Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Quilt Judging

At our Frayed Edges meeting, we briefly discussed entering quilts in the judged portion of our state quilt show. Sarah is planning to enter two quilts and is budgeting for the entry fees: $15 per quilt. I asked her why she was entering quilts to be judged? You can also enter quilts just to be displayed at no cost. There are no cash prizes for this show. I entered a quilt to be judged last year and offered to share my judges sheets with the group, but I was unable to put my fingers on them at the moment. I thought I'd share the details here because I am interested in this topic of discussion and I think I need to refine my ideas about exactly where and why I may enter shows in the future. (I mean for not much more than $15 I could pre-order the new Quilt National catalog on Amazon!)

We agreed that entering a show and winning a ribbon can give you good exposure in this area, which is valuable to Sarah as she begins to teach, sell patterns and quilts. It also can increase the value of the quilt which may help sell it. These are important -- if intangible -- factors to consider.

Maine Quilts has three judges and each evaluate each quilt on a 100 point scale. The average score is tallied and if it falls into the following categories, the appropriate ribbon is awarded. Yes, this means there may be no Exceptional Merit quilts in the whole show, which was the case last year. Or there might be a zillion second place ribbons.

The 100 points is made up of Overall Impact: 15 points; Design: 40 points; Workmanship: 45 points. (Design and workmanship are further broken down into categories that I won't bore you with.)

Award categories
Best in Show: Highest score
Exceptional Merit: 97-100
1st: 90-96
2nd: 83-89
Honorable Mention: 70-75

There is also a Viewers' Choice and each judge gets to pick her (or his) Judge's Choice.

Here's what I received for Anthony Avenue last year.

Judge One
Overall Impact: 14
Design: 35
Total: 86
Comments: Intriguing design, fun to explore, embellishments add interest, good variety of quilting designs, machine quilting problems with stitch length and tension

Judge Two
Overall Impact: 12
Design: 25
Workmanship: 31
Total: 68
Comments: Nice use of imagination, appreciate use of unusual materials, technically piece could hang flatter, exciting, like that you ventured out!

Judge Three
Overall Impact: 7
Design: 27
Workmanship: 26
Total: 60
Comments: good use of embellishments to explain theme, some ares of interfacing distort the piece

Average Total: 71
I received an Honorable Mention Ribbon (though individually, one judge awarded me a 2nd and the others no ribbon at all.)

It should be said, I have a thick skin. I am proud of the quilt -- and I know it has strengths and weaknesses. I love having it hanging in our stairwell. And it is a treasured piece of art commemorating a certain time in my family's life. It wasn't made to be sold.

So, I guess I'm asking...
What do you think of this format? Is it worth $15? What are your personal criteria in entering shows? How do you place a value on the cost of entering (fees, shipping, etc.)?


Melody Johnson said...

It's nice that they have a point system, but it really shows how arbitrary and inconsistent the opinions of the judges are.
Here's a note from my long experience of entering judged shows. A single quilt entered in four different shows received 1.nothing 2. third place 3. first place 4. first place. Who am I to believe, comment wise?

Another quilt won a $5000 Master's Award at Houston and got honorable mention at AQS. Not even a third place???

It's a crap shoot. I would enter shows that have prize money if it costs to enter. That way you have a chance of refinancing the shipping costs.
And I stopped reading judges comments in 1992. I just toss them out asap.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Mel regarding judge's comments. It's all so arbitrary as to be virtually worthless.

As for paying to enter...well, frankly, a ribbon from a county fair is not going to raise the value of your quilt appreciably. I would save my entry fees for shows with higher impact such as Houston, Indy, and art shows. And, if you are not interested in selling a piece, why pay to enter it? Show it and be proud....