A Post In Which I Kvetch

I’m mad at myself for feeling dissatisfied about the reception a quilt of mine received at a local show.  Yes, it won a blue ribbon, but so did many others.  Two people, one of them a quilt show judge, said they really liked it, and I didn’t solicit their opinions. But when I attended the show and kind of hung out near my quilt for a few minutes (and don’t tell me you’ve never done that), I noticed that very few folks stopped to look at it. It seemed to be covered with the cloak of invisibility. Instead, folks cooed over cute quilts, pastel quilts, quilts loaded with flowers.  The kinds of quilts I’ve never made.

I’m also peeved with myself for expecting any different reaction.  The show in question featured traditional quilts by local quilters.  Some of the quilts were made from kits. Some featured personally meaningful photos scanned onto cloth.  Others were developed from workshops and block swaps. The show entries were a good reflection of the kinds of quilts made by members of the sponsoring guild.  Mine wasn’t.

So what did I expect?  It was a lesson that I need to select entries appropriate to the show.  In the case of this show I probably shouldn’t have entered my quilt. I had hoped that viewers might think, hmm, that sliver thing might be interesting to try or maybe I should use stripes more.  Indeed, some may have thought just that. However, it didn’t fit with the vibe and audience for that show.  Though I consider the quilt to be traditional (it’s a symmetrical medallion), I don’t think it was perceived that way.

A recent post by Kathleen Loomis at Art With A Needle led me to believe I’m not the only quilter who sometimes feels a disconnect between a show and her quilt. Loomis’ work is on a different, far superior plane than mine (she’s entering Quilt National and other juried shows) but sometimes you just have to find the right venue to display your work.

Oh well, Just A Sliver was fun to make with Lisa O’Neill’s technique, and Eva Birch creatively extended the circle theme in her quilting.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “A Post In Which I Kvetch

  1. I’ve been actively quilting for eleven years and here’s what I’ve learned about local quilt shows: enter those quilts you want to see hanging, and that you think others might enjoy seeing. That’s it. I don’t dwell on winning, nor on blowing anyone away.

  2. It’s worth thinking about carefully before entering any show, I guess. Do you want to push the boundaries and have your quilt stand out as “different,” even if not loved? Or do you want to blend in, to be acceptable to the audience? I don’t know the answer and it might vary through time and conditions.

    I agree your quilt is traditional. (I believe MOST quilts are traditional, even those that call themselves “modern.” Exceptions probably in art quilts.) And I’m sorry it didn’t get a more enthusiastic reception. I’d love to see it in person, as it looks like a good one to consider more carefully.

    But if it was a show with many entries, perhaps people were just on overload. The placement of yours may have had an impact, or the lighting, or … any number of other factors.

    I hope you take pride in your innovative design, and can again enjoy it for its own value. It deserves it, and so do you.

    • I know this quilt isn’t to everyone’s taste. It was made solely to suit mine. I entered it in the show because I saw it as traditional enough to fit the show’s parameters, yet different enough to push the envelope a bit. I’d like to hear what others liked/disliked about it (and other quilts I’ve made.) I find quilters are hesitant to say anything that might be construed as negative about each others’ work. It’s kind of the third rail, a minefield of hurt feelings. Also, I believe you can admire a quilt yet not especially like it, a distinction that sometimes gets lost. One of the many reasons I would never be a quilt show judge.

  3. First of all, love your quilt!! I used to enter my quilts in shows, but the last time I heard the comment “Look, that quilt is covered in cat hair!”…the quilt was very clean and I do not own a cat…well, I just decided to not enter any quilts anymore. I am quite happy with my work and guess I don’t need anyone else’s approval. I think it is tough to hear negative comments about our personal work, and it is tough to think that no one would stop and admire it. Your quilt is wonderful!! Thanks for letting me put in my two cents, LOL!

    • Many thanks for your kind words. That cat hair thing…the world of quilt shows can be bizarre. When I co-chaired a quilt show we had one entry that was covered with dog hair – because the quilt was made for and used by the quilter’s dog. We cleaned up the quilt with masking tape, and it went on to win viewers’ choice, I believe.

      And I think this may be one of the last judged shows I enter, too. My work is increasingly uncategorizable, if not downright weird. Maybe I should hold a weird quilts show.

  4. Congrats on the show win! I’m sorry you were disappointed by what you saw from the show attendees. I personally love it as it’s totally NOT what I generally see in my area. I do have one question for you though: May I ask why you’d want to enter quilts ‘appropriate’ to a particular show rather than entering quilts simply because you like them? Shouldn’t it be more about the fact that you made this, made it well and are proud of it? I like it. Send it my way 😉

    • Thanks for the kind words. As to your question, since I had to pay an entry fee I’d prefer my work to reach a receptive audience. The appreciation of fellow quilters means more to me than a ribbon. And as I said, I have no reason to believe my quilt wasn’t appreciated – just not while I was at the show. While I don’t make quilts for specific audiences (unless it’s a quilt I’m making for someone and I’m trying to fit their tastes) I do tend to submit my more traditional quilts to shows with a lot of such quilts, and the same for my looser quilts. Same reason I don’t shop for my clothes at Abercrombie and Fitch. I probably didn’t even spell that right.

  5. This is a quilt I’d be more likely to stop and examine, instead of yet another block-swap or kit quilt. But that’s me. I also haven’t been to many shows that feature the by-the-numbers quilts; maybe I’m just lucky that I live where innovation and inspiration run wild. It’s hard to stand by your “baby” and have it ignored, though! I guess it’s better than hearing disparaging comments, though, which happened to a friend of mine!

    • You’re right, it’s hard to overhear negative comments about your work. In this case I think I would have preferred that to having my quilt ignored. And I’m jealous of your access to such innovative shows.

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