QuiltCon was an incredible experience, but I have to admit I have been in a bit of a post-QuiltCon slump since I came home. It's totally creativity/quilting-related, and I am slowing processing it all. As I figure it out I may disclose some of this self-discovery here. Only time will really tell. Until then I will just keep pushing forward with some old and new projects I have been working on.
I did want to share the critique I received from the QuiltCon judges for my quilt, Housewarming. The quilt was in the Improvised Large category with some pretty amazing quilts. There was no way my quilt would be considered for an award, and I was fine with this. Part of me was still surprised my quilt was even selected for the show. As I helped hang the show before QuiltCon opened I continued to wonder this. ("Why am I here????") There were some incredible quilts in the show overall, and the Improv category had some strong competitors.
When my quilt was returned to me it was accompanied with the "Judging Checklist." My biggest fear was reading the critique and discovering my technique was terrible. This actually ended up not being the case. A majority of the positive marks I received were technique related. A few were: "overall workmanship is excellent," "piecing is accurate,"quilting design complements the piecing," "quilting is well done." My favorite was, "Quilt is very beautifully made." (Anyone who knows me knows I'm a bit of a stickler for well made things. I often scrutinize over the details and will rip out seams over and over and over again until I get it right. Let's all acknowledge this is one of my many quirks.)
My critique wasn't all positive technique comments. There were a few noted "areas of improvement." Firstly, the judges thought my quilt had weak visual impact. Secondly, they felt there was an ineffective use of color." The also thought my thread choice, which was "natural" colored, was distracting. Lastly, the judges noted they didn't understand the fabric choices I had made for the insertion strips. The sheet says, "The color and fabric prints don't seem related to one another."
I feel no need to defend myself or my quilt regarding these comments. When I submitted my quilt to QuiltCon I knew I would be opening myself and my quilting up to judgement. This is something I wanted to experience just as I wanted to experience submitting a quilt to a quilt show for the first time. I appreciate the judges sharing their opinions with me, and I will certainly consider their critique when I am making design choices. However, I don't see how that is any different than when I share my work with friends and members of my local modern quilt guild and ask for their opinions. That is all they are...opinions.
I will say this, though... My fabric choices for the insertion strips do make sense to me. Most of them- not all- but most of them were personal and deliberate. I tried to explain that in the statement that accompanied the quilt, but as I read it now I admit it doesn't tell the whole story. This quilt is a memory quilt of my family's transition from Austin to Pittsburgh. Most of the scraps have been acquired since we relocated almost two years ago. The pieces are from quilts I have made since we moved, people I have met, like Lauren and Leona, and trips I have made with my family. Not all of the scraps "go together", but the same could be said about the different facets of my life. All that matters to me is they fit together to tell my family's story.
It had to be very challenging to judge all of the QuiltCon quilts. I heard from one of the judges the process was exhausting and lengthy. They had quite a feat examining 230 quilts and scrutinizing over the technical and design details. They did a commendable job, and each quilt awarded a prize at QuiltCon were more than deserving. I'm glad I put myself through this experience as I acknowledge I still have a lot to learn about modern quilting. Now it's time to stop writing about it and go make some stuff. Later, friends. - Jodi