deer in My Backyard by Ann Ogeltorth of Lake City was a huge favorite at the show.

It was a real privilege to be able to examine at so many (168!) quilts and give thought to the way they were made. It lead to some personal growth (facing and setting aside any bias) and some inspiration to improve a few of my own lazy habits! It helped to sharpen my eye and to confirm a suspicion or two (yes, it turned out that there were a couple of vintage tops that had been finished recently!).

Christmas in Baltimore by Jill Allen of McIntosh, FL, really was the best quilt there!

And the Best of Show?
It was not a style I would ever make, nor colors I like to use. It was not the quilt I would have chosen to take home.
But it was the most incredibly made, beautifully handquilted, perfectly appliqued quilt in the show, and had an attention to detail that was beyond all the others (the points of the flowers fit into the sawtooth border at the corners). So it won!

And now I am finished talking about's time to get ready for HOUSTON...the biggest quilt party of them all!

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