Sunday, January 25, 2015

My Quilt Hanging at R2C and Thoughts on Quilt Shows

   Thanks to Barb from The Quilt Show forums I can share a photo of my quilt Emerald Tapestry hanging at Road to California!  I was really over the moon to be accepted into this national juried show.  No ribbons to share, but lots of experience was gained.

   I have read and talked about showing quilts a lot over the last few years.  I find there are lots of opinions on the subject!  Sometimes folks say - "well winning ribbons isn't everything".  They are right, it's not.  But I tell you what.  I'm not ashamed to say that, yes, I would like to win.  A ribbon, some acknowledgement, something is always the goal.  I don't think that's wrong or greedy or selfish.  It's what makes me strive to do better.  I work better and harder with a goal in mind.  With a level that I want to achieve.  I don't HAVE to quilt this way - but it's the way that I find gratification in what I do.  So yes, every time I enter a show of course - I hope for a ribbon!  But I also am not going to cry because I didn't get one.  I was really reminded of this fact with this show in particular as one of my most admired quilters didn't get her quilt juried in.  I'm baffled at why - because if we're being honest her quilt was a hundred times better than mine.  For whatever reason her perseverance motivated and humbled me...and also really made me appreciate how lucky I was just to have my quilt included.

   The quilts in this show were amazing - and I think the judges comments were spot on.  I was given compliments on my quilting skill, use of beading, crystals, and surface design to enhance the quilting.  The biggest criticism?  That the design was unbalanced.  I completely agree.  This was honestly an unplanned spur of the moment quilt that I was so happy with the end result I decided to show.  But - I can see it - and to hold it next to some of the winning quilt you can see the difference immediately.  The winning quilts were impeccable - every detail was shown attention.  To date, I haven't necessarily been able to take something constructive away that could really help me from all of the comments I've received from shows, but the comments this time around really did help me.  If I'm serious about making a high quality quilt that can stand next to some of the most amazing quilts making their rounds in the big shows...then I am really going to apply what I have learned to the next quilt.

   What do I take away from all of this?  Striving to do well in shows has helped me to look at my quilts more objectively - void of emotion.  That's so much easier said than done.  When we finish a quilt that took a year to make we are in love with it.  It's a piece of your soul.  It's hard to look at it and break it down and see the flaws for what they are.  My struggle to date is that I'm still new and green.  So I learn tremendously with each quilt - and often times, by the time I reach the end of a quilt...I've grown so much that my skill has moved beyond what displayed in that quilt...and I see it only for its flaws!

   I'm also learning the value of - do it right or not at all.  The winning quilts are not ALL without flaws.  But there is a reason for the win.  Be it overall design...detail...workmanship...I am starting to see them a little differently and learning to break things down in the necessary ways to improve what I am doing.  It's not about comparing myself to others - it's more about, learning from others success and applying things to my own work to help me do my very best work on my OWN quilts.

   I have been so tired from pregnancy and maybe a little worn down from the quilts I have been working on.  It's been difficult for me to focus.  This whole experience helped me to focus a little more on my ultimate goals.  I have at any given time about a dozen quilts in various states of progress...right now I have two quilts that were intended for show in a bit of a stand still.  My goal for 2015 is to finish both Vintage Charm and my newest quilt that has been on hold since last spring and show them both.

   Here are a few photos of the quilt that has yet to be named - it's almost finished but I just was at a halt for the longest time.  All that is left to do is a little more bias tape and a few appliqué pieces to be added and it will be ready to quilt.   I think my word for 2015 will be

F-O-C-U-S!!!  :)

This quilt has lots of open space for quilting - and I'm learning from the big quilters that details count, so I'm paying attention to every nook and cranny of this one!


Quilter Kathy said...

Very insightful... I enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Michele said...

I love your thoughts on all of this. I've seen some people have unhealthy attitudes about the whole show quilt thing and that bothers me.

Lara B. said...

Valerie, you always have such deep and thoughtful things to say and I learn a lot from you every time! I think you have a wonderful attitude and are sure to find yourself growing more and more in your own design work. (Which I think is pretty darn fabulous already!)
Hope you start feeling peppier - the last part of pregnancy is definitely difficult, but oh the final outcome!