BLOCK BREAKDOWN

Thursday, May 22, 2014

There is more to competition than winning...

Well, at least for me.  Don't get me wrong, winning is great, but so are the many other aspects of sending a quilt out to a show.  We'll start with a little rewind -

Facebook was a crazy place last night.  I bowed out early and missed much of the craziness -- apparently it got much worse and turned into nasty negative mud-slinging along with deleting of posts and I'm sure a lot more.

It all started with a few people (myself included), waiting for acceptance results for the Minnesota Quilters Annual Quilt Show.  Acceptance letters (via email or snail mail) were due 5/16.  No one had really heard anything.  Monday, I received an email from MN Quilt requesting my mailing address.  Well, within minutes of a FB post for info everyone received emails stating some pertinent info was accidentally excluded from the acceptance packages.  This stirred up many comments, many about the new Blue Diamond category.  This new category is as follows (excerpt taken from the Minnesota Quilters show website):

New Blue Diamond: Any quilt that has won a monetary award and a ribbon in a previous national show must be entered in this category. Examples of national shows include the AQS shows, International Quilt Festivals, Road to California, Quilt Odyssey, and any of the shows produced by Mancuso Shows. State Fair competitions are not considered national shows. You may enter only one quilt in this category. Work may be done by one or two persons. You are welcome to enter a second quilt in another category if it has not won a monetary award at another national show.

So what that means is if your quilt has received a cash award at any national show you are to compete in the Blue Diamond category.  That lumps several types of quilts -- from miniatures to wholecloths to wall hangings to bed quilts to art quilts to any type of quilt into one giant category.

WHAT?!!  Those poor judges!  I couldn't even imagine trying to judge that category -- I would think it would all fall down to which quilt the judge liked the best - all technique aside, that has to be beyond difficult!  So a few people went back and forth discussing this and some decided to withdraw their quilts.  That is totally their prerogative.  No one can be in charge of any one's thoughts, reasons, or ideas except for them.  I assume they felt that a category that vast was too much and winning wasn't an option.  Again, totally their choice to make.  This may be a show that people decide they don't want to enter.  The show promoters may decide to create professional/master categories for the continual award winning quilts and require them to compete separately.  I don't know - not my decisions to make.  The part of this that did bother me was what if all quilters felt that they should only enter shows they know they can win?  Would we have any shows to attend?  Winning is not a given.

To me, there is so much more to showing my quilts that just winning.  When I create a quilt I have hopes and dreams that it will win every single show I enter.  Hahaha.... I'm human, I make mistakes, I learn from them, I share most of them here so that you too can learn.  Not every quilt I make will win awards - that doesn't stop me from making them.  That doesn't stop me from entering shows.  If one of my quilts hangs at a show and inspires just one person - THAT is my award.  That inspiration sparked in another - that keeps this industry going.  If showing quilts were only about winning awards and only a select few people entered those shows, we'd stop going really fast.  What boring shows they would be!  You'd only need to attend one or two and you would have seen all the winning quilts.  Not every quilt wins, that doesn't make it any less of a quilt.

When I'm at quilt shows and I see people huddled around one of my quilts, I don't run right up and start talking -- I mingle and listen to what they are amazed by, intrigued by, and inspired by.  That is what keeps me inspired.  And you want to know something -- people will look at the quilts that didn't win just as much as the winners!  Sharon Schamber told me a long time ago that you create a quilt because it needs to be created, not to compete at a show.  She also said you should never rush your work because of a show deadline.  Well, I do this rush thing a lot and those are the quilts that don't do well.  Perhaps I should heed her words a little more!  Quilts should be *born* -- it should be an emotional journey -- those are the quilts that do well, at least for me.

So back to the FB mud-slinging - most of the negativity was about the person who withdrew her quilt. That was totally her choice - people get over it!  It cost a lot of money to enter these shows, as well as shipping, insurance, return shipping, etc.  Some people treat competition quilting as a business -- if they don't seen an opportunity for placement and ribboning they chose not to enter.  I do not see competition as a business, it's different for me -- the competition is the cake - it is good all on its own, but awards are the icing - they are the deliciousness on top of the cake.  And sometimes you get icing on your cake and sometimes you don't -- either way, it shouldn't stop you from eating cake!

10 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more! Nicely put! for me, the thrill of seeing my quilt at the show is fun and receiving the judges feedback is always worth the price of admission. Should I receive any ribbon, it's just icing on the cake.

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  2. Ditto! Nicely said!

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  3. Well said. Just being accepted into a show is awesomeness for me!!!!!

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  4. It sounds like whoever made the rules was trying to make room for everyone - though they may be alienating their crowd drawing quilters in the process. While they need the big fancy show quilts to draw in the crowds, they also need the other 99.9% of the quilts that don't ribbon to fill out the show. I can only imagine it has to be an insurmountable task attempting to please everyone with these shows. I cannot really blame anyone for entering shows with a strategic effort and making the choice to enter only if they feel they have a chance at winning. After all - it IS expensive not only to make these quilts but to ship them off and enter them - so even if I cannot compete with "she who will not be named but most of us who follow this reality tv-land drama know who she is" I would like to think I have some sort of chance at winning something if I enter my quilt. I don't know if anything I will ever make will hold a candle to the amazing and inspiring quilts you make...I love to look at them drool over them daydream about them and analyze every stitch of them to see if my little brain could attempt to recreate something even half as amazing and beautiful. I am a stay at home Mother first and foremost and we don't get ribbons for best organizer of shoes or most efficient crammer of crap into closets. So I quilt - and I look to the best of the best as a goal to work towards. I make a little extra income on publishing pattern designs but this is not my full blown living. If it were - I might play things a bit more strategically and I cannot really blame others who do the same. In my mind - since when is it a crime to profit off of something you love to do? For most of us who do this with the motivation of some sort of monetary compensation - how much did it cost just to get to that point? There is a difference between making a living off of these things and swindling the masses for a dollar. There is a decent living that can be made in this industry, keeping in perspective here...there are very few who make fortunes from this even if they work every angle of it as their business. Likely the big stink will force this show in particular to alter their rules so they don't lose the big show stopper quilts. I agree with you - there is more to showing your quilts than winning. But at the same time - I don't think I want to spend a small fortune to send my little quilts all over the country if I know from the get go I have no chance at winning. At the end of the day I have no disillusions that we are talking about quilts here and not curing cancer. It is art - and to some of us it is our life. But it's quilts. I'm not losing any sleep over quilts and the moment it is no longer fun - it's time to move on. :) I so appreciate you and your perspective Karen, thank you for sharing and sharing in a way that doesn't condemn others for their thoughts or difference of opinion. :)

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  5. this certainly brought out a lot of emotions in people. It was mishandled on all angles. The show really should have indicated better that the professional quilters HAD to only enter that category. They should have notified us more than 12 days before quilts need to be mailed that our quilts were being moved or that some quilts were ineligible for their show. I personally would have appreciated knowing so I could have entered one elsewhere. I admit, it was my mistake too, as I entered 2 quilts and neither were in the proper category. They never contacted me to see which they should move to the Blue Diamond, either. While it is gratifying to enter shows and make art for art's sake, it is $50 in entries down the drain if the quilts are just going into a large category with other greats. Why can't the show give the pros the same categories as the other quilters? They complain that the more novice quilters dont want to have to compete with them, but really, don't we keep these shows in business?

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    1. Margaret, the show DID inform everyone. It was up to the entrant to read the rules. And I'm a professional quilter and both quilts I entered FIT into the regular categories -- they have not placed at national shows. The Blue Diamond category did not exclude professional quilters, it only excluded previously ribboned quilts.

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  6. No, Margaret, what keeps these shows in business is the rest of the world of quilters who attend quilt shows in the 1st place. Where would you be without us? and again, you're quick to judge with your "mishandling" remark. I, too, love to look at quilting--- online is close enough for me. When I go to a show, it's not to see your quilt in the 1st place- it's to visit the vendors who also support the business! See what's new, listen to the chatter, share with other quilters in the community, not to help those whose self esteem is overfed by "winning!" I can ooh & ahhh with the best of them but again- without US, who are you?

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    1. After helping to run our local quilt show (which is fairly big for the area), it IS the vendors booth fees that pay for the venue space. It is the promotion of the show that the vendors rely on. Competition quilting aside -- the importance of a good show is equally about the quilts and the vendors.

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